DAY 4 of our Everest Basecamp Trek For Water Campaign Yesterday was tough. The hardest part was at the end, as we had to ascend over 1000 vertical feet after having trekked already for nearly 8 hours. Today was going to be a great day though.
We would spend a full day in Namche Bazaar, to allow our bodies to have an extra 24 hours in this new altitude level.(3500m or 11500ft) For reference, this is even higher than Machu Picchu at 2400m. It's no wonder that everyone needs to stop here to adjust to altitude.
Namche Bazaar is the midpoint on the trek to the base camp of Everest. It also happens to be the last place trekkers will find some semblance of "civilization" on the base camp trail.
In Namche you'll find the facilities to keep you reasonably comfortable: Good restaurants(relative to Nepal), including a few German bakeries!
Shops that can supply you with proper gear such as jackets, gloves, boots, etc., and little grocery shops for snacks and sundries.
A Mountain Hard Wear store, in case you forgot some gear and don't want to buy knock-offs
A pharmacy in case you're under the weather, or worse...suffering from altitude sickness. And if you're just a little sleepy...you can get Illy and Lavazza coffee...imported from Italy!
Although Namche Bazaar is considered an acclimatization rest stop, the reality is that trekkers must do a short ascent up to Syangboche about 400 meters higher up the mountain, and then back down into Namche.
The purpose of this brief ascent is to briefly expose the body to a higher altitude to trigger the acclimatization, and then descend back to the present altitude to allow time for the acclimatization to happen.
So the plan today is to do this short hike up, but before we do that we take an early morning gander over to the local's market where residents of Namche Bazaar do their shopping for supplies and food. The 11-minute video below offers a virtual tour of the town of Namche Bazaar:
After we did our little tour of Namche Bazaar, we ate a quick lunch, and proceeded to make our way up and out of the town to reach Syangboche.
Just on the ridge above town is a little monastery that we need to go around before heading up the switchback to head up and over the mountain.
We make our way upwards, and despite cooler temperatures we both manage to break a sweat as the physical exertion warms us up from the inside while the sun's direct light heats up our clothing from the outside.
Heading around the ridge, we find a nice vantage point from which to snap a few images to illustrate the the height and scale of our position relative to Namche Bazaar below.
We go around this bend after the yaks pass, and after hugging a rock wall for a few minutes, we reach a point where we see nothing but bramble bushes and dirt paths. The way is not so clear, but we can see a cluster of stupas at the top of the ridge.
Using them as a bearing, we wound our way amongst the bushes until we reach the top. Of course, the top isn't the top...but merely a marker for us to see that there is one more ridge to overcome about a quarter mile away.
It's mid afternoon now, and the sun sets early behind the mountains...so we know we've got to finish up this hike and get back down. Thankfully, just beyond the little house up on the ridge(pictured top right in the photo above), lies the entrance to Syangboche.
We reach it, and seeing that it's actually a downslope the rest of the way, we decide that this must be the highest point and we can now start heading back to town.
On the way down, we take a different route along the opposite side of the ridge. The wind is kicking up now, and we even had a few flakes of snow drop down from the clouds.
As we made our way back down, we were treated to birds-eye views of Namche Bazaar, and realized how far up above the town we had actually ascended!
Our "rest" day completed, it's time to wind down for a good night's sleep. Tomorrow we move on from Namche Bazaar to the holy village of Tengboche.