Insight on Everest Trekking

Mount Everest is the highest peak on earth. It attracts more than 50,000 people in a year to trek through the treacherous trail to reach its base camp. But, there’s more to the trekking than just seeing the Everest. The Sherpa inhabitants of the region, their native culture, rich biodiversity and the sight of humongous mountains are few treats of the trekking.


Everest Region

With the commercialization of Mount Everest, the trekking began in late 80s. Since then, millions of tourists have visited the Khumbu (Everest) region; few of them comprising of climbers. Today, the Everest Base Camp along attracts more than 50,000 tourists in a year.

Over 5,000 people have summited the Everest. With availability of better logistics and assistance, more climbers tend to join the expedition every year bringing the total summits over 300 per year.

Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse
Mount Everest

Khumbu is mostly accessible through a short flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. Those who wish to map it on foot can arrive through Jiri village. It may well take over 9-10 days to trekking to reach the base camp. However, there aren’t any lodges available in the base camp, hence, you must stay at Gorakshep or Lobuche before approaching it.

Kala Patthar at 5,643 meters is located just above the base  camp. It’s a small hill or the monument where the trekkers can spend time enjoying the up-close glimpse of the Mount Everest. (Note: Everest isn’t visible from the base camp. The towering Lhotse peak blocks the entire view)

Namche Bazaar, Gokyo lakes and Tengboche are another major attractions in the region. Namche and Tengboche are accessible through the usual trail, however, you must take an entirely different route to reach the Gokyo lakes. Gokyo is a discreet village located at the western section of Khumbu.

Trekking

The trek is generally strenuous and may require walking over 5 hours a day. It begins at Lukla. The trail aslowly ascends towards Namche Bazaar through Phakding. Namche is the most populated Sherpa town and is known for its luxury lodges, markets and ethnic lifestyle. Hiking around the place or staying a day more is recommended.

The trek ascends further towards Tengboche. Tengboche boasts the highest monastery on Earth. The monastery is over 100 years old and the popular Mani Rimdu festival is held every year to commemorate its legacy. Few other Sherpa villages, you’ll come across are Dingboche, Lobuche and Gorakshep before heading towards the Everest Base Camp.

You can hike to the base camp from Lobuche in few hours and come back to Gorakshep to stay overnight. The next day, you an make an early hike to Kala Patthar and start descending the usual way afterwards.

Anyone from the age 8 to 59 can do this trek, with sound health and proper assistance. Acclimatization is essential to get used to the local environment and altitude.

Facts

  • The Everest was attempted by British mountaineer George Mallory before it was successfully summited by the 9th British expedition
  • Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa became the first humans to touch the summit of the peak, in 1953.
  • Over 5,000 people have summited the Everest since 1953.
  • Reinhold Messner became the first person to summit the Everest without the use of bottled oxygen
  • The term Sherpa actually signifies the native tribe of Khumbu region. Today, Sherpa is used as a misnomer for porters, guides and such.
  • Over 250 people attempt the summit in a single day every year during the climbing season of May.
  • The disaster of 1996’s at Everest cost 15 lives. The incident was later adapted into the best-seller, Into Thin Air.
  • The popular trekking seasons are Spring and Autumn. They last from March to June and September to November simultaneously.

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The Janaki Temple of Sita

Janaki Temple at the Mithila region of Nepal is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Sita. It was built in the early 20th century, copying the Mughal style of architecture. Janaki temple attracts thousands of Hindu pilgrims throughout the year and is considered one of the most revered Hindu sites in the world.


Overview

Janaki Temple or Ram Janaki Temple is a large temple premise located in the Janakpur district, the Mithila kingdom of Nepal. Maithali is the official language of Mithila.

Rama and Sita
Rama and Sita

It spans over 4,860 sq. ft of area and the main temple is 50 meters high. It is a three-storied structure made entirely of stone and marble. All its 60 rooms are decorated with the flag of Nepal, colored glass, engravings and paintings, with beautiful lattice windows and turrets.

