When someone says Nepal is a trekker’s paradise, they surely don’t lie. The country is overflown with natural beauty, which never fades. It has unique topography and remarkable landscapes that are best explored on foot.
Nepal has great walking trails that are willing to take hikers on an adventurous journey. One of these many hikes is Gokyo Lake, a trek that comes with extreme adventure, magnificent scenery, and incredible experience.
Visitors trekking Gokyo can learn about the culture, lifestyle, and traditions of different ethnic groups living here, mostly Sherpas. They can visit the fascinating towns all the way up to Gokyo and even engage in one of their cultural activities or social gatherings.
High mountains gliding above Gokyo Valley provides an exquisite view to visitors. Its wild landscapes, breathtaking lush slopes, and rocky summits don’t upset either. It’s probably why Gokyo Lake is considered one of the best hikes in north-eastern Nepal.
It’s usually at the top of many trekker wish lists, given the magnificent view and iconic landmarks. The 98 km trek starts from Lukla and waves through forests and valleys to arrive at Gokyo.
It passes several villages and traverses through forested terrains full of rhododendrons and pines. The trail has multiple suspension bridges to cross back-to-back steeps to mount. Trekkers will have to walk over the rocks and boulders to arrive at the valley.
Walking trails meander through the tropical forest home to Himalayan Tahr, musk deer, and snow leopard. Its route follows the bank of Dudh Koshi River and takes a few switchbacks before gaining elevation.
They have to travel through remote settlements like Dole and Machhermo to get to the village. The view of Gokyo Ri stretches from the Ngozumpa Glacier, which we have to travel. It also provides the sight of nearby Sherpa Villages and serene glacial lakes.
The trek from Machhermo to Gokyo is short but challenging with rugged trails. It’s unpaved and full of rocks and boulders, which makes it difficult to walk over. The climb to Gokyo RI is equally tough, following steep rocky trails and glacial moraines.
The trek is strenuous but worthwhile as it rewards trekkers with a mesmeric view of Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu. Trekkers walking to the top will also get to enjoy the beautiful glimpses of six freshwater lakes.
Nested at 16,400 ft, Thonak Cho is the largest lake in Gokyo Valley. Lying nearby it is Dudh Pokhari, Gyazumpa Cho, and Tanjung Cho. Generally, they all feed on the seepage of Ngozumpa Glacier.
Highlights of Gokyo Lake Trek
- Glorious mountains peaks such as Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, and others
- Hike through the scenic forests of Sagarmatha National Park
- Exploration of wildlife habitats, birds, and natural vegetation
- Picturesque Sherpa towns of Lukla and Namche
- Serene glacial lakes of Gokyo, including Thonak, Dudh Pokhari, and
- Iconic landmarks and religious sites
- The spectacular sight of Khumbu Icefall
- Magical sunrise view over Gokyo Ri
Gokyo Lake Trek Itinerary
Day 01: Arrival at Kathmandu
As planned, our officials will pick you up from the Tribhuvan International Airport. They’ll meet you at the arrival and offer our warm greetings before driving you to the hotel. Our staff will help you get the keys to the room and then leave shortly after so that you can freshen up and relax.
Day 02: Kathmandu to Lukla flight. Then trek to Phakding
Lukla Altitude: 2,850 m / 9,350 ft.
Phakding Altitude: 2,650 m / 8,562 ft.
Walking Hours: 2-3 hrs
Overnight at: a guesthouse
Our journey to Gokyo Lake begins with a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. It lasts about half an hour and comes with a spectacular view of sweeping hills and raging waterfalls. Upon landing, we’ll meet our crew members and have breakfast before leaving for the trek.
Scrambling the hills beside fuming Dudh Koshi River, the trail heads toward Phakding. It takes us through the Chaurikharka Village and down to Dudh Koshi, which offers an astounding view. After the last trek of the day on a well-worn path, we’ll reach Phakding. Overnight stay in a guesthouse.
Day 03: Phakding to Namche Bazaar
Namche Bazaar Altitude: 3,440 m / 11,285 ft.
Walking Hours: 6 hrs
Overnight at: a Guesthouse
It’s a difficult 5.8 miles walk from Phakding to Namche, so we better get moving on the trail. The Gokyo lake trek continues with a scenic walk along the banks of the Dudh Koshi River and over the suspension bridge.
