…contd from Part I
DAY 3 PHAKDING – NAMCHE
One of my primary concerns on this trek was getting the ‘bed tea’ which the body had become so accustomed to over decades. I managed to buy, coerce, force, plead my way through! The morning started early to catch the common washroom still clean & usable. After breakfast we kicked off the day’s journey. Our destination today was Namche Bazar, the largest village in the Khumbu region. We passed picture perfect vistas, going over narrow paths where trekkers & animals both jostled for space.
There were numerous resting spots for the trekkers & porters alike where we would stop & enquire about the remaining distance while grudgingly admiring & envying the returning trekkers on their accomplishment of having ‘been there & done that’.
Shortly we reached the entrance to the Sagarmatha National Park where everyone has to stop & register with the local government for entry.
The whole area was milling with trekkers with the respective guides queued up at the office windows to complete the necessary formalities & paperwork.
The documentation completed, we continued on our journey. Soon we came across the first of the double sets of hanging bridges.
Finally we reached Namche, the metropolis of the Khumbu region, a vibrant & lively mega village & our first acclimatisation stop at 11286 ft.
We quickly checked into our hotel, settled down & stepped out to explore the local market. It didn’t appear as if we were actually in the Himalayas above 11000 ft! The whole area was brimming with activity. There were people of many nationalities excitedly going about their chores. Shops were stocked with all kinds of trek equipment, groceries, clothing & all other kinds of imaginable necessities. If one still had something missing from the list then this was the last place to pick it up.
As sunlight gave to dusk, the place became even more livelier with music blaring out of the shops’ speakers & trekkers descending on the numerous cafes for drinks & dinner. Food of mostly all popular choices was available.
We roamed the market checking out the shops of interest. While my buddy picked up a small Indian flag that he wanted to pose with at EBC, I had my eyes on some gifts for back home which I planned to pick up on return. Having got a feel of the place & taken some memorable pictures we returned to our hotel, had dinner & packed off for the night. The next day was to be a ‘rest’ day at Namche without any rest with some activities planned for us.
DAY 4 ACCLIMATISATION HALT AT NAMCHE
I woke up early next morning & peeped out of the window. The sight that the eyes beheld was what, so far, I had believed to be a photoshop effect in pictures. The peaks of the neighbouring Kongde Range were bathed yellow in the rays of the rising sun & appeared as if they were on fire.
They say, when trekking in the mountains , always climb high & sleep low to avoid mountain sickness. Thus the day’s itinerary included a visit to the Everest View Hotel at 12726 ft, a further 1500 ft higher than Namche. The climb looked daunting but we were lured & trapped with a possible first view of Mt Everest which clinched the deal in Lokendra’s favour!
We started off after breakfast & on the way paid a visit to the Sherpa museum which gives a glimpse into the Sherpas’ daily lives & is stocked with the tools & equipment used by them on their world famous summit climbs.
We continued the tough & steep climb to the Everest View Hotel with frequent stops for rest, but the excitement of seeing the highest peak in the world kept us going.
It took us about 2.5 hours to reach the top. The Everest View Hotel is a rather pricey establishment which claims its exclusivity because of its view of Mt Everest. If you have deep pockets you can even opt to stay there. It can be reached either on foot from Namche (like we did), or by a helicopter as it boasts of its own private helipad. For the majority of others, it is just an acclimatisation climb with the outdoor cafe open to visitors.
The place was bustling with trekkers lounging in the outdoor seating area, sipping tea & coffee or enjoying a beer & savouring snacks or a meal while at the same time looking wishfully towards where Mt Everest was supposed to be. But Everest proved to be an elusive customer, playing hide & seek with the clouds while Lhotse was clearly visible all the time.
After waiting for an hour or two like excited school kids with Everest showing no signs of relenting, we consoled ourselves with well deserved cups of masala tea while Lokendra tried to boost our morales with assurances of getting more positive sightings in the days to come. Then we descended back to Namche to have a last look at the market & make sure that we had everything that we needed for further days of the trek. The real action was to begin the next morning onwards when we would start climbing into remote Khumbu region. Dinner done, we brought the day to a close.
To be contd…
We had the “rest” day at Dingpoche and we did the Everest Hotel acclimatisation climb from there!
Oh ok! So does that mean you climbed to Everest View hotel from the other side?
Wow …. reading it felt like being there !!!! Enjoyed thoroughly.
Thank you Rajeev 🙂
What is the mandatory documentation for the trip.
Nothing much. Just tie up with an operator & he’ll take care of everything including the inner line permits, the Sagarmatha National Park entry fees, the trekker registration etc. You just need to have valid documentation to enter Nepal. And of course you need to have faith in your physical fitness to complete the trek as evacuation can be a very expensive affair if you haven’t taken a proper insurance cover.
Vivid and engaging travelogues. Extremely engrossing. They will definitely help all those who are interested in going on the EBC trek in near future.
Thank you for your generous words Archie 🙂