Jiri – Gateway to Mount Everest
Located at an altitude of more than 1,900 meters in the Dolakha District of Nepal’s Janakpur Zone, the village of Jiri is referred to as the “Gateway to Mount Everest”. Many famous expeditions and legendary climbers have passed through Jiri en-route to attempt to conquer the world’s tallest mountain, including the historical expedition that resulted in Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit of Mount Everest. Jiri is also the starting point for trekkers as they make their way along the 170 kilometer Everest Trek, stretching through the Khumbu Valley in the Solu region of Nepal. This popular trekking route can take up to twenty-four days to complete as trekkers make their way through some of the most awe-inspiring terrain in the world – and the adventure of a lifetime starts at the little village of Jiri.
As the eastern-most terminus of the highway from Kathmandu, hikers can make the 184 kilometer ride to Jiri by bus – a seven or eight hour trip along winding, narrow roads that is an adventure in itself. Some trekkers choose to fly to Lukla, one of the stops on the Everest Trek, thereby avoiding the road-trip to Jiri and cutting the twenty-four day hike by at least seven days. However, trekkers who have taken the route from Jiri tend to agree that the scenery between the village of Jiri and Lukla is some of the best on the trek.
Jiri was established in 1938 with the aid of the Swiss Government to serve as an agricultural development. There are currently an estimated 1,500 households in and around the village, with the majority of the inhabitants being Jirels – an ethnic group related to Sherpas and Sunuwars. Jirels are primarily subsistence farmers, and practice a form of Tibetan Buddhism, incorporating elements drawn from Shamanism and Hinduism. Jiri is classified as a Village Development Committee (VDC) of the Nepali government, which aims to create a partnership between the local community and authorities for improved communication and service delivery in hard to reach areas.
As the starting point for both trekking and mountaineering, Jiri is geared up to provide for travelers passing through. There are a number of lodging options available, offering adequate facilities and, although there are shops to buy basic provisions, trekkers generally stock up in Kathmandu, arriving in Jiri with what they need for the journey ahead.