On our most recent three month trip, we visited three countries and although each of them were amazing in their own way, visiting Nepal was the headliner for us. It was a country we had always wanted to visit for its rich culture and opportunity to trek in the Himalayas.
We spent almost a month in Nepal with kids and it was just as incredible as we thought it would be. We visited the old squares and temples in Kathmandu, rested in the lakeside city of Pokhara, went on a multi-day rafting trip and spotted a tiger in the wild on safari. But, it was our 10 days trekking that left the biggest impression on us and gave us a huge sense of accomplishment.
It can always be daunting taking children to a developing country, but add in strenuous hiking, dealing with altitude and basic living conditions and it can seem impossible. But, there are lots of great treks you can do in Nepal with kids. Our kids were 7, 9 and 11 at the time and although our 7 year old was the youngest hiker we saw, there were other kids on the trail. Let me know your questions so that I can answer them in our upcoming FAQ post on trekking in Nepal with kids.
- 1 Our 10 Day Everest Hike with Kids Itinerary
- 2 Planning Our Everest Region Trek
- 3 Day 1 – Arriving in Lukla
- 4 Day 2 – Lukla to Bangkar
- 5 Day 3 – Bangkar to Namche Bazaar
- 6 Day 4 – Acclimatization Day in Namche
- 7 Day 5 – Namche to Phortse Thanga
- 8 Day 6 – Phortse Thanga to Dingboche
- 9 Day 7 – Dingboche to Phunki Thanga
- 10 Day 8 – Phunki Thanga to Bangkar
- 11 Day 9 – Bangkar to Lukla
- 12 Day 10 – Fly back to Kathmandu
- 13 Our Everest Region Trekking Costs
- 14 Our Verdict
Our 10 Day Everest Hike with Kids Itinerary
We did a lot of research in choosing where we wanted to hike in Nepal and ended up deciding upon the Everest region. I was interested in doing some of the lesser-known treks, but our kids really wanted to see Everest and we knew we would get more buy-in if they were on board. Everest it was!
To get to the Everest region, you need to fly into Lukla, which is often billed as the world’s most dangerous airport. The very short runway and surrounding Himalayan mountains make for a difficult place to fly. While you can trek in the Everest region throughout the year, the best time is the spring and fall. We loved being there in early April and getting caught up in the excitement of the summit teams.
Although it was very tempting, we never intended to go all the way to Everest Base Camp (EBC). We were travelling with another family of 5 and only wanted to trek for about a week. We had an idea of the typical route and where we hoped to get to (Dingboche), but knew we needed to be flexible depending on the kids and every one’s health.
This was our itinerary:
- Day 1 – fly to Lukla
- Day 2 – Lukla – Bangkar
- Day 3 – Bangkar – Namche Bazaar
- Day 4 – Acclimitization Day Namche
- Day 5 – Namche Bazaar – Phortse Thanga
- Day 6 – Phortse Thanga – Dingboche
- Day 7 – Dingboche – Phunki Thanga
- Day 8 – Phunki Thanga – Bangkar
- Day 9 – Bangkar – Lukla
- Day 10 – fly Lukla back to Kathmandu
Planning Our Everest Region Trek
We did lots of research in advance of our visit to Nepal, but did not organize anything until we arrived. We are budget travelers and the quotes that we received when we were overseas, were much too expensive for us. The only thing we had booked was our flights from Kathmandu to Lukla.
When we arrived in Thamel, Kathmandu, the manager of our hotel, Holy Lodge, was wonderful at organizing porters and guides for us. He also could have booked flights for us at a much cheaper cost. By organizing the trek ourselves, we saved so much money, especially since we were a group of 10.
Day 1 – Arriving in Lukla
- Starting Elevation (Kathmandu): 1,400 m
- Ending Elevation (Lukla): 2,860 m
We had been watching the weather closely leading up our flight to Lukla and were worried about the predicted rain interrupting our flight. Sure enough after checking in to our flight with Yeti Airways, the rain caused a delay. We ended up spending most of the day at the domestic terminal of the Kathmandu airport anxiously waiting and hoping our flight would leave. Advice – bring lots of snacks to the airport as the facilities at the domestic terminal are very minimal and the only place to get food is an expensive convenience store and a very local restaurant. The kids were “starving” and we resorted to allowing themselves to occupy themselves with our phones.
