Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar (3440 m) is the unofficial capital of the Khumbu region of Nepal, and is a major stop-off point for trekkers and climbers heading for Mount Everest base camp.

Understand

The village is located on crescent shaped mountain slopes that offer stunning views of the mountains across the valley. It is a grueling 3 to 4 hour climb up from the river to Namche, and at 3,500 m, it is possible to suffer altitude sickness here. Therefore, it is advisable to spend at least two nights in the village to acclimatize.

Traditionally the village was a trading post, with locals bartering yak cheese and butter for agricultural goods grown at lower altitudes. However, after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's successful climb of Everest in 1953, the dynamics of the village changed forever as climbers and trekkers soon followed in their wake. At first the groups came in a trickle, but in the 1960s and 1970s this turned into a torrent, and being located at a confluence of trekking trails, Namche was best served to meet their needs. In addition, as Namche is the first place on the Khumbu trek that is above altitude sickness threshold, most travelers prefer to spend at least two nights here in order to acclimatize. Still, despite the village's popularity with trekkers, geographical restraints have contained its growth, and it remains a small settlement with no more than 60 dwellings.

Namche has prospered from the tourist trade, and according to government statistics it is the wealthiest district in Nepal, with 7 times the average national income and twice that of the capital, Kathmandu. In addition to an abundance of hotels, the village also boasts three small museums, a stupa, monastery, several cafes (locally known as bakeries) and many well stocked stores.

Namche has several official money changing facilities, and as it is the only place in the region to offer this service (besides Lukla), visitors should ensure that they have sufficient cash for the remainder of their journey before leaving the village. NB: The rate of exchange in Namche is much lower than in Kathmandu, and so it is advised to only use the facilities in Khumbu as a last resort or for changing small amounts of money.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 7 6 9 12 14 15 16 16 15 12 9 7
Nightly lows (°C) -8 -6 -3 1 4 6 8 8 6 2 3 -6
Precipitation (mm) 26 23 34 26 41 140 243 243 165 78 9 39

The winters are cold and dry, while summers are warm, but characterized by persistent mist, and so the spectacular mountain peaks often lost from view. The best time to visit the area is from mid-September to mid-November when it is still not too cold and the air is at its most pristine, affording crystal clear views of the mountain scenery. Spring is also a good time to visit Namche, though due to the higher proportion of dust in the air, the mountain views lack the clarity of autumn. However, to compensate, the hedgerows and wild flowers are in full bloom in April and May and bring a dash of colour to the mountain paths.

Get in

The trek from Lukla to Namche can be done in one full day, but unless you are experienced at trekking at high altitude and extremely fit, taking two days over the journey is strongly recommended. Many people who rush to Namche suffer altitude sickness and have to be brought down again the following day.

See also: Everest Base Camp Trek

Get around

There is only one way to move around in Khumbu - on foot. But, all though expensive, it is possible to charter a helicopter between Lukla or Kathmandu and Namche.

See

Do

Buy

Eat

Namche is really geared for the ravenous tourist, and offers all kinds of delights. Namche's bakeries are quite famous in Nepal and, considering that the town is a six day walk from the nearest road, they bake amazing pastries. None of the bakeries are open during the tourist "off-season" from June until September. All the hotels have dining facilities open to non-residents. During the off-season, not every hotel in Namche remains open.

Traditional Sherpa dishes include:

Drink

Sleep

Accommodation in Namche ranges from around 200Rs for an old style room with shared bathroom up to around 2,000Rs for a modern en-suite twin. Most have hot water. NB: Check the regulations regarding meals. Some hotels offer very cheap room rates, but in return expect their guests to eat on the premises.

Note: It's a good idea to drop off laundry in Namche on the way up. Wherever you're going past Namche, you're almost certain to pass through again on your way out so you might as well have a hot shower and some clean clothes waiting at the hotel.

Stay healthy

Connect

There are currently no telephone lines or mailing addresses in the Everest region.

The Post office is located near Namche Hotel. It is a personable little facility, but there are mixed reports of letters reaching their destinations. Postage stamps are also available in local shops.

International phone calls can be made in the town, however this is very expensive compared to Kathmandu. The cheapest place is the one-phone government telephone office, on the second floor of the nondescript wooden building behind Hotel Buddha, identified with an official yellow sign in Nepalese with a faded paper sign in English stuck on to it. Expect a lengthy queue on Saturdays (market day).

Internet cafes are common in Namche, though they are not cheap, and it costs around 200Rs per half hour to bounce your cyber words off a passing satellite. Keep a sharp eye on the clock.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, February 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.