Diverse ethnic groups live in the Janakpurdham. Yadavs, Teli, Brahmins, Kyastha, Tharu, Musahar, Rajput, and Chhetri are the main inhabitants of the region. Most are farmers by occupation. The whole region is also considered the center of Maithali culture, therefore Maithali art and culture is predominant in this area.

History

The temple was built in 1910 by the Queen Vrisha Bhanu of Tikamgarh, India. The temple is popularly known as the Nau Lakha Mandir, meaning “Nine lakh or Nine Hundred Thousand.” The cost for the construction of the temple was about the same amount.

Mythology

According to the Ramayana, the original city of Janakpurdham was named after King Janak of the Mithila kingdom. King Janaka of Videha dynasty ruled the entire Mithila (Both India and Nepal) from Janakpurdham.

Janak found a baby (Sita) in a furrow of a field and raised her as his daughter. When Sita was about sixteen, the king announced that she could be betrothed to whoever strings the divine bow of Shiva. Though many royal suitors tried, only Lord Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, was successful to do so. She was married off to Rama.


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Honey Hunters of Nepal

Honey hunting involves harvesting the honey from wild bee colonies located at the high cliffs. The practice of honey hunting in Nepal has been prevalent since hundreds of years. A Kulung clan of Gurung community in mid-western Nepal harvests honey every year from Apis laboriosa‘s honey comb, the largest  honey bees in the world.


Overview

Honey hunting has been practiced since the dawn of civilization. In Nepal, the practice of harvesting wild honey started few hundred years ago by the native Gurung tribe of mid-western region. The harvesting is mostly practiced at Bhujung and Pasgaon villages of Lamjung.

Facts

  • The native practice of harvesting involves using scarce materials made from locally available resources. Bamboo, jute ropes, firewood etc are frequently used. The hunters avoid using harness while climbing the high cliffs, mainly because of the experience, hence increasing the risk of falling.
  • The harvest may last a day or two. A special puja is led by the shaman before embarking on the job. The puja purportedly placates the cliff gods and spirits. The hunter using special ropes climbs up to 200 meters with unprotected clothing and a bamboo stick. The staffs help the hunter in the purpose by setting up the materials, collecting and burning firewood to generate smoke to disorient bees and to carry and manage the hunted bee hives. The hives are cut and collected in the basket and carried down safely.
  • There are 3 types of wild honey available; red honey is created from flowers at higher altitude during spring, spring honey is made from flowers at mid or lower altitude and autumn honey is created from flower at any site.
  • Red honey has psychotropic qualities and isn’t  consumed locally. They are sold at international market at higher prices. Red honey is mostly used to prepare medicines and are mainly exported to Japan, Hong Kong and Korea.
  • The well organized trips are conducted twice or thrice a year to various places in Nepal for the interested tourists. They tour agencies tend to charge huge amounts while their harvest practices doesn’t really follow eco-friendly methods. The entire benefit is engulfed by the tour agencies, leaving less for the local staffs. You are recommended only to participate in the honey hunting trip organized at the designated places in Lamjung district; and support the local staffs earn more benefits from the trip.
    Read more on Honey hunting trip

Himalayan Honey Bee

Apis dorsata labiriosa
Apis dorsata labiriosa

Apis dorsata labiriosa or Himayan honey bees are the largest among the honey bees in the world, and they are mostly found in the higher altitudes of Nepal, India and Bhutan. They were categorized as the subspecies of Apis dorsta, however, in 1980 it was classified as the separate species.

It mostly nests at the altitude of 2,500 and 3,000 meters; building very large nests under overhangs on the south-western faces of vertical cliffs. The nests are made facing against the direct sunlight and potential predators. One nest can contain as much as 60 kg of honey. The bees forage at altitudes of up to 4,100 m (13,500 ft).

A pound of wild honey may fetch $60 – $80 in the Asian black market.