We were supposed to fly out at 9 am and like most trekkers, the plan was to meet our guides and porters and trek to Phakding. As the hours wore on, we accepted that we were just going to be lucky to get to Lukla at all. After 7 hours, Lukla airport reopened and we were on our way. I definitely recommend flying Yeti Airways as they have the most flights into Lukla and recommend booking the earliest flight you can. Flights are often delayed or cancelled and all flights after ours were cancelled for the day.
The planes are small propeller planes and you are limited to 10 kg/person of luggage. It is best to sit on the left of the plane on your way there for the best views of the Himalayas. They do give you cotton balls for your ears and a mint, but I recommend motion-sickness pills if you are susceptible and real earplugs (you can buy them in Thamel). It is a very scenic 45-minute flight as you fly through the mountains and valleys and can see the small villages below.
Even if you have seen photos and videos of the Lukla airport, it is still quite exhilarating landing on the short runway. Stepping out of the plane, we were in awe of the snow-capped mountains towering over us and the much cooler temperatures. Our guide and porters were there to meet us and took us to The Nest teahouse, right near the airport. This is the point that you truly feel like you are starting your trek as you are surrounded by other trekkers in their neon high- performance gear, guides and porters milling around and shops selling last minute supplies.
We pulled out our hats and jackets and got our rooms sorted out. As a group of 10, we had a combination of double and triple rooms. This was our first introduction to teahouse accommodation – simple rooms with shared bathrooms. Since they aren’t heated, you spend your evenings in the dining room which always has a wood-burning stove. The dining room at The Nest was full of exhausted trekkers that had just finished and were surprised to be bombarded by six children.
Once we settled, we met with our guide, Biswash and our three porters and laid out our plans for the next week plus. Our guide Bishwas was from the Kathmandu Valley and spoke excellent English. The porters were friendly with varying levels of English. After our briefing, we had our first teahouse meal where it was only fitting that we ordered dal bhat, the national dish of Nepal. The kids were happy to see other options like noodle soup, fried potatoes, pasta and even yak pizza!
As we snuggled into our sleeping bags that night, we felt so blessed to have arrived and excited to be starting our trek the next day.
Day 2 – Lukla to Bangkar
- Starting Elevation: 2,860 m
- Ending Elevation: 2,630 m
- Elevation Gain: -230 m
- Distance Hiked: 11 km
- Hours Hiked: 6 hours
You quickly adapt to a trekking schedule of waking up early and going to bed early. Most teahouses will have you pre-order breakfast the night before to save time. We were up for breakfast at 6:30 am, with a hopeful departure of 7:30 am. Breakfast options include eggs, pancakes or oatmeal with weak tea or instant coffee as the most common hot drinks. We quickly discovered the goodness of hot lemon tea (like hot lemonade) and ginger tea, which is said to be good for altitude.
After a slightly late start we were off trekking. Before leaving Lukla, we paid our Solukhumbu fee, which now replaces the TIMS card in the Everest region. The cost is $20 USD or 2,000 NPR, with kids under 10 being free. You will need to show passports when purchasing.
We took our official starting photo at the arch on the way out of town before starting on our way. The first day is mostly downhill and very pleasant as we appreciated the spring flowers, blue skies and snow-capped mountains ahead. We hiked past cherry blossoms, rhododendron and pine forests, prayer wheels and ornately carved prayer rocks. We were passed by donkey and dzo (cow and yak mix) trains hauling supplies up, as well as porters with back-breaking heavy loads. All supplies have to be carried up and we felt bad for the porters with loads of Coke and toilet paper, so obviously for us trekkers.
You got used to the frequent sound of helicopters flying overhead, often on their way to Everest Base Camp with supplies. The first day we walked through lots of small villages with teahouses, restaurants, trekking supplies and even bakeries with fresh pastries. The kids rarely walked by a Buddhist prayer wheel without spinning it clockwise for good luck. They named all the dogs we came across and made up games to keep them occupied as they walked. We were all excited to come across our first of many suspension bridges, lined with prayer flags.
