Best of Khumbu valley – Three High Passes Trek in Nepal

Guest post by Nomad Joseph

Three high passes trek in Nepal is great choice for those who cannot choose between Gokyo lakes and Everest base camp (EBC). While doing three passes you will visit both of these places and much more. Most of the trek is not so busy as EBC trek and usually you will meet just a few people on the passes.

Three high passes you will need to pass

If you will start your trek from Namche clockwise the first pass is going to be before Gokyo lakes. This will be the lowest pass of all three – Renjo La, which reaches 5345 meters above sea level.

Renjo La pass, Nepal

Renjo La pass, Nepal

Second one is Cho La pass which reaches 5420 meters, it is between Dragnag and Dzhongla.

Top of Cho La pass, Nepal

Top of Cho La pass, Nepal

The last one of Three passes is Kongma La which is also the highest one – 5535 meters. Kongma La is between Lobuche and Chukung villages.

I did the trek anti-clockwise – started with Kongma La and finished with Renjo La.

In my opinion the easiest pass was Renjo La pass. Keep in mind that during most of the hiking season you will probably need micro spikes for Cho La pass. Before or after the pass (depends from which side you come) there is around 200-300 meters of crystal blue ice which is slippery.

Cho La pass glacier, Nepal

Cho La pass glacier, Nepal

Gear list for Three Passes trek

Depends from where you start but three passes trek will take you at least 10-12 days. If you start from Phaplu and will do some rest days or additional climbs the trek might take you even 20 or 25 days. For this time you will need some stuff. Check out what I had in my backpack during the trek:

  • Warm sleeping bag. Nights get pretty cold above 5000 meters.
  • Down jacket. I had thin one and it worked fine.
  • Hiking socks, underwear and T-shirts
  • Rain/wind jacket
  • Small backpack for day trips
  • GPS device, maps.me on your phone or Khumbu valley map.
  • Powerbank and solar charger. This will save you a lot of money.
  • Snacks – nuts, dried meet, sweets, chocolate. This stuff is expensive in lodges.
  • SIM card. Mobile data was working in some trek sections.
  • Trail running or hiking shoes. I did all the trek with Salomon speedcross and it was fine.
  • Book or cards for long evenings in lodges
  • Thermal base layer
  • Some medicine and patches
  • Chargers for your devices
  • Hiking poles
  • Other stuff you might need…

Three passes trek is not technical at all and you will not need ice axe, climbing chalk bag or helmet with harness.

Three Passes hike itinerary

If you are acclimatized and fast you can make this itinerary shorter. Although, if you are not acclimatized you might want to spend some extra rest days in Namche Bazaar.

Map of three passes trek in Nepal

Anti-clockwise map of three passes trek in Nepal

It is also worth to stay an extra day in Gokyo and do a trek to 6th lake (Cho Oyu basecamp). The itinerary I recommend:

  1. Lukla-Phakding (in the above map it marked as [end] – [2])
  2. Phakding-Namche Bazaar ([2] – [14])
  3. Namche Bazaar-Tengboche ([14] – [4])
  4. Tencboche-Dingboche ([4] – [5])
  5. Dingboche-Chukung ([5] – [6])
  6. Chukung-Lobuche ([6] – [7])
  7. Lobuche-Gorakshep + EBC  ([7] – [8] + [9])
  8. Gorakshep-Kala Patthar-Dzhongla ([8] – [10] – [11])
  9. Dzhongla-Gokyo ([11] – [12])
  10. Gokyo-Thame ([12] – [13])
  11. Thame-Namche Bazaar ([13] – [14])
  12. Namche Bazaar-Lukla ([14] – [end])

How to save money on the trek

Everyone wants to save money, especially when they are travelling long time. I have found some ways to save money on expensive Khumbu valley treks:

  • Bring solar charger and 10000-20000mAh powerbank. While you will do day trips around the villages just put the solar charger on the roof of the lodge and you will have half of the powerbank if couple of hours. I have used Rav Energy 24W 3 USB ports charger which I really enjoyed.
  • Have your own tea bags. Evenings are cold and you will definitely want to drink tea in lodges. Hot water is much cheaper than tea which is usually not so good. Bring your own tea bags and use them.
  • Don’t take shower. Use cold water to wash up. You will need to pay for hot showers in every lodge, so I decided not to do it. Not everyone will do that, but it saves a lot of money in Khumbu valley.
  • Bring your own nuts, jam and honey. Otherwise you will have to pay higher prices for oat meal or other breakfast cereals with them.

Enjoy your trek in Khumbu valley!

About author: Joseph travels since he was a child. Now he runs a travel blog – NomadJoseph.com where he writes about his travel experiences and gives tips to other fellow travellers. Joseph writes about budget travelling and mountains climbing. Follow Joseph on Facebook or Instagram.