Base Camp. Day 3, Phakding to Namche Bazar

Our day starts with a fairly leisurely breakfast at 7am. I went for the Nepalese Bread with Honey. Two things about this:

1, Nepalese bread tastes like a donut!

2, The honey here is like the nectar of the gods! No other honey that I’ve tasted comes close.

The morning section of the walk is actually pretty easy with no real gain or loss in altitude. It’s pretty cold first thing, we were wearing fleeces and long trousers. The trail undulates and winds through a forest along the side of the river. Oh, the river! The water coming down from the mountains is a shade of iridescent turquoise; it’s like something from a fairytale or a dream.

The shade from the trees provides a welcome relief from the sun, which really warms things up quickly, after it crests the side of the mountains and shines down into the valley. It didn’t take long before we were stripping off down to short sleeves and trousers. Quick tip, zip off trousers (the ones where you can remove the lower sections of the leg) are a godsend, if a little unfashionable. But, in the mountains, who cares really?

We passed into the national park sometime fairly early on, tickets cost 2000 rupees at this stage (you have to pay more later on). Afterwards the trail continues to travel alongside the river, through the forest and passes through several small villages. The paths here are very well maintained; there were groups of workers paving large areas while we passed.

The stop for lunch came up at about 11, just as we were starting to get hungry. Perfect. The food here was amazing, as always. A quick stop for water (there’s nowhere to get any more before Namche Bazaar) and the toilet and we are back off for the afternoon’s trek to 3440m.

The afternoon is quite a contrast to the morning with almost relentless climbing. Again, the route generally follows the route of the river, but heads sharply upwards to cross a steel rope bridge before climbing steeply up the side of the valley. At this time of year, the trees are just starting to bloom, giving a fantastic flower show.

Part way up this hill you enter the park proper, and have to buy another ticket. Ours was included in the price of the tour, but this ticket is rather more expensive than the earlier one.

After about an hour and a half of climbing up steps and steep dusty tracks we reached our first proper view of Everest, standing majestically through a viewport of the trees. About 20 minutes from here is the end point Namche Bazaar, which sweeps into view as you sweep around the corner.

Namche Bazaar is suprisingly huge. There are a huge variety of shops including a real “The North Face” and “Sherpa” store. This is the last place that you can buy items that you need for the trip, so take advantage if you need to. Pharmacies are available if you need Diamox (altitude sickness medication) or other medicines. A bakery is also here, which serves a variety of very tempting looking cakes.

Tomorrow is an acclimitisation day, which, we have found, is not a rest day…

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