After the steep drop down the valley from Namche Bazar we followed the river valley through to the village of Monjo. Here the walking was generally easier and I was able to relax fully for the first time since the trek had begun. It was also the longest day of trekking as we went from Namche Bazar all the way ot Phakding, stopping only at Monjo for lunch.
By now I was developing a rhythm of walking for a few minutes, then stopping for a photograph or to take in the surroundings. I was far more relaxed and able to enjoy everything I saw. I no longer attempted to keep up with the others in the trekking group but set my own pace. The breathing was also getting far easier as we lost altitude.
- Trekking down from Namche Bazar – excerpts from my journal written during my trek.
- Trekking towards Phakding, Nepal – further excerpts fom my travel journal written during the trek.
When you go trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal expect to cross a few suspension bridges. If you don’t like suspension bridges, then I suggest you go somewhere else for your holiday. Suspension bridges are a part of life in the mountains of Nepal. Without them, trekking would be so much more difficult, and in some places, impossible. A great deal of effort has been expended over the years in establishing a safe and secure method of crossing the rivers and deep gullies in this region.
I did not realise how high some of these bridges were at the time. It was only when I returned home and looked at photos like the one above that I realised some of them were very high above the rocks and water.
None of the bridges really worried me, but I was still a little cautious crossing them. Overall, I regarded it as all part of the Great Adventure.
The climb to Namche Bazar is cruel to the unprepared and unrelenting for everyone. The climb back down the valley is also fraught with problems. Going downhill, one has to be very careful to avoid tripping on rocks, slipping on gravel, twisting an ankle or falling on to rocks. There are sections of the path that are relatively easy walking, but there are other sections which are quite hazardous. The paths were also very dusty when we were there, and it helped to wear a scarf or handkerchief over the nose and mouth. Still the fine dust penetrated and clogged the nose, made the throat parched and settled in one’s lungs.
We trekked in the dry season, but there was still quite a deal of water around. Many small gullies have permanent water flows. The gullies in permanent shade sometimes have water flowing over the path and some of this water is frozen. On one occasion my daughter, who was some 20 metres in front of me, turned to warn me about the ice on the track. I stepped very carefully but the inevitable happened.
Before I hit the ground, two of the guides had grabbed me and saved me from serious injury. I was shaken, but very grateful for their vigilance. They certainly looked after us.
Arriving at Namche Bazar one has the feeling that you have reached a little piece of civilisation in the midst of a mountainous wilderness. The rugged, towering mountains in all directions, the difficulty of travel, the lack of facilities and the overwhelming grandeur of the location becomes daunting to the senses, so it is with some relief one enters this little haven of normality.
Not that this is a normal little village. Far from it. It does have many facilities not present in neighbouring villages, some of the trappings of civilisation we are accustomed to, like internet availability, and a medium level of comfort. What sets this village apart from thousands of others is its setting. It is situated at the junction of the main ‘road’ to Tibet in one direction (about seven days’ walk away), and the main route to Everest Base Camp in another. Few places can match its million dollar views.
There are many astonishingly quaint buildings in the town of Namche Bazar. There seems to have been a special on blue paint at some stage! Wherever one looks there are lovely looking buildings. The town is very wealthy compared to the rest of Nepal, due mainly to the trekking, climbing and tourist trade. There was still much building work in progress while we were there. Electricity comes from a nearby hydro scheme.
Namche Bazar is not an easy town to wander around in due to the steepness of the hills on which it is built. The longest way, using the terraced paths, is usually the easiest, and often the quickest to get from one point to another. Locals, however, often seem to shun the easy routes. I guess that they are much fitter than me.