Are you one of those people who has heard the stories of adventures on Everest and needs to see the magnificent mountain for yourself? Grab the opportunity to spend time during your gap year exploring this incredible region. Imagine yourself trekking across the most popular destination for mountain enthusiasts. Covering parts of Solu Khumbu, you’ll pass through the homeland of the Sherpa and the Yak – it’s even home to the acclaimed Yeti! The opportunities don’t stop with the adventure, in your fourth and final week you’ll be able to carry out some voluntary work in the area, making a difference as you gain experience.
Setting you off on the right foot, your experience in Nepal will begin with a week of introduction to the culture, customs and people of Nepal. You will find great differences between your own cultures and those of the Nepalese from Religious practices to dining, school, and even toileting! In this week you will be introduced to everything you will need to know to settle into your new location and learn about do’s and don’ts. But it won’t all be about rules and regulations. Nepal is full of national treasures for you to discover and you’ll have a taster of some of these through visits to local markets, taking part in yoga sessions, trying your hand at traditional cooking techniques and taking some lessons in the local language to learn some useful words and phrases. Part of your orientation will also take you on a guided tour of the historical Boudhanath, one of Kathmandu’s sacred locations. Remember that you have a lot to offer too, the local people will be just as interested to learn about your culture and customs as you are to learn about theirs, there will be plenty of opportunities to share your experiences with them.
During your second and third weeks on the project your trekking adventure will take place beginning your exploration of the wonderful landscape around in the region of Everest. The Everest Base Camp Trek takes you on a trail through Namche, Tengpoche, Dingbuche and Lobuche before finishing at the Mount Everest Base Camp. Crossing roaring rivers via suspended bridges, and passing countryside dotted with traditional Sherpa villages, the delights will send your senses reeling!
In your fourth week you’ll have a chance to give a little back to the local communities as you volunteer at one of the linked projects. You’ll either work as a teacher at a local kindergarten or school, or assist in the Canine Rehabilitation Centre.
Incorporating 4 weeks of activities, your schedule is packed to the brim with adventure, relaxation and voluntary experience.
Week 1 – Introductory Week
Starting at 10am with a half an hour Puja – or worship – to the Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism, you will witness Religious rituals which are central to the culture. Discovering the importance of murtis (images), mantras (prayers), and yantras (diagrams of the universe), you will also find out about the importance of the personal nature of Hindu worship and the significance of individual offerings.
Following some fun activities to get to know the rest of your groups, the remainder of your morning will be spent discussing the schedule and safety of the program. You will be required to sign in agreement with the code of conduct, the child protection policy and to release liability for from the company.
You’ll have a long lunch break between 12:30 and 14:00 to reflect on the morning and then continue with an hour-long, helpful session on acceptable social behaviours whilst travelling in Nepal. Between 15:00 and 16:00 you’ll have a Nepali Language Training session which will introduce you to some essential words and phrases to help you communicate more easily with the locals. At 16:00 there will be a discussion about your Host Family, immersing you in the culture and how to behave sensitively to their customs.
After your check-in at 10am you’ll be on a Nepali Language Training course until 12 pm. Another great opportunity to extend your knowledge of words and phrases to really help you settle into your project. This will be followed by a hugely important talk about travelling safely whilst taking part on the program, looking at health precautions and general safety. There’s a break for lunch between 13:00 and 14:30 and then a cross cultural orientation session for an hour and a half to bridge the knowledge gap regarding dining, drinking, bathing, clothing and toileting customs in the culture of Nepal.
After a busy start to your week, today begins with a well-deserved, relaxing session of yoga and meditation from 7:00 to 8:30 am. Another Nepali language session between 10:00am and 12:00pm should see you starting to become familiar with some useful greetings and conversational phrases before you hear about Nepal’s schooling and educational system between 12:00 and 13:00. The afternoon session begins at 14:30 and will take you on a 2-and-a-half-hour tour of Boudhanath, one of the most sacred, and historically significant, landmarks at Nepal.
Your last 2-hour Nepali Language Training session for the week kick starts your morning at 10am. Buzzing with enthusiasm to try out your developing conversational skills, you’ll have a lecture on Religion and culture, a long lunch break and then head out to a local market between 15:00 and 17:00 to find some local, authentic Nepali souvenirs.
Your first experience of Hiking takes place today with a “Day Trip” starting at 9am and finishing at 13:00. After a 2-hour lunch break where you can relax and recharge your batteries, you’ll have a chance to evaluate your week’s activities, giving and receiving feedback and asking any questions you may have. A culinary delight is prepared for you in the evening as you will witness a demonstration of traditional Nepali cooking techniques.
Saturday and Sunday
Free time for you to relax independently or join an organised activity to explore the local area.