After three hours, we stopped in Phakding for lunch and a much needed rest. As we continued on Miles (our youngest) started feeling unwell and after urging him on for awhile, he vomited. A few of the other kids had been sick two days prior, so I really didn’t think it was altitude related, but of course, wanted to be careful. We had met a medical team that was doing the trek along with service projects in communities along the way and they were very helpful. We had hoped to make it to Monjo, but decided to stop in the next village of Bangkar so Miles could rest and we could assess him.
The Tashi Guesthouse in Bangkar ended up being one of our favourite teahouses and one we returned to on the way back down. It’s lovely riverside location, sweet owners and adorable baby that we got to cuddle, all made for a great stay. We fell into our new routine of hot drinks and cards, a carb filled dinner and an early night.
Day 3 – Bangkar to Namche Bazaar
- Starting Elevation: 2,630 m
- Ending Elevation: 3,440 m
- Elevation Gain: 810 m
- Distance Hiked: 10 km
- Hours Hiked: 5 hours
Another early morning awaited us and we were relieved that Miles hadn’t been sick again. We discovered what would become our favourite breakfast item on the trek – Tibetan bread. This deep fried dough is delicious, especially when served with honey or jam.
This was definitely the hardest day of the trek with the steep ascent to Namche. We left at 8 am, stopping in Monjo, where we paid the second fee required on the EBC trek, the Sagarmatha National Park fee ($30 USD or 3,000 NPR, free for kids under 10). The original route from Monjo to Namche was closed for maintenance and so instead of winding along the river, we began the uphill right away. We continued to see ridiculous loads on the porters’ backs, became proficient at getting to the hill side when animal trains passed us and continued to “oh and ah” at the breathtaking views.
The uphill was tough and even the adults resorted to frequent questions of “how much further?”. Bishwas encouraged us to keep moving, “slowly, slowly”. There was probably some complaining from the kids, but they got through it. We were rewarded with our first views of Mt Everest.
There isn’t anywhere to stop between Monjo and Namchee, so we soldiered on without lunch. Finally, we were on the outskirts of Namche, the largest town in the Khumbu region. We all felt a sense of accomplishment to have arrived as we took in the larger buildings, large stupa, water driven prayer wheels and vast amount of Western restaurants and bars, outfitter shops and hotels.
Namche is the last place you can get gear, money and a wide variety of foods. Trekkers descending use it as a celebration stop to indulge in drinks and food that doesn’t involve rice. Historically in Namche and most teahouse in the Khumbu, you paid very little for your accommodation as long as you ate your meals at the teahouse restaurant. There is a new initiative to change this, that requires higher fixed price rooms.
We wanted to make sure we picked a good teahouse/hotel since we would be spending two nights in Namche. We stayed at Hotel Khangri, which had a great central location and nice rooms with views. They did have some strict rules and so we joked that we felt like we were staying in an old school British boarding house. We spent our afternoon relaxing and enjoying all the amenities of Namche.
Day 4 – Acclimatization Day in Namche
After climbing over 800 m the day before, we needed to spend at least a day in Namche Bazaar to acclimatize. But, acclimatization days aren’t all about rest; you use the opportunity to gain altitude, while descending to sleep. The whole adage, “climb high, sleep low” helps your body adjust safely to the higher altitude.
Luckily there is a lot to see around Namche. After a later start, Bishwas took us to the National Park Headquarters for majestic views of Everest and the surrounding mountains, and a massive statute of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, who along with Edmund Hilary made the first ascent of Everest in 1953. You can also explore the Everest Museum, but we instead proceeded up to the Everest Viewpoint to 3,800 m. The trail was busy as almost all trekkers do the same day hike on their acclimatization day here. Namche really does look like an amphitheater once you are above it, with the town curved around the mountainside with views of Kongde Ri.
Miles was still not feeling great, so we returned to the teahouse to relax, while the rest of our group went on to the Everest View Hotel for a snack. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the bakeries and cafes in Namche, playing games and watching endless Everest movies. We particularly loved the toastie sandwiches at the Himalayan Bakery, where we realized yak cheese is pungent, but tasty.
