Of all the paths you take in life make sure few of them are dirt. So it’s never too late to take out your time from your hectic scheduled life and get lost in the wilderness of Mother Nature. Every vagabond knows by now that adventure is found in every nooks and corners of our country Nepal. Exploring Nepal is like carrying water in a sieve, no one gets enough of it. So to take a break from our nerve shaken mind we group of 9 started our trek to Gokyo. From what we heard Gokyo Ri route is an alternative path to Everest Base Camp (EBC), starting from Namche and then spreading to a different direction. Most trekkers visit Gokyo as a side trip on the way to EBC but for us Gokyo Ri was our prior destination. For trek enthusiasts, Gokyo trek is a full fledged package of serenity and adventure.
As for our journey, we began with a four and half hour flight delay sitting at TIA, waiting for our flight to board. We were both excited and intimidated by the thought of flying to world’s most dangerous airport that is airport of lukla. It was normally a half an hour flight from Kathmandu to Lukla but when we were travelling, there was air pressure complication in Lukla airport so the airplane was landed at Ramechaape airport at first for some minutes and then headed back to lukla (2804m). Although the flight to lukla is famous for being dangerous we thankfully had a safe and smooth landing. We then spent our first day of our trekking by hiking up to phakding from lukla. Phakding – a small but beautiful green valley which constantly blesses your ears with the sound of river flowing while you stay there. Next day we left phakding and surpassed small valleys like Manjo (2839m) and big town of the Khumbu region with most hustle & bustle – Namche (3440m) which is apparently the hive town of that region. Trekkers usually stay at Namche for few days to get acclimatized to the altitude of Himalayas but for us Namche wasn’t our stop that day. Walking past few suspension bridges, exchanging countless friendly ‘’ Namaste’’ and ‘’hellos” with our fellow Nepali and Foreign trekkers we reached Moung la and spent the rest of the day staying at a lodge. We could have seen spectacular panoramic view of mt. Ama Dablam (6856m) and mt. Thamasherku (6608m) the owner of the lodge explained, but sadly the weather was so bad that the fog covered all the beautiful views. On 3rd day we left Moung la and started the hike. On the way we were awed by the strength of the porters carrying so much weight on their back and still there pace was faster than us so they were like our motivation for us to never give up while trekking. We rested at Dole for a while and boosted our body with lunch and again started hiking. After walking for 3 hours we reached Macchermo and stayed in a lodge at there. I could only tell how hard it was for us to hike on this day because it rained on the way and we were soaked! We retreated to the dining room and kept ourselves warm near furnace in the center of the room which apparently they heated it with yak’s poo (fun fact). While we trekked up through these small valleys, besides obvious encounters with yaks and donkeys we saw pheasants, musk deer, and mountain goat and Himalayan wild deer as well. Along with that, we saw entire hill sides awash in Different colors of rhododren; it was an incredible sight to watch.
On 4th day of our trek the weather cleared out and we could see the beautiful and epic mountains the fog covered earlier. The mountains were standing tall and roaring its existence to us. The rendezvous view was so amazing that all the pain from walking was so worth it. We left Macchermo and headed towards the trail to Gokyo. Our legs were beginning to grow used to the changes in elevation; our lungs were also beginning to grasp complexity of altitude. We passed through a number of treacherous icy stone stairways and thankfully avoided plummeting into the abyss! When we saw the first gokyo lake which is Longpongo (4690m) we were all charged up with excitement and stars in our eyes. The sun shimmered right up to the crystal clear water of the lakes. Legend has it that all gokyo lakes are holy and hundreds of devotees both of Hindu and Buddhists religion worship these lakes and believe that one should never intent to harm the animals dwelling in the lake. Trekking in the shadows of colossal high peaks, besides turquoise lakes was one of the beautiful moments I brought back. Taboche tso was the second lake linked by a stream. Altogether we passed through 3 lakes before reaching Gokyo valley. From gokyo valley we can see the summit of Gokyo ri on the eastern side of the third lake which is Dudh pokhari. We had lunch so it was too late to head up to Gokyo ri that day so we just relaxed and hiked up to small ridge behind our guest house, which gave away to a stunning view of glacier valley and Ngozumpa glacier which is said to be the longest glacier (22 miles long) of the Himalayas of Nepal. Down onto Ngozumpa glacier below us we could hear the constantly creaking and cracking sound.
On 5th day of our trek we ascended Gokyo Ri early in the morning at around 5 am. The trail was like a knot of ribbons twisted all the way up to top of the hill. Generally it takes three hours to hike Gokyo ri but it may sound unbelievable to the readers that it took only 1 hour and 45 minutes for us to climb this hill. We were so glad about making it to the top, it was a great accomplishment for us. We took a seat on a stone and sat there stunned by the beautiful view of the legendary Everest (8848m). The view of the Everest and other famous peaks like mt. Cho Oyu (8201m), Lhotse (8516m), Makalu (8481m) was like a reaward for climbing the Gokyo ri successfully to us from Mother Nature. Along with the sight of these mighty peaks we also saw mini glacial pools, caves and crevasses. We lingered there for an hour or so admiring the beautiful view, capturing the moments and took pride in ourselves to have been born in such beautiful country. It took us half an hour to descend from Gokyo ri.