Read The Last Death Defying Honey Hunters of Nepal  –National Geographic

 

 

 

Bhaktapur, The Former Royal State of Nepal

Bhaktapur formerly was a princely state ruled by the Malla Kingdom of Nepal, until it was invaded and annexed by Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1744 during his initial unification campaign. Today, it remains one of the major cities in Nepal and a popular tourist destination.


Overview

Bhaktapur or Bhadgaun is an ancient Newari city located 12 km east of Kathmandu. One of the 3 former princely states of Kathmandu valley, Bhaktapur is also known to be the largest among them.

55 windowed palace
55 windowed palace

Due to the historical and archaeological importance of the place, it was enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Newar tribe of people remain the predominant inhabitants of the city. The local architecture and culture signifies that of contemporary Newari art and lifestyle.

The city was hugely damaged by the major earthquake of 2015, along with the tourist site of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Most of the monuments in the durbar square has been renovated or are in the process.

History

Founded in the 12th century by Ananda Malla, Bhaktapur was the capital city of the Greater Malla Kingdom until the 15th century and was an independent kingdom from then until the 18th century. The Newari art, cuisine and lifestyle flourished under the Malla regime. The popular religious and public festivals were birthed during the hey day of Bhaktapur. The individual rulers of Lalitpur and Kathmandu city belonged to the same Malla clan and were siblings.

Ranjit Malla was the last king of Bhaktapur. He was a close friend and aide of Prithvi Narayan Shah. The latter invaded and annexed the city during his initial conquest of the entire Kathmandu valley. Afterwards, it came to be known as one of the districts of the unified Nepal.

The most popular delicacy of Kathmandu, Ju Ju Dhau (Curd) was introduced in Bhaktapur.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

The former royal complex at the center of Bhaktapur district is known as the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Consisting of a palace, courtyards, historic monuments and numerous temples, the whole complex, along with Kathmandu Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square, were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

After Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur is the 2nd most visited tourist destination. it suffered a huge loss during the major earthquake of 2015. The renovations have started and going well lately.

Tourist Attractions

  • 55 Windowed Palace -It is a former royal palace of the Malla Kings. It has a total of 55 windows, hence the name 55 Windowed Palace. Today, it serves as the art museum for the  tourists.
  • Golden Gate -A major gate of the palace is entirely made out of gold. It lies just in front of the 55 Windowed palace and acts the main entry point.
  • Lion’s Gate -According to the legend, “This magnificent gate was produced from artisans whose hands were cut off after finishing touch to them by the envious king so that no more of such masterpieces could be produced again.” Today, it serves as one of the major entry points for the durbar square.
  • Mini Pashupati Temple -Similar to the Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu, the Mini Pashupati temple is a major attraction of Bhaktapur
  • Nyatapola Temple -A 5 storied temple, it is located inside the Durbar Square premise, and is one of the major attractions of the area. Despite the huge earthquake in 2015, the temple still stands strong.
  • Bhairav Nath Temple -Dedicated to the God of Terror and Death, Bhairava, it is another major tourist destination. It holds importance among the locals; and devotees sacrifice animal at the temple premise every year.

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Khaptad National Park

Khaptad National Park is a protected area located in the far-western Nepal. It was named after the renowned saint Khaptad Baba, who made it his home. It lies far from Kathmandu and many other cities, hence, the local culture and lifestyle inside the park remains well preserved.


Overview

Khaptad National Park is a protected region and a national park located in the far-western region of Nepal. It was established in 1984 and falls under the IUCN Category II. The national park spans 225 kmand covers four different districts; Bajhang, Bajura, Achham and Doti.

Khaptad's landscape
Khaptad’s landscape

The area also attracts the Hindu pilgrims during the Janai Poornima, which falls on July-August. The pilgrims arrive at Khaptad Baba Ashram and stay overnight to observe the full moon; they then worship Lord Shiva.

The park contains Chir pine at lower altitude, and sub alpine forests of fir, hemlock, oak and rhododendron in the higher areas. It also boasts 224 species of medicinal herbs.

It is estimated that about 567 species, 11 percent of flowering plants of Nepal, are found in Khaptad.