Day 5 – Namche to Phortse Thanga
- Starting Elevation: 3,440 m
- Ending Elevation: 3,680 m
- Elevation Gain: 240 m
- Distance Hiked: 8 km
- Hours Hiked: 5 hours
The traditional EBC route goes from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche/Deboche, however Bishwas suggested an alternate route to go through a beautiful valley and riverside village, in the Gokyo Lakes direction. We spent the first part of the day walking on the side of the mountains with breathtaking views of the Himalayan peaks surrounding us. Like so many, our favourite mountain was Aba Dablam with its two peaks, which means mother-daughter. Beyond Namche yaks are the animal of choice, best suited to the colder higher altitude, and we often saw yaks grazing on the mountainside.
Not too long out of Namche you come across a very elderly sherpa man with signs in multiple languages requesting donations for trail maintenance. I had read about this and so we left some rupees and continued on our way. As we went through the village of Kyangjuma, the bakery owner chatted up the children and gave them free cookies. It turns out they had been to Canada as her husband had been the lead Sherpa guide on Canada’s first summit team. The kids continued to get lots of attention and praise from fellow hikers and locals.
As the trail splits and most trekkers go the traditional route to Tengboche, we started climbing to Mong Li and it was at this point I was cursing Bishwas for taking us on thes alternative route. It was steep and never ending, although on our way down, we went through Tengboche and I realized that, that route was no easier. We were rewarded with a lot less traffic on this route. The clouds rolled in and with the higher altitude, it became quite cold.
We had lunch in a cute little teahouse in Mong, at 3,950 m. Since we were so close to 4,000 m, the boys ran further up the hill to get to 4,000 m. We then descended for an hour to the riverside town of Phortse Thanga. It was a very steep downhill and we felt a lot of sympathy for the trekkers going in the other direction, having a very steep ascent. It was on this day that I realized that my legs no longer hurt at the end of the day, although we were all still exhausted.
After checking into the River Resort teahouse, alongside the Dudh Koshi Nadi River, we went to explore the huge boulders around the frigid river. The turquoise waters and vegetation reminded us of western Canada. The kids had fun playing on the boulders and skipping rocks. After changing into our evening clothes, we relaxed in the common room with hot drinks and fresh popcorn. We were really starting to feel like we were getting into a daily routine and it felt good. As always, after dinner, we went quickly to bed.
Day 6 – Phortse Thanga to Dingboche
- Starting Elevation: 3,680 m
- Ending Elevation: 4,410 m
- Elevation Gain: 730 m
- Distance Hiked: 15 km
- Hours Hiked: 8.5 hours
This was our longest and most challenging day that would take us to our highest elevation of the trek. We got an early start at 7:30 am and crossed the river for a steep uphill to the town of Phortse. Phortse is a traditional Sherpa village that doesn’t receive as many trekkers. In fact, they only received electricity in 2003. On the way we met a National Geographic crew, working on filming a documentary about climate change and Sherpa culture. As a huge NG fan, these people had the job of my dreams. We spent the day hopscotching over each other, as we learned about the various NG projects that they were working on in Nepal, including a summit team going to Lhotse.
A few interesting things happened in Phortse. First we walked through the peaceful town with its stone walls. We then watched with fascination as a helicopter delivered lumber a few times. The process is quite interesting as the helicopter approaches dangling the lumber. It then hovers with the lumber on the ground, while someone detaches the rope quickly. The helicopter then rises back up, to go and retrieve more lumber. It certainly gives you an appreciation for the cost and effort required to build infrastructure in these remote villages. We also watched a women chase a disobedient yak along the mountainside, wanting to help, but not sure how we could be useful.
It was also in Phortse that our friend Jac got lost and missed the turn towards Pengboche. Usually one of the porters always stays with the last person, but somehow she ended up at the end and wandered in a completely different direction. It was a bit scary as the porters and Bishwas all went looking for her. Luckily they found her, although she had walked a few extra kilometers by that point.
We continued to see helicopters headed towards Everest Base Camp and for the first time, we were above them, which was surreal. It was on the way to Pengboche that we first heard about the plane crash in Lukla. Sadly a plane taking off and a helicopter on the ground collided, killing 3. We knew Lukla was a dangerous airport, but hearing about the crash really brought that home. Luckily, the plane did not have any passengers, otherwise the death toll would have been much higher. Later when we returned to Lukla, it was disturbing to see the mangled plane and helicopter off to the side of the runway.
