Gokyo Ri (5360 m) rests at 17,575 ft above sea level in the Khumbu region of the Himalayas. It’s the mountain top from where you can see the most spectacular panoramic view of the five highest (above 8000m) mountains in the world: Mt. Everest (8848m), Mt. Kanchenjunga (8586m), Mt. Lhotse (8501m), Mt. Makalu (8463m) and Mt. Cho Oyu (8201m). During the trek you will also be blessed to see the grandeur of other mountains like Mt. Nuptse (7861m), Mt. Ama Dabalm (6856m), Mt. Thamaserku (6608m), Mt. Pumori (7165m), Mt. Kantega (6685m), Mt. Taboche (6542m), Mt. Cholaste (6443m) and Mt. Khumbila (5761m).
Gokyo Lake System is highest freshwater lake system in the world. It has total of 19 lakes and consisting of six major lakes: Gokyo Lake, Gyazumpa Cho, Tanjung Cho, Ngozumpa Cho, Thonak Cho and Longpanga Cho. The main lake is Gokyo Lake also known as Dudh Pokhari. Thonak Cho is the largest among the six and the first lake that comes during the trek to the Gokyo Ri is Longponga Cho.
It’s not only Gokyo Ri, its lakes and the marvelous view of the four highest mountains in the world, along with many other mountains that you get to behold, but also the longest glacier in the Himalayas in Nepal: Ngozumpa Glacier which is 36 km or 22 miles long. Through Gokyo Lake Trek, one of the best options for trekking in Nepal, you get the best of both worlds – spectacular landscapes including snow-capped giants of the Himalayas, the lakes and the authentic Sherpa culture’s experience.
Gokyo Lake Trek can be moderate to strenuous on difficulty level depending on the strength and stamina of the person. And usually, takes about 12 to 14 days to complete Gokyo Lake Trek depending on the person’s pace and the adjustment time needed to get use to the high altitude. True travel enthusiasts and adventure lovers take Gokyo Lake Trek route without much facility like the one surrounding along the way to the Everest Base Camp forgoing the traditional trail to the EBC littered with tea-houses and lodges with complete modern facilities. The best time to explore Gokyo Valley of the Himalayas is from September-November and from March-May.
To start your great adventure, trekking in Nepal, on the Gokyo Lake Trek, you will have to take 40 minute mountain flight to the most dangerous airports in the world: Lukla Airport from Kathmandu. The flight landing on a thin stretch of runaway on top of a flat area on the mountain can be both thrilling and nerve-racking for all the passengers.
After you land there, the journey begins! First to Phakding, making your way through few villages on the way in and out of the Sagarmatha National Park and then to the trading hub of Khumbu region: Namche Bazaar (3420m) where you need to have plenty rest and get acclimatized to the high altitude of the Himalayas.
Trekking in Nepal is a serious business, don’t be in a rush and don’t be foolish to climb the mountains real fast as the air is very thin in the high altitudes; from 5000m onwards there is 50% less oxygen in the air than at the sea level to be exact. It can take a serious toll on your body. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can be a serious problem not just because it causes discomfort in the form of mild headaches, loss of appetite or stomach disorder but sometimes it ends up in fatality if a person is not careful during the trek. The villagers don’t call Gokyo Valley - The Valley of Death for no reason as many trekkers have lost their lives because of AMS in the past.
Besides the obvious yak, there are other wildlife that you may come across during the trek like pheasant, musk deer, mountain goat, Himalayan wild deer and herd of Himalayan Thar. The trek will also take you through stunning rhododendron forest and you will have to pass through many suspension bridges here some of which may make you quiver just by the thought of crossing it.
From Namche Bazaar, you cross through Dhud Koshi Valley, trek through Cho La Pass (5420m) 17,782 ft above sea level, and heading out to Dole and onto Machhermo. From Machhermo, the trail leads to the Gokyo Valley which is at 15,583 ft above sea level where there are a small number of inhabitants making up a beautiful village settlement on the base of the Gokyo Ri by the Gokyo Lake.
Dudh Pokhari (Gokyo Lake) is believed to be sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists. It is believed that Nag Devata (Snake God) lives in the lake here, so every year during Janai Purnima festival, one of the sacred festivals of Nepal, hundreds of devotees visit the lake and worship the gods including Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. It is also believed that one should not cause any harm to the animals living in the surrounding areas of the lake aiding the protection of the Gokyo Lake’s wildlife.
After reaching Gokyo village, if you have enough time or a day to spare, you can explore the remaining fourth, fifth and sixth lakes on the trip and get the majestic view of Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Gyachung Kang and Makalu from the Scoundrel’s Viewpoint. You can also do this if the weather is not in mood to cooperate with you for the Gokyo Ri hike.
Getting a good long rest at the Gokyo village, the next morning you begin the journey to have the awe-inspiring panoramic view of the Himalayas from the summit of Gokyo Ri with the three hours hike to the peak. Take in the view of not only gorgeous mountains but prayer flags waving in the wind, the lakes, the shrines, and recalling the memories of the monasteries, and the people and the lifestyles of the Sherpas of the Himalayas, greatly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, living in the high mountains without being deterred by the cold and harsh climate, never losing that warm smile of theirs, and countless friendly encounters on your trek here, amplifying the unforgettable experience of trekking in Nepal, you take your leave until next time!