Nepal is known for its beautiful and amazing trekking routes worldwide. The stunning landscapes of Nepal, the scenic beauty of the Himalayas, and the friendly Nepalese people are some of the reasons that attract thousands of tourists to Nepal every year.
Trekking in Nepal is an excellent experience for everyone who loves adventure and exploring new places. And the three-pass trek is one of them. It is the ultimate trek you can do. It is not as popular as other trekking routes, such as Everest base camp trekking and the Annapurna circuit. But it is still one of the best trekking route of Nepal. No other trekking route has as beautiful a mountain view as Three pass trek in Nepal.
Three passes trek means there are three passes on the trekking. The trekking starts from Lukla and ends in Renjo La pass. From there you go back to Thame and then to Lukla, and then to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.
The journey starts from Kathmandu and from where you go to Lukla. There are a few ways to go to Lukla from Kathmandu. The most popular and most used method is flying. It is quite expensive, but it’s easy and fast. The other ways are via a bus or jeep, which will take you some time but is cheap. And lastly, if you have time and are quite adventurous, you can just start trekking to Lukla. It does not matter how you get there.
After reaching Lukla, you trek to Dingboche. From Dingboche, you take a route to Chukung and cross Kongma La pass. It is situated at an altitude of 5,535m from then you will reach Lobuche. From Lobuche, you can go to Everest base camp (5364 m) and Kala Patthar (5545 m) to have a beautiful and close view of Mt. Everest, Nuptse, and the Khumbu Glacier.
Then you go back to Lobuche from Kala Patthar and Base camp and move to your next destination, Gokyo valley. You reach Gokyo Valley via Dzongla and Cho La Pass (5,420 m). You can see Gokyo lake, one of the most beautiful lakes you will ever see. One thing to remember is that when crossing the Kongma La and Cho La passes, it is very important to be careful as most of the time, it is always covered in Snow, and you may hurt yourself.
And Finally, after reaching Gokyo, you cross Renjo La pass (5,360 m), and then from Thame, you get back to Namche, and from the same route, you return to Kathmandu.
The three passes are:
- Kongma La
- Cho La Pass
- Renjo La pass
Some of the highlights of Three pass trek are:
- Everest Base camp
- Less crowded than other popular treks in Nepal
- One of the hardest treks in the world
- Gokyo lake
- Know more about sherpa culture
- Three passes: Kongma La, Cho La Pass, and Renho La pass
- Feeling of accomplishment
How long is the trek?
The three-pass trek is around “166 km” and takes 20 days.
Just like in any other trek, permits are also required in three-pass treks. There are two permits that you need. They are:
TIMS stands for Trekkers’ Information Management Systems. It will cost you around $10.
Sagarmatha National park Permit
The Sagarmatha National Park permit will cost you around $30.
If you are traveling via a travel agency, all these will be arranged by them, but if you are trekking solo, you can get it in Kathmandu. If you want to know more about permits, it’s important, and for more information on permits, you can visit here.
Itinerary of the three-pass trek
Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu
After a long and exhausting flight, trekkers will arrive in Kathmandu. The day is for taking a break and enjoying a cup of Nepali tea in warm Nepalese accommodations.
Day 2: Exploration of Kathmandu
Kathmandu, also known as the city of temples, is filled with historical temples and UNESCO world heritage sites. You should explore the city’s traditional temples, food, and market. The Syambhunath temples and Pashupati Nath temples are some religious places in Hinduism that you can visit to experience inner peace.
Day 3: Fly to Lukla, Trek to Phakding
On the third day, trekkers will have the chance to experience one of the world’s most dangerous flights to Lukla in their 45 min flight. The airport is located at an altitude of 2800 meters, with the runway only 500 meters long.
Your trek began after the flight to Lukla. Trekker will start their hike from the stunning town of Lukla by crossing the pasang lhamu memorial gate, which leads trekkers to phakding village. This trek will takes 3-4 hours, depending on your physical level.
Day 4: Namche Bazaar
You will begin your journey to Namche by crossing multiple high-suspension bridges. You will pass the monjo, also known as the entrance to Sagarmatha national park.
Trek will then ascend steeply to Namche, Mt Everest can be seen throughout the journey. Namche Bazaar is the hub of the Everest region, the headquarters of Khumbu valley, and you can enjoy a cup of sherpa tea here.
Day 5: Acclimatization day
Today is your rest day, you can take your time to visit the local market to buy souvenirs or trekking items. You also have options to take short hikes like hiking to the famous Everest view hotel, where you can have a beautiful panoramic view of mt Everest and mt Ama Dablam.