Crossing the Hillary Suspension Bridge and passing several remote villages, the trail stops at Sagarmatha National Park. After getting permits to the sanctuary, we climb up through the forest from where Mt. Everest can be easily witnessed. After a difficult uphill trek, we’ll arrive at Namche Bazaar.
Day 04: Acclimatization day
Trails heading to Dole from Namche are physically demanding and strenuous. They even start to gain elevation from here. So, instead of climbing the trail upward, we’ll stay back in the town and take a rest.
After having breakfast, we’ll walk up to Everest Hotel View. It takes about 2-3 hours to reach the hilltop and watch the magnificent view of Mt Everest and Thamserku. The sightseeing around is amazing with sharp hills and subtropical forests.
The trail descending to Namche is quite beautiful as well. It provides us with a lovely view of snow-capped mountains and swapping hills throughout the way. We’ll stay in the same guesthouse as the previous one in Namche.
Day 05: Namche Bazaar to Dole
Dole Altitude: 4,200 m / 13,270 ft.
Walking Hours: 5 hrs
Overnight at: a Guesthouse
After the acclimatization, we’re yet again ready to work our way up to Dole. The trek, too, has a sharp hill to climb and a scenic walk through the forest. The path to Dole is slightly rocky, with end-to-end highs and lows.
It separates from the main EBC trail and winds through the Mong La Pass after almost two hours of walk. While scrambling the trails, trekkers are able to catch a glimpse of beautiful Ama Dablam and Mt. Khumbila.
Getting to the village requires a downhill walk into the rhododendron and pine forests. From here, the trail goes to the riverside village of Phortse Tenga and then Dole. It’s a straight uphill climb to the village, which is quite tiring.
Day 06: Dole to Machhermo
Machhermo Altitude: 4,470 m / 14,450 ft.
Walking Hours: 5-6 hrs
Overnight at: a Guesthouse
Leaving Dole, we set off on a hike to Machhermo. The trek is a continuous ascent uphill and over the pastures, which serves as a playground for yak. Alongside there is several religious shrines and prayer flags, which look spectacular.
The trail ahead unfolds the majestic view of Mt. Cho Oyu, Lhotse Shar, Ama Dablam, and Nuptse. It also leads us to the beautiful village of Lapharma and Luja before taking us to our stop at Machhermo. Overnight stay in a teahouse.
Day 07: Machhermo to Gokyo (Afternoon hike to Gokyo Ri)
Gokyo Altitude: 4,790 m / 15,584 ft.
Gokyo Ri Altitude: 5,357 m / 17,575 ft.
Walking Hours: 4 hrs
Overnight at; a Teahouse
After about an hour of trek, we’ll cross the grazing yak fields and trek to Phanga. Traveling in this section will help us come across the memorials made in honor of lost ones’ in landslides. As the trail gains elevation, the path becomes narrower and steeper.
Here, the trails are rough and filled with rocks and boulders. The walk is short but strenuous, taking about an hour or so. Gokyo is one of the highest villages in Nepal, perched on the eastern shore of third Gokyo Lake.
It’s only a few walks away from the lake and right underneath the Gokyo Ri. We’ll briefly stop at the village to have lunch and then head out on a journey to the Gokyo Ri. The trailhead starts on the west side of the Ngozumpa and takes almost an hour and a half to reach.
The trek is continuously upward with no downward slope. It’s rough and covered with loose rocks, which makes the walk a lot tougher than it seems. After reaching the summit, we get to relish the great views of rolling hills and towering mountains. We’ll descend the trail before the evening and spend the night in a guesthouse.
Day 08: Gokyo to Machhermo (Morning hike to Gokyo 4th Lake)
Gokyo Lake Altitude: 4,470 meters / 14,665 ft
Walking Hours: 5-6 hrs
Overnight at: a Guesthouse
The following day, we’ll hike to Machhermo, which may last from 5-6 hours, depending on the altitude. But, before getting on a trip, we’ll make a quick run for fourth Gokyo Lake, which is quite stunning. However, its trails aren’t so great with steep climbs, rocks, and boulders.
The hike is a real treat, though, as it offers us a breathtaking view of surrounding snow peaks and gorgeous landscapes. After the sightseeing, we’ll climb down the trail and leave for Machhermo.
