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Everest Base Camp Trek Day 4 Namche Bazaar to Tengboche







The mid-morning sun illuminates a string of Buddhist prayer flags, with the snow-capped Himalayas behind. The five colors of the prayer flags relate to the five elements of Buddhism: earth, wind, fire, water, and consciousness.

Intro: We departed Namche Bazaar in the early morning for the trek to Tengboche, with only a short altitude gain ahead of us and brilliant, clear Himalayan Mountain scenery.

The fourth day of my Everest Base Camp trek began with my usual, extra early awakening at around 4AM, followed by an hour of two of tossing and turning in bed before finally getting up to pack my things. I didn’t want to wake up my neighbors like I probably did the previous mornings, so I decided to delay walking around the hallway and using the restroom until about 6AM. After a breakfast of French toast and omelette (Himalayan-style), as well as coffee, I met up with my guide Ram and porter Suzan.

The trail leading from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche along my Everest Base Camp adventure.

After organizing all of my belongings, we were on our way to the next town, Tengboche. It would be roughly another week until we stopped again in Namche Bazaar on the way down from Everest Base Camp. So it was not only “adios” to the town itself, but also to WIFI, showering and tolerable weather. It would be the longest period of time that I can remember going without those little luxuries. At the very least, I had my Dolorme satellite communicator to help me keep in touch with loved ones back home.

The first part of the hike to Tengboche was along the same trail as the day before, when Ram and I trekked to Syangboche Airport just before sunrise. But rather than continue up the hill that led to the runway, we diverted right and went along the main trail of the Everest Base Camp trek. By the time we started the hike, the sun had already risen above the mountains in the northeast, casting a warm light all around. I’d never seen days get this bright so early and quickly in the morning (around 8AM), but then again, I’d never been this high up in elevation to witness such a sight!

An elderly man in Namche Bazaar asking for donations to help maintain the Everest Base Camp trails.

Just before we diverted onto the trail to Tengboche, we came across an elderly man and woman who were sitting next to the path with a large sign. Apparently they were seeking donations for the hard work and time put into maintaining the trails. The message was not only in English, but also other languages, like Spanish and French.

The “Appeal for Donations” sign along the trail between Namche Bazaar and Tengboche, which is written in a number of different languages.

I’m curious as to who is actually responsible for keeping the trails in good conditions. Is it the Nepalese government or perhaps voluntary work from the locals in each of the towns? Someone has to clear the pathways from debris, pick up any random trash, and make sure there’s no loose steps and rocks. For what it’s worth, I found the entire Everest Base Camp trek to be very clean and well-maintained. To help continue this, I was happy to donate a few dollars to these folks.

Two of Ace the Himalayas trekking guides Arjun and Ram at a Buddhist stupa along the Everest Base Camp trail.

We continued our trek to Tengboche and passed by a few Buddhist stupas along the side of the trail. Although they weren’t as large as the one back in Namche Bazaar, these monuments provided a great foreground subject with the Himalayan mountains in the distance. At each stupa, Ram, myself, and the tour guide from the other Ace the Himalaya group, Arjun, stopped to take a breather and enjoy the surrounding mountain vistas.

A stunning Buddhist stupa along the trail from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche, with the snow-capped Himalayan mountains in the distance.

To say that there was an incredible viewpoint around every corner of the trail would be an understatement. It seemed like the sun was hitting the mountains and land all around us at the perfect angle. And with porters, animals, and Buddhist stupas all along the trail, I think I spent just as much time taking photos as hiking that morning.

A local man passes by with his ox along the trail from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche.

I knew the light would start changing (for the worse) in a matter of an hour or two and sure enough, by 10AM, without a single cloud in the sky, direct sunlight and harsh shadows started to form. It was at that point I put my camera away and focused more on just trekking.

A fork in the trail along the route between Namche Bazaar and Tengboche, with routes heading towards other Himalayan villages.

At about the midway point from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche, we came across a few splits in the trail. A sign pointed towards “Khumjung” in one direction, “Gokyo” in another, and “Tengboche” in a third. Ram explained that the other two Himalayan villages are also quite popular places for trekkers, and recommended that I make another trip to Nepal to visit them :).