Pangboche is most well known for having one of the oldest monasteries in the Khumbu (1600 AD). While the kids rested and waited for lunch, the adults visited the Monastery. The National Geographic crew had been filming there and we had the opportunity to see the monks chanting. There is also a yeti skull and paw print on display. Entrance costs 250 rupees ($3 CAD).
While we were having lunch, the clouds had rolled in and it had started to rain heavily. I think Bishwas and the porters were surprised at our enthusiasm to continue on. We were very motivated to reach our goal of Dingboche that day and no rain was going to get in the way. We donned our rain jackets and headed out into the now hail rejoining the main route to Everest Base Camp. The clouds eventually cleared and we had great views of the mountain. We walked through the village of Shomare and saw children playing with a dead baby mountain leopard that they had found. We also saw these brilliant solar stoves that the locals use on sunny days.
As we crossed the river and headed on towards Dingboche, the clouds returned and the weather deteriorated. The terrain was very different now, very Lord of the Rings, as we were above the tree line. It started to snow and poor Miles had to do a few bush toilet stops in the snow. We finally arrived into Dingboche at 5:30 pm exhausted, but elated to have made it to our goal.
We stayed at the Good Luck Hotel, a massive teahouse and layered up with our warmest layers. While each teahouse is different, they are set up and operate in the same way. The rooms are doubles or triples and unheated, with shared bathrooms (often squat toilets). You can pay extra for charging, hot showers and WIFI. Our local SIM cards surprisingly worked almost everywhere along the trek, with the exception of Dingboche. The common room has a wood burning stove in the centre with bench seating around the perimeter. Our guide, Bishwas and porters would take our orders for food and drinks or we would record them in the ledger book, to be paid before we left each morning. We learned that pre-ordering breakfast was much more efficient and allowed us to get going earlier.
I had been a bit worried about ascending over 700 m in a day, since 500 is the max recommended in a day beyond 3,000 m. However, we were only ascending 400 m above the max altitude we had been at. Luckily, no one had any problems with the altitude beyond a few minor headaches.
Day 7 – Dingboche to Phunki Thanga
- Starting Elevation: 4,410 m
- Ending Elevation: 3,250 m
- Elevation Change: 1,160 m
- Distance Hiked: 14 km
- Hours Hiked: 7 hours
Since we had reached our goal of Dingboche, it was now time to turn around and head back down. I did still yearn to continue on to EBC, but that will have to be another time. For those continuing on, they will spend another acclimatization day in Dingboche.
Before we started heading down, we hiked up to Nagerjun for some great views of the mountains. There was some grumbling from the kids as we headed uphill again, when they thought they had reached their highest point, the day before. I expected the downhill days to be easy, but in reality, they still consist of many ups, in addition to those downs. We battled some strong winds and chilly temps on the way down, through the rhododendron forests. On the way down, I really appreciated that we had gone a different route on the way up, therefore not having to repeat our route.
It was a steep ascent up to Tengboche, where the most important Buddhist Monastery in the Khumbu is located. It is free to enter and much better restored than the Pangboche Monastery. Unfortunately there were no monks there when we visited, but it is a beautiful building with a gorgeous location.
We had planned to get to Kyangjuma on this day, but we were all feeling tired and not ready to tackle the steep uphill to Kyangjuma. We ended up staying at Evergreen Lodge, just across the river from Phunki Thanga with a lovely multi-generational family as hosts. We had fun playing with the sweet little toddler and watching the older children play badminton with one racquet, a dustbin and a ball made out of elastics. Our host made us all popcorn and all the children took turns showing off their gymnastics skills. It is times like this that are the most magical when travelling.
Day 8 – Phunki Thanga to Bangkar
- Starting Elevation: 3,250 m
- Ending Elevation: 2,630 m
- Elevation Change: 620 m
- Distance Hiked: 13 km
- Hours Hiked: 6 hours
We started the morning with a steep uphill to Kyangjuma and a three hour walk to Namche. Our day started sunny, but the clouds did come in, breaking the views of the mountains. It was a little like returning to civilization as we walked into Namche and headed to our favourite place to eat, the Himalayan Bakery. We bought a few souvenirs, including a yak bell and continued on down.