The trail begins out of the village and off to the bank of Gokyo Lake. Passing the Gokyo Tso, Tanjung, and Longpunga, we trek uphill to the south edge of Ngozumpa Glacier. Following the path, we head to Phang Village and then pass several Tibetan Chortens.
As we ascend, the trail to Dudh Koshi River Valley widens and unfolds the mesmeric view of verdant meadows and lofty snow peaks. After trekking for nearly six hours, we’ll finally arrive at Machhermo, a small settlement in the north of Dole. We’ll spend the night here in a guesthouse.
Day 09: Gokyo to Dole
Walking Hours: 6-7 hrs
Overnight at: a Guesthouse
Another day and another long walk but this time, the hike isn’t as demanding as previous. Trek from Gokyo to Dole is mostly downhill with some switchbacks. The day begins with a walk through the glacial moraines of Ngozumpa and gets along, passing several stone chortens.
As we move forward, the trail opens up and provides glimpses of Thamserku and Kantega. We’ll be walking beside these shimmering mountains all along the way. The easy 3.7 miles walk wends through the villages and over the Dudh Koshi River Valley. After a short ascent, the trail ends at the beautiful village of Dole.
Day 10: Dole to Namche Bazaar
Walking Hours: 7 hrs
Overnight at: a Teahouse
Just 7.4 miles from the village of Dole is our next destination. The trek to Namche isn’t difficult but lengthier, with a few highs and lows. Outside of the village, the trail winds through dense forests and passes several remote villages. It initially descends Sanasa and walks through Phortse Tanga before arriving at Mong.
On the way, we’ll pass several Tibetan monasteries and ancient Chortens. Surrounded by steep hills and mountains, Namche has a magnificent view to offer visitors. After watching the picturesque scenery, we’ll get back to the teahouse and get some rest.
Day 11: Namche Bazaar to Lukla
Walking Hours: 7-8 hrs
Overnight at: a lodge
We’ll spend the last day of Gokyo Lake Trek by walking the trails to Lukla. After descending the steep hills and crossing Hillary’s suspension bridge, we move towards the local village. Most of our trek today is around Dudh Koshi River Valley and its surrounding, which comes with a scenic view.
After arriving at Lukla, we’ll freshen up and get some rest at our lodge. Since we’re undefeated on the expedition, it’s fair to celebrate the moment. After having dinner, we’ll get off to sleep.
Day 12: Lukla to Kathmandu
We’ll leave for Lukla airport early in the morning. It’ll take us around 30 minutes in flight before landing in Kathmandu. Upon arrival, our staff will transfer you to the hotel, where you can take a rest the entire day or go out on the road for shopping.
Best time for Gokyo Lake Trek
Autumn is probably one of the few times when trekkers will experience warm and pleasant weather. It’s usually dry and sunny in Khumbu during the season. Days are warmer and nights are chillier, with temperatures dropping up to 2 Degree Celsius.
The temperature in Gokyo Lake is much cooler, averaging about -12 Degree Celsius. With winter just around, November typically has the coldest days of all autumn months. Trekkers are likely to witness a gradual drop in the temperature along with light snowfall.
The autumn color might have faded by the time. But, if you walk the trail in October, there’s enough stunning fall foliage along the trek. Visitors can watch the changing tree leaves and lush meadows during the expedition.
Trekkers can experience similar weather in spring as well. Warm days, cooler nights, and fabulous views makes the season incredible to hike. It has long daylight hours full of sunshine, which makes the climb easy and comfortable.
But, since the winter doesn’t go without putting up a fight, the weather is cold at the beginning of the season. There’s light snowfall in different parts, especially at higher altitudes.cIt’s only after late March the temperature starts increasing, but, even so, it’s still low at Gokyo Lake.
There’s low precipitation and humidity in Spring at Gokyo. Meanwhile, down in the valley and forest, flower blooms are in peak. Its green terrace farms and colorful wildflowers provide a picturesque backdrop to the hikers.
Also, migrating birds and animals put a great show for them. Since the weather is warm now and skies are clear, trekkers can enjoy the unobstructed view of shimmering snow peaks and diverse landscapes.
