Have you ever stood at 4600 meters, face-to-face with an enormous mountain, a beautiful lake, the blue sky and listened to… silence? This was our reward after a challenging trek from Jiri all the way to Dudh Kunda (4600 meters). The Dudh Kunda trek is one of the lesser known treks of Nepal, in the Solukhumbu region.
Dudh Kunda is a side track of the trail that leads from Jiri all the way to Everest. Dudh Kunda means ‘milk lake’ and is a sacred lake situated between mountains. Locals say that it’s the residence of Lord Shiva. Not many trekkers go here, and that makes it a trek where you can find a lot of peace and solitude. You can hike to Dudh Kunda all the way from Jiri in about 8 days, or you can start in Salleri, making it a 5 day trek. You can take the 10 hour bus to Salleri, or alternatively you can fly into neighboring Phaplu airport.
At a local village called Ringmu we spent our last night in a real guesthouse. The reason why relatively few people make the Dudh Kunda trek is because there are no guesthouses at the ‘last stop before the top’. There are two options for how to spend the night: you can sleep in one of the ‘cow sheds’ in Sasarbeni (3800 meters) or you can bring your own tents and camp out. We chose the ‘cow shed’ option, as it seemed like the more adventurous way to enjoy the trek!
On the way from Ringmu to Dudh Kunda we first hiked through a beautiful forest, misty and green. Then the trail became a bit steeper, until finally we hiked around a corner and saw the valley lying ahead of us with the mountains, suddenly very close, towering above it.
We hiked our last few hours of the day down an easy steady path into Sasarbeni. Here, a few cow sheds are dotted out over a plain. We met our Nepali host on the path as he hurried past us with his bag full of food for the next two nights. Upon arrival, he had already prepared our first cup of tea and lit the small cooking fire.
Upon entering the hut we realized that it wasn’t going to get much warmer than it already was! So we put on all the clothes we had and huddled around the fire. After a nice dal bhat we went outside to look at the stars – the Milky Way was spread out across the sky and the stars were so bright! We went back inside and crawled underneath a heap of blankets, and though it was -10 degrees we felt just warm enough to sleep.
The following morning I got out of the cow shed and was greeted by 20 cows staring at me. Behind them were the blue sky and mountains. We started hiking as soon as possible, as you never know when the clouds might come in. Here we could feel the altitude, and our progress was slower than usual. But after a 2.5 hour hike we made it to our destination. And, as we had already known we would be when we started our trip from Ringmu: we were the only ones there! Just the mountains, the lake and us.
Article and photos by Linda Ris and Fedor Ikelaar.