THE TREK

Day 1: Jiri to Shivalaya

3-4 hours, 500m ascent, 650m descent You have a few choices to make as you plan your first few days of trekking. On your own, you can reach Deorali or Bhandar on the first day (it is a long, hard day) and Sete on the second day. If you have porters, or are not in good shape, you may have trouble reaching Bhandar the first day. You would do best to settle for Shivalaya on the first day and then Bhandar on the second day. Whichever way you schedule it, plan on spending a night at either Sete or Sagar to break the long climb from Kenja to Lamjura Bhanjyang into two stages. The elevation gain from the river to the pass is almost 2000m – a fairly difficult climb to make in a single day unless you are in outstanding condition. If you have porters, you’ll have a hard time convincing them to make the entire climb in one day.

Once the road bridge over the Khimti Khola near Those is complete it will be possible to drive on to Shivalaya, saving a day of walking. The trek starts at the end of the paved road in Jiri, beyond the bus stop. It’s a short, level walk through deep forests, following the narrow, stone-paved 4WD track towards Those and Shivalaya. After crossing a stream the track leaves the road and starts uphill through trees to several wooden bhattis at die tiny settlement of Bharkur. Contour for a bit, then climb again past wooden bhattis to a school at Ratomati and through pastures to a few bhattis at Chitre. Pass the primitive Solu Khumbu Lodge and a second settlement called Chitre a short distance beyond.

Keep climbing to the Mali Danda at 2440m, where there are good views of the peaks near Rolwaling. Begin the descend into the Khimti valley past numerous small wooden bhattis. Trek through Mali, a sparse populated Sherpa settlement at 2220m, then down a steep eroded track to the Passatm Hotel and the Sherpa Lama Lodge. Descend past more bhattis to the Yelung Khola,  crossing it on a steel suspension bridge at 1860m just before the settlement of Doban where the New Yak Cheese Lodge offers refreshment. After a short walk down the river bank the track emerges into the main valley and the Shivalaya Tourist Lodge & Restaurant. A suspension bridge lead across the Khimti Khola to Shivalaya, a  small bazaar and police check post at 1810m. There’s decent food and accommodation available in the Trekking Guide Hotel, the Paradise Lodge and Good Sherpa Lodge. The specialty here is banana pie.
The unfinished road to Bhandar passes above the lodge complex and snakes its way up the valley, then turns south-east and climbs towards the pass at Deorali.

Alternative Route: Shivalaya via Those

The old trail went via Those (pronounced ‘toe-say’) and provides an alternative to the newer, direct route. Follow the road from the bus stop at Jiri as it makes its way downstream along the eastern side of the Jiri Khola. The road climbs in forests to a chorten on the ridge, then drops to join the old expedition route from Lamosangu. The trail descends past Kattike to the Khimti Khola, then follows the river upstream to Those (Maksin) at 1750m, a large, pleasant bazaar with a cobblestone street and whitewashed houses. Once the largest market on the trail between Lamosangu and Namche Bazaar, it has diminished greatly in importance now that the Jiri road is complete, and many of the Newar shopkeepers have closed or abandoned their shops and hotels. It’s possible to buy items manufactured locally from the nearby sources of low-grade iron ore. Rooster lamps are a speciality. From Those it’s a little more than one hour upstream to Shivaiaya, where you join the route from Jiri.

Day 2: Shivaiaya to Bhandar

4 -5 hours, 900m ascent, 600m descent At Shivaiaya the route crosses the Chamja Khola, then starts a steep ascent towards the next pass. There are several teashops as the trail climbs the ridge. Climb past the tiny Maya Hotel and its ‘delicious delicacies’ and on to the funky Sushila Lodge just past the schoolhouse at Sangbadanda (2180m).

A short climb leads to a road. Follow the dusty, unfinished road for a while to a junction where a trail leads to the Thodung cheese factory. Stay on the road for a short distance, then go back onto the trail as the road makes long
switchbacks up the hill. The trail climbs less steeply past several isolated, but large and prosperous, houses. There are a few bhattis and the Thodung Sherpa Hotel at Khasrubas (2330m), then the trail becomes reasonably level, and even descends a bit, as it goes towards the head of the canyon.

