Why the Three Passes Trek is a Great Alternative to Everest Base Camp

Anybody who has ever considered trekking in Nepal knows about the Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek. But fewer people know that there are many other trekking options in the Everest region that aren’t so busy, but that still offer the fabulous views and sense of adventure that comes with a Himalayan trek. One of these options is the Three Passes Trek.

The Three Passes Trek is so named because, yes, it involves crossing three passes above 5,000 metres: Kongma La (5,535 m.), Cho La (5,420 m.), and Renjo La (5,340 m.). The trek is typically 18 days long, although this can be extended to make side trips. However, it’s not a good idea to speed it up, for acclimatisation purposes. Three passes over 5,000 metres is a lot for the body to handle, so there need to be plenty of acclimatisation days built into your itinerary.

As well as these physical challenges, trekkers can expect phenomenal views of the highest peaks in the region (Everest, Lobuche, Nuptse, Ama Dablam…) You’ll also get to see the beautiful blue Gokyo Lakes, which are a trekking destination in their own right. And all of this on a trail that is largely much less crowded than the EBC trail.

The Three Passes Trek is not a trek for first-time trekkers or those who have never trekked at altitude before, though. It’s one of the most challenging teahouse treks in Nepal (as opposed to a camping trek). It’s best suited to travellers who are fit, who have trekked in Nepal (or other high, mountainous areas) before, and who are keen for a physical challenge.

The fact that it’s a teahouse trek is an important point, though. Many of the more challenging treks in Nepal require camping, which can add to the physical strain. For the Three Passes Trek you will need to be in good physical shape and be prepared to push yourself during the day, but at night you can retreat to a simple but comfortable teahouse trekking lodge. It’s much easier to keep up your energy levels on a long trek when you are able to get a decent night’s rest in warm conditions.

The Three Passes Trek is especially well suited to travellers who have trekked in other parts of Nepal before, and want to see the Everest region without the crowds that inevitably come with the EBC trek. Part of the trail is the same as the EBC trail, but part of it diverges. Another major benefit is that most of it’s a circuit rather than an in-and-out trek, as the EBC trek is. Starting in Lukla, you follow the popular trail to the Sherpa town of Namche Bazaar, which takes a couple of days. Then, the trail loops around in a clockwise direction. You won’t need to retrace your steps (apart from the Namche to Lukla route), so every view is fresh, every day brings a new experience, and there’s no anticlimactic ‘descent’.

As with most treks in Nepal, spring (March-May) and autumn (October-November) are the ideal times to do the Three Passes Trek. Although some treks in the Everest region can be attempted in the winter, this one is not advisable as snow is likely to block the passes. There’s still time to book an autumn 2019 Three Passes Trek adventure for you and your group (solo travellers are also encouraged!)

Beyond The Clouds is well-experienced in creating Three Passes Trek itineraries for travellers. Here are some beautiful pictures that they have shared with us from their travels, which feature below and throughout this blog post. You know the saying: a picture tells a thousand words.

Email us at info@beyondtheclouds.org.nz for more information on this trek, or any of our other offerings in the Himalayan region.