Namche Bazaar – The Gateway to the mountains!
We woke up early in the morning and were gifted with a splendid view of the town Namche Bazaar and the morning sun rays on the ridge of Mt Kongde. Namche Bazaar at an elevation of 3440m above the sea level is the most happening town in the Khumbu region and the gateway to the mountains. A market takes place on every Friday and Saturday in the center of the town. If you look from distance it would appear as if a second hand cloth market with everything spread out on the ground. But it trades all brand new items from grocery, fresh vegetables, clothes, foot wears, meats to alcohols. Prices of each and every thing are very high as they need to bring from down the valley or Kathmandu. A litre of mustard oil was selling at Nepalese Rs.400/- (NRP 300/- for vegetable oil) and Nepalese Rs. 4000/- for a home grown live chicken. There is a big gap between the prices to locals and tourists. So if you want to buy something and have porter or guide with you, get them to make the purchase for you.
Almost anything you might need for the trek ahead like down jacket, shoes, socks, cloths, caps, scarves, sleeping bags, sun screen cream, lip balm, tissue paper and trekking maps etc can be bought on the street of Namche Bazaar. The town has a German Bakery too; well know in the region for providing good quality of western food including pizza. It also has a small health unit, two chemist shops and ATM of Nepalese Bank. Oh yes, I saw there a shop of cobbler too. The Buddhist stupa of Namche has been badly damaged by 2015 earthquake and still awaits the repairing.
In Khumbu region they only grow potatoes and that is not enough even. So as you go high, you get mainly potato as the option for vegetable dish. Namche Bazaar has a population of around 500. It has more tea houses (lodges) than the residence of locals. Children get here only primary education and thereafter either they quit study or go to the Sir Edmund Hillary School at nearby village Khumjung. Those who can afford further cost, get their higher education from Kathmandu.
The hike to the Everest View Hotel
After the difficulty of our last day hiking to Namche Bzaar, the acclimatization or rest day here was well deserved. But rest day is not a day for lie-in and rest, as ‘rest day’ is a term for an acclimatization day when you climb high during the day and then sleep low at night. So while you are not actually trekking to your next destination, you still hike to much higher elevation to help your body to adjust with the high altitude more easily – a painful but necessary evil! The most common walk on the rest day at Namche Bazaar is to the Everest View Hotel, then climb down to the village Khumjung and by the late afternoon come back to Namche Bazaar.
Early in the morning we set out from our lodge along the main trekking route to Everest Base Camp. After climbing only a few hundred meters vertically we arrived at a junction. The path straight goes to the Everest Base Camp and the stepper one on the left takes you to the Everest View Hotel. Looking at the climb anybody would certify it a much harder than that of yesterday to Namche Bazaar. Slowly, slowly, bistari, bistari we hiked to the airstrip of Syangboche at the elevation of 3790m. The runway of Syangboche certainly surprised us as it was made of just cutting the mountain sides and also a smaller one than the Lukla airport. No passenger aircraft flies from here and it is used only to carry supplies by Helicopter. But there is no concreted helipad too.
We continued climbing further up. The panoramic view was captivating us all along the way with the hide and seek of Mt. Thamserku and Mt Kongde Ri amidst the cloud. Finally, after a hike of two hours we reached the Everest View Hotel at 3880m!
View of Mt. Everest with coffee from Everest View Hotel
We hiked to the Everest View Hotel as it offers foods, snacks, tea, coffee and drinks etc while you enjoy the view of Mt Everest from their lawn. Well Everest was not visible as it was covered by clouds but we paid Nepalese Rs.750/- for 2 small cups of Hot Chocolate.
While returning, we went to Khumjung, a beautiful village about which I will write in my next post to follow.
You can read the day to day account of my Everest Base Camp Trek here-