Maximum Altitude: 9275 ft
Duration: 6 days
It’s hard to think about Nepal and not conjure up images of the grandest mountain of them all: Everest. But there are so many trails to hike, so many mountains to climb and so many experiences to have in this small, mountainous, landlocked country. Let’s call out our inner Indiana Jones and find the hidden gems of Nepal.
We all are familiar with the EBC trail but do you know that there are two valleys in Solu Khumbu, the upper valley is known as Khumbu and lower valley is known as Solu. Together it is known as Solu Khumbu. Most of the people fly to Lukla and proceed towards Khumbu to the Everest base Camp. The Solu region however was majorly neglected by the trekkers. Lately the lower Solu region with unique trails of trekking and peak climbing in Nepal has seen immense growth in visitor’s number, largely due to its easy accessibility and also for its beaten path trails with not much tourist on it.
Solu village is an extremely remote destination. The trail passes through the most beautiful villages in the region. You will hike through the lower parts of Sherpa valley known as shorung in Sherpa language. You will visit ancient Buddhist monastery and enjoy the unique culture and lifestyle of Sherpa and Rai people. And you will get to see some of the highest peaks of Nepal, including Mt Everest. Were you not expecting this? Doesn’t feel right to visit the Solu Khumbu valleys and not get even a glimpse of the mighty Everest or Sagarmatha as the local calls it. In fact, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay took the Solu-Village trail during their summit of Mt. Everest on 29th May 1953. This route takes a lot more days than the one which starts at Lukla. But there are few people who still hike on this trail as a tribute to the first mountaineers who set foot on top of this magnificent mountain.
To start your trek, you’ll fly into Phaplu from Kathmandu, which usually takes around 30 minutes to reach. During this flight, you will see the Himalayas covering the lands below and behold the sights of mountains such as Numbur and Karyolung. The mesmerizing journey has begun.
The trail goes through the small villages and terraced fields along the Dudh Koshi River. You will cross dense forests of rhododendrons and pine. The Sherpa community will welcome you with open arms and bright smiles into their villages. Some of the famous villages on the trail are Basa, Nunthela and Junbesi. Talking about Sherpas, how much do you know about them?
Before mountain climbing became popular, the word Sherpa simply denoted a group of people who migrated to Nepal from Eastern Tibet. Today, they are the guardian angels of the Himalayas. The Sherpa job is to set up camp, manage the porters, ensure that loads are evenly distributed and be responsible for the trekking group’s safety.
After relocating to Nepal, ethnic Sherpas established themselves in the mountains of Solukhumbu Valley and therefore the region brims with the rich culture of the community. Tenzin Norgay’s joint summit with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953 is still considered the proudest moment for the Sherpas. But there are so many brave people here whose stories should be shared. One of these stories is of Babu Chhiri Sherpa who spent 21 hours on the summit of Everest without any auxillary oxygen in 1999, a world record which still stands. We will pass through his village on this trail. There are many more stories that the locals will share with you. Be prepared to get awed.
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The monastery of Thutunchhli and the temple in Shivalaya add a spiritual element to the trek. The traditional villages and the colourful flags fluttering there will also tell you about the beliefs of the people.
The highlight of the trek remains the stunning scenes of mountains like Mt. Everest, Ama Dablam, Lhotse Thamserku, Kantega, Kusum Kangru and Mera peak. Ama Dablam is one of the prettiest mountains you will see. The name translates to ‘Mother’s necklace’. Ama Dablam is indeed a beautiful necklace of Himalayas. And what should I say about Everest that has not been said before? There is a different sense of achievement you feel on seeing the highest peak in the world. It’s an experience which can never be explained in words.
Trekking in the Solu region, is spectacular in every sense when it comes to the panoramas of high peaks, where you can not only explore the unique landscapes above timberline, you will have trekking in the fine forests, ancient monasteries, whereby you can have spectacular mountain views and these features have made Solu, one of the perfect destinations for trekking.
Best Time To Visit
The fall season (September – mid-December) and the spring season (March-May) are the best seasons for the Solu valley Trek. The climate is very pleasant and moderate, with beautiful views. The months from October and December provide the clearest skies but spring is when the whole evergreen forest covered with the blossom of colorful rhododendron blossoms making the trail look the prettiest.
How To Reach
You can take a flight from Kathmandu to Phaplu. Note that domestic flights for Phaplu operates only on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, so plan accordingly.
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