We clearly remembered how tough the trail up to Namche was and although we were happy we were going down it, we did have sympathy for those headed up. Easter school holidays had started and the trail was now clogged with people. We were thankful we hadn’t had to deal with that on our way up. The kids made a game of taking every possible short cut and stayed way ahead of us. Miles continued to get lots of attention and we had lots of fellow trekkers stop to ask about the kids.
As we descended, it became much warmer and greener. While the fields in the villages at higher altitude still laid empty, the fields here were full of springtime produce.
There are harmless dogs in the villages you trek through, but Gavin got particularly scared at a dog that followed him on the last stretch, into Bangkar. It took awhile to calm him down and convince him that the dog was not trying to hurt him. We had returned to Tashi Guesthouse, one of our favourite teahouses on the way up. As our host mom prepared our dinner, we got to babysit the sweet little one. We talked to our hosts a bit more about living in the villages and how kids attend school. Kids will walk 30-60 minutes to the nearest school in the mornings and we occasionally saw the school children on their way to and from school.
Day 9 – Bangkar to Lukla
- Starting Elevation: 2,630 m
- Ending Elevation: 2,860 m
- Elevation Change: 230 m
- Distance Hiked: 11 km
- Hours Hiked: 5 hours
It was with mixed feelings that we headed out on our last walking day. We were excited to return to the comforts of the Kathmandu Valley, but sad that our trek was coming to an end. We encountered even more people than the day before with traffic jams at certain points, slowing our pace.
Mostly we enjoyed the walk, changing layers frequently as the sun came in and out. The last section is the uphill towards Lukla, reminding you that the trek is not over yet. We stopped for lunch in Lomzo and were excited to find real coffee! We felt pretty triumphant as we walked back through the gates in Lukla, having completed our trek.
We headed back to The Nest teahouse, making sure we had upstairs rooms and not the ones in the cold dungeon basement. Even though I loved my daily dal bhat, I enjoyed a veggie burger and homemade apple pie for a change. We spent the rest of the day relaxing, playing cards and savouring our achievement.
We did take a walk down to see the wrecked plane and helicopter from the crash a few days ago. One of the best things to do in Lukla is watch the planes take off and land. We learned that the average turn around time on the ground for passenger flights is only 175 seconds and we can attest to that.
Our guide and porters were awesome on our trek and we were happy to thank them generously with a tip that hopefully helps them and their families. These men have a tough life, living away from their families for the trekking season and essentially work as freelancers, trying to get on as many treks as possible. They are often associated with teahouses in Lukla, and can be at the mercy of the teahouses’ decisions. For example, since our flight was delayed and we didn’t trek on our first day, the porters and guide were not going to be paid. This was very upsetting for us as we had paid for that first day regardless and wanted to make sure that they got their fair share. We spoke to the teahouse and we can only hope that they did the right thing. While guiding and portering pays much more than traditional Nepalese wages, it is still a pittance.
Day 10 – Fly back to Kathmandu
We had a 9 am flight back to Kathmandu and we were happy to wake up to a clear day for our flight out. You have to love flying out of a tiny airport. We got to hang out at the teahouse until 45 minutes before the flight when they ushered us over to the airport. We watched with interest as some of the cargo planes were unloaded, with everything from rebar to beer to fresh veggies.
We had good views from the plane on the flight back to Kathmandu. We were excited to continue on through Nepal, but also knew that, we would be back sometime to complete the whole EBC hike.
Our Everest Region Trekking Costs
This is the total cost for our family of 5. We saved considerably by not booking a tour and organizing our trip in country. Our Lukla flights cost almost as much as we spent on everything else, driving up the price.
Total Cost: $3,607 CAD
Total Cost not including flights: $1851 CAD ($206 CAD/day)
Accommodation: $142 CAD
Food/Drinks: $1,012 CAD
Guides/Porters: $493 CAD (includes 20% tip)
Park Fees: $191 CAD (approx. $50 USD/person over 10)
Flights Kathmandu-Lukla: $220 USD return/child (under 12), $330 USD return/adult. Total for our family $1,320 USD.
Does not include approx. $300 CAD we spent on gear.
This truly was a trip of a lifetime and is a completely do-able trek with kids, over 8. It was everything I expected it to be and more. It was challenging, culturally enriching and full of adventure.
Questions? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email and I will make sure to answer them in my upcoming FAQ Trekking in Nepal with Kids post.
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