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The Trek from Lukla to Tengboche Monastery with my 11 Year-Old

A few days ago somebody on social media asked me what my favorite, all time, travel memory was. Without hesitation I told the lady-of-travel that it was the time I trekked to Tengboche Monastery ( via Lukla and Namche Bazaar) with my son, then 11 years old. I added a footnote, that I doubted he would agree. I was curious though so I interrupted his online gaming to ask him his favourite travel memory. He said the same, no hesitation, no prompting, we hadn’t been talking about Nepal or our trek recently and I knew full well he’d had a tough time up there, but that was his answer. It brought silent motherly tears to my eyes.

In February-or-was-it-March we look the white-knuckle plane ride to Lukla from Kathmandu to start our little walk in the Himalayas. We hadn’t gone to Nepal to trek, we didn’t bring any gear and it wasn’t in our plan for that month but once we hit the ground in magical Thamel, we just couldn’t help ourselves and had to get up into the mountains.

Adventure travel is what we love, particularly adventures in the Himalayas, trekking or hiking. The mountains called us once more.

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Everest Lukla to Tengboche Family With Kids

Trekking in the Everest region with your kids, is tough but incredible.

 

Chef and I had trekked in Nepal before, we’d completed the 3 week Annapurna circuit in blizzards and waist deep snow in our days before kids, so we knew what to expect up there.

We knew some things were difficult, like the altitude, but that walking is actually no big deal and the kids could probably cope with that easily. My biggest concern after altitude was keeping the boys safe and close at hand on narrow, sometimes crumbling paths etched into steep mountain slopes.

Convoys of yaks, donkeys and mules can be a real hazard in The Himalayas and a stumble into the melt waters of the Khumbu Ice Fall thundering below, was a vaguely terrifying possibility.

My personal demon in the Himalayas, scary bridges, is something I overcome, I thought the boys would handle those better than their mum.

To help with the child wrangling, we hired a Sherpa guide, you don’t really need one, but we felt a larger adult:child ratio would be a good idea. He was gold, it was really helpful to have somebody extra keeping them safe.

By sheer good luck we bumped into Nima our guide a couple of years later on the full Everest Base Camp trek. It was wonderful to see him again.

packing for Everest trek kathmandu

Chef and I packing for the trek at Stupa Guest House, Kathmandu. Trek packing is a little stressful, but it was so exciting to be returning to the mountains.

So we set off from Lukla in a motley assortment of jeans, running shoes and leggings, to just see how far we would get. Chef and I carried the gear, we didn’t want to make the boys’ lives harder with backpacks. (We have a post on gear for Nepal here).

We wanted to see Everest of course and Namche Bazaar was looking like a probable destination, but we weren’t planning on walking all the way to Everest Base Camp ( 5362m) with a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old. We didn’t think it would be fair on them.

Our first day of walking went well, we descended from Lukla at 2860m and entered the Everest National Park, spending a comfortable night in a huge lodge at Phakding with a room for 4 people. That was the last time we saw rooms for 4, from here on in it was all twin cubicles.

Day two was always going to be the hard one. The path follows the Dudh Koshi River valley over tumbled rocks and through pine forest before the first steep ascent to the bridge from hell. Yes, the top one, the one you see in the opening of the movie “Everest”.

bridge namche bazaar everest trek

The bridge. The top one. Namche is up and to the left about 4 hours further. The Dudh Koshi river and those incredible blue melt waters below.

 

I’m not good with bridges. D, 11, doesn’t bat an eyelid, Boo and I sing and curse our way across, me doing our best to hide my absolute, almost paralysing terror. The terror is intensified by my children being there but what to do? You just have to get across.

As the bridge came into view it started to snow. It started to snow sideways. So we crossed that bridge in high winds, slippery conditions and poor visibility.

trek pakding to namche bazaar everest nepal

Trekking from Pakding towards the bridge and Namche Bazaar as the storm draws in.

On the other side of the abyss the road snakes up a pine-clad mountain side, thankfully sheltered from the worst of the snow. This is the hard part, 1000m of almost straight up and this is where things got hard. Boo wasn’t feeling too good, the kids were plagued by tummy bugs since we arrived in Kathmandu and the altitude started to get to us all. We plodded on all afternoon, ultra slowly, walk a little, wait a little, leaning heavily on trekking poles.

Towards the top of the slope trekkers reach a view-point. Our promised first sighting of Everest wasn’t to be as the snow clouds refused to co-operate. We kept pushing forwards, past the next check point and permit purchase, into Namche Bazaar. The snow obliterated the view, we really had no idea what was around us as we entered Namche at 3440m, we were exhausted. The altitude had kicked in and it was a massive struggle to get up the steps to our guest house that night.

Next morning the clouds had cleared and we woke to this. Wow!

Namche Bazaar Nepal

Waking in Namche Bazaar after the storm. We didn’t even know that mountain was there.

We spent 2 nights in Namche exploring and acclimatising. Just above the town there is another Everest view-point and this statue of Tenzing Norgay, the “tiger of the Mountains”. I can’t express how incredibly moving it was to be there, in this place full of climbing history. Just behind the statue there is a cool little museum which we explored with the boys.

 

Tenzing Norgay Statue Namche Bazar

Tenzing Norgay, one of my heroes. Above Namche Bazaar.

 

I hiked the 40 minutes up to the view-point 3 times, sitting on the hill waiting for the clouds to part. They never did, I got little more than an impression of my mountain.

We needed to keep going so day 4 took us on  short, easy fairly level hike to our 3rd trekking lodge. The views of Nuptse, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam were magnificent, but still no Everest. We could see Tengboche Monastery perched high on the next mountain ridge, it was calling me.

tengboche and everest trail

Everest is centre left, in cloud, next to it, Lhotse. Tengboche Monastery is on the central ridge, the trail we followed that day is visible on the left. Ama Dablam is to the right.

