If you’re planning to trek in the Everest region, you’ll be following some of the tea house trails that crisscross the area. These walking routes pass by remote tea houses that provide somewhere for hikers to stay as they discover the amazing mountain scenery.
Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that while the ascent to Everest Base Camp is a popular option, you don’t need to tackle it if you’d rather have a hiking break that is a little less strenuous. There are numerous routes you can follow through the small villages in this part of Nepal (you’ll find an example here), as well as paths that lead you to the breathtaking Gokyo Lakes.
What are the tea houses like?
Staying in tea houses during your walking holiday in Nepal is something of a must, as this kind of accommodation really is one of a kind. The facilities tend to be basic, but they’re very comfortable and provide a welcome place to rest your weary legs after a day of trekking.
Many of the tea houses are run by families, who will always give travellers a warm welcome, so you can expect a personal and friendly service here. An evening meal and breakfast will typically be included in the cost of each night’s accommodation, which will normally be a delicious selection of local dishes – like daal – in the evenings, while staples at breakfast include bread and eggs.
Another great thing about Nepal’s tea houses is that they tend to have amazing views, because they’re often located in small villages and are surrounded by the towering peaks of the Himalayas.
Routes: an example itinerary for trekking around Everest
As we mentioned before, you don’t have to head for Everest Base Camp when you go trekking around the famous peak – there are many more trails that will give you excellent views of the mountains in this part of the Himalayas.
One option is to follow a circular route from Lukla, which will lead you through villages such as Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Deboche, Khumjung and Monzo over the course of eight days. This is an excellent introduction to the area and includes stops at a host of interesting cultural sites.
For instance, during your acclimatisation day in Deboche, you will have the option to visit one or two monasteries. The Pangboche gompa (Buddhist temple) is said to be one of the oldest in the Khumbu region – it’s estimated to be around 300 years old – while the Thyangboche gompa is much newer. Although there has been a temple on this site since the early 20th century, it has been rebuilt twice, once after being destroyed by an earthquake and the second time following a devastating fire.
The latter is worth visiting not only for its cultural importance, but also because of the amazing views it boasts of Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse and Everest, among other peaks.
Another stop you’ll make on this route is Namche Bazaar, one of the busiest villages in the region and a common place for trekkers to spend a day or two acclimatising to the high altitude. There are some great attractions here that will teach you more about the local Sherpa people and their culture.
There’s a fascinating museum that features a selection of exhibits about Sherpa life (you’ll find it just outside the village), as well as a museum dedicated to Tibetan herbal medicine and the medicinal plants that can be found locally – it’s based in the Health Centre.
Discovering Sagarmatha National Park
Much of the trekking you do on the Everest tea house trails will be within the boundaries of Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers some 124, 400 hectares. It isn’t only the natural attractions here that have earned it this recognition, but also the culture of the Sherpas, who are primarily descended from Tibetan Buddhists who moved to the region around 600 years ago.
As you’ve probably already gathered, the best place to learn more about the Sherpas is in Namche Bazaar, although you can gain an insight into their particular sect of Tibetan Buddhism when you visit the monasteries.
Although the local wildlife can be scarce, it is worth keeping your eyes open for birds and other animals that live in the region. More than 150 species of birds have been recorded in the park, including the Himalayan griffon, snow pigeon, blood pheasant and red-billed chough.
Mammals tend to be harder to spot than their feathered friends, although you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a weasel, jackal, ghoral, musk deer or lynx if you keep your eyes peeled.