Everest Three Passes Trek in Scenic Nepal

7 February, 2021 | Reccy Guide

The Himalayas in Nepal have been beckoning adventurers to explore their snow-covered peaks for nearly two centuries. Today, thousands of hopeful trekkers walk through the area on foot to immerse themselves in the beautiful culture and unforgettable views. Every adventure in the Everest region begins in Kathmandu, but there are endless trip opportunities beyond this gateway.

The Three Passes Trek is one of the less populated options of the area. It doesn’t lack incredible views – in fact, it offers some of the best mountain vistas in Nepal. However, it’s an incredibly challenging route that few tourists are physically fit enough to complete. It takes most trekkers 20 to 22 days of dedicated trekking to complete the circuit.

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The Everest Three Pass Trek is, of course, named for three passes along the route. These are Kongma La, Cho La, and Renjo La. They rise to altitudes of 5,535m, 5,380m, and 5,360m respectively. There are many exciting stops along the way, and you can easily extend the trek by visiting Everest Base Camp and the Goyko Lakes.

View of surrounding peaks during the trek

To enter the Khumbu Region, you’ll need to find your way to Lukla. Most travelers choose the heart-pounding flight to shave off about 7 hours or so of travel time (and admittedly, the flights have better safety ratings than the bus rides). From there, you’ll pass down through Phakding and into Namche Bazaar.

This area was once the trading hub for Nepalese and Tibetan merchants. Today, this stepped village serves as an acclimatization point. The Three Passes Trek is a “lollipop” route. Everyone travels from Lukla into Namche Bazaar. The rest of the trek runs in a circular shape, but you will end up traveling back through Namche Bazaar regardless.

We recommend you opt for the counter-clockwise route, which is what we describe from here on. This path gives you the best chance to acclimatize to the high altitudes due to a slower ascent and villages that provide great opportunities for rest.

Therefore, your next stop will be Tengboche, home to a world-famous Buddhist monastery. Many trekkers receive blessings from the monks before continuing their journeys. You can observe services or explore the architecture and artistry of the monastery grounds.

After leaving Tengboche, you’ll travel through Dingboche and Chhukung to reach the first pass, Kongma La. From here, you’ll see stunning views of Mount Everest, Lohste, and Island Peak. On clear days, you’ll be able to see the snow-covered peaks of over a dozen Himalayan mountains.

View during the trek

You’ll descend into Lobuche next. Many trekkers opt for a detour to the Everest Base Camp and stay in Gorak Shep for the evening. Or, if you want to stick to the classic trek, you can continue to Dzonglha for the evening. Either option will lead you to encounter unique wildlife and colorful rhododendron forests.

In the morning, you’ll tackle the Cho La pass. The best views from this vantage point are those of the mighty Kala Patthar and Chumbu. When you’re ready to rest once more, Goyko village waits below on the shore of one of the Goyko Lakes. Many trekkers extend their trip to visit the other two Goyko Lakes and the Goyko Peak.

Finally, you’ll depart from Goyko and head toward the final pass, Renjo La. Here, you’ll take in the last of the pristine mountain views, with Cho Oyu standing closest. In the final days of the trek, you’ll travel through Lungde, Thame, and back to Namche Bazaar.

The Three Passes Trek near Everest is an adventure you won’t soon forget. The immersion in beautiful topography, breathtaking landscapes, and world-class views is an experience that can’t be beaten. By the time you’re on the flight back to Kathmandu, you may already miss the serenity found on the path through the passes.

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