The Gokyo Lake trek is an exciting alternative trek that takes you to the remote parts of the Everest region. This challenging high altitude trek passes through steep trails in the Himalayan foothills. Trekkers can observe turquoise Gokyo Lakes and various snow-capped mountains in this spectacular journey.
The long walks on rugged terrains will challenge trekkers of all skill levels to the core. Hence, a training regime that includes endurance and strength building, cardiovascular exercises, and mental preparation is essential. However, there are no technical sections in this trek.
Moreover, the highest point of the trek is Gokyo Ri (5360m) which is a famous trekking peak. From Gokyo Ri, trekkers can observe the incredible panoramic views of the entire Everest Mahalangur Himalayan range. The magical sunrise and sunset overlooking the glistening lake will enchant you in this trek.
Furthermore, the trekkers can also observe Everest, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Makalu, Cholatse, Taboche, and others from various points along the trek. The virgin landscapes of the trail will give you a new perspective of the region. You will also need to cross the majestic Chola pass along the journey which can be quite challenging.
Read further for a detailed description of the Gokyo Lake trek difficulty and other related information. We have also provided causes of these difficulties and essential tips to reduce them significantly.
What Makes the Gokyo Lake Trek Difficult?
Remote and Rugged Terrains
This remote landscapes trek passes through the off the beaten trails. The steep trails make it difficult for trekkers who have trekked in high altitudes before. The trek passes through in the dusty surfaces and also moves up and down a lot.
Moreover, trekkers should also perform a good training routine at least two to three months before the trek. Physical fitness, stamina, and endurance are all essential for the difficult terrains of this Gokyo Lake trek.
High Altitude and Altitude Sickness
The Gokyo lake trek is a high altitude trek with a high risk of altitude sickness. It is one of the biggest challenges of this trek and must be tackled well as it can turn dangerous. The rapid ascents and maximum altitude gain in a short amount of time can increase the risk of altitude sickness.
We will gain the maximum altitude of 5357 m (Gokyo Ri) during the trek in a span of a few days. Low oxygen levels and air pressure in these high altitude conditions makes breathing difficult. Headache, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, and loss of appetite are common symptoms of altitude sickness which can turn fatal if not treated well.
You should walk slowly, descend to lower altitudes, or even quit the trek if altitude sickness persists. There are facilities of emergency evacuation via helicopter as well. Alcoholic beverages can cause dehydration which can lead to altitude sickness in high altitude regions. Altitude sickness does not have any age limit and can affect anyone from any gender or physical condition.
The weather conditions in high altitude regions remain quite unpredictable. The cold temperature and freezing climate can be a challenge for any trekkers. The trek in the offseasons is even more challenging.
Moreover, there are higher chances of landslides and avalanches in the summer monsoon seasons. Thus, Gokyo lake trek difficulty is also dependent upon weather conditions in Everest region.
The long-distance walks make Gokyo Lakes quite challenging as compared to the Everest Base Camp trek. The per-day walk duration also gets increased. The total distance of this trek is 92 kilometers. You will have to walk around 9 to 10 kilometers which is around 5 to 6 hours of walk a day.
The walking hours depend upon walking speed and capacity of trekkers. Therefore, the long-distance walks make this trek to Gokyo lake quite difficult. Rest and acclimatization along trek is essential for a relaxing trekking adventure.
Accommodation and Meal Facilities
Gokyo Lake Trek is a teahouses trek which means that you will be staying in lodges and tea houses along trails. Spring and Autumn are the peak season for trekking in Nepal which means trails can get quite crowded in these seasons. Stable weather conditions and favorable trekking temperatures makes them the best times to visit Gokyo Lake.
However, you will have difficulty getting proper accommodation and might have to share rooms with fellow trekkers. Also, they have fewer toilets at high altitudes and you might have to wait for your turn which can get quite annoying.
You will have to compromise with a limited variety of menu and also need to wait for meals especially in peak seasons. The noisy surroundings can get disturbing especially if you love trekking in a peaceful environment. However, you can book your trip in advance to save yourselves from any hassles along the trail.
This trek has an average duration of 13-14 days. You will cover approximately 10 km a day while trekking for 5 to 6 hours. Trekkers find this long duration trek challenging especially if they have not trekked in the region before.
Regular acclimatization and hydration will make you comfortable in the trek and help you tackle altitude sickness. If you want to get proper acclimatization, you need to extend the itinerary and include breaks in the middle. Hence, the long duration makes this Gokyo Lake Trek quite difficult.
Heavy Backpacks and Luggage
Heavy luggage is another difficulty in this long-distance trek. Carrying a heavy load and climbing up rugged terrain is not an easy task. Hence, trekkers should only pack those stuff that is extremely important.
Moreover, you can also hire a porter that will help you with carrying loads. A porter will help to reduce the difficulty of the trek. This way, you can entirely focus on your trek and not worry about heavy luggage.