You can find around 270 species of birds in the area, some of which includes; Impheyan pheasant, partridges, flycatchers, cuckoos and eagles. It also boasts indigenous wildlife; barking deer, wild dog, wild boar, ghoral, Himalayan black bear, yellow-throated marten, Rhesus monkey and Macacques.

The entry fee for SAARC nationals is $1, and $10 for Non-SAARC nationals.

History

The park was named after Khaptad Baba. It was on his advice, that the state decided to establish a protected region. Khaptad Baba or the Late Swami Sachchidananda moved to the area in the 1940s to meditate. He lived 50 years as a hermit and became a renowned spiritual saint. Many devotees visited him during the heyday.

Today, an Ashram remains inside the park to commemorate the late saint. Khaptad Baba Ashram remains open for any visitor.

Another major religious destination inside the park is the Badimallika temple. The temple is dedicated to Mallika Devi. It is believed that Goddess Sati, Shiva’s consort, was reborn as Parvati in this holy area.


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Tilicho -The Highest Lake in the World

Tilicho Lake at Manang is known to be the lake situated at the highest altitude in the world. The oligotrophic glacial lake is a popular destination for the trekking  and is a part of the restricted region of Manang valley.


Overview

Tilicho Lake
Tilicho Lake

Tilicho Lake is located in the Manang district of Nepal, at around 55 km from Pokhara. It is situated at an altitude of 4,919 metres (16,138 ft) in the Annapurna range.

Due to its sheer altitude, it’s known as the highest lake in the world. The max length of the lake is 4 km, with the width of 1.2 km. The average depth is 85 meters.

The Lake collects the glacial melt of the entire northern slopes of Annapurna and Thorang Peak. In 2001, Hindu pilgrims in throngs flocked to the lake convinced it is a holy spot mentioned in the Ramayana – a holy book of the Hindus.

Khangsar, Tilicho, Muktinath and Nilgiri are few of the peaks surrounding the lake.

Tilicho Lake was the site of one of the highest ever altitude scuba dives. A Russian diving team, consisting of Andrei Andryushin, Denis Bakin, and Maxim Gresko, conducted a scuba dive in the lake in 2000.

Trekking

The lake is a part of the popular trek trails in the mid-western Nepal. You can consider visiting the lake by going offbeat from the Annapurna circuit or consider doing a trek straight to Manang during the Manang-Tilicho Trek.

It may take 5-8 days from Besi Sahar to reach the Tilicho Lake. The trail offers enough the-houses or lodges, hence camping isn’t required. The periphery of the lake doesn’t have any lodges, hence, you must consider staying at Tilicho Base Camp and only doing a day tour of the lake.


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The Pashupatinath Temple of Kathmandu

Pashupatinath Temple of Kathmandu is one of the holiest Hindu shrines in the world. A sacred place dedicated to Lord Shiva congregates more than 800,00 pilgrims during the grand festival of Maha Shiavratri. It is a popular tourist destination in Kathmandu.


Overview

The term Pashupatinath stands  for “Lords of all animals.” The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva (One of the Hindu Trinity) and also known as the lord of animals. A stone bull in a crouching position marks the insignia of the temple.

Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva

It’s located at the heart of Kathmandu. The area of Pashupatinath encompasses 264 hectares of land including 518 temples and monuments. Due to its historical and social importance, the entire site was added in the UNESCO Heritage Site in 1979.

The Maha Shivaratri is the major festival of all Hindus in South Asia which is celebrated with much awe inside Pashupatinath temple premise. It attracts over 800,000 visitors in a single day, one of the highest religious congregations in the world. Thousands of visitors, including; pilgrims, devotees, tourists, visit the temple everyday.

An animal sanctuary was established inside the area to protect the indigenous wildlife of the region. Antelope and other few animals reside inside the sanctuary; and it is open to tourists.

History

There isn’t certain date signifying the origin or creation of the temple. The earliest evidence of the temple dates back to 400 AD. The current temple was constructed or renewed in the 15th Century by the Lichhavi king of Kathmandu. Since, then many renovations have taken place; along with many temples, shrines built inside the premise.

