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What to Expect on a Trek to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes

Embarking on a trek to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes is an adventure of a lifetime, combining breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural experiences, and the thrill of trekking in one of the world’s most iconic mountain ranges. This route offers trekkers an alternative to the traditional Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek, adding the stunning Gokyo Lakes and the challenging Cho La Pass to the journey. Here’s what you can expect on this incredible trek.

Overview of the Trek

The trek to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes is a challenging and rewarding journey that typically takes about 18 to 20 days. The route takes you through diverse terrains, including lush valleys, dense forests, alpine meadows, glacial moraines, and high-altitude passes. The highlights of this trek include the emerald-green Gokyo Lakes, panoramic views from Gokyo Ri, the thrilling Cho La Pass, and, of course, reaching Everest Base Camp itself.

Preparation and Permits

Before starting the trek, thorough preparation is essential. Physical fitness is crucial, as the trek involves long days of walking at high altitudes. Cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and stamina-building activities are recommended in the months leading up to the trek. Additionally, ensure you have appropriate trekking gear, including sturdy boots, warm clothing, a good quality sleeping bag, and a reliable backpack.

You will need several permits for the trek, including the Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit and the TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) card. It’s important to secure these permits before starting your journey.

Starting Point: Lukla

Most trekkers begin their journey with a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, a small town perched on a hillside with a notoriously short runway. The flight itself is an adventure, offering stunning views of the Himalayan range. Once in Lukla, the trek begins with a relatively easy walk to Phakding, allowing you to acclimatize to the altitude gradually.

Namche Bazaar

From Phakding, the trail leads to Namche Bazaar, the main trading hub of the Khumbu region. Namche is a vibrant town with a mix of traditional and modern influences. Here, you can find shops, restaurants, and internet cafes, as well as stunning views of Kongde Ri and Thamserku peaks. Namche is an ideal place to acclimatize, with a recommended two-night stay to adjust to the altitude. You can take a short hike to Everest View Hotel or visit the Sherpa Culture Museum during this acclimatization period.

Trek to Gokyo Lakes

Leaving Namche Bazaar, the trail diverges from the traditional EBC route, heading towards the beautiful Gokyo Valley. The trek to Gokyo Lakes is less crowded and offers serene landscapes. The trail passes through villages like Dole and Machhermo before reaching Gokyo.

Gokyo is a picturesque village situated on the shores of the third lake, Dudh Pokhari. The Gokyo Lakes are a series of six stunning, turquoise glacial lakes, considered sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists. The reflection of snow-capped peaks in the clear waters of the lakes is a sight to behold.

Gokyo Ri: A Panoramic Viewpoint

A highlight of the trek to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes is the ascent of Gokyo Ri, a vantage point offering panoramic views of the Everest region. The climb is steep and challenging, but the views from the top are worth the effort. From Gokyo Ri, you can see four of the world’s highest peaks: Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu, along with the vast Ngozumpa Glacier, the longest glacier in the Himalayas.

Crossing the Cho La Pass

The next phase of the trek involves crossing the Cho La Pass, a high-altitude pass that links the Gokyo Valley with the traditional Everest Base Camp trail. This section of the trek is challenging and requires a good level of fitness and acclimatization. The ascent to the pass involves navigating rocky terrain and potentially icy sections, depending on the weather conditions. The views from the top of the pass are spectacular, with close-up views of surrounding peaks and glaciers.

Joining the Traditional EBC Route

After crossing the Cho La Pass, the trail descends to join the traditional Everest Base Camp route at Dzongla. From here, the trek continues to Lobuche and Gorak Shep, the last stop before reaching Everest Base Camp. The final stretch to EBC is a challenging trek over glacial moraines, but the sense of achievement upon reaching the base camp is unparalleled. Standing at the base of the world’s highest peak, surrounded by towering ice formations and the Khumbu Icefall, is an unforgettable experience.

Kala Patthar: A View of Everest

While Everest Base Camp offers a close-up view of the surrounding peaks and glaciers, the best views of Mount Everest itself are from Kala Patthar. This iconic viewpoint is a short but steep hike from Gorak Shep. Early morning is the best time to summit Kala Patthar, as the rising sun casts a golden glow on Everest and the surrounding peaks. The panoramic views from the top are breathtaking, with Everest, Nuptse, Pumori, and Lhotse dominating the skyline.

Descending Back to Lukla

After visiting Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar, the trek retraces its steps back to Lukla. The descent is faster than the ascent, but it’s important to pace yourself and continue to take care of your health. The journey back offers a chance to reflect on the incredible experiences and landscapes you have encountered. Once in Lukla, you will take a flight back to Kathmandu, where the trek concludes.

Accommodation and Food

Throughout the trek to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes, accommodation is provided in teahouses, which are simple lodges offering basic amenities. Rooms are usually twin-shared with shared bathrooms. While the facilities are basic, they provide a warm and comfortable place to rest after a day’s trek.

Food in the teahouses is varied and plentiful, with menus offering a mix of local and Western dishes. Common meals include dal bhat (a traditional Nepali dish of lentils and rice), momos (dumplings), soups, noodles, and various fried or boiled dishes. It’s important to stay well-hydrated and consume a high-calorie diet to maintain energy levels.

Health and Safety Considerations

Trekking at high altitudes poses certain health risks, primarily Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Symptoms of AMS include headache, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. To minimize the risk of AMS, it’s crucial to acclimatize properly by taking rest days, ascending slowly, and staying hydrated. If symptoms persist, it’s important to descend to a lower altitude and seek medical attention if necessary.

Weather conditions in the Everest region can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared for all types of weather. Bring appropriate clothing for cold, windy, and potentially wet conditions. Layering is key, allowing you to adjust your clothing to changing temperatures.

Cultural Experiences

The trek to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes also offers rich cultural experiences. The Khumbu region is home to the Sherpa people, known for their mountaineering skills and warm hospitality. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to visit monasteries, stupas, and prayer wheels, gaining insights into the local Buddhist culture. Interacting with local villagers and learning about their way of life adds a meaningful dimension to the trek.

Environmental Responsibility

As a trekker, it’s important to minimize your environmental impact. Follow the principles of Leave No Trace by packing out all your trash, staying on established trails, and respecting local wildlife and vegetation. Use water purification methods instead of buying bottled water to reduce plastic waste. Supporting eco-friendly teahouses and local businesses helps promote sustainable tourism in the region.


Trekking to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes is an unforgettable adventure that combines stunning natural beauty with cultural richness and physical challenge. The route offers a unique perspective on the Everest region, taking you through less-traveled paths and providing opportunities to experience the tranquility of the Gokyo Lakes and the thrill of crossing high-altitude passes. With proper preparation, respect for the environment, and an appreciation for the journey, this trek promises to be a life-changing experience. Whether you are an experienced trekker or a passionate adventurer, the trek to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a deep sense of accomplishment.