The difficulty of Gokyo Lake Trek Due to Weather Conditions
Gokyo Lake Trek Difficulty in Peak Seasons
Autumn (September to November) and Spring (March to May) are peak trekking seasons in Nepal. Some of the difficulties of Gokyo Lake trek in peak season are as follows:
Unpredictable weather: The weather is unpredictable in high altitude conditions even in peak seasons of Autumn and Spring. Hence, you need to check the weather forecast before starting on the trek.
Accommodation and food: Since there are a maximum number of trekkers in peak season, it will be tough to find proper accommodation and food. Hence, you need to book your accommodations in advance before starting on the trek to be safe from any hassles.
Crowded trails: The crowded trails are the biggest difficulty in the Autumn and Spring season. If you love to trek in peace and solitude, then it might be challenging for you in peak seasons of Autumn and Spring.
Gokyo Lake Trek Difficulty in Off-Season
The Summer (June to August) and Winter (December to February) are off-seasons for the trek in Nepal. Some of the challenges in the off-season are as follows:
Summer (Monsoon) Gokyo Lake Trek Difficulty
Leech infested trails: The summer-monsoon season brings leeches due to heavy rainfall. Trekkers can carry table salts and insect repellents to tackle this along the trek.
Hot and humid temperature: The heavy rainfalls, hot and humid conditions and temperatures especially in lower regions make the trek challenging. Hence, resting and hydrating regularly is essential to tackle altitude sickness along trails.
Wet and slippery trails: The wet and slippery trails caused by heavy rainfalls make trek incredibly challenging.
Winter Gokyo Lake Trek Difficulty
Snow-covered trails: Trekkers will need to trek in heavy snow-covered trails in the higher altitudes. Trekkers need to wear boots along with crampons for trekking along trails.
Extremely cold weather: The Himalayan region is extremely cold and Gokyo Ri gets frozen entirely. Trekkers need warm gear and blankets for the trek. Snowstorms and avalanches in winters are quite common.
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Some Measures to Tackle Altitude Sickness
Carry Diamox tablets for altitude sickness
You can also take medication like “Diamox” to tackle altitude sickness. You should consult your physician if you take other medicines regularly. Anti-nausea tablets like Diamox help you reduce symptoms of altitude sickness in high altitude regions.
Walk gradually and at a gentle pace
A slow and steady walk is key for any high altitude trek including the Gokyo lake trek. Trekkers should not gain more than 600 feet of altitude in a day. This will help trekkers to get acclimatized to high altitude conditions. You should also drink water regularly during the trek as dehydration can lead to altitude sickness.
Eat a nutritious and balanced diet
A balanced diet is essential in this taxing trek and also helps you remain fit and tackle altitude sickness. Trekking for long hours will burn your calories faster and hence you will need to increase your dietary intake as well. A healthy meal with carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and a whole grains rich diet is ideal for this high altitude trek. You should also drink at least two liters of water to stay hydrated and tackle altitude sickness.
When is the Best Time for the Gokyo Lake Trek?
The Gokyo Lake trek is one of the most difficult treks in the region. Autumn and Spring is the best time for trekking in Nepal. Choosing the ideal time will reduce the Gokyo Lake trek difficulty significantly.
The months of September-November in the Autumn season are peak season for trekking. The stable weather conditions and moderate temperatures are the highlights of the trek. You can also observe the snow-capped mountains in all their glory in the background on clear blue skies.
Moreover, the months of March-April in Spring are a scenic time for trekking in the region. There are favorable temperatures with less precipitation and trails get covered in rhododendron forests. The off-season trek in the winter months of December to February is quite challenging.
Furthermore, the months of June to August come with heavy precipitation and thus landslides and avalanches are quite common as well. Besides that, there are leeches infested trails as well. But with proper packing and preparation, you can complete the trek at any time of year.
Training Required for Gokyo Lake Trek
The Gokyo Lake Trek difficulty gets reduced if you train well for the trek. A basic level of fitness will help you along the trail especially if you are a first-time trekker.
Trekkers should train in cardiovascular activities like hiking, swimming, cycling, jogging, and others. These exercises will help you build your stamina for high altitude treks. You can also trek with light weights, by gradually increasing the weight. Hiking in rocky terrains and hills near you is also necessary to get adjusted to the terrain.
Strength and endurance training
This strength and endurance training will help you immensely to build your fitness levels. Trekkers should focus on the leg exercise to gain strength, stamina, and endurance for the rugged terrains and steep climbs.
These processes should start at least two to three months or two weeks before the trek. Trekkers should also train with a backpack as you will need to carry your essentials yourself.
Mental preparation is another important part of the trek. You should stay positive so that you can remain motivated to complete this trek at all times. Mental preparation will keep you stable and is one of the important aspects of the trek.
