The trek to Everest Base Camp is the most popular in Nepal drawing upwards of 30,000 visitors a year for its incredible mountain views, excellent trails and comfortable tea house style trekking. Here we present a few options for those wanting to visit Everest Base Camp but at the same time get off the beaten track. These treks offer a sense of the undeveloped side of Nepal and the Himalayas that most travelers miss entirely on the traditional route.
Traditional Everest Base Camp Trek
This is the traditional trekking route that is travelled 95% of the time and takes about 10 days. It starts with a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and then follows the Dudh Kosi River past Phakding to Namche Bazaar. After taking a rest day at Namche you get the first great views of Everest as the trek continues to Tengboche. The trek then follows the course of the Imja Khola to Dingboche. Climb the terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier and stay at Lobuche before making the final trek to Gorakshep (5164m) and Everest Base Camp. See More
Three Passes and Everest Base Camp
This one gets our vote as one of the best treks in Nepal as well as the best alternate route to Everest Base Camp. It’s a challenging trek that crosses three passes above 5000m but also rewarding with fantastic views of Cho Oyu (8,201m), Makalu (8,463m), Lhotse (8,516 m) and Everest (8,850m). Its similar to the traditional route in that it starts from Lukla but diverges from this route at Namche following the course of the Bhote Koshi Canyon for several days before crossing Renjo La (5360m) and descending into the Gokyo Valley. A rest day is had at Gokyo and its possible to climb Gokyo Ri for fantastic views of the surrounding peaks. The view of Mount Pharilapche (6017 m / 19741 ft) as it raises behind the milky blue waters of Dudh Pokhari are renowned. The trek heads down the Ngozumpa Glacier (one of the largest in the Himalayas) and then heads over Cho La (5400m) where one has great views of Ana Dablum. From here descend to Gorak Shep and visit Everest Base Camp before again diverging from the normal route and heading over Kongma La (5535m). Fantastic views of Cholatse, Pokalde, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu and Ama Dablam are had from Kongma La. After crossing the pass we descend into the valley of the Niyang Khola and stop at Chukkung, the jump off point for climbers heading to Island Peak. The rest of the treks takes the traditional route back to Lukla via Tengboche and Namche. See More
Gokyo and Reanjo La pass Trek
This is a shorter version of the Three Passes Trek which skips Kongma La and Everest Base Camp. Unlike the other treks it can’t be considered an alternate route since it does not go to Everest Base Camp but it is an interesting trek in the region that has great views of Everest. It follows the traditional route from Lukla to Namche and then diverges and follows the higher terrain; first to Dole and then onward to Machhermo. The trek then climbs towards the terminal moraine of the Ngozumpa Glacier and follows the lateral moraine of this glacier onward to Gokyo and its six lakes. A day of rest is taken at Gokyo and one can optionally climb Gokyo Ri for fantastic views of the surrounding peaks. The peak of Pharilapche (6017m) raising above the blue waters of Dudh Pokhari are legendary and the setting of many a photograph. Leaving Gokyo the trek the trek crosses Renjo La (5360m) before descending and following the canyon of the Bhote Koshi for several days enroute back to Namche. The views from the top of Renjo La of Cho Oyu (8,201m), Makalu (8,463m), Lhotse (8,516 m) and Everest (8,850m) are one of the highlights of the journey. See More
Jiri to Everest Base Camp
Skip the flight to Lukla and head out from Kathmandu on a 10 hour bone rattling bus ride to Jiri. All-in-all its between 5 and 8 days of trekking from Jiri to Lukla depending on your speed so count on adding at least a week to your total trekking time and flying out via Lukla. The trek really gives you the opportunity to see two distinct sides of Nepal. The route in from Jiri receives only a few visitors and with little more than Dal Bhatt on the menu the teahouses can hardly be called develop. While the elevation is not extremely high the trek into Lukla is difficult as the trail cuts across numerous valleys ascending and descending multiple ridge lines as it traverses the base of the Himalayas. Most trekkers will say this lower portion of the trek is the more difficult one. Once you reach Lukla the trek follows the normal route to Everest Base Camp. See More
Tumlingtar to Everest Base Camp
This trek starts with a flight into Tumlingtar from Kathmandu. The small village of Tumlingtar is the jumping off point for trekking groups headed to the Makalu Base Camp. Its about a nine day trek from Tumlingtar to Lukla on this infrequently used route although climbers heading to the trekking peak of Mera use the portion of the trail closer to Lukla. This trail is really off the beaten track and the experience here is quite different as the bhattis (teashops) are very rudimentary with few comforts and simple menus. However, the people are friendly and accommodating and will do their best to ensure your experience is great. Tumlingtar (460m) is really at the base of the Himalayas and can be quite warm so be prepared with the proper dress. It’s approximately nine days from Lukla to Tumlingtar and can the route can be used either as an exit or entry into the region. One advantage to using it is an entry is that it gives you additional time to acclimatize and get in shape before tackling base camp. Like the trek from Jiri it traverses the base of the Himalayas and as a result it’s a lot of up and down. The portion of the trek takes add about 8 to 9 days to the entire trek.