Dal bhat is what got us through our 37-day trek in the Solukhumbu area (April 3 to May 10, 2014). Dhaal bhaat is the national Nepalese staple: a huge plate of rice, lentil soup and vegetable curry, which always comes with a free refill! It got us from Jiri to Namche Bazaar, over the Three High Passes (Renjo La, Cho La, Kongma La), up Kalar Pattar (near EBC) and several other view-point peaks, and then out to Tumlingtar. We started our journey in Jiri, which is a 6-8 hours busrit from Kathmandu. We highly advice that you take the micro-bus, and not the local bus. It's a only 100 rupees more, but I guess that is a sound investment into your health – and life. Our trek ended in the far east of Nepal in Tumlingtar from which you can travel back to Kathmandu (either by flight or bus).

We walked just by ourselves (2 people) without a guide or porter. We had a good guidebook Trekking in the Everest Region by Jamie McGuinness (5th ed.). As well as a decent map of the region (several options). The entire route is pretty straightforward and there are plenty of people around to ask directions when in need. As such, it is rather difficult to get (really) lost. You'd have to make an effort. We also carried our own stuff, about 15kg each. We bought most of it in Kathmandu.

This was a low budget trek. Our daily average (p.p.): 800-1500 rupees (8-15USD, varying from low to high altitude). Nearly everywhere you can sleep for free in the simple rooms. If you make clear you'll have dinner and breakfast at the lodge you can bargain for/insist on a free room. Otherwise accommodation should not be more than 100 rupees for a basic room.

Jiri-Namche
We hiked from Jiri to Namche Bazaar in 10-days. This included a 1-day detour around Gaurishankar National Park. The first day we arrived at Shivalaya for lunch. This is also the entrance to the NP. They charge a Rs. 2000,- entrance fee. However, you're in the park for two hours only. From Shivalaya to Deorali. (Note: they extended the park boundaries to include a small stretch of this popular route somewhere in the last 3 years) We thought the price was absurd and decided to walk around. So we went to Thosey and stayed there for the night. The owner of the only lodge in town told us about a shortcut which goes via Bigu (a tiny village) to Deorali. This stretch takes about 6 hours and is truly scenic. And we made it to Deorali without having to pay the fee.

Then from Deorali we walked to Namche Bazaar without any problems. There are villages about 1-2 walking hours distance apart with plenty of lodges to stay at. So you could plan day by day the distances you want to walk. After Ringmo the donkey trains start. Make sure you're on the hill side when they come by. Up till Lukla it's quiet. After which point you'll hit the 'Mt. Everest highway'. In Namche you can fuel up on 'cheap' foods, and stock up on Snickers and Bounty bars since they are being sold at the same price as in Kathmandu.

Three High Passes
After Namche Bazar be ready to be totally amazed and stunned! We went over the Three High Passes in a clockwise direction. They say it's a bit more challenging as the ascends are steeper from the West side. But we prefer a steep ascend over a steep descend (love your knees!). From Namche we walked to Thame (Namaste Lodge recommended! Great prices and a lovely Sherpina runs the place; her husband has summited Everest more than 16 times and is brother to the legendary Apa Sherpa: 21 summits). We took an extra day for acclimatisation in the form of a day trip towards Sunder Peak (4800m). Then we did Thame to Lungden in one easy day.

1) Renjo La. It's wise to leave as early as possible when you're doing a pass. The earlier you summit the clearer and better the views will be. So we made it our aim to leave at 5.30AM. When you leave Lungden keep right. A faint trail will go off up a slope. After a short climb you'll reach a valley. In the distance you will see steep mountain walls. That's where you will be heading towards. The trail is clear and well trodden. At the foot of the wall the “steps” begin. This last part forms quite a physically as well as mentally straining ascend. But I ensure you it's well worth it. When you summit (about 3-4 hours from when you started) it will be stunning! It brought tears to my eyes. Enjoy this moment! The descend is straightforward. Although you can see Gokyo in the distance, it's still a good two more hours. The path down can be somewhat unclear at times, but at least you can see your destination.

