Trekking to the Everest Base Camp on a gap year is a challenging yet incredibly rewarding journey. As well as taking you close to the tallest mountain in the world, you'll also experience the unique culture of the Sherpas and see Nepal at its best.
Here's a brief guide to what you can expect on this kind of Nepal trekking holidays.
Stage one - Namche Bazaar
All tours start in Kathmandu - the country's vibrant capital - but you will soon be on your way to a less chaotic region when you board your flight to Lukla. The plane will take you past the Himalayas, giving you a fantastic first view of the majestic mountains. From Lukla, you'll walk down to Phakding, where you'll spend the night.
The next day, you will tackle the steep trail to Namche Bazaar - the Sherpa capital - walking alongside the Dudh Khosi River in the morning before climbing higher throughout the afternoon until you reach the village. You will spend two nights here to help you acclimatise to the altitude, but this presents an excellent opportunity to learn more about the native Sherpas.
If you want to find out about their culture, follow the Tengboche trail a short distance outside the village to reach the Museum of Sherpa Life, which will not only tell you more about how these fascinating people live, but will also introduce you to the native flora and fauna you will see on the rest of your trek.
Stage two - Dingboche
From Namche Bazaar, you will continue onwards and upwards, eventually reaching Dingboche for your next acclimatisation stop after two days. You'll pass through numerous villages on the way and, as you ascend further, you'll notice the greenery gradually disappearing and giving way to a more arid landscape.
On your acclimatisation day, you can choose to make the short walk to the nearby village of Chukung, from where you'll have stunning views of Island Peak.
Stage three - Everest Base Camp
After around one week of trekking, you will set off across the spectacular Khumbu Glacier for Everest Base Camp. There are some amazing sights on the ice - such as the Khumbu Icefall - so take your time as you approach one of the highest points of your trip at 5,365 m above sea level.
Climbers who are planning a summit attempt will usually spend between four and eight weeks here acclimatising before starting their ascent up the peak. If you're lucky, you may find a group getting ready for the feat at the camp when you arrive, giving you a chance to observe the preparation that goes into this type of advanced expedition.
Stage four - Kala Patar
The morning after you've visited the base camp, you will climb Kala Patar, which stands 5,545 m tall and offers fantastic views of Mount Everest. Standing here surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Himalayas will be a highlight of your trek.
Stage five - Tengboche
From this point on, you will be descending, passing through a host of settlements as you gradually leave the lofty heights of the mountains behind. Tengboche will be your final stop before you pass through Namche Bazaar once more and conclude your trip. It is well worth exploring the village, as it is home to the biggest Sherpa monastery in the Khumbu region.
Just outside the monastery is a small centre featuring exhibits about Sherpa life and the Buddhist faith. It is possible to attend the ceremonies at the monastery - although only go if you don't mind an early start, as they begin at 05:00 local time!