Follow us to Everest - Day 4, Namche Bazar to Deboche
Today's trek is one of stunning views all day, as you progress slowly further up the Khumbu valley.
The day starts with a sharp climb up and away from the town. Even after a day’s rest and an acclimatisation walk, most people feel the impact of the altitude, and the ascent may be a little tough. Take it easy, and pace yourself.
If you are there during high season you may find it very busy here as every lodge in Namche empties around the same time and people make their way on to the trail. But that soon sorts itself out. You will only be walking for around five to six hours today, so there is plenty of time. If you find it busy just let people past and continue slowly until it is quieter.
After passing by a giant prayer rock at the top of the town the trail then flattens out as it contours gently round to the small village of Kyangjuma, a little over an hour away.
Along the way some fantastic views open up the valley towards Tengboche monastery and the sky is typically clear enough to allow views of the triangular south face of Everest rising above the jagged wall of Lhotse. Often the peak has a wispy cloud trail clinging to its top. You’ll also pass the large and elaborate memorial to Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who left an indelible mark on the region. The trail along this section is well maintained, a testament to the hard work of a small group of local villagers, who collect donations for their efforts from the many passing trekkers.
The terrace of the Ama Dablam View Hotel at Kyangjuma is perfect for a tea stop and one of the best places to buy jewellery in the Khumbu. Very sadly last year, the main lodge of the Ama Dablam (on the other side of the trail from the terrace) burnt down. The good news from some of this season's passing trekkers and climbers is that Tashi and Lakpa, who own the hotel have started rebuilding it. Their terrace is the best coffee stop along the trail so please help them out by continuing to stop here. Oh, and Tashi's jewellery is also very nice!
From Kyangjuma, there is a long descent through pine trees to the river at Phungi Tenga; a good spot for lunch. The prayer wheels flanking the path here are water powered and always spinning.
From Phungi Thanga the trail climbs a wooded ridge, steeply zig-zagging at first, and then rises steadily to an archway on the hilltop, leading through to Tengboche village (also known locally as Thyangboche). After lunch, you’ll be steadily gaining height for around 1.5–2 hours, to the village; don’t worry, it’s not quite as challenging as the previous ascent to Namche.
Tengboche Monastery (3860 metres)
The small ridge-top village houses the most important monastery in the region, which is home to some 60 monks.
It was originally built in 1923, supposedly on the site of a stone footprint left by an important Lama, but was destroyed by an earthquake 11 years later. The rebuilt monastery was destroyed again, this time by fire caused by an electrical problem in 1989. Many important scriptures, murals and wood carvings were destroyed in the blaze. It was subsequently rebuilt with the help of foreign aid and volunteers and within the past few years the work has been completed, including an elaborate entrance arch.
John Hunt, leader of the first successful Everest expedition in 1953, stopped off at Tengboche Monastery en route to Base Camp. He described it as ‘One of the most beautiful places in the world.’
Many expeditions going to Everest and the other higher peaks in the region stop here for a puja; a blessing and good luck for their expedition.
There is a small visitor centre here and, if you have time and are coming back this way, it is a really beautiful place to spend a bit of quiet time, especially if you are here during the day when other trekkers are trekking.
However, the few lodges here do tend to get busy, so push on for a further half an hour down, through the dense rhododendron forest, to Deboche where there are more lodges.
If you have any time in the evening, visit the small nunnery in Deboche, just a little further along the trail (200m) from Paradise Lodge. It sees very few visitors and is trying to raise funds for much needed repair work.
All in all, a really beautiful day.