By around 11AM the weather was actually getting quite warm. So much so that I was in just one long-sleeve (but very thin-layered) shirt. Sunscreen was an absolute must, as well as a hat, sunglasses, and even a buff/bandana to keep my neck from burning. With the trail uncrowded, we were making good pace on our journey to Tengboche, especially since I had no desire to take photos due to the harsh lighting. It was a slow and steady inclination, with a few areas of descent before coming back up.

Compared to the hike from Phakding to Namche Bazaar, this trek was only half that in elevation gain (about 800m compared to 400m). So the good news was that we only had to go up about 400m that day! The bad news was that by the time we took a late morning break for tea, we had barely gone up in altitude since leaving Namche Bazaar. That meant that all of the hard work would be towards the end of the trek – yikes!

Portrait of a young Nepalese boy along the Everest Base Camp trail in the Himalayan mountains.

One of my favorite moments of the day was when I noticed a group of kids hanging out by a group of restaurants where the porters were taking a break. I could see my own porter Suzan having a meal inside, as well as my Ace the Himalaya duffle bag outside. When I saw the group of children I was excited about the opportunity to interact with them and perhaps even take a photo with everyone. But then I remembered I didn’t have the school supplies on me that I had brought from the States to offer them in exchange.

Sharing a few notebooks and pens with some local Himalayan children during my Everest Base Camp trek.

If only Suzan was nearby with my stuff…um…DUH…he was! The light bulb went off in my head and I asked him if I could access my duffle bag. Inside I had some coloring books, crayons, and pens to give out to kids while on the trek. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect opportunity than when I saw these children and I hope I was able to make their day just 1% happier. They were so nice to not only talk to me, but also let me take a few portraits of them :).

A young Nepalese girl within Sagarmatha National Park during my Everest Base Camp adventure.

Even with the super harsh lighting, I knew I wanted photos of this experience, so I took out my 5DM3, attached the 100mm macro lens and snapped a few portraits of them. Now I was a happy camper, and this moment gave me the energy and motivation to finish the rest of the trek up to Tengboche.

The final stretch of the hike was definitely the hardest part. It seemed like most of that 400m elevation gain from Namche Bazaar was all squeezed into the last 2 or 3 kilometers. After passing through another checkpoint it was all uphill, and I remember sweat pouring down my face and the orange shirt I was wearing became completely soaked. Being hydrated was absolutely vital on the whole Everest Base Camp trek, but that only meant sweating even more.

I took a mini-break every 50m or so. Then it became every 25m, and finally every 10m. But for the final 50m to the doorsteps of my tea house in Tengboche, I went quite hard and aggressive, wanting to pass the finish line in flying colors, instead of on my last breath. It certainly didn’t help that I had my 30lb camera backpack on me, as I refused to let Ram or Suzan carry it.

The Himalayan mountain scenery along the Everest Base Camp trek never got boring!

On arrival in Tengboche, my initial feelings were of exhaustion and relief, but after gathering my breath and looking around at my surroundings, I realized what a lovely town this was, especially with the soaring Himalayan mountains in the background. It was nowhere near the size of Namche Bazaar or even Phakding, with a population no more than a hundred or so, most of whom probably work in the tea houses.

In some ways I was glad about that, as I had envisioned a more personal and intimate experience along the Everest Base Camp trek, with each town having its own, unique personality. I followed Ram and we made our way to our tea house for the night. Next up was lunch and an afternoon visit to the famous Tengboche Monastery.

Day: 4 of 12
Start: Namche Bazaar (3,441 meters)
End: Tengboche (3,860 meters)
Elevation change: +419 meters
Distance: 8.7 kilometers
Time: 5 hours, 30 minutes


  • 1: Try to get up early, have a good breakfast, and hit the trails before everyone else does.
  • 2: Take a breather the Buddhist stupas along the way and soak in the breathtaking views of the Himalayas.
  • 3: Stop at the villages and hang out with the kids for a bit; if you can, bring a few trinkets/souvenirs for them.
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