1A) Between Gokyo and Cho La you have to cross the Ngozumba Glacier (biggest in Nepal). You might hear mixed experiences about it as we did. But we can assure you it's perfectly easy. The path that starts at Gokyo is clearly visible all across the glacier. Just make sure you stay on the path. It's recommended to do the crossing in the morning as the increase in temperature during the day might cause ice melting, shifting and cracking with the result of falling rocks. While crossing you will hear the sound of cracking ice, which is pretty eerie and cool! Stay the night at Thaknak.

2) Cho La. Again leave at 5-5.30AM from Thaknak. It's an easy start. Nice walk up towards the last part which forms again a steep ascend. Be aware of rocks falling! So make sure you keep left at the very last part of the climb. The “path” consists of loose rocks that are prone to falling. Next to the 'path' there are big boulders stacked upon each other. We'd recommend climbing these instead of walking on the 'path'. This option will be far safer since (big) rocks – loosened by those above you – might come falling down the “path”. (My friend managed to jump aside just in time when two rocks came for her head.) After the pass it's an easy descend. First you cross a glacier. Different from the previous one this glacier is bare ice and snow, so it might be slippery. Crampons are recommended – not necessary. Trekking poles will also provide grip and stability. After the glacier it's slowly down the valley.

3) Kongma La. Snow fall drove us to walk around Kongma La. From Lobuche to Chhukung to try our luck a day or two later. In Chhukung we summited Chhukung Ri. A pleasant day trip and well worth the panorama. Inform with the locals how to get started because the beginning of the path toward Kongma La isn't all too clear. Ask for some navigation points (big rock, dips in the ridges). If you are lucky you might have the company of two dogs that happen to be great private guides! Otherwise slowly contour upwards turning slowly right. Soon you'll pick up a clear path. Coming into a valley pass the lake on the left side and then it's a short steep climb (also left side) up into a second valley. You walk in between the lakes and the last lake on your left you pass on its right side over a raised path. Then it's another small climb to the pass. Voilá, you've made it! The descend is steep and mostly over big rocks and boulders so the “path” tends to disappear. Look for the small towers of stacked stones, they are like sign posts. This goes for everywhere during the trek.

Kalar Pattar
Depending on what sort of sunrise you want to see you have two options. I highly recommend the first.
1) Dawn. The first light appears. The stars slowly fade and the tips of the mountains turn into gold. You'll be up on the top by yourself. Magical! Leave at 3.30AM you'll have to walk up in the dark and you'll see all the stars and even the Milky Way when the skies are clear. It takes about 1,5h. You'll be up at 5AM. Make sure you have enough warm clothing for when you are on the top.
2) See the sun rise behind the Everest. It's been light already for 1,5h. You cannot see the Everest because the sun is blinding the sight. The mountains surrounding you will all have turned into a warm golden colour. You will be up there with quite a crowd of people. Leave at 5AM.

Namche-Tumlingtar
Time for the descend. From Namche walk back to Bupsa and then turn east. The turn in Bupsa is somewhat unclear. You have to cross the garden of a guest house after which follows a short and steep ascend over an unclear path. Ask the locals for directions towards Pangkongma. You can see the village in the distance. The path more or less follows the contour. Guest house options in this direction are more sparse and to plan your days ahead is advisable. We did: Bupsa-Pangkongma-Khiroulna Gompa-Sanam-Phedi-Charlissay-Tumlingtar (and after some unclarity at the bus stand we took a minivan to Hille on the same day we arrived at Tumlingtar). These were long days. But after all that trekking we felt unbeatable. However, the last two days on lower altitude it was becoming very very hot, even in the morning time. By then it was early May and Nepal is starting to warm up. This route is certainly off-the-beaten track. We saw only one other white foreigner in those six days. The scenery is beautiful. More tropical near the end at lower altitude. The people are no longer Sherpa but Rai who live in beautiful picturesque villages.

So basically, the entire trek is pretty straightforward. You can't really get lost. We totally recommend doing it by yourselves. Everyone can do it. Slow and steady wins the race. I hope you've found this information useful. Enjoy your trek!