Winter is off-season in Gokyo, with crowds storming off after December. As the temperature starts dropping, they abandon the village and head off to the valley. To avoid wind storms and blizzards, trekkers keep themselves out of Gokyo Lake.
Those who enjoy snowfall may resist the odds and hike to Gokyo. But, they do it with lots of preparation as winters are severe in the mountains. The days are short and cold without too much sunshine. The average temperature of Gokyo is -10 to -14 Degree Celsius in winter, which makes the hike incredibly difficult.
The same goes for summer but, instead of cold, it’s warm here. Summer is humid and hot in Khumbu, with an average temperature of 2.3 Degree Celsius. It has warmer days with bright sunshine, making the trek more comfortable. But it doesn’t last long as the monsoon starts shortly after. There’s heavy rainfall from mid-June, which makes the trail murky. The weather isn’t clear, and it’s hard to catch the views. Due to extreme heat and increasing temperature, most trekkers get tired pretty soon.
Food & Accommodation
Wandering the trails of Gokyo, especially if you want a place to stay, isn’t a competitive spirit. There are ample accommodation options here, including lodges, hotels, and teahouses.
In the valley, guesthouses are the most affordable choices for accommodation.
They are well-equipped and spacious with pre-arranged furniture. Most of the lodgings offer a handful of services like a bed, pillow, blanket, and hand towel to the guest. They normally charge a low price of around US$2 to US$5 per night.
There’s no shortage of accommodation in higher regions either. You will find lots of teahouses. They have twin-share rooms with sufficient space for each. Unfortunately, the rooms have no direct connection to the bathroom, so the guests will have to share the regular ones.
Apart from the lodging, they also provide food to the visitors consisting of local staple foods like rice, lentils, curry, and pickles. It’s a classic Nepali dish, simple yet delicious. Other dishes available to try are fried noodles, tasty dumplings, and pancakes.
The food in breakfast normally has soup, bread, muesli, and eggs, served with tea. But, these are only offered by the guesthouses in town. There’s usually scarce of food items in teahouses at higher altitudes.
Due to rugged trails, goods have to be transported using porter or yak, which increases costs. Foods are relatively cheaper in lower valleys, so if you want to save money, stock the goods right here,
Trek to Gokyo Lake isn’t a stroll in the park. It’s a tough walk of 61 miles with many ups and downs. The trail to this glacial lake has a series of steep hills that goes down to the forest and above the valley. Besides, it has unpredictable weather, which makes the trek even more difficult.
Hence, trekking Gokyo Lake needs good preparation along with some equipment required for the trek. You have to be really careful while picking these items and ensure they don’t go to waste. Considerations must be given to weather, trek difficulties, duration, and distance. Here are some of the trek essentials needed for the Gokyo Lake Trek.
- Lightweight fleece jacket
- Waterproof jacket
- Short and long-sleeve shirt
- Moisture-wicking t-shirt
- Quick-drying pants or shorts
- Hiking boots
- Trekking shoes suited to terrains
- Synthetic or wool socks
- First-aid kit
- Personal toiletries such as a toothbrush, soap
- Batteries, charger, power bank
- Hand sanitizer
- Insect repellent
- Duffel bags
Preparations for Gokyo Lake Trek
Gokyo Lake Trek is pretty challenging, especially for someone who has never trekked before. It has mixed terrains with some rocky hills, which are physically demanding. The fight against its winding trail isn’t easy to win either. Trekkers have to walk through the lush meadows and valleys before making a continuous ascent to Gokyo Lake.
Hence, it requires some hard-core training to tackle these harsh trails. Trekkers have to give at least a month for the physical training. They must be dedicated and don’t go easy on the hike. Spend as much amount of time as possible on the routine workout as it helps to stay fit and in good shape.
Walking back and forth on the steep trails is exhausting. So, try doing labor-intensive activity and cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling, jogging, and brisk walking. These workouts will help to improve your muscular strength and endurance capacity.
Taking a few hikes on different trails before the trek is an excellent idea. Not only will they prepare you well for the trek, but they’ll also help you tackle the mountainous terrains. It’ll take the stress off your head and make the walk easier.
As much as physical exercise is essential, mental toughness is also important. Therefore, trekkers have to take care of their mental strength. Hiking the trail to Gokyo Lake is weight-bearing and mentally exhausting work.
