Gokyo Lakes: A Captivating Compilation of Six Lakes
It is no wonder that the glimmering snow-capped mountains have made our breath-hold for a moment. The view of shining white peaks towering towards the sky against the backdrop of captivating deep blue sky mesmerizes us. The Himalayan mountain ranges have also bestowed the Khumbu region with beautiful alpine lakes.
Gokyo lakes are the enticing sequence of six equally spectacular lakes. The lakes are an exquisite piece of beauty. Beside the lake the trek to Gokyo Ri at an elevation of 5,357 meters is another reason to visit the lake. Many trekkers on their way to Everest base camp and Kalapattar prefer to extend their trek to Gokyo by crossing Chol la. A high pass at the elevation on 5,368 meter. The whole Everest region known as Khumbu harbors many beautiful arts of nature. Among them Gokyo lakes are prominent. Well, let us delve more about this beautiful Himalayan Lakes that sits in the vicinity of Mt. Everest.
ABOUT GOKYO LAKES
Gokyo lakes are located in Sagarmatha National Park in Khumbu region at an altitude of 4,500 – 5,000 meters above sea level. The lakes are the world’s highest freshwater lake system comprising six lakes. Gokyo Tsho (4750m) is the main lake amongst all the lakes in Gokyo. It is spread in an area of 42.9 hectors (106 acres) and has a depth of 43 meters. With such coverage and depth, travelers usually sought for Gokyo Cho making it even more popular than the rest.
Thonak Tsho (4843m) is another lake of Gokyo. Despite the popularity of Gokyo Tsho Thonak Tsho is the largest one with an area of 65.07 hectors (160.8 acres). Not just the coverage, but the depth (62.4 meter) is significant than the rest of them.
Gyaumpa Tsho (5200m) located far north east corner of Gokyo lakes has spread area of 29 hectors (72 acres).
Tanjung Tsho is yet another lake with mesmerizing beauty. It covers an area of 16.95 hectors (41.9 acres).
Ngozumba Tsho (4800m) might be the smaller lake in the list of Gokyo lakes, but its beauty will certainly entice you. The lake has a total coverage area of 14.39 hector (35.6 acres).
Longponga Tsho (4110m) is another lake in the Gokyo lakes system. This is the first one to come under the sight of travelers as it is the first lake in the synchrony.
WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF GOKYO LAKES?
The water system of Gokyo lakes is the permanent source of fresh water. This is the reason why this lake is seen as a hydrological value. Gokyo lakes feed on the water from various sources like seepage from Ngozumpa glacier which is the longest glacier in the Himalayas of Nepal. The stream originates from the east of the glacier and another stream from Renjo La pass originates from the north-west. The existence of Gokyo lakes is in a very vulnerable stage due to its location in the ecologically fragile and unstable zone. The outburst of the streams from Ngozumba glaciers due to climate change can sweep away Gokyo lakes in one go.
WHAT IS THE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY IN GOKYO LAKES TREK?
The trek towards Gokyo Lake is moderately easy for those who have already done high altitude trek. If you are a newbie, then regular exercise at least a month before trek will serve you the best. Hiking and trekking experience will be an asset for you. You won’t require any technical skills to trek to Gokyo or climb Gokyo Ri.
Another important thing is to acclimatize for high altitude region. The trek above 4000 meter elevation always involves the risk of altitude sickness. So acclimatizing at Namche Bazaar or Khunde or Khunjumg is always necessary. Though the trail is quite easy but you should not move too quickly to Gokyo. Stay overnight in Gokyo village and next day climb Gokyo Ri. Allow adequate amount of rest, drink plenty of water and hike slowly and gradually. This would help to minimize the difficulty of the trek and avoid altitude sickness.
When to visit Gokyo Lakes?
Autumn (September-November) and spring (March-May) is the prime time for trekking and mountaineering in Nepal. And for this particular trek to Gokyo Lakes as well, these two seasons are the best time to visit.
Spring season in Nepal has a different kind of flowers blooming in the hills, especially rhododendron in a variety of colors and wildflowers. Temperature is quite warm in lower elevation. In the higher region you feel bit chilly, but nothing extreme. Weather in the morning is usually cool and clear that gives excellent view of the Himalayas. Autumn is next best season. The temperature is moderate, the sky is clear, and the views are tantalizing.
In general summer and winter are not prime time for trekking. In summer, when the monsoon arrives, rainfall will be the biggest deterrent. While in winter the temperature deeps below zero even during day time. Even local inhabitants moves to warmer climate during winter when it is freezing cold. During monsoon time the chances of flight cancelation is higher and in winter early morning fog deter flight to take off in time.
WHAT’S FURTHER TO EXPECT ON GOKYO LAKES TREK?
Experience the serenity in Namche Bazaar
Well, Namche Bazaar is the perfect blend of nature and culture with a touch of modernization. It is a popular tourist destination to see Sherpa culture up front. The Sherpas residing in Namche and surrounding villages still live by their ancient culture, traditional value and their well known hospitality. It is also very well known as a staging point of Everest expedition and trekking in the hinterland of Khumbu. Actually it is gateway towards Everest region.
