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Follow us to Everest - Day 2, Phakding to Namche Bazar

The huge massif of Thamserku, visible high up about half an hour after leaving Phakding

Today is Namche Bazar! Having seen so many photos and heard so many tales of this amazing place, I have to say I was truly excited by the thought of visiting it myself. Set in the most amazing amphitheatre, it is likely the steepest, busiest village you will ever come across.

But first, the walk.

By now, hopefully, although the trail will still be busy, it will have a calmer feel to it and there will be sections where you can be on your own in this beautiful place. There will still be porters walking by with big loads and animals too, even more loaded. Just be careful if you meet animals, yaks or dzos (cross between a yak and a cow) and make sure if you are on a narrow part of the trail that you keep to the inside as they have no idea of their width and will brush you off the edge if you are not careful. And best give them right of way on the bridges!

The trail is still wide here, as it is most of the way, but there is lots to look at as you go along, and lots of photo opportuites. But it is in quite a steep sided valley here, so there are lots of shady and cool bits as you follow the river along.

After about three hours slow walking you'll arrive in Monjo, a really pretty village. Lots of people have a night here on the way back, but not today.

About five minutes after leaving Monjo you will come to the Sagarmatha Nationa Park entrance where you must pay your entry fee of around 3400NRs.

Sagarmatha National Park entrance

If you have a bit of time here, it's worh having a quick look around the visitor information centre at some of the exhibits. They also have a list of visitor numbers over the last years.

From here the trail drops down a bit and then, crossing a long bridge you will arrive in Jorsale. It's worth stopping for a bite to eat here as it is the last place before the long climb up to Namche.

Leaving Jorsale, you cross the river again and then slowly climb up through pine trees to meet the very airey suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi. This is a fairly new bridge and if you look down you will see the old one way below you. Across both bridges are a mass of prayer flags blowing in the breeze to keep you safe.

From here it is a long slow climb up to Namche, via a very winding trail. There is a natural resting point about half way up at the remains of an old building and from here, if it is clear, you will get your first view of the black triangular summit of Everest peeking above the Lhotse ridge.

View of the summit of Everest, peeking over the Lhotse ridge

The rest of the way up to Namche is just a long slow plod. Which can sometimes feel that you are never going to get there. Make sure you drink enough as you will be getting dehydrated with the heat and the climb. You will be walking up to 3440m today which is a fair height gain so it is best to walk slowly and drink lots of water to avoid getting a headache.

Finally you reach the buildings on the edge of town and somtimes there will be a police check here. Rounding the bend above this you are suddenly greeted by the full panorama of the fairytale village of Namche Bazar. Multi colour buildings hug the contours of a step curved bowl facing, if you look behind, the ice clad peak of Konde Ri.

At the entrance they have recently installeda row of water-powered prayer wheels, a neatly paved walkway, a brand new chorten and a water fountain to greet visitors.

By the time you have reached here you will have an idea if you have forgotten to bring anything with you and, if you have, you will be able to purchase it here. There are more equipment shops than you can shake a stick at!.

Sometimes the quality is better than in Kathmandu (although perhaps more expensive) so if you like what you see I would buy it here – there aren’t really any gear shops further along the trail, although you may be able to buy waterbottles, batteries and the like. With loads of lodges and cafes it is an ideal place to spend a few days and do a bit of exploring. Coffee and cake here we come!

In addition to numerous hotels and lodges, the town boasts three small museums, a beautiful monastery, a post office, a few pharmacies, plenty of souvenir shops, internet cafes and bakeries. There are also a few money exchange facilities (though bear in mind that the exchange rate will be poorer than in Kathmandu). There is an ATM but sometimes no electricity and it does not work, so I would not rely on it.

Definitely have an acclimatisation day here as you have ascended steeply yesterday and are now at 3440 metres. If you only have one day then coffee on the Everest View Hotel balcony is a must. Then, if you feel like it, a visit to Kunde, where the Health Centre is, or to Khumjung where there is Hilary’s School and the Yeti Head. If you have a bit more time you could take a trip up towards Thame. But don’t overdo it here, this could also just be a rest day.

Enjoy your time here. Namche is everything you thought it would be.

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