My little Boo and his dad weren’t doing too well, both had tummy problems, so it was decided that the next morning D, I and Nema would carry on to Tengboche.

This day hike is a tough one, there’s wasn’t a huge difference in height between our stop and Tengboche at 3870m, but the path drops right down to river level, 3250m, before climbing steeply to the ridge.

What can I say? We did it, it was beautiful and it was hard. It was wonderful to do it with my son. We crawled up that last section, Nema walking ahead of us. He reached the top first.

” You can see Everest!”

You never saw such a transformation, I sprinted up those last 100 m before throwing myself down in the dirt just to sit, look and watch. That mountain has an incredible hold on me. I was so busy looking I missed the best views with my camera.

everest-view-from-tengboche-monstery

Finally we get to see Everest, just!

tengboche monastery trek everest view

Within minutes the mountains are obscured by cloud again.

D was impressed, but more excited by his promised Snickers, so he shot off with Nema to find a tea shop.

at tengboche 11 years old

11 years old and at almost 4,000m. a well deserved tea break.

It was magnificent, magical, stunning and so worth it.

We explored the monastery as yak caravans and monks wandered around the Tengboche plateau.

I ached to keep going higher, but we had to turn back.

9 year old trekking everest

Reunited with my 9 year old back at the lodge.

We took a slightly different route back to Lukla enjoying more spectacular views and no cloud while visiting the Hillary School and an ancient, locked monastery housing a yeti skull. That is in Everest Trek, Part 2.

Reliving these memories is incredible, so thanks for letting me share them with you. Nothing, no travel experience in the world, comes close to being high in the Himalayas in sight of Everest.

 

Resources

Stupa Guest House, Kathmandu

Gear for Trekking and Nepal

Nepali Food

Main Nepal Travel Page

Insurance for Trekking

for Pinterest

 Namche Bazaar in snow, Nepal. The trek from Lukla to Tengboche Monastery, with kids! Family travel in Nepal

Will We Return to Everest Base Camp?

Yes, it will happen, D is keen and so am I. Little Boo doesn’t want to go back up there again so we two will be going solo. There are a number of side treks up there too, which we hope to complete, some requiring crampons for ice walking. It will almost certainly be this year, it could be next month. Nepal, we’re coming back!

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Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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Brigitte

Friday 12th of July 2019

I'm in absolute awe with your blog. I never really gave too much though about going to Everest, or Nepal for that matter. I've been reading your blogs and getting more and more intrigued. I'm not an avid hiker to this extent, even though I love a good scenic hike, but you've put the bug in my ear that maybe one day I'll make it to Nepal and catch a glimpse of Everest. Thank you and keep being a Mom that shows her kids the world in real life!

Alyson Long

Friday 12th of July 2019

Thank you Brigitte. And... DO IT! Go to the front page and find the post a Lukla that my elder one wrote today, it's not really finished yet, we have to tidy it up and make a video. But this is why. His words, his appreciation.

Alan Sargeant

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

Pleased to come across your blog. It is amazing how resiliant children can be. We lived with two under the age of four travelling Europe in a Camper Van for almost nine months. To put it mildly it was very memorable. Later we travelled with three under the age of 10 for just over two months in the western US/Canada.

I have trekked in the Elbrus region of Russia, the Tien Shan of Kygyzstan and Kazakhstan, been to Kilimanjaro and it took three attempts to get to Everest Base Camp: the first was illness related - a problem I had brought with me to Nepal and I had turned around in sight of base camp - maybe four hundred metres from it; the second was weather - an unseasonal blizzard meant a turn around at 4,500 m; the third and so far final trip there was succssful - Base Camp, Kalar Patar, Cho La and Gokyo Ri. Very good weather and very enjoyable.

Alyson Long

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

My boys went to Base Camp last year Alan and this year we're taking on K2. The elder one, he's 14 now, fairly raced up to Base Camp, my 11-12 year old with shorter legs held back with me, I'm 52, not so fit. But for all of us it was fabulous. I'd love to see the Central Asian countries you mention, but this year Pakistan is on and maybe a return to Tibet.

anon

Tuesday 6th of February 2018

I am so glad I found this post, this is the kind of stuff I enjoy reading. Stories with personal experience, full of emotions and heart. I can fully relate to the feeling of just sitting and looking at Mt Everest in awe. It was an extremely emotional moment for us. We trekked to the base camp-Gokyo in December with 10 and 14 years old, and I am confident this experience will stay with them forever. Tummy-bug and high altitude probably is not a good combination, must have been painful for your husband and Boo. Enough said I got to read part 2 now. All the very best to you and Chef on your next Nepal adventure. Hopefully, we will also go there someday for more trekking.

Alyson Long for World Travel Family

Tuesday 6th of February 2018

Yep, sometimes I just have to write them. But writing stories will never pay the bills, for that you need to give people information. We make a very good living from this site and writing is not one tiny part of that, it's a technical skill.

Brenda Froyen

Wednesday 24th of January 2018

Hi Alyson

I just bumped into your blog, looking for a new summer destination to go to with the kids. We've just returned from Nepal as well, and did like you guys the Lukla - Namche trek. It is like you said an amazing place. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures.

Hannah

Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

I just got quite teary reading this Alyson. I love not just that you will try these huge feats with your kids, but also that you listen to them when they are not up for it. The more I read of your blog the more I am convinced that my family needs a bit of this type of life before the kids are all too big and leaving home. Keep the posts coming, I am slowly making my way through them and I think they may well change my life. x.

Alyson Long World Travel Family Blog

Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

That comment made me tear up. THANK YOU XXXX

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