Gokyo Lake Trek – Packing List
The packing list for the Gokyo lake trek depends upon the time of the trek. You should carry clothes in layers so that you can add or remove layers of clothing as per the weather. Read on to know more about what to pack for the trek:
- Long-sleeved trekking shirts
- Short-sleeved trekking shirts
- Trekking pants
- Trekking jackets
- Lightweight sweaters
- Insulating jackets
- Trekking boots
- Woolen cap
- Fleece-lined jacket
- Pair of Gloves
- Rainproof pants
- Rainproof jackets
- Toilet Paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Sanitary pads
- Anti-diarrhea medicines
- Anti-nausea medicines
- Anti-leech spray or ointment
- Cold and cough medicines
- Power banks
- Solar Chargers
- Extra Batteries
- Sleeping bag
- Water Bottle
- Hot and Cold water Thermos
- Travel Permits
Essential Tips to Reduce the Gokyo Lake Trek Difficulty
Always Hire a professional guide and porter
You should also hire a professional guide and a porter for the Gokyo lake trek. A guide is of immense help and allows you to explore the region by providing incredible insights into place. A porter, on the other hand, will help you carry heavy luggage so that you can trek freely. A porter-guide are those who work both as a guide and as a porter.
Acclimatize and hydrate regularly
Acclimatization is a process that helps you get adjusted to thin air and fewer oxygen levels of high altitude conditions. You need to rest and acclimatize to adapt to the high altitude conditions of the Everest region.
However, you will not stay idle even in the acclimatization period. Trekkers need to keep continuing their adventure by taking short hikes in the region. You can also hydrate regularly that helps you to acclimatize faster in the region.
Customize your trip
You can also customize the trip by adding days for rest and acclimatization. This will reduce the Gokyo Lake trek difficulty significantly. An additional day will help you in case of flight delays due to bad weather. Hence, customizing your trip is a great option to reduce the difficulty of this trek.
Train properly for trek
Training is an important part of your trek. You should include various cardiovascular and aerobic exercises like hiking, cycling, swimming, jogging, and others in your training routine. You should start training two to three months or at least two weeks before the trek. This process should also include strength and endurance, and mental training.
Choose ideal seasons for trek
Trekkers should also trek in peak seasons that have stable weather conditions and favorable temperatures that are ideal for trekking. Spring and autumn are two ideal seasons for trekking in the Everest region and Nepal.
Off-season treks can get challenging with summer bringing heavy rainfall and avalanches, and landslides in the region. Winters are also challenging due to extreme cold conditions and heavy snowfall. Hence, choosing ideal seasons reduces the Gokyo lakes trek difficulty to quite some extent.
Remain positive during the trek
A positive attitude is essential for a high altitude Gokyo lake trek. It will help you immensely along trek by keeping you motivated to complete the trek even in the most difficult of terrain.
Gokyo Lake Trek Route
You will start your Gokyo Lake Trek journey by taking a scenic flight from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu to Lukla which takes around 45 minutes. Lukla is a small tourist town with many teahouses, hotels, and restaurants. After landing at the airport, we will start our trek towards Phaking where we will stay overnight.
Then we will trek then continue the next day to Namche Bazaar, a beautiful commercial town hub of the Khumbu region. You will have to rest and acclimatize at higher altitudes to adapt and tackle altitude sickness. You can explore the region and visit the Sherpa museum to know more about the culture, heritage, and tradition of the region.
Trekkers can also trek to Syangboche to observe majestic views of Mount Everest and other snow-capped mountains. It has a great view of the early sunrise as well. After resting for a day, you can head towards Dole through a steep climb in the stairways from where you will walk along flat trails to arrive at a forest.
From the forest, you will take a slight climb and walk for a few hours to reach your destination. The trail to Machhermo from Dole takes around 6 hours where you will stay overnight at a hotel. From there, you will trek to Gokyo as you will hike till Fifth Lake and explore the area and then trek back to Gokyo.
Trekkers will spend the night at a teahouse and then wake up early in the morning for a hike of the famous trekking peak of Gokyo Ri. This viewpoint will provide you with outstanding views of Mount Everest and other snow-capped mountains. After enjoying the atmosphere and taking pictures, you now trek down to Dole trailing the same steps you took earlier.
From Dole, you will head towards Namche Bazaar and observe the scenic atmosphere with many restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, and others. You can also buy souvenirs for your family back home. The next day, you will trek to Lukla and fly back to Kathmandu through the scenic mountain flight. You can also extend your trek to Everest Base Camp before trekking back to Lukla via Periche, and Tengboche.
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The Final Say
The Gokyo Lake Trek is a remote adventure in the virgin landscapes of the Everest region. The trek allows you to observe turquoise blue Gokyo lakes and Himalayan snow-capped mountain peaks. Gokyo lake trek is a challenging trek that lets you experience the endless natural beauty of the region.
You will also walk around 5 to 6 hours a day, hence basic physical fitness and mental health are essential to complete this trek. The breathtaking views of mountains and serene turquoise lake make it a once in a lifetime opportunity. Overall, the Gokyo Lake Trek difficulty is moderately challenging and can complete it with proper packing and preparation.