Crossing a stream on a wooden covered bridge, the trail ascends steeply in forests to a teashop at Mahabhir, crosses another stream, this time on two logs, then makes a final climb through forests. On the pass, at 2730m, is an impressive array of long mani walls built of stones covered with the Tibetan Buddhist inscription ‘om mani padme hum’ signifying that the trek is now entering an area dominated by Tibetan culture. There is a sweeping view of the Likhu valley and Bhandar, a large Sherpa settlement, far below in a hanging valley. The settlement on the pass is called Deorali. There are several good lodges here, including the big Highland Sherpa Guest House, the Lama Guest House, the smaller Pike Lodge and the Namaste Lodge. Stay in Deorali if you want to postpone the long descent
to Bhandar.

Just below the pass is an important trail junction. After a one- or two-minute walk from the pass, take the left-hand trail towards Bhandar. By continuing straight you would stay high on the ridge, descend to the valley far south of the established trek route, and end up following a high route to Solti and Pike Peak. After an initially steep descent on stone steps, the trail comes to the outskirts of Bhandar (Chyangma) and descends gradually through fields and pastures to a gompa and two imposing chortens. One has a pyramidal spire and the other has a conical spire. They are painted frequently and are well preserved. There’s an excellent camp site in a large meadow about  minutes 15 below. Several lodges surround the flagstone-paved village square and several others are just below these. Try the Ang Dawa Lodge, the Buddha Lodge or Shobha Hotel.

Side Trip: Thodung Cheese Factory

You can make a side trip to Thodung (3090m) either by climbing north for about half hours from the pass at Deorali, or by detouring from the main trail just beyond Sangbadanda. Thodung is the site of Nepal’s first cheese factory, which was built by the Swiss in the 1950s and is now operated by the Dairy Development Corporation. Your reward for the long, hard climb to the factory is a feast of cheese, yogurt and yak (actually nak) milk. Cheese is available year-round, but other fresh dairy products are available only during autumn. From Thodung you can trek down the ridge and rejoin the main trail at the top of the pass, then descend to Bhandar. Good food and accommodation are available in Thodung if you have the courage to seek out the manager in the presence of several huge Tibetan mastiff dogs.

Day 3: Bhandar to Sete

6-7 hours, 650m descent, 1050m ascent From the village square at Bhandar the trail descends through the lower fields of the village past a small factory that makes bowls and wooden products on a water-driven lathe, passes the Downhill Lodge and Monsoon Lodge in Dokharpa, then follows the Ghatta Khola. It crosses the small stream on a covered wooden bridge and descends through deep forests. Leaving the forests, the trail drops into a canyon, passing Baranda. where the local kids sell walking sticks to help you out on the steep descent. The rough trail finally meets the stream, crossing it on a steel bridge at Tharo Khola(1480m), also known as Goranda.

As you follow the trail up the east bank of the river to Kenja, watch for grey langur monkeys in the forests. Climb over a spur to Namang Gaon, then cross a small suspension bridge at Kenja (1600m), a settlement inhabited by Newars and Magars. Before trekking became popular Kenja was a single dingy shop. Now there are 15 shops and at least 10 lodges operated by Sherpas who have migrated from Kyama, several kilometres to the north. The New Everest Guest House, Shankar Hotel, Sonam Lodge and  others line the flagstone-paved trail. The large Sherpa Guest House at the far end of the village has accommodation for more than 40 people. There is a weekly market in Kenja on Sunday, and a speciality is instant tailoring performed on hand-operated sewing machines. There’s also a police checkpost and a video parlour.

Leaving Kenja, the ascent towards the high Lamjura Bhanjyang begins. The first part of the ascent is very steep, then it becomes less severe as you gain elevation. It’s a hot walk in the sun, but numerous bhattis along the way offer both shade and refreshment.

After about two hours of climbing, you reach Chimbu and the Top Himalayan Guest House at 2170m. This is a trait junction. If you are trekking on your own, take the right-hand fork. This is the trail to Sete (2520m), a small defunct monastery, where there are several lodges and a camping ground. Hotel Sunrise, at the foot of the village, is the newest the Sherpa Guide Lodge and the Solu Khumbu New Green View Blue Sky Lodge & Restaurant are near the gompa.

Alternative Route: via Sagar

At Chimbu the left fork leads to the north and climbs around the hillside to the Sherpa settlement of Sagar (Chandra) at 2440m, a large village with two-storey stone houses and an ancient village gompa. It is possible to find a camp site in the yard of the Sagar school, one of the projects of the Himalayan Trust (headed by Sir Edmund Hillary). There are no true hotels here, but this is a Sherpa village, and many people are willing to take guests into their homes.

Day 4: Sete to Junbesi

6-7 hours, 1280m ascent, 1220m descent The trek is now completely in Sherpa country. With the exception of Jubing, all the remaining villages from here to Namche Bazaar are inhabited by Sherpas.

It is a long, but fairly gradual, climb -although in spots it gets steep  from Sete to the top of the 3530m Lamjura Bhanjyang. The way is scenic and varied, and this is one of the few parts of the trek where there are no villages. The trek gets into moist mountain forest with huge, gnarled, moss-covered rhododendron, magnolia, maple and birch trees. There is often snow on the trail, and the mornings are usually frosty throughout the trekking season. On very rare occasions snow blocks the pass for a few days, but the crossing usually presents no difficulties.

In spring the ridge is alive with blooming rhododendrons – the white, pink and red blossoms cover the hillside. The flowering occurs in a band of a few hundred metres that moves up the hill along with the spring weather. The first blooms start at lower elevations in mid-February and the last ones reach the pass in mid to late April.

This section is also a delight for the bird lover. Nepal has more than 800 species of birds and some of the most colourful of the birds are found in this zone sunbirds, minavets, flycatchers, tits, laughing thrushes and many others.

About an hour above Sete the trail from Sagar rejoins the route at Dagchu, a settlement of several simple lodges near two small ponds at 2820m. The forest changes from pines to rhododendrons, and the trail continues to climb to Goyom – several lodges in three different settlements at 3060m. The trail climbs steeply up the ridge to the Lamjura Sherpa Rest House, finally reaching a mani wall at 3400m. The trail leaves the ridge and begins to contour northward towards the pass this section is always muddy and often covered with snow or ice.

After a stretch deep in a forest of large silver birches, the trail reaches open country and a kharka at 3430m. This was once strictly a summer settlement used only by herders, but there are now four substantial lodges around a flagstone-paved courtyard. This is a good place to stop for lunch.

Since you will probably be crossing the pass about noon or early afternoon, it will be cloudy, cold and windy. There is no view of Himalayan peaks from the pass, although there are glimpses of the top of some snow peaks on the way up. If you’re crossing in the early morning, you will undoubtedly see planes flying very low over the pass en route to Lukla. The deforestation on the upper portion of this route is shocking it has all happened since 1980 when people moved here to open lodges.

It’s a 30-minute climb from the teashops to Lamjura Bhanjyang (3530m), the highest point on the trek between Jiri and Namche Bazaar. It is marked by a tangle of stones, twigs and prayer flags erected by devout travellers. On the eastern side of the pass the route descends steeply for about 400m through fragrant fir and hemlock forests to a stream and a small wooden hotel. The trail enters open, grassy country and makes a long, gentle descent through fields and pastures to the small settlement of Tragdobuk (2830m). There are lodges here, but many close on Saturday when the owners go to the market in Salieri, about three hours’ walk to the south. The trail climbs to a huge, painted mani stone at the head of the valley, then climbs over the ridge to a vantage point overlooking Junbesi, a splendid Sherpa village amid beautiful surroundings at 2580m. Away to the north, Numbur (6959m), known in Sherpa as Shorong Yul Lha (‘god of the Solu’), towers over the large, green valley.

Junbesi is the northern end of the Sherpa region known as Solu (Shorong in Sherpa). Before the advent of large-scale tourism, the Sherpas of Solu were economically better off than their cousins in Khumbu because the fertile Solu valley is at a lower elevation and they can thus grow a wide variety of crops. In recent years, employment with expeditions and trekking parties has done much to improve the lot of both the Solu and Khumbu Sherpas.

You can take a short diversion to Serlo monastery at the top of Junbesi village by staying on the upper trail. To reach Junbesi (Jun), stay on the trail that slopes gently down to the village. There is an abundance of accommodation in Junbesi, and it is worth doing a bit of investigation before settling in. Several lodges offer hot showers and other enticements. The Ang Domi Lodge is the first hotel you reach; in the village square are the large Junbesi Guest House (which offers satellite TV) and the very clean Ang Chopa Lodge. Nearby is the Apple Garden Guest House. Pass the telephone office to more lodges near the kani and police post at the foot of the village. Trekking groups camp either behind the Everest Ttrkkers Lodge or below the village on the banks of the river. The Junbesi school is one of the largest and most active of the 28 Hillary schools and has more than 300 pupils attending classes from primary through to high school.

The region near Junbesi is well worth exploring, and a day spent here can offer a variety of alternatives. The yellow-roofed gompa is the oldest in the region. To the north of Junbesi, about two hours away, is Phugmochhe (3100m), where you can visit the Traditional Sherpa Art Centre.

Side Trip: Thubten Chholing

En route to Phugmochhe, a short diversion will allow a visit to Thubten Chholing, a huge Tibetan Buddhist monastery about 1 and half  hours’ walk from Junbesi. The monastery was founded in the late 1960s by Tushi Rimpoche, who travelled to Nepal with many monks from Rongbuk monastery in Tibet. There are several relics from the original Rongbuk gompa preserved inside the Thubten Chholing gompa. This is a large, impressive and active religious community living in exile.

The trail to Thubten Chholing starts in front of the gompa and follows the Junbesi Khola upstream past a large chorten and a health post. It crosses the river near the Junbesi powerhouse at Mopung, then makes the final climb to the monastery at 3000m. There are big dogs in the monastery courtyard; be sure that you announce yourself so that a monk can restrain them when you pass. The central gompa is large and impressive and often has more than 100 monks and 200 nuns chanting both inside and outside. The monastery expects an offering from any visitor, whether foreign or Sherpa. There is no accommodation or food available here.

There are small cells all over the hillside that are the residences of monks and nuns. You won’t be welcome at these because many of the inhabitants are on extended  meditation programs. It is possible to rejoin the main trail out reluming to Junbesi. To do this, follow a yak trail that climbs from Thubten Chholing to Lapcha la (3476m), a pass marked by a large chorten and many prayer flags. The  trail is steep, tiring and contusing, so a guide is almost essential.

From the monastery, continue up the hill, cross a stream and angle steeply up the side of the ridge through a forest of rhododendron and hemlock. As you near the ridge there is a maze of trails but you should proceed generally south-east and always up. The trail down from Lapcha La is a herders’ trail that drops steeply to the Ringmo Khola, passing through the yards and fields of several houses. It requires about three hours of tough walking to reach Ringmo from Thubten Chholing.

Day 5: Junbesi to Nhuntala

5 -6 hours, 900m ascent, 1250m descent Below Junbesi the trail crosses the Junbesi Khola on a wooden bridge at 2560m. Just beyond the bridge there is a trail junction. The right-hand or downhill trail leads to Phaphlu, the site of an airstrip and a hospital that is operated by the Himalayan Trust. If you are looking for luxury, walk to Phaphlu and spend a night at the Hotel des Sherpa. This nine-room hotel is a good base for treks in the Solu region.

The route to Khumbu follows the left- hand trail that leads steeply uphill in the trees. The trail contours above some houses to the end of the ridge, looping in and out of side valleys. After it has climbed high on the ridge, to nearly 2900m at Khurtang. there is an excellent view of Everest, Thamserku (6608m), Kantega (6779m), Kusum Kangru (6367m) and Mera Peak (6654m). This is the first view of Everest on the trek, al­though the lower peaks in the foreground seem to dwarf the higher, more distant, mountains. The Everest Hew Sherpa Lodge can provide you with a cup of tea. yak cheese, apples and a comfortable seat from which to contemplate the scene.

The trail turns north, still climbing, then descends past a trio of simple lodges in Saluttf (2860m) to a suspension bridge over the Ringmo Khola at 2510m. This is one of the last opportunities to wash your clothes and bathe in a large river, as the next river.

From the river the trail ascends to Ringmo, where Dorje Passang pioneered fruit­growing in the region with a large orchard of apples, peaches and apricots. The fruit has become so abundant that many fruit products — including delicious apple rakshi, apple cider, dried apples and even apple pickles – are available at reasonable prices from the Apple House. There are a few other lodges, including the Centre Sherpa Lodge and Quiet Hew, along the wide stone-paved trail that climbs through Ringmo.

At Ringmo the trail joins the porter track from Okhaldunga to Namche Bazaar rebuilt by several aid programs between 1980 and 1984. Labourers widened and levelled the trail and rebuilt many bridges all the way to Namche. The aid programs paid for the work with food instead of cash. The new wide trail avoids many steep ascents and descents that had characterised the old expedition route.

Just beyond Ringmo the trail passes two mani walls. The second wall hides another unexpected opportunity to get lost. After you pass to the left of the mani wall there’s a carved stone sign that points towards Trakshindu. Make a U-turn and head uphill near the rustic wooden Clean Restaurant. The straight trail heads north through unpopulated country (with not even a single house), eventually reaching Ghat in the Khumbu valley after five days. It is not a practical trekking route several porters perished on this trail during the approach march for the 1952 Swiss Everest expedition.

Assuming you are on the correct trail, it is a short ascent on a trail through the forest from Ringmo to Trakshindu La (3071m), marked by a large chorten. A little above Ringmo is a sign advertising a 15 minute walk to the Trakshindu cheese factory this factory is closed and there is no food or accommodation available there. There is food available at the pass itself in three teashops, including the Mountain View Lodge.

A few minutes below the pass, on the eastern side, the trail passes the isolated monastery of Trakshindu, a superb example of Sherpa monastic architecture at 2960m. The monastery, which was founded in 1946 by Tokten Tshultrim, a monk from Tengboche, is the most imposing building seen so far on the trek. There is no accommodation in the monastery, but there are two lodges outside the monastery grounds. The Mountain View Lodge on the trail below the gompa was owned by the late Babu Chhiri Sherpa, who climbed Everest 10 times, spent 21 hours on the summit and holds the speed record for climbing from base camp to the summit. He died on Everest in April 2001. The trail descends through a conifer and rhododendron forest alive with birds. There are a few shepherds’ huts and bhattis alongside the trail, but the route is mostly in forest until it reaches the fields of Timbu at 2590m. The trail crosses a picturesque stream on a suspension bridge then it becomes a clutter of loose rocks as it reaches Nhuntala (Manidingma) at 2220m. You have a huge choice of facilities here. The Quiet View and the smaller Khumbu Guest House are on the outskirts of town. In the main part of town there are stone-walled compounds enclosing shops and numerous lodges ranging in quality from pretty good to crummy. Facilities include the large Shangri La Guest House, Mountain Trekkers New Lodge and the Himalayan Trekker Lodges there are some unnamed teashops along the main street, but these are patronised mostly by porters.

Day 6: Nhuntala to Bupsa

5-6 hours, 800m descent, 900m ascent From Nhuntala the descent continues to the Dudh Kosi (‘milk river’) the largest river crossed since the Sun Kosi. Most of the trail is well graded, although it sometimes passes through terraced fields and the yardsnf houses. Below the Neejam Hotel in Phuleii the trail descends steeply through scrub forests to the Rai Tea Shop and the rustic Kirant Hotel. It’s a short walk to a 109m long suspension bridge across the Dudh Kosi at 1510m. The trek has concluded its trip eastward and now turns north up the Dudh Kosi valley.

Beware of sisnu (stinging nettles) next few days. Local people use nettla as cattle fodder, as a vegetable (they pick the with bamboo tongs) and to make rough cloth. The nettles inflict a painful rasn the instant you touch them.
At the end of the bridge, turn left and climb steeply out of the river valley through fields of barley, wheat and com to the sprawling village of Jubing (Dorakbuk) at 1680m. The people of this village are Rais. Look for signs of Rai culture in this area the garlands of marigolds that decorate the Dudh Kosi bridge and the traditional bamborl pipes instead of plastic hose for the village water supply.

The trail stays below the village, climbing past the Green Garden Lodge to the Bambom Lodge and the post office at its northern edge at 1800m. Beyond Jubing there is a short climb across a side valley, then another climb to two small lodges at Chokha. Stay on the highest trail and make a long, steep climb to the top of a spur at 2060m. From this ridge you can see Khari Khola below and the peak of Khumbila (5761m) at the northern end of the Dudh Kosi valley. Descend a bit on a sandy trail, then it’s a long but pleasant walk into Kharl Khola (Khali Thenga) at 2010m. This is predominantly a Sherpa village, although it also has a small Magar community. It is a large vil­lage with numerous lodges and competition is intense. The first establishment you come to is the Sagarmatha Khumbu Lodge, which offers free lodging if you eat there. Other hotels at this end of town are the Summit Hotel and the Namaste Hotel clustered around a chorten. In the noisy and congested bazaar in the centre of town are shops, in­cluding two tailor shops, and the Blue Haven, Himalayan Sherpa, Buddha and Star hotels.

From Khari Khola you can see your next destination: a cluster of buildings high above on the ridge in Bupsa. You can add a day to your program and have a more leisurely trek by staying in Khari Khola and spending the following nights in Surkhe and Phakding before continuing to Namche Bazaar.

The trail descends from the village and crosses the Khari Khola on a suspension bridge near some water-driven mills at 1930m, then makes a steep climb to Bupsa (Bumshing) at 2360m. The Sagarmatha Snack Spot is halfway up the climb and there’s a big hotel complex on the ridge itself. Lodges include the Everest Guest House, Hotel Yellow Top, Kwangde View and LT Sherpa Guide Lodge. There are some less- fancy lodges in Kharte, about 20 minutes up the trail. The tiny Bupsa gompa is said to be 50 years old and is in pretty poor condition. The lama is seeking donations in the hope of renovating it and will be happy to show you around.

The region from Khari Khola to Jorsale is called Pharak. The Sherpas in this area have slightly different traditions from their neighbours in Solu and Khumbu and have better agricultural opportunities due to the gentler climate in the Dudh Kosi valley. Pharak villagers raise large crops of corn (maize) and potatoes in summer. They grow wheat, turnips, cauliflower and cabbage in winter and raise herds of cows and yak crossbreeds, as well as sheep and goats.

Day 7: Bupsa to Chablung

6-7 hours, 1000m ascent, 650m descent From Bupsa the trail climbs steadily – but gently – past the small settlement of Kharte, then through forests inhabited by monkeys. The Dudh Kosi canyon is extremely steep, and in many places you can see all the way to the river, 1000m below. Climb past several teashops in Khari to a mani wall and views of Khumbila and Cho Oyu (8153m). Keep climbing up to a cleft in the rock, then into another canyon before reaching a teashop on Khari La at 2840m overlooking Puiyan, a Sherpa settlement completely surrounded by forests. Much of the forest near this vil­lage was cut down in the 1970s to make charcoal, which many hotels and villagers in the Khumbu region used for fuel before kerosene became easily available.

From the ridge, the trail turns almost due I east as it descends into the deep canyon of I the Puiyan Khola. This portion of the trail I was built during the 1984 trail renovation; I in many places it is narrow and exposed, | especially where it was blasted out of a vor­tical rock wall. The trail is on the shadTnorth side of the ridge and ice and snow col­lects on the trail in winter. A walking stick is a definite asset here when there’s snow.

At one point there’s a collection of logs and shrubbery to give you a false sense of secur­ity as the trail crosses a rock face above a precipice. After crossing a large slide area, the trail climbs on a stone staircase. Be careful; at least two trekkers have fallen on this portion of the trail.