Legends

There are many legends to the creation or origin of the temple.

The Cow Legend suggests,

Lord Shiva once took a form of an antelope and started roaming around Bagmati river. The Gods seeing this, caught him by his horn and forced him to take his self form. The separated horn was revered and prayed as the Linga. Centuries later, a herdsman found the linga buried inside the earth. Sine then, the shrine was established to pray to the Linga.

The Mahabharata Legend suggests,

When the Pandavs went to the Himalayas, Shiva tried avoiding them because they killed many people in during the Mahabharata war. To avoid them, he ran away in the form of a Bull. On being followed, the colossal Bull dived into the ground to resurface at other places. He left his hump at Kedarnath. When he resurfaced, he had assumed a human form and emerged at different areas in these mountains. His Face resurfaced at Rudranath. His Arms resurfaced at Tungnath. His Naval emerged at Madha Maheshwar. His Hair emerged at Kalpeshwar.

There are many other theories to the origin of the temple, which today are part of the popular folklore’s.

Arya Ghat (Crematory)

The banks of Bagmati river passing through the temple also serves as the cremation ground for the locals. Known as Arya Ghat, it is considered important mainly because the Ghat is the only place around the temple where the water is considered sacred enough to be brought into the temple.

You may witness people cremating their family or relatives at the ghat almost everyday. You can visit the site  during Kathmandu Day Tour.


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Dolpo – The Little Tibet of Nepal

The world came to know about Dolpo back in 1999 when Eric Valli captured the region in his Oscar nominated movie “Caravan.” The unique landscape and lifestyle of the ethnic Dolpo tribe shook the world. It opened Dolpo as the popular tourist getaway. Since then, thousands of tourists have visited the region.


Overview

Dolpo is a culturally Tibetan region located in the upper part of Dolpa District in western Nepal. Part of the region falls under Shey Phoksundo National Park, the largest national park of Nepal. The inhabitants are the adherents of Bon, the religion that predates main-stream Buddhism.

The region is historically divided into four valleys: Tsharka (good growing-place), Tarap (auspicious excellent), Panzang (abode of monks), and Nangkhong (innermost place). Most people divide the place into two different regions; Upper Dolpo and Lower Dolpo.

The acute location of the region makes it one of the rain-shadow areas of Nepal, hence, you can visit Dolpo even during the monsoon. The region receives less than 500 mm of rainfall in a year.

Inhabitant of Dolpo
Inhabitant of Dolpo

The inhabitants of the region are predominantly traders. They trade salt from Tibet to lower parts of Nepal in return of other household goods; and their journey from home to farther distances is facilitated by Yak Caravans. This very culture inspired the story of a popular movie Caravan which later came to be nominated in the Oscars.

Only 200 tourist permits are provided by the government in a year, to control the arrival of tourists and to preserve the ethnic culture of the region. Hence, the permits tend to cost expensive than most other parts of Nepal.

Check complete itinerary

USD 500 First 10 days
USD 50 For each day
Shey Phoksundo National Park

Shey Phoksundo National Park spans 3,555 km and was established in 1984. It is the largest and only trans-Himalaya National Park in Nepal. Covering the greater regions of Dolpa and Mugu, the park is home to some of the rarest flora and fauna found in the country.

It is home to 6 different species of reptiles and 29 butterflies. The wildlife, such as; Snow Leopard, Grey wolf, Musk deer, Blue sheep. Goral, Great Tibetan sheep, Himalayan Tahr, leopard, Jackal,Himalayan black bear and yellow-throated marten, dominate the region.

The park contains the famous Phoksundo Lake, which is also the deepest lake in Nepal, and Shey Gompa (Monastery), both of which are the major tourist attractions.


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National Park Entry Fees – Nepal

Park entry permit is a must to enter any National park, conservation area or wildlife reserve in Nepal. The entry fee may differ according to the security and state provided status of the region.

