EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK DAY 2 PHAKDING TO NAMCHE BAZAAR
Another spectacular day of trekking along the Everest Base Camp route from Phakding to Namche Bazaar.
Intro: My second day on the Everest Base Camp trek took us from Phakding to Namche Bazaar, and was marked by our official entry into Sagarmatha National Park and a tough ascent at the end.
Our first suspension bridge crossing over the Dudh Kosi River on the second day trekking to Everest Base Camp.
Maybe it was the jet lag, or just the fresh mountain air, but I was ready to start the second day of trekking to Everest Base Camp bright and early. Safe to say, I was the first person awake in Phakding at around 3AM, and after taking a few night photos and failing to fall back asleep, I decided to stay up and watch the sunrise over the nearby Himalayan hills. While waiting for my trekking guide Ram and porter Suzan to get up, I walked around Phakding to explore a little further.
A young, Nepalese porter takes a break from hauling his heavy load through the village of Phakding.
I came across this young porter, probably around 13-15 years old, carrying several boxes of goods up the concrete steps. Although we had a language barrier, he seemed to understand exactly what I was asking, namely how many kilograms he was carrying on his back. “Ninety”, he replied. Wow, no way! That’s roughly 200lbs, which seemed plausible based on the number of boxes and the type of goods I could see. I was humbled by this boy, and for the remainder of the trek, every time I got tired and wanted to take a break, I thought of what he would say if he saw me huffing and puffing with just a 15kg backpack on.
After having coffee and omelet for breakfast, giving my duffel bag to Suzan, and getting the rest of my items ready, Ram and I headed on out along the Everest Base Camp trail to the next town: Namche Bazaar. Just after heading out of Royal Sherpa Resort and passing through the village of Phakding, we came across the first of several suspension bridges for the day. With the roaring rush of the Dudh Kosi River right below us, we carefully crossed the bridge and continued on.
A small Nepalese boy gives me the “peace” sign as he cuddles his puppy, en route to Namche Bazaar from Phakding.
The first two hours of the trek were a nice and gradual uphill climb, passing by a few homes, shops and locals along the way. As on the previous day, it was the kids we encountered that stand out clearest in my memory. One in particular I will never forget. I saw him in the distance, sitting on a concrete step holding onto his pet puppy. Yup, if the young lad wasn’t cute enough already to photograph, he also had a four-legged friend.
As I got closer to him, I asked Ram if we could stop for a second. I quickly switched the lens on my camera from an all-purpose to a telephoto, close-up lens. Before I could even ask him for a photo, the boy held up a peace sign and smiled at me. Apparently I wasn’t the first person to ask him for a picture :). I only wished that I had a way to give him a print (note to self: bring a small printer next time!).
Stepping back to give “right of way” to a passing group of donkeys along the Everest Base Camp trail, with the Dudh Kosi River flowing behind.
We marched on forward towards Everest Base Camp, passing by several mules, donkeys, oxen, porters, and other trekkers along the way. Some were heading back down, while others were either taking a break or passing me as I stopped to take photos. Throughout most of the day we weren’t more than maybe 10-15 minutes from seeing someone else, making the hike to Namche Bazaar not only a social one, but safe also.
Every now and then I’d say “Hello” to other trekkers, or Ram would see one of his tour guide or porter colleagues (he’s a very popular guy!). Since I visited Nepal around spring time and we were high up in elevation, the sun was quite strong, and by around 9-10AM I was in a light, long-sleeve shirt, and eventually just a t-shirt by the early afternoon.
Egg fried noodles for lunch at a small restaurant in the village of Jorsale on day 2 of the Everest Base Camp trek.
By noon we had arrived into a small town called Jorsale, where Ram and I had lunch. Like with all the meals on the Everest Base Camp trek, he took care of my order, but it helped that the menus at most restaurants and tea houses were more or less the same. I ordered some egg fried noodles (chow mein style) and splurged on a Diet Coke. I also bought another liter of water and refilled my Camelbak.
Throughout the Everest Base Camp trek, Ram ate with me half the time and with some of the other guides/porters in the kitchen the rest. I know I’ve said this a few times already, but I couldn’t have asked for a better guide than Ram. Not once did I feel like he wasn’t looking out for me, or trying to get me to buy/do something I didn’t want to. And each and every time we had a meal, he asked if I had enough water and gave me a heads up on how much I should have for the next part of the trek.
