Namche Bazaar, a remote Nepali village, is most well known as the last outpost of civilization for those traveling to Mt. Everest. But trekking to this high mountain village is an experience in its own right. With plenty of amenities for travelers, beautiful himalayan vistas and many cultural wonders, traveling to Namche Bazaar from Kathmandu is a worthwhile trip for those heading to Nepal with limited time.
The trek to Namche has quite a dramatic start — the flight from Kathmandu into Lukla. Known as the “most dangerous airport in the world”, the small airstrip in Lukla, nestled amongst high mountains, provides quite the adrenaline rush. But in good weather, small planes fly in and out of this popular trekking gateway quite regularly (and safely.) The 40 minute flight departs several times a day from Kathmandu, starting at 6:30am so leave early and give yourself a full day. In bad weather, be prepared for delays or cancellations.
Once in Lukla, parties often stop to eat breakfast and gather any last-minute supplies and then gear up and hit the trail for a nine mile journey Lukla to Monjo. The start of this trail marks official entry into the Everest region and is busy yaks, herders, porters and other travelers. Enjoy views of expansive green valleys and river crossings over suspension bridges. Rest stops at trailside teahouses are a-plenty.
Monjo is a small village in the Khumbu region of Nepal and consists of an assortment of guesthouses, lodges and tenting options for traveling parties. You are likely to meet a jumble of trekkers and climbers from all over the world. The settings are rustic but comfortable and the lack of modern conveniences means that entertainment often comes in the form of swapping stories over bowls of fried rice, dal baat or garlic soup and playing card games or reading books.
The following day, get an early start — the trek from Monjo to Namche is infamous for its long consistent steep inclines and many suspension bridges (those fearful of heights, take notice). While only 4.5 miles, this part of the trail gains 2,140ft and, if you haven’t already, you’re likely to feel the effects of altitude here. Just after Monjo, you’ll also officially enter the Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and protected area that includes Mt. Everest and many surrounding mountains and valleys. The initial part of the trail slowly gains elevation and the trees part in places revealing stunning views of Mt. Khumbila. After lunch, the trail climbs more dramatically as you work your way up to the village of Namche Bazaar at 11,417ft.
Namche is a small but bustling village set in a horseshoe shaped hillside looking over the majestic Mt. Kongde. It has a number of lodgings and stores catering to the needs of visitors — with internet cafes, locally renowned bakeries and even an Irish pub. Trekkers often stay here a few days, acclimatizing before heading high towards Everest. If you are staying in town, there are several activities and day hikes to keep you entertained. Saturday mornings, a weekly market is held in the center of the village. Climb up to the viewpoint above the village and you’ll be rewarded with a view of Everest on a clear day. Or if you are willing to hike a bit further, head to the Everest View Hotel renowned as the “highest hotel in the world” at 13,000ft with 360 degree views of the Himalayas and a direct line of sight to Mt, Everest.
Whether you’re traveling to Namche for just a few days, or passing through on your way to Everest basecamp, the trail from Lukla to Namche is an incredible experience. Below are some tips we learned from our experience on the trail.
Due to the region's high elevation, the weather can be just about anything — snow, rain, wind, cold, or sunny. Pack layers.
In cooler months like March-April or October-November consider bringing an extra warm sleeping bag as your room may have little to no heat and can be very cold.
Make sure to wear comfortable, waterproof boots and make sure you have hiked in them before the trip. Bring an extra pair of comfortable dry shoes for the end of the day.
Hire a Sherpa Guide. Guides are a great source of local knowledge and allow you to focus on the sites along the way instead of worrying about navigation. Plus, hiring a guide helps the local economy and directly gives back to the people who live in the region.
Hike your own hike. Don’t worry about people passing you or how quickly you are hiking. Enjoy yourself and experience the culture and views at your own pace.