The alternative Everest Base camp routes

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Published: Fri 16 Dec 2022, 10:25 AM

Trekking to the base camp of Mount Everest is high on any trekker's wish list. Thousands of people make this trek every year, passing through iconic towns such as Namche Bazaar and Lukla and visiting high-altitude monasteries such as Tengboche, with its 360-degree panorama of the Himalayan mountains. Reaching base camp is just part of the adventure, and one should consider the other highlights when planning this trek.

By Ammar Tarique

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To reach Mount Everest, the trails take you through Sagarmatha National Park, with its unique flora and fauna, to the top of Kalapatthar, from where the views of Mount Everest are undoubtedly the best. But for those who have already done the classic Everest Base Camp trek or want a wider experience, alternative routes still take you through the Everest region, as seen here.

Gokyo Lakes

Another extremely popular, yet less busy, stunning trek is to the Gokyo Lakes. This is a network of high-altitude freshwater lakes unique in their turquoise color. Located at 4,700 to 5,000 m in the Gokyo Valley, the six lakes are within the Sagarmatha National Park. This is also a Ramsar site, meaning it is a wetland of international importance and sacred to Hindus and Buddhists. This trek involves 10 days of walking for approximately five hours a day. Local village life, icy rivers, glacier debris, and wonderful mountains are on display. A highlight is climbing up Gokyo Ri at 5,367m, from where there are excellent views of Mount Everest and many other mountains, glaciers, and ice ridges. This trek starts and ends at the high-altitude airport of Lukla and lets trekkers visit the popular market town of Namche Bazaar.

Everest Three High Pass

If you would like a longer trek in this wonderful region, the Everest Three High Pass Trek might suit you. This crosses three challenging passes: Renjo La Pass (5465 m), Cho La Pass (5420 m), and Khongma La Pass (5535 m), and takes you into the Gokyo Valley, where there are those six sparkling high-altitude freshwater lakes all falling under the name of Gokyo Lake. Another highlight is climbing to the top of a ridge called Kalapatthar, fondly called the Everest View Point. From here, Mount Everest and other mountains surround you in a stunning panorama. This trek involves around 9 hours of walking daily; therefore, a very high fitness level is required. It also takes Everest Base Camp, the market town of Namche Bazaar, and Tengboche Monastery.

Gokyo Chola Pass Everest Base Camp Trek

Another challenging 14-day trek, with some long days of eight or nine hours, is the Gokyo Chola Pass Everest Base Camp Trek. This is technically more challenging, particularly crossing the Cho La Pass at 5,300m. Starting off at 4 or 5 am, crossing this pass requires walking over ice, so crampons are required. This trek also takes you to Gokyo Ri, with its spectacular views of Mount Everest, and to the glacier Gokyo Lakes. Again, one of the main highlights is being atop Kalapatthar, taking in sunrise or sunset over Everest. The trail also goes to Namche Bazaar, where you can visit the school and health post set up by Sir Edmund Hillary, and lets you fly in and out of Lukla high altitude airport. In addition to the ice and snow, this trek, as do the others, takes you through rhododendron and pine forests and high pastures. And like the other treks, fluttering Buddhist prayer flags and chortens are everywhere. This is the most challenging trek of these ones mentioned here, but the sense of achievement is something else.

— Ammar Tarique is the Content Strategist at Teamology Softech and Media Private Limited.

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