Around 11 am we packed our bags and left Gokyo. After walking for 8 straight hours from Gokyo we reached Phortse and stayed in that puny valley and decided to rest there.
On 6th day of our trek we woke up in Phortse by the sounds of river flowing, birds chirping and the sun was beaming between the mountains. How we wish that every morning of our lives was serene like that! We left Phortse at noon and the path was straight down 200m. It was steadily steep path up 400m to Moung la. While trekking back we looked back up all the trails we used couple of days back. Stopping by Moung la on our way back we saw the mountains we missed seeing before like Ama dablam (6856m), mt.kwangde (6809m), mt.Kantega (6194m) and Kangaroo peak. From Moung la the path was pretty much down slope and we didn’t even realize where Khumjung ended and Khunde started. Although we knew that Namche was quiet near because of the lengthy Mani wall we marked on the way before. We had decided before that we will stay at Namche for a day after ascending Gokyo Ri and that’s what we did. Being the hive town of the region Namche has pretty much every facility. The guest house we stayed at Namche was also best so far. We needed to celebrate our victory for making it to the top of gokyo ri so we did raise cans of beers at Irish Pub (located at Namche so it will be fair enough to say that we visited world’s highest pub).
Day 7th of our trek we left Namche and followed our usual trail to Monjo, Phakding and hence Lukla. Some of us were peering into shrubbery on the way and taking photos and later I found out that there was a little musk deer close to the path. Deer being a deer, it was skittish so I didn’t have the chance to witness it properly. On day 8th , from lukla the group of 9 diverged as three of our members went back home by flight and the rest six of us seeking for more adventure and experience decided to not to take flight but jeep. It took two more days for us to return home. It’s always a shame to leave mountains behind but the rest of the trails were full of Jungles. From Lukla we headed towards Surkhe and stayed at a beautiful neighborhood at the end of the village called Kharikhola. The day was exhausting because we climbed a lot of up hills and climbed down several down hills, Dodging gazillion donkey trains.
Day 9th we left Kharikhola. After Kharikhola there’s a decent steep to make the final crossing of Dhudh khosi valley called Taksindu la which is approx 3000m. Hiking up to the trail along past salung it was getting dark , too dark to see so we kept walking flashing our torches and we finally found a jeep, a four wheeled vehicle after so long. We booked that jeep for tomorrow and stayed at Phaplu and called it a day. On this day we trekked the longest. It was 10 hours of walking.
On 10th day After 6 hours of travelling on a jeep, we finally reached our homes. Usually it takes 12- 16 days to complete this trek but we completed it in 10 days.
This is the following itinerary that we followed for our Gokyo trek:
- Day 1: departed from Kathmandu (1300m) to lukla (2804m) and headed to phakding (2625m) – 3 hours
- Day 2: left phakding and headed to Moungla dada (3979m)- 8 hours
- Day 3: Left Moung la dada and hiked up to Macchermo (4,480m)-8 hours
- Day4: left Macchermo and reached Gokyo (4,800m)- 5 hours
- Day 5: Ascended Gokyo Ri and picked up the regular trail back to Phortse (3680m)- 7 hours
- Day6 : left Phortse and headed back up to Namche (3440m)- 6 hours
- Day 7: left Namche and hiked up back to Lukla (2804m) – 6 hours
- Day 8: Left Lukla and reached Kharikhola – 9 hours
- Day 9: Left Kharikhola and final stop Phaplu – 10 hours
- Day 10: Left Phaplu and traveled back to Banepa – 6 hours
This itinerary may not be suitable for all the trekkers who are thinking about taking this trek. We were fast pacers so we didn’t have problem to acclimatize the climate up there. But it’s always better to take precautions than to be casualty later so my suggestions to the readers is that don’t ascend too quickly especially after Namche, you could end up with altitude sickness, potentially fatal and the only cure is to head back down to lower altitude. Listen to your body and descend if you start feeling the effects of altitude sickness which includes headaches, fatigue, and even insomnia. Depending on your pace don’t rush your trek. Also you don’t have to worry about finding a place to stay in .Numerous amount of teahouses, and guest house are in business over there waiting to serve you. However you won’t find all facility like hot showers, good toilets, some lodge that we stayed in only had squat ones, western kind like toilets were also available but that did not flush (you had to pour water into, to flush ). Also they take charge for every petty stuffs. All in all this trek was the best trek of my life so far despite having to eat dry foods and daal bhaat only for whole 9 days, we got lost out of the actual trail few times and found our way back, trekking in the rain, given the steepness at some point during climbing. Despite all these hassles we had wonderful time and it was a privilege to experience a whole another world within our country. As I write this article I recall all the memories like stopping for some minutes or so to drink our special hot tang water and coffee, we couldn’t relish sitting around doing nothing so we ended up playing games called mafia and Chinese whisper, the chats at night in the dining hall of every guest house we stayed in, looking at the roof of the world (Everest), prayer flags fluttering in the wind, the lakes, the shrines, and the people over there always had a warm smile on their face no matter how cold the climate was, maybe because of all these reason we felt like we were “home”even though we were miles away from our actual “homes”.