3 Unique Hiking Routes to Everest Base Camp

By: Guest Author
Peak of Mount Everest Above Clouds in Tibet. Getty Images / © 2011 Nicole Kucera

Who hasn’t heard of the great Mount Everest? You don’t have to take the challenge to the summit to experience this remarkable mountain! Here are 3 unique routes to Everest base camp. 

Trekking to Everest Base Camp in the Khumbu region of Nepal is a popular experience that any trekking enthusiast should do at least once!

And if you have already done the Classic EBC Trek, these are the best alternative routes to take.

Male trakker standing on Gokyo Ri (5,357 m), enjoying the breathtaking view of the Himalaya mountains (Cholatse and Taboche to the left), Ngozumpa glacier, and Gokyo lakes (the world's highest freshwater lakes), near the village of Gokyo, in Sagarmatha National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Khumbu region, Solukhumbu district, eastern Nepal, Asia.
Getty Images / © Feng Wei Photography


Gokyo Lakes Trek

If you are looking for more than what the classic EBC trek has to offer, like experiencing the highest freshwater system in the world, this is the trail for you!

Catch a flight to Kathmandu, followed by a short flight to Lukla where the trail begins. Be aware, this is going to be the scariest airplane landing you will ever experience!

You will start your trek on the traditional EBC trail but will part ways at Namche Bazaar as you make your way up the Dudh Koshi Valley. From here you will continue your way to Gokyo Lakes.

Take it all in as you reach the stunning blue glacial lakes, before hiking to the summit of Gorak Shep. From the top, you will have the most incredible views of Everest!

You’ll move onto Cho La pass as you head towards Kala Patthar, an iconic viewpoint in this region. Don’t forget to get your camera out when you pass this trekker’s photo point at Everest Base Camp! Once you’ve made the climb up to Kala Patthar you will begin your descent and will end the trail back in Lukla.

Your entire trip is about 17 days and takes you over 5,500m above sea level. It is not as easy as the classic trek to EBC but if you have no previous trekking experience, you can still take it on. Make sure to properly plan your trek and train beforehand. 

The trek follows the ‘climb high, sleep low’ rule but it is important to educate yourself on symptoms of altitude sickness and take precautions to prevent any issues on the trail.


Three Passes Trek

So, you want to see more of the Everest region? Then this is the one for you! The Three Passes Trek is your best bet to covering most of the Everest region in one trail.

You will have to fly into Lukla again for this trek and you’ll start on the classic trail. Eventually, you will move west, off the popular trail, and head to Dudh Koshi valley where your journey over the three passes begins.

The first of the three passes is Renjo La which is at 5,370m. After reaching the top of this pass you will descend to the stunning Gokyo Lakes below and then towards Gokyo Village.

You will then cross your second pass called Cho La Pass at 5,420m as you make your way to Everest Base Camp.

The last pass is Kongma La Pass at 5,545m after which you will begin your descent and head back onto the classic EBC trail towards Lukla.

It’s going to take about 18 days to complete your Three Passes Trek, but 2 of those days will be spent acclimatizing at certain locations.

The altitude is higher than the previous Gokyo Lakes Trek and so it is considered more difficult. You’ll need to be well prepared for this trek, have a good fitness level, and possibly some trekking experience. Long days of strenuous trekking can take a toll on those less experienced in higher altitudes. 


Jiri Trek

Now, this is the best option for an authentic Everest experience!

You’ll be trekking along the same routes used by early pioneers during the 1950s. Thankfully this trek does not start in Lukla and is the only trek that doesn’t require you to take this terrifying flight.

The trek offers a more cultural experience. You will be exposed to the lives of the Sherpa people as you trek through beautiful farmlands and forests. You’ll begin in a town called Jiri and head northeast through the Solu Khumbu towards Lukla passing through many small towns.

Once you have passed Lukla you will have the most amazing views as you make your way up Khumbu Valley and towards the Everest Base Camp.

On your return trek, you’ll use the classic EBC trail and head towards Lukla where you will have to take a flight back to Kathmandu. At least you skip having to land here before the trek!

A longer journey of 22 days, but much more immersive. About 4 of these days will be used to acclimatize.

There is no technical climbing to be done on this trek, but it is still considered slightly more difficult than the classic Everest Base Camp Trek.

When you reach Everest Base Camp you will want to climb to the viewpoint of Kala Patthar for the most epic photos of the Everest region and its surrounding peaks.

To get the most out of trekking Everest, consider booking for February to May or September to October. I’ve found these months to have the best weather conditions and this makes your journey even more enjoyable.

So, are you ready to take on the challenge of the EBC Treks?