Week 2 and 3
You will take a flight from Kathmandu to the village of Lukla where you will trek for 3-4 hours to Phakding. Watch out for the spectacular views from the plane and the skill of the pilot as you land on a steep mountain runway!
After staying at Phakding overnight, the trek continues to Namche Bazaar. Trekking for approximately 7 hours, you will head North to follow the Dudh Kosi river as it heads towards Jorsale. At this point the trail takes you into the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park. Following the trail to the place where the rivers Imja Drangpa and Nangpo Tsangpo converge, you will then ascend for approximately 2 hours. At the end of the climb is Namche Bazaar, the main town in the Khumbu region. It is prosperous and one of the most important trading centres, holding a weekly Saturday market.
Having a whole day and night away from trekking, you’ll be able to rest and recharge at Namche Bazaar and appreciate its location tucked between the two ridges of the peaks of Khumbu. Its continued popularity with trekkers has resulted in an abundance of lodges and souvenir shops. If you decide to stay active at the town, consider taking a visit to the Khunde Hospital or the hour long walk to the Everest Hotel where you can view a sunset across the peaks of Ama Dablam, Nuptse, lhotse and Everest.
A 6-hour trek will take you from Namche Bazaar to Tyangboche today. Enjoying breath-taking views of the great peaks of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam, you will be in awe of the natural beauty as you follow the trail around the contours of the edge of the valley, high above the Dudh Kosi. On the descent to Phunki Tenga, you will pass numerous villages and tea shops before crossing a bridge over the river leading you into the village. Stopping at this excellent location, you will rest and have lunch before continuing on the steep climb to Tyangboche. The zigzagging paths will take you through stunning rhododendron buses, spectacular mountain views and give you a chance to spot wonderful wildlife, taking your mind off the exertion of the climb. At Tyangboche you will stay at a guest house overlooking Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam and close to the largest monastery in the Khumbu.
Leaving Tyangboche after enjoying a delicious breakfast, today’s trek will take you to Pheruche. Before leaving, take some photographs of the picturesque monastery as it appears even more beautiful in the morning light with the mountains as its backdrop. Following the higher trail via the Sherpa village of Pangbuche, the magnificent scenery will be dominated by the majestic Amadablam. On arrival at Pheruche, you will be settled into your overnight guesthouse and given time to unwind.
An interesting journey awaits you today, taking you from Pheruche to Labuche. Trekking up the wide valley, you will experience the stately peaks of Cholatse and Tawache on your left hand side. Leaving these as the path takes you to the right and on a steeper incline, you can look forward to incredible views of the Khumbu Glacier. Many memorials have been built to remember the numerous Sherpas who have died climbing Everest. You’ll see these stone cairns as you reach the top. The journey draws to a close as you walk along the glacier to the village of Labuche for your overnight stay.
Having reached the midway mark on your trek, today is a round trip from Labuche to Gorakphsep, to Kalapattar then back to Labuche. Be prepared for a colder climb, as you’re reaching higher altitudes, but the scenery will definitely be worth it!
Heading downhill for most of the day, you’ll be making your way to Dingboche today, retracing your steps through Duglha and Pheriche. At Pheriche, the Himalayan Rescue Association have an Aid-Post which is well worth a visit, and has an interesting history. Continuing on to Dingboche, you will stay overnight at a lodge.
Making your way back to Tyangboche, you’ll be anticipating the familiar scenery of the village and its famous monastery. Following, and crossing, the river before climbing back through the vibrant rhododendron forest, the trek will take approximately 4 hours. Arriving in Tyanboche, you’ll have time to freshen up and relax at your overnight accommodation.
Once again you’ll be revisiting familiar settings on your 5 hour trek to Namchee Bazaar. Descending to Phunki to cross the river Dudh Kosi at the suspended bridge, you’ll once again see the inspirational water driven prayer wheels. Continuing with your journey to Namchee Bazaar, the trek takes you on a climb around the hillside.
Trekking for 7-hours on a steep descent, you’ll be aiming to reach Lukla today. On this final day of walking, you’ll have a last glimpse of the spectacular mountains and pass through the picturesque villages of Phakding, Choplung and Chaunrikharka.
An early morning flight will take you back to Kathmandu where you’ll be able to spend the weekend relaxing and preparing for your volunteer experience.
Week 4 – Volunteering in Kathmandu
After your amazing trek around Everest, you’ll undoubtedly want to give something back. In your last week, you have the option of enriching the education of children in the local area by assisting with the teaching at local schools or a kindergarten, or taking an active role at a canine rehabilitation centre. At each of the placements you will be given a schedule which will outline the expectations of each of your days and the daily role you will take. This really is a fantastic opportunity for you to gain experience of working within other cultures and building long-lasting relationships.