Explore the Gokyo Valley on your way to Everest Base Camp
I made it! I ticked off the hardest physically demanding item on my bucket list – trekking to Everest Base Camp! But I didn’t do it the traditional way, instead we went via Gokyo.
I didn’t choose to go to EBC via Gokyo. That choice was made when the tour dates we wanted were booked out and the Gokyo Lakes tour was suggested instead. I was apprehensive after reading the itinerary, particularly reading about the Cho La Pass (the subsequent YouTube watching didn’t help either) but it was the date we wanted and my husband was very keen so we signed up! Now I’m hoping to convince you to do do the same.
The first reason (and the only reason required in my opinion) is the beautiful Gokyo Lakes. There are 3 lakes altogether and you’ll pass the first 2 on your way to the settlement of Gokyo where the largest lake lies. I’d seen photos of this large turquoise lake set between mountains and was very excited to see it but it wasn’t meant to be. During our trip we encountered unseasonal snow and colder weather from the beginning when it snowed on day 2 on our way to Namche Bazaar so it was no surprise that the lake was still frozen when we arrived. I have to admit that it was disappointing but there is no doubt the lake was still a sight to behold.
The best way to see the lake is of course from above! The group’s acclimatisation walk (which I dreaded each day) was to the top of a hill behind the village. I unfortunately didn’t make it to the top as I was struggling with altitude sickness but the view from half way up was still amazing. I sat and just appreciated what was in front of me. Whilst the rest of the group at the top of the hill had views of the lake and Ngozumpo Glacier on the other side.
Many people in my group chose to hike the Gokyo circuit, not only for the lakes but to watch the sunrise on the summit of Gokyo Ri and view of Mt Everest. Due to my altitude sickness I didn’t attempt Gokyo-Ri and stayed in bed but my husband got up at 4:30am and made it to the top! It was his second favourite moment and according to him, the toughest challenge of the whole trek.
The other draw card is to conquer the Cho La Pass. I had focused all of my thoughts prior to the trek on the pass and wondering how the hell I would make it with little trekking experience and being unco on my feet. Unfortunately for everyone else in my group we weren’t able to cross the the Cho La. The weather had made it too dangerous for anyone to attempt.
The Gokyo Valley is quieter than the main trails and had a quiet, stillness. I remember walking through the valley with its forests, frozen waterfalls and mountain ridges dotted with juniper bushes before reaching the first lake where a few ducks potter around and stopping on a rocky outcrop where our guides surprised us with hot mango and hobnobs before reaching the final lake. Making your way to Everest Base Camp on this circular trek via Gokyo may take more time and be more challenging but the sights and memories will stay with your forever.
Exodus Travels – Everest & Gokyo Lakes Circuit
Lonely Planet – Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya – Everest Region (check out the front cover!)