I spent a week trekking in the Himalaya Mountains in the Khumbu region of Nepal, which is near Mt. Everest. I flew from Kathmandu into the small airport at Lukla, then spent the next week on foot as I hiked through rural villages and across high mountain passes. I eventually made it as far as the village of Pheriche, which has a small medical center that is sometimes pressed into emergency service when climbers on Everest run into trouble.
I was in the area during mid-June, 1997. Although the weather was generally fair during this time, it was a little too close to the coming monsoon season and clouds often obscured the fantastic mountain scenery I had come to see. Nevertheless, the clouds did break from time to time offering vistas that are unlike anything I have seen anywhere else in the world.
It was a fascinating experience to wander through the small villages and to witness a style of life that has changed little over the centuries. All of the lumber, building materials, imported food and other products are carried into the villages, sometimes by yaks or donkeys, often by human porters that carry impossibly heavy loads up impossibly steep trails. It is revealing to walk into a local store or teahouse and see shelves lined with bottles of beer or water (primarily for sale to foreign trekkers) and to realize that everything had to be carried in over miles of narrow and winding trails.
The route I took was as follows: Day 1: After arriving at Lukla on an early morning flight from Kathmandu, we hiked to Chumou. Day 2: Chumou, to the entrance of Sagarmatha National Park and on to the village of Namche Bazaar (a major trading center in the region). Day 3: West from Namche to Thame, then, after retracing a portion of the trail, north to Khumjung. Day 4: Khumjung to Phortse Tenga, then on to Phortse. Day 5: Phortse, through Pangboche, then on to Pheriche. Day 6: Pheriche to the Buddhist monastery at Tengboche. Day 7: Tengboche, via Namche, to Chumou. Day 8: Chumou back to Lukla (for a flight back to Kathmandu the following day).
The photos above offer some highlights of the entire trek. Below, in separate slide shows that will run in a pop-up window, are photographs that provide more detail of each leg of the journey.
Lukla to Namche Bazaar: The trek begins! These photos recount the trail from Lukla, through Chumou to the region's major trading center, the village of Namche Bazaar. (24 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]
Namche Bazaar to Phortse: From Namche, we headed west to the village of Thame. We then retraced our steps for part of way, then branched off and climbed over Syangboche to the village of Khumjung. The following day we made it to the village of Phortse. (24 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]
Phortse to Pheriche: This leg offered some of the most spectacular vistas of the trek, with views of such magnificent peaks as Thamserku, Kang Taiga and Ama Dablam. Pheriche, at almost 14,000 feet, was the highest place we spent a night. (18 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]
Pheriche to Lukla: We left Pheriche and headed south toward the Buddhist monastery at Tengboche, where we spent the night. Tengboche offers views of Mt. Everest, known as Sagarmatha ("Brow of the Ocean") in Nepali, or as Chomolungma ("Mother Goddess of the World") to the local Sherpas. Everest, from this vantage point, is merely a small bump that pokes above the horizontal ridge of Nuptse and appears to be dwarfed by Lhotse, which is closer and thus appears taller. From Tengboche, we made our way back to Chumou after passing once again through Namche. The following day was market day in Namche, so we often had to step aside and give the trail to caravans of traders or human porters carrying goods to Namche. After a night in Chumou, we made our way back to Lukla for a flight out the next day. (26 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]