After crossing a stream on a wooden bridge, you reach the Puiyan Khola, where an extensive bhatti for porters has been built into a cave formed by a large, overhanging rock. Walk a few minutes beyond the bridge to a hotel complex and a camp site in Puiyan (Chitok) at 2770m. Too many people in this village have built lodges to try to supplement their income. Check out the model plane and helicopter at the Bee Hive Lodge. Other choices include the Foot Print Lodge, Kala Pattar, Trekkers Lodge and Apple Pie Lodge. There are a few less-substantial facilities scattered along the trail as you walk through the forests beyond Puiyan.

The trail climbs up and down for about an hour after Puiyan to several teashops and the Everest Trekkers Lodge in the hamlet of Chewabas, then to the Khumbila View Lodge and the Lama Guest House at 2730m. Traverse and make a long climb with many ups and downs to another ridge that offers a good view of the Khumbu region. You will  easily pick out Lukla from here by its airstrip and multitude of large buildings The trail descends to the isolated Pakhepanm Hotel then makes a long, 500m drop to Surkhe (Buwa) at 2290m on the Surkhe Khola, a small tributary of the Dudh KosL The fancy Yak and Yeti Home offers the best accommodation. There are a few teashops near the bridge, but some of these cater to the porters who serve the Namche market Beware of Friday and Saturday nights in Surkhe and adjoining villages.

It’s a 30minute walk uphill through a jumble of boulders past several stone houses a to a series of mani walls and the Lodge in Musht (Nangbug). There are more mani stones and walls as you trek, along the 9 wide stone trail through Mushe. Unlike the houses on the rest of the trek, few of the houses in Mushe have been converted into lodges Mushe blends almost imperceptibly  into Chaunrikharka (Dungde), a large village at 2650m.

The first hotel here is the small Orientat Lodge, before the stone kani over the trail just after the short, steep climb from Mushe. The better lodges are a short distance beyond, near a large chorten. Just around &  bend in the trail you will find a small shop, the Tourist Lodge & Restaurant and the smaller Buddha Lodge. There are three more chortens, a gompa and some wonderful mani walls, then the trail climbs, gently through fields at first, then steeply to a small ridge at the beginning of Chablung (Lomdza). Try the Ama Dablam Guest House or the Himalayan Rest House with its glass-enclosed dining room overlooking the trail.

The trail from Lukla now joins the route and the character of the trek changes abruptly. When flights are able to operate, more than 300 trekkers can fly into Lukla every day. If you have walked from Jiri, you will immediately recognise those who have stepped straight off the plane – their clothes are cleaner than yours and they don’t smell. From here on, accommodation becomes more frequent, crowded and ex­pensive. During the 1990s more than 150 new lodges were built between here and Namche Bazaar.

You can continue another hour to Ghat, but it’s a longish day. From either Chaunri- kharka or Chablung you can easily reach Namche Bazaar the following day.

Alternative Route: Surkhe to Lukla

From Surkhe the trail climbs for about 15 minutes to a junction at a mani wall where a stone staircase leads off to the right. This is the trail to Lukla it requires about an hour of steep climbing to reach the airstrip. It is not necessary to go to Lukla at this point unless you want to make a reservation for a flight back to Kathmandu, although all you will usually accomplish is to get your­self put on a waiting list. To get to Lukla, climb the stone steps and follow the trail up a gully, then onto a ridge. The trail passes several small valleys, through a forest that has been severely denuded by woodcutters, then comes to a stream. Cross the stream on a wooden bridge near two houses and climb to the ridge. The trail switchbacks through rocks to the foot of the airstrip. You can head up either side of the runway; there are trails just outside the fence that keeps yaks off the runway. Both routes pass the litter of propellers, wheels, wings and other pieces of crashed planes.

Day 8: Chablung to Namche Bazaar

6-7 hours, 1100m ascent, 200m descent This is described as part of Day 1 and all of Day 2 of the following Everest Base Camp trek. You will enjoy the climb to Namche more than those who flew to Lukla because you’ll be in good physical condition and have a better understanding of your surroundings.