At Namche Bazaar It is really exhilarating to be in the lap of Himalayas and oversee the sights of breathtaking peaks throughout the valley.
Ultimate Glory to scale Gokyo Ri
What’s more glorious than summiting a mountain? Be it a small one; the glory is undeniable. In your journey to Gokyo lakes, you will have an opportunity to scale one of a highest view point at Gokyo Ri, which is at an elevation of 5,357 meters. Gokyo Ri is an absolute piece of beauty and an awesome vantage point to see a panoramic view of some tallest peaks in the world.
No matter how grueling and relentless the climb gets, with every step you are rewarded with a view of some of the most beautiful scene in your life.
Everest Base Camp
It is well known that Mt. Everest is the world tallest mountain in the world at an elevation of 8,848 meters. Most accomplished climbers cannot remain satisfied without putting their feet on the summit of Mt. Everest. And adventure-lovers from around the world yearn to see this majestic peak up close. The journey to the base camp is long, arduous and challenging.
Gokyo lake trek is one of the alternate trails to reach the camp that sits at an elevation of 5,364 meters, so in this trek, Everest Base Camp is one of the major attraction to look forward to. Well, the honor of scaling to the camp of the tallest mountain in the world doesn’t come daily and easily, does it?
A closer look on Buddhism
On your way to Gokyo lakes as well as Everest Base Camp you come across chortens, prayer flags, Mani stone and Mani walls. The Sherpas built chortens, put prayer flags and stack stone or make a wall of stacked stone with the inscription ‘Om Mani Padme Hum.’ Buddhist in high Himalaya has the practice to commemorate their dead relatives or prayer by building such landmarks in lofty places. Sherpas are Buddhist and their priests are lamas.
The trek provides opportunity to get a closer insight into the life of Himalayan people who still exhibits their traditional way of living. On your way to Everest Base Camp you stop overnight at Tengboche Monastery. It is the largest, most popular and highly revered monastery in Khumbu.
The monstery is hundreds year old (a fire destroyed the original one) that sits in the most exquisite setting with pines, colorful rhododendron flowers and azaleas around it. The mesmerizing view of Everest, Ama Dablam, Lhotse, and other huge peaks add grandeur to its setting.
HOW TO REACH GOKYO LAKES?
The remarkable trek to Gokyo lakes begins with an exciting flight to Lukla which takes about 35 minutes. After arrival at Lukla your trek begins with a steady ascend to mountainside towards Phakding. From Phakding your next stop is Namche Bazar. This large mountain village is well known as the gateway to Everest.
From Namche It will take three days of a walk with proper rest and a slower pace to arrive at Gokyo village. On your way you are blessed with the stunning view of mountains like Thamserku, Kantega, Cho Oyu and others.
Gokyo village lies at an elevation of 4,750 meters, one of the highest settlement in Nepal and the world as well. Stay at Gokyo for acclimatization and prepare for the next big day to scale Gokyo Ri.
Gokyo Ri is one of the best viewpoint in Nepal. The panoramic view of some of the tallest mountains including Everest, Makalu, Lhotse and Cho Oyu, and other lofty peaks are just beyond description by any words.
Towards Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes
The trail to Gokyo Lakes is an alternative trails to the base camp of Everest. Your journey doesn’t end after basking in the beauty of these lakes. Or you can say your actual voyage to Everest Base Camp begins after Gokyo Lakes.
From Gokyo you pave your way further up to the pass at Cho La (5368m). It is best to climb the steep section in the early morning and cross the high pass. In the afternoon the traverse through the high route from the pass becomes quite challenging due to melting snow condition as you descend to Dughla (4600m). Take your time while crossing the pass as the route is very demanding even for experienced trekkers as it is steep and the terrainis is made of loose rock, large boulders and ice sheet. Bring your crampon along.
After you are past one of the greatest challenges of your journey the trails goes along some high altitude stops at Dzongla, Lobuche and Gorak Shep. From Gorak Shep (5150 m) your next ultimate destination is Everest Base Camp (5364m).
But climbing to the base camp doesn’t pay off your efforts. From Gorak Shep you can climb to the summit of a hill top covered by black stones; it is known as Kala Patthar (5545m). Kalapattar has an awesome vantage point that provides 360 degree wide range of all the peaks. It has the most accessible and stunning close-up view of Mt. Everest. Now, who wants to miss the chance after all the efforts? – no one.
Well after your adventurous journey to the coveted trek destinations you make your way back to Gorak Shep, and descend to Pheriche, Namche Bazar and to return to Lukla from where you fly back to Kathmandu.
The clock wise travel is normally preferred route to accomplish the whole trek. However, as per our our guides and past trekkers of Gokyo Lakes and Everest Base Camp trek, the trek is better if you do it in anti clockwise because of the walk through the slippery slope to Dughla .
Gokyo Lakes certainly is an exhilarating trail to Everest Base Camp. If you want to do more challenging route then you should try the trail that cross three high passes through Kongma la at 5,535 meters, Cho la at 5,430 meters and Renjo La at 5,345 meters.
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