Please refer to the table below for details about payment. Please note that the information below is as per the information provided by the concerned department. Any difference or discrepancy could be reported at info@ntb.org.np. NPR 102 = USD $1


S.No Parks Nepali SAARC International Free Pay
National Parks that are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Natural)
1 Chitwan National Park NPR 100 NPR 750 NPR 1,500 Below 10yrs At entry point
2 Sagarmatha National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu Or Entry Point Monjo
Other National Parks
3 Bardiya National Park NPR 50 NPR 500 NPR 1,000 Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
4 Khaptad National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,000 Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
5 Langtang National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu Or Entry Point Dhunche
6 Makalu-Barun National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
7 Rara National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
8 Shey-Phoksundo National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
9 Shivapuri National Park NPR 56.5 NPR 339 NPR 565 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs
10 Banke National Park NPR 20 NPR 200 NPR 500 Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
Wildlife Reserves
11 Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve NPR 50 NPR 500 NPR 1,000 Below 10yrs At entry point
12 Parsa Wildlife Reserve NPR 50 NPR 500 NPR 1,000 Below 10yrs At entry point
13 Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve NPR 50 NPR 500 NPR 1,000 Below 10yrs At entry point

 

Island Vs Mera Peak

Nepal is an abode of Himalayas. It’s gifted with some of the most majestic mountains in the world. Out of the 14 Eight-Thousander peaks, 7 remains in Nepal. Along with these mighty mountains, there are 100s of smaller peaks which caters the enthusiastic climbers. These can be cheaper than climbing the Everest and can be completed with ease.

Island Peak and Mera Peak are the two most popular smaller peaks in Nepal. These two mountains attract the most amount of climbers in the country. The climb may account for a day or two, hence, it easier to undertake small peak climbing. An expert as well as an amateur climber  can complete the climb without the need of any expedition.

Here are some holistic differences between the two to help you decide better.


Island Peak

Island Peak or Imja Tse is a small peak located at the Khumbu region. It measures 6,189 meters (20,305 ft). It was named Island Peak by Eric Shipton’s party in 1951, since it appears as an island in a sea of ice when viewed from Dingboche.

An Alpine PD peak, you need to have proper technical skills to ascent the peak. Cramponing, harnessing and ice-axing is essential. A Sherpa guide will always be there to assist you during the climb. Most of  the trail encounters trekking, however, the last 400-500 m section requires climbing through snow and rocks.

The ascent is generally started during early morning. Around 2 am, you get up and ready to tackle the climb with your ice-axe, ropes and head-lamp. You may reach the summit around 11 am-12 pm in the morning. The rest of the time will be spent descending all the way to the Chhukung village, which offers better tea-house for lodging.

More on Island Peak Climb

Mera Peak

Mera Peak at 6,476 meters (21,247 ft) is known as the highest trekking peak in the world. An Alpine PD peak, it is technically superior than most smaller peaks in the region. it is located in the Hinku valley of northeastern Nepal. It contains 3 main summits. Most climbers take on Mera North, the highest of them all.

You would need proper technical skills to ascent the peak. Cramponing, harnessing and ice-axing will be equally essential. A proper  logistical support and qualified Sherpa guides will always be there to assist you. From the summit, 5 of the major peaks will easily be visible, including Mount Everest.

Most of the trail accounts for trekking. The final 600-700 meters ascent requires climbing through snow, rocks and ice. The ascent starts early morning. You may reach the summit by noon and back to Lower Base Camp by the evening.

More on Mera Peak Climb


Ascent Profile & Logistics

Mera and Island Peak
Mera and Island Peak

Both the trip starts and ends at Lukla. The commute to Lukla is facilitated by the domestic flights. You’d generally trek 10-12 days and keep 2 days for climbing. A spare summit day is kept in case you aren’t able to summit the previous day due to bad weather.

Island Peak’s summit is just 287 meters lesser in height than the Mera Peak’s summit. Both requires a good amount of ice-axing, alpine style of climbing through ropes and cramponing. As the summit generally lasts only a day, the lengthy climb may prove to be a fatiguing experience for the most climbers.


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