Another early start today, our alarm was set for 6:20 as we had been instructed by the lovely Kami to be downstairs for breakfast at 7AM with our bags packed and ready to go. Thankfully we both slept really well at Kami’s tea house and woke feeling fresh and raring to go. After breakfast of an omelette and oatmeal porridge, we quickly posed with Kami’s resident Yeti before we set off for the Village of Jorsale.
Jack and the Yeti:
Jorsale is the last village you come to on the Everest path before the steep 600M ascent to Namche Bazaar. Kami has planned our route to take us very steadily up the mountain with no huge jumps in altitude to ensure we don’t get the dreaded mountain sickness. While many groups arrive at Lukla and make their way straight to Namche Bazaar (a long day of walking ending in a 3 hour hill climb) we are waiting until day 3 to make our way there. Slow and steady wins the race, we hope.
We set off from Kami’s village of Ghat around 8AM, it was an absolutely beautiful day, the sun was shining, the sky was clear and the air was fresh and cool. The scenery was particularly pretty today, offering stunning views of the milk river and surrounding forests from the path.
We crossed several suspension bridges along the way to Jorsale. These are quite fun to walk across, provided you’re not scared of heights (we’re not!), there are usually metal slats on the bottom to walk on and metal handrails and meshing to the sides. Some of them are pretty long and as you get to the centre they swing a little, I also found myself bouncing into the air when they were busy with human traffic and Yaks carrying various goods.
Me on one of the suspension bridges:
Every time you enter a new village in the Khumbu region you pass a huge Money Stone, either one big stone or a collection of large grey stones carved with symbols and often painted with black, white and lots of colours. It is good luck to always pass these stones on the left hand side. There are also brightly coloured prayer wheels that you must walk past while turning them clockwise (again, to the left) to ring bells and for some soul cleansing.
A village Money Stone:
Jack turning a Prayer Wheel:
Around midday we arrived at Jorsale (2,800 metres) and the amazing Nirvana Tea House. A huge crowd of people were in the garden waiting for lunch orders and plenty of people were in the dining room too. Kami quickly booked us a room as this place is really popular. We could see why, the room was large and spotless and they offered hot showers (a luxury, believe me!). We had lunch – my vegetable noodles were great, Jack’s tuna sandwich and chips not so great – he likened it to ordering salad in a pub. After a bit of down time we went for another walk with Kami along the famous Milk River.
Me and Jack outside the Nirvana Tea House:
Late afternoon was hot shower time, then more reading and writing at the tea house. We had dinner around 6:30PM and were in bed by 8PM – rock ‘n’ roll!
Today was the big day to walk to Namche bazaar. We had heard a lot about the steep climb (over 600 metres ascent) we had ahead of us and were anticipating the first big challenge of the trip. We got up at 6AM for an early breakfast before leaving at 7AM. Kami advised the early start so we could get going during the cool, bright and clear morning ahead of the other trekkers, hopefully avoiding traffic jams along the way and also any excess sweating during the climb!
We crossed our last two suspension bridges of the journey, the second of which was particularly high. A line of donkeys were in procession crossing from the other side, all carrying goods up to Namche, we waited for them to cross before heading over ourselves.
Donkeys on the bridge:
Then we started the climb. At first it is pretty much a giant stone staircase that winds around the mountain in a zig zag, this is the toughest part and lasts for around an hour. When they stone steps stop you are rewarded with an amazing view – the perfect opportunity for a break.
Top of the rock:
After this the path is still steep but not as painful for the rest of the climb. Kami took us off the main track and through a shaded pathway up to the Everest view point – the first opportunity to see Everest during the trip. Unfortunately the tip of Everest was obscured by a cloud but the view was still pretty amazing.
After another half an hour and we were entering Namche Bazaar, 3448 metres altitude.
We were relieved that the walk hadn’t been as tough as we anticipated – a good sign for entering he higher altitudes! We had a cup of milky Nepali tea (it is amazing) before checking in to the Namche Hotel. We have a lovely big clean room with an amazing view of the mountains, Kami called ahead to make sure up room was on the right side of he building for this – now that’s what you call excellent service!
After lunch we took it fairly easy, it’s important to let your body get used to the altitude at this level before going any higher. Tomorrow we trek up to the Everest Viewpoint and to the Edmund Hillary school, another 600 metres higher, then back down for the night – walk high sleep low is our new mantra!
The alarm went off at 6AM but I was awake about half an hour earlier, what is happening to my body clock? We have the luxury of trekking without our bags today as we’re staying in Namche Bazaar to acclimatise so we just have to get ourselves up and dressed for our 6:30AM breakfast. Luckily neither of us have any symptoms of altitude sickness so far, it can be pretty common to feel headachy in Namche and lose your appetite but that definitely hasn’t happened to us! I’m actually really enjoying eating because I’m genuinely ravenous and sleeping because I have exhausted myself.
We set off just before 7AM to make the 450 metre climb up to the Everest Viewpoint Hotel. This hotel was built by the Japanese to accommodate tourists that wanted a bit of luxury, it also offers a helipad as many Japanese tourists don’t have the time to trek up to base camp right from the bottom, so they get a lift up over halfway. However, as the altitude is pretty high at the hotel (3,880 metres) most have to be given oxygen as they get out of the helicopter to stop them from collapsing immediately. The hotel genuinely does have an incredible view of Everest and the surrounding mountains so it’s worth a visit to take it all in and have a cup of (very) expensive tea.
After we had finished our tea we walked downhill for around an hour to reach the Edmund Hillary School in Khumjung. Kami’s 15 year old daughter attends the school so we were looking forward to meeting her.
Here is Kami with his daughter in front of the Sir Edmund Hillary statue:
The school seems like a wonderful place, the lucky students stay overnight during the week in dormitaries with their classmates and then head home for the weekends. There were computer rooms, art galleries and lots of classrooms, and all of the pupils looked happy and healthy. We were lucky enough to visit the school just before their end of week ritual of marching and singing outside in their form groups. Kami’s daughter is a form captain so leads some of the marching and dancing. It was particularly cute to watch the little 4 and 5 year olds desperately trying to keep up with the choreography!
Marching and singing:
After watching some awards being given out for sports day we headed back down to Namche for lunchtime, it took around 90 minutes to get back. We were both really hungry so we ordered Dal Bhat, the traditional dish of vegetable curry, cabbage, rice and lentils. The great thing about it is that you get extra portions – they were needed today!
Kami’s daughter is joining us in Namche tonight so that she can go to the famous market tomorrow morning with friends. We’ll have dinner with them both and play some cards before another early night, breakfast tomorrow is 6:30AM before we make our way to Thyangboche (3,867 metres).