Day 6: Trek to Tengboche
After the rest day at Namche, the trekker will be heading to Tengboche(3,867m). The journey starts by passing the sherpa settlement and then goes through the Rhododendron forest above the Dudh Koshi river.
It takes about 4 hours to reach Tengboche, which is famous for having a sacred monastery and mountain views of Mount Kwangde, Tawachee, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse Ama Dablam, Kantega, Thamserku,
Day 7: Trek to Dingboche
After breakfast, the path dips through a magnificent forest of moss-covered pine and rhododendron trees to Deboche (3,820m), which then makes a nice ascent to the quaint community of Milingo above the Imja Khola.
There is a steep incline after crossing the bridge, from where you can view ama Dablam.
After crossing the Lobuche River and choosing the lower route at Warsa, the journey to the Dingbuche village, passing the entrance marked by a bright Buddhist prayer flag flirting with a pile of stones (4,410m).
This is the place to spend you will spend overnight in the teahouse.
Day 8: Rest day
Since the trekker will climb high altitudes in the next few days, a second acclimatization day is required.
Day 9: Chukhung
After the early Breakfast, the trekker will trek to chhukung which is only 3 hours away.We consider the Three Pass Trek as one of the hardest treks due to its high elevation and low oxygen levels. You can choose to rest in a tea house or ascend to chhukung Ri(5546) for a panoramic view. You also have an alternative option of visiting the island peak base camp.
This evening, one needs to adequately prepare for their first high pass, the Kongma La Pass at 5,535 meters (fill up every one of your water bottles, get some energy bars, a headlamp, and warm clothing).
Day 10: Trek to Lobuche via Kongma La pass
You will have to start your trek early to go through small trails which lead up to kongma la(5,535m). This pass is generally a bit harder than other passes due to its high elevation.
To get to the Pokalden Base Camp, you will descend immediately west out of Chukhung via a narrow, rocky track and contour around several hillsides, most of which are not particularly steep. You will arrive at another Pokalden Base Camp and a crystal-clear blue lake right below the pass after ascending a few higher slopes.
The hike continues for another 30 minutes, providing us with beautiful views but impossibly constructed trails into the cliffside. We finally arrived at the Kongma La, our highest pass at 5,546 meters, a few hours later. Reaching the Pass’s summit, which offers a spectacular view of the mountains and Glacier Lake, glacier, takes about 3 to 4 hours. Following a steep descent, it takes another three to four hours to pass the Khumbu Glacier and arrive at Lobuche.
Day 11: Trek to Gorak Shep via Everest Base camp
The trail continues its gentle and sometimes steep climb near the Khumbu Glacier today. It is mostly windy and unstable walking conditions, but we can enjoy views of Mt. Pumori (7,165m), Lingtren (6,749), Khumbutse (6,665), and Nuptse (7,861).
The walk to Gorak Shep (5,140m), the world’s highest tea house, takes between three and four hours.
In the Everest Base Camp, you will see Khumbu Icefall, walk along the Glacier Ridge for 2 to 3 hours, and often walk on the glacier.
Day 12: Gorakshep to Kalapathar
The hike to the top of Kala Patthar begins in the early morning after a cup of hot tea. There are steep climbs of 20 minutes along the north ridge of Gorek Shep to reach a plateau where the Nepalese government held a meeting to raise awareness of climate change on December 4, 2009. After 2 hours of climbing, you will finally see the small rocky peak known as “kalapattar”.
After taking some mesmerizing pictures at Kala Patthar, hiker can finally descend to Gorakshep. Trekker will continue their hike to dzongla via lobuche for 4 to 5 hours.
Day 13: Dzongla to Tangnank via Cho La Pass
There is a steep scramble up boulders on the trail to Cho La Pass, followed by a walk across a snow-covered glacier on the pass’ gentle slope. The glacier itself offers breathtaking views, but you might feel exhausted even with the breathtaking views.
Day 14: Thangnak to Gokyo
The trail ascends a trail that catches the main route of Gokyo after passing through the Nagjumpa Glacier (the biggest glacier of the Nepal Himalayas).
You can reach the town in front of the third Lake (Dudh Pokharai) in Gokyo in 2 to 3 hours through the wonderful trek from Thangnak.
Then you will ascend to gokyo peak (5,350m) and take the rest you deserve after the long hike.
Day 15: Rest Day in Gokyo
Day 16:Gokyo to Marulung (4,150m) via Renjo La (5,360m)
After a leisurely breakfast, you depart from your tent and ascend into a broad curie in order to reach the ridge line in front of you. This is the final difficult crossing we will encounter. When you cross it, you are treated by a fantastic view of the blue lakes at Gokyo and Mount Everest.
