ARUN VALLEY NORTH TO SAGARMATHA
(The southern route to Everest) –
23 Days. Max. Altitude 5,545m.
Basic Tea-House Trekking with guides and porters.
Flights: Kathmandu-Tumlingtar, return Lukla-Kathmandu.
Pre-trek Briefing: HE Office (Kathmandu Guest House) 5pm on day prior to Day 1.
Certainly the most rewarding of all ways to reach the Everest region is the way in from the plains of the south, then high into the Himalaya by a little used trade route that once linked India with Tibet.
Thus it is through villages and amongst farms of the Rai and Limbu people, an ancient rhythm to life totally tied to mountains and their seasons. Up the valley of The Arun and northwest crossing to the valley of the Hongu River and further into the very ‘back of beyond’, and the sunny slopes of Guidel. Eventually we reach the Dudh Kosi valley, the complete contrast that is the thoroughfare of the Everest trail from Lukla to Base Camp.
DAY TO DAY PLAN –
Day 1: Fly to Tumlingtar and trek to Katike Ghat
(4 hrs approx.) Flying east from Kathmandu, we take our first glimpse from the air of the mountains as we head to Tumlingtar, night 1 of our trek. This small community lies on the green plains of Tumlingtar and has a distinct Indian feel as it lies a mere 70kms from the border. Feeling like we have stepped back in time, we land on the grass covered runway and pass through this peaceful trading post as we set off across the plains and warm up with a gentle uphill hike through rice paddies and mango groves past pretty settlements with elevated split bamboo houses draped with bougainvillea and honeysuckle shrubs. Crossing the Arun River on a long and low suspension bridge, we arrive at the little village of Katikeghat (950m) situated on the banks of the Arun river.
Day 2: To Gothe Bazaar
(7 hrs approx.) The day begins with a strenuous uphill hike away from the Arun towards Chalise, where we will break for lunch. After the meal, we will start the gradual climb to Gothe Bazaar where we will camp for the night. In the village, we can sample the local Chhang, a beer made from rice.
Day 3: To Phedi
(7 hrs approx.) Crossing the Irkhu River via a rickety but safe bamboo bridge, we head up to Dhobane-Danphe where the villagers specialise in Nepalese hand made papermaking. After lunch, we will continue on our way to Phedi where we will camp for the night (Tea-House available). Until now, we have been trekking through low altitude fertile river valley and experiencing varied local cultures of this area. However the next day we move up into the middle hills.
Day 4: To Guranse
(7 hrs approx.) We ascend to Jaubari, and after a hard climb, we can stop to enjoy a revitalizing cup of local Nepali Sherpa tea (salt, flour, boiled water and butter mixed with tea). Advancing through the rhododendron forest, we stop to enjoy our packed lunch and a well-deserved rest, before heading up to Guranse, our campsite. (Optional hike to mountain pass, 40 mins.)
Day 5: To Tiuwa or Guidel
(8 hrs approx.) A 40-minute hike through the forest takes us to the Salpa pass, from where we descend the mountain ridge - at 3,349m. (If there is enough snow, we won’t need skis to slide down the slippery slopes!) Back in the rhododendron forest, we’ll continue onto the Sherpa village of Sonam (this is our second shopping centre for fresh vegetables), where we will stop for lunch. There is a choice of camping sites, either at Tiuwa (1 hour) or at Guidel (3 hours) further on.
Day 6: To Khirangle
(7 hrs approx.) Heading steeply downhill through jungle and villages along the ridge and past the Hinku (‘Hunga’- local name) River, we will pause for lunch at Bung before carrying on towards camp at Khirangle, on the edge of the jungle.
Day 7: To Najing
(5 hrs approx.) Heading into the jungle, we trek uphill to visit a Buddhist monastery before stopping for lunch. Later, we climb towards a second pass, Surky La (3,084m) where we should get to enjoy spectacular views of Mt Numbur. From here, we descend to the Sherpa Summer camp of Najing. Once there, we can try the local delicacies – dry meat, Sherpa tea, Yak yoghurt…..
Day 8: To Pangum
(6 hrs approx.) Today’s trek will take us along a downhill trail across the Inkhu river, which, in turn, leads to a steep ascent…a real endurance test! We stop for lunch at Gaikharka (where it’s possible to buy chocolate bars); afterwards we approach the third pass, Pangum (3,137m), before reaching Pangum village.
Day 9: To Puyan
(7hrs approx.) We gradually trek downhill to our lunch spot at the Makalu Hotel (a local teashop). Afterwards we continue towards the ridge before the steep downhill path merges with the Jiri trail, and all the other trekkers! (Note: there is another lower and gentler route, but if weather permits, we should have beautiful mountain views from our high route.) At Puyan, we can relax and enjoy a drink or two and take shower (a welcome relief).