So, put in extra effort on the hike and give yourself enough time to prepare. Don’t get intimidated by the trek difficulties; instead, fight against the odds. Maintain resilience and maximize your abilities as much as possible. Stay hydrated, and don’t let the trek get into your nerves.
Why trek Gokyo Lake?
Gokyo Lake isn’t short on breathtaking views. Some of its best can be discovered along the trail, while the rest can be traced at the spot. Trekkers can enjoy the natural view of tropical forests, lush green foliage, and beautiful valleys on their journey.
They also get to watch the spectacular view of mountain ranges and lovely waterfalls during the hike. At Gokyo, they can find many iconic landmarks, oligotrophic lakes, and glaciers, which are quite impressive.
Gokyo Lake Trek is an overwhelming experience for visitors who’re new to Nepalese culture, language, and tradition. They’ll be acquainted with the local Sherpa culture and their religious ceremonies on this trek.
Visitors will get to blend in with the native people. Just a few days at Khumbu and they’ll be well aware of Himalayan lifestyle, customs, and practices. Various trails in Khumbu will provide trekkers with a sight of Tibetan monasteries, Chortens, and mani walls.
Gokyo Lake trek is more of a trail walking than exploring. Trekkers will have to do the sightseeing while hiking. This makes the journey more adventurous and fun as they get to view stunning snow peaks, beautiful landscapes, and waterfalls.
As the trailhead starts in the town of Lukla, trekkers will be exploring a series of villages and walking the lush meadows before heading to the mountain. The voyage offers them some of the finest of Khumbu, including the view of steep-sided valleys, deep forests, and charming towns.
Exploration of rural settlements
The trek to Gokyo Lake allows visitors to explore the rural settlements of Khumbu. It makes them travel through the medieval Sherpa villages and towns. Trekkers can expect to receive warm hospitality and aid. The locals here are incredibly nice and friendly to the guests. They make them feel at home and help them with anything and everything.
Gokyo Lake Trek has easy hiking trails as compared to other walks. The trek has no technical difficulties except for a few steep hills and rugged trails. The walk on the Ngozumpa Glacier can be slightly challenging and tough. Walking the long forested trails and climbing up the valley won’t be easier either. But, apart from that, the trek is a breeze with no obstacles.
Difficulties of Gokyo Lake Trek
Walking the most popular hikes in Nepal may seem like a big fun but it’s actually a lot harder. Traveling through the wilderness and climbing steep slopes for multiple hours is grueling. Its trails are physically demanding, with many twists and turns.
Not just trail, but even the weather of Gokyo is tricky. It fools visitors into climbing the trail and makes the journey challenging for them. Some of the other difficulties of Gokyo Lake Trek are as follows.
The long walking trails of Gokyo Lake require multiple days to finish. Trekkers have to walk an average of 5-6 hours and cover a distance of 10-15 km, which is a lot. The hike is intimidating for any trekker who’s not used to walking the highlands or rocky terrains.
Since the trek has to be completed within the travel limit, trekkers have to beast the clock. In this matter, choosing a short itinerary isn’t going to be much of a help. Covering longer distances at a short time is inconvenient for any hiker.
Gokyo Lake trek is a mountain trek. So, the hikers will have to travel at higher altitudes for most of the expedition. As they go higher, the oxygen level decreases and causes altitude sickness. The low atmospheric pressure makes the trekkers dizzy and exhausted. Some of them even have difficulties in breathing due to low oxygen.
Walking the mountainous terrains of Gokyo while carrying a heavy daypack can bug anyone. On top of that, you have to climb steep trails and walk-in heat, which causes the body to lose sweat. The overflow of liquid increases the risk of dehydration and fatigue. Trekkers will suffer from terrible headaches, sunken eyes, and listlessness. Therefore, to prevent dehydration, they have to drink sufficient water rather than relying on just a bottle of water.
Weather & Temperature
The unpredictable weather of Gokyo Lake is another challenge for hikers. When hiking, trekkers experience a tremendous change in weather due to the rise in altitude. The weather is usually frigid at Gokyo, but it changes with the season down in the valley. Summers are hot and humid in Khumbu, while winters are chilly, which makes hiking extremely difficult.