There is a possibility to see Tibetan traders traveling in caravans of woolly yaks loaded down with merchandise as they pass via the Nangpa La pass that connects Tibet to the Himalayas.
Day 17:Marulung to Thame (3,800m)
Thame is the home of most mountain heroes, where the first Everest submitter Mr. Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, was born in the valley who had concurred at the top of the world on 29 May 1953 with Edmund Hillary citizen of New Zealand.
Day 18: Thame to monjo
After breakfast, the treks take us through juniper and rhododendron forests with remote Sherpa settlements, including Thamte, Mende, Thamo, and Phurte, before turning south and gradually descending the valley until Namche Bazaar.
Day 19: Manjo to Lukla (2,800m)
After a long walk, we’ll have a long last trek back to Lukla today. We descend along the Dudh Koshi River Bank, crossing several bridges. After and half-hours sine walk from Monjo we get in Phakding Village, where we stopped overnight last time. We walked through the lush green scenery, the sound of the river ranging, rock paintings by Buddhist Mantra, precious Mane while by water, Chorten, and colorful Buddhist prayer flag around us
Day 20:Fly back to Kathmandu
We schedule flights from Lukla to Kathmandu in the morning to avoid weather concerns such as wind and low visibility caused by clouds in the afternoon. However, please note that due to unfavorable weather conditions and other factors outside of our control, flight schedule may be delayed by an hour or more, and even canceled.
Map of Three pass trail
How difficult is Three pass trek
Three pass trek is one of Nepal’s most difficult, challenging, and hardest trekking routes. A lot of people take the three-pass trek lightly and do not prepare much and end up giving up halfway.
The Three pass trek is known as a difficult trek because of the ever-changing weather and the high chance of getting lost if you are traveling without a guide. It is hard to find the correct route in three pass trail. It is also one of the longest treks available in Nepal.
The temperature at higher altitudes also gets super cold. If you are trekking for the first time, it is advisable to trek in other places first or hire a guide and porter for your safety.
Difficulty on three passes:
Kongma La Pass
Kongma La pass is considered the most difficult pass as it is also the longest pass.
Cho La Pass
Cho La passes are not as easy as Renjo La pass, but it is not hard as Kongma La pass. To get through Cho La pass you will need to cross a glacier, and as there are microspikes it will make your trek a little helpful.
Renjo La pass
Renjo La pass is considered the easiest pass to cross. As it is one of the shortest passes to cross.
One thing to remember is that all these things could be changed depending on the weather, season, and the route’s condition. So, it’s essential to give proper time crossing each pass.
Best time to do the three-pass trek
Trekking in Three pass trek is difficult, so knowing the best time or season to do it is very important. Spring which arrives in the month of March to May, and Autumn in October and November are regarded as the best seasons to do the Three pass trek.
The monsoon season in June to early September has pretty bad weather because of rain. So, I don’t really recommend this season. But of course, a lot of people choose this time because of less crowd.
And the Winter season December to February is the coldest and snowiest time to do the trek and there are chances of the snow blocking the pass and damaging the route but the sky is clear at this time of the year.
Accommodation and Food
Accommodation and food are quite similar to Everest base camp trekking. You will find a good tea house to live in and eat delicious food. The good thing about the Three pass trek, just like in the Everest base camp, is that you don’t need to camp there are tea houses available.
Guide and porter
You can do the Everest base camp trek independently, without hiring a guide or porter, as the route is well-maintained and the trek is relatively moderate. However, for the Three Pass Trek, we highly recommend hiring a guide and a porter, or at least a guide to ensure a safe and successful trek.
We especially recommend hiring a guide and a porter, or at least a guide, for the Three Pass Trek if you are trekking in the off-season. The route may get destroyed by the glacier and you could easily get lost. A guide will know the way around it. If you end up having quite a hard time on the trek, the guide could decide whether to continue or give up because it is better to try again sometime in the future than take a risk. So, I highly recommend you hire a guide and a porter on the three-pass trek.
The three-pass trek will cost little more than the Everest base camp trek as you will be not only reaching the Everest base camp you will also be passing through it. It can generally cost you from $2000 USD to $5000 USD depending on your trekking agency or your need and preferences. The cost will include your transportation fees, food, permits, visa, accommodation, guide, porter, insurance, VAT, and other essentials.
The three-pass trek is one of the most challenging treks ever. It is a real test of our physical and mental strength, and you must be fully prepared to go to the summit. If you have done this trek earlier, please share your trekking experience in a comment below.