Everything we had read suggested that the climb into Namche Bazar was the hardest part of the whole Everest Base Camp trek.
We headed out for breakfast at 0730am - we both had apple porridge and milk tea, paid the bill for our accommodation, and headed out the door.
Entering Sagarmatha National Park
At 0845am, we hit the trail. Not far out of Monjo, we reached the official entrance to Sagarmatha National Park (Sagarmatha is the Nepalese name for Mt Everest). Here, we paid our second hiking fee - 6780r ($67.80USD) for two people to enter the national park.
Passing through the nearby stupa gateway, we headed down the stone steps past an enormous granite bluff carved with Tibetan characters. We followed the banks of the Dudh Kosi, crossing the river twice along the trail.
Eventually, we found ourselves scrambling over the rocks on the East side of the river. At one point, we spotted the foundations of an old swing bridge. Foolishly, I dumped my pack and ran up the steps, feeling light as air. Not long after I regretted my enthusiasm and wished that I'd saved my energy...
We scurried along the river banks, before turning up and climbing into the forest. As we climbed, we were rewarded with stunning views of the confluence of the Dudh Khosi and Bhote Kosi.
At the top of the hill, we reached the highest suspension bridge on the trail. As we crossed, we could see huge snow covered mountains in the distance on the right, and beautiful forested hills on the left.
Once we'd crossed the bridge, we tightened our shoe laces, adjusted our packs and steeled our resolve for the neverending climb into Namche Bazar. The 2.5km climb ascends 520m through dense pine forests.
Up and up and up we climbed. While we were hiking, it was incredibly hot, and sweat was running down my face. As soon as we stopped, the icy wind had us freezing in no time.
I was definitely feeling the altitude. While my legs didn't feel tired while I was moving, I was gasping for air and struggling to catch my breath. I just had no energy.
Zev powered on ahead, but I plodded up the hill, making sure I kept putting one foot in front of the other.
About halfway up the hill, we reached a public toilet - but not just any public toilet! This was our first view of Everest for the hike! Far, FAR in the distance, we could see the peak of Everest with its characteristic plume of cloud whipping over the summit. Not a bad bog view, that's for sure.
After taking advantage of the facilities, taking a few snapshots, and refueling with water and snacks, we got back on the trail. And up and up and up we continued. Again, Zev powered on ahead, and I brought up the rear.
A seemingly endless time later, I rounded the corner to see Zev waiting outside a small shack - we'd reached the checkpoint at Mislung, a short distance outside Namche. We presented our tickets and passports for checking, and I did a figurative dance of joy, knowing that we were now within range of our destination for the night.
We followed the trail around the hillside, still climbing up and over one final hill for about 20 minutes before being abruptly spat out in the middle of Namche Bazar, the closest thing Sagarmatha National Park offers to a city.
We wound our way through narrow alleyways packed with outdoor shops reminiscent of Thamel in Kathmandu - we needn't have worried about Zev's shoes breaking on the trail, he'd have no trouble replacing them here if they did!
Thoroughly exhausted by our climb, we found Khumbu Lodge at bang on 12pm. We checked in to our room (300r per night), dropped our bags, and headed straight down to the common room for lunch. We inhaled spaghetti bolognaise, veg noodle soup, veg momos, lemon tea and apple juice.
After such a feast, it was only fitting that we go to bed and have an accidental 2 hour nap...
Waking up feeling at least slightly recharged, we decided to head out to see what Namche Bazar had on offer.
The U-shaped town is set into the hillside, so the whole town is filled with series of steep steps, making getting around a muscle burning, lung punishing activity.
Packed to the brim with shops selling everything from ice axes and crampons to giant cow bells and metal key holders, Namche was a bustling hive of activity. Again, we realised that you could get anything your heart desired - for the right price. There was even a genuine North Face store in Namche!
Zev got himself a Buff with a map of the EBC trek on it - the wind was pretty biting when it picked up, so it was handy to cover your neck or ears with.
We wandered down through the bottom of town to see where we actually should have entered (if Zev hadn't lead us over an additional, unnecessary hill...). Running alongside the path was a small fountain driving prayer wheels, with a view up into town. It was incredibly peaceful, being up in the clouds.
We returned to the hotel, did our daily stretches, and headed down to the common room for milk tea, cards and reading.
Dinner was delicious - veg curry and rice and veg fried rice.
After a hard day of climbing, we were in bed at 8pm eating Oreos, safe in the knowledge that an acclimatisation day the next day meant that we could SLEEP IN!!
Lots of love,
S & Z
Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Elevation gain: 645m
Namche Bazar accommodation information:
Lodge: Khumbu Lodge
Room Price: 300r per night
Total Bill: 8900r for 2 nights' accommodation, 2 x breakfast, 2 x lunch, 2 x dinner, plus extra tea