Passing through a busy Himalayan town en route from Phakding to Namche Bazaar on day 2 of my Everest Base Camp adventure.
Our lunch at Jorsale coincided with our official entrance into the Sagarmatha National Park and Sagarmatha Zone, which is where Mount Everest lies. Every now and then we had to stop at a checkpoint, where officers made sure we had the right credentials to proceed. Almost every time I stood around looking like a clueless traveler while Ram did all the talking with the officials :).
At the Sagarmatha National Park visitor’s center there was a small museum where I stopped briefly to take a look inside, before we continued our journey to Namche Bazaar. By around 2PM the weather was starting to get pretty warm, to the point where I was sweating quite a lot.
On the edge of the Dudh Kosi River with a suspension bridge behind that we were about to cross en route to Everest Base Camp.
To make matters more difficult, we were now faced with the hardest part of the trek that day: ascending a steep set of hills, crossing over a suspension bridge, and then going up some more. Up until that point, the Everest Base Camp trek had been a gradual hike up. Of the 800 meters in elevation gain that day, I would say about 500 was in the final few hours. The good news was that we had all the time in the world and there was a breeze in the air to keep me cool.
Everest Base Camp trekkers crossing over two suspension bridges that hang high above the Dudh Kosi River.
Slowly but surely, we made it to the top of the first hill where several trekkers and porters were taking a breather before crossing the bridge and continuing on. There we ran into my porter Suzan and a porter from another Ace the Himalaya group Ari. Over the 12-day trek, I became good friends with not only Ram, but also Suzan, Ari, and the tour guide for the other Ace the Himalaya group, Arjun.
Ari and Suzan – two of Ace the Himalaya’s excellent porters for the Everest Base Camp trek.
Although neither porter spoke English, and I certainly didn’t speak Nepalese, we were able to communicate with each other through hand gestures, smiles, and some basic English phrases. Despite communication difficulties, one thing was for sure: my overall experience on the Everest Base Camp trek was that much more special because of guys like Suzan and Ari. I’ll never forget Suzan’s bumblebee-like sweater and Ari’s pink baseball cap – awesome!
A “Himalayan traffic jam” as we negotiated the final steep ascent before the village of Namche Bazaar.
We then hit what I’d like to call a “Himalayan traffic jam”. Not cars, but dozens of trekkers, porters and animals, all heading along the same path to Namche Bazaar. This was the busiest the trek had been all day long! Back at home I’d be pulling my hair out and screaming like a crazed driver because of traffic, but on the trek it was a nice excuse to go extra slow, especially during the steep uphill ascent.
The last trekking checkpoint before reaching the village of Namche Bazaar on day 2 of the Everest Base Camp trek.
We did have some gorgeous scenery to look at along the way, with the Dudh Kosi River cutting across the mountains and running south back down to Phakding. By the 8km point I was starting to feel the burn in my legs and my breathing getting a bit heavier. Thankfully, we came across another checkpoint – the last one before arriving into Namche Bazaar and a good excuse to take a break!
The final kilometer or so was quite a strenuous hike, having to ascend about 200 meters or so. Even without a heavy backpack, I was still huffing and puffing my way up, stopping every 40-50 meters or so. While Ram was patient with me, stopping every time I stopped, Suzan had already passed us a while back and was probably already at our tea house in Namche Bazaar.
A local woman and her child walk from the Himalayan village of Namche Bazaar – the biggest along the Everest Base Camp trek.
Eventually, we made our way into the biggest town on the Everest Base Camp trek. With my final breath and last ounce of energy, I followed Ram to our accommodation for the next two days. At last…WIFI, a warm shower and, most importantly, rest awaited me. The second day of trekking to Everest Base Camp was now complete, and it was time to relax, acclimatize to the high elevation, and explore Namche Bazaar.
EVEREST BASE CAMP TREKKING DETAILS
Day: 2 of 12
Start: Phakding (2,610 meters)
End: Namche Bazaar (3,441 meters)
Elevation change: +831 meters
Distance: 10.4 kilometers
Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes