Nepal: A trekker’s life in Namche Bazaar
NAMCHE Bazaar is a Nepali mountain village that has been transformed by the trekking industry. I’m not sure quite what I expected of this famous Himalayan town but satellite TV and cyber cafes were not it.
A stop in Namche is a part of many of the incredible treks in Nepal’s Khumbu region and a good place to re-equip, get a hot shower and work on your acclimatisation. To that end, it’s a good idea to continue walking each day while in Namche, climbing higher and then dropping back down to the village.
I took a walk up to the Everest View Hotel, Namche’s ‘posh’ accommodation. The rooms and verandahs here enjoy magnificent views up both the Gokyo and Lobuche valleys, whatever you think of the guests who are helicoptered in (no doubt with altitude-induced headaches).
Namche is full of cafes making decent attempts at the sort of western food trekkers crave – from pizza and pies to croissants and doughnuts.
But the village also has its own natural charm aside from all the trekking shops, and the Nepalis who live here exude a wonderful zest for life.
On the trails pint-sized Sherpas struggle manfully and womanfully up and down the steep paths, carrying all manner of equipment from building materials to food supplies. One afternoon I met eight laughing men negotiating an industrial-sized oven down from Syangboche airfield above the town.
On Saturday people come from miles around the weekend market, a colourful and cacophonous crush of people, animals, produce and goods.
On another day I wandered above the village in the other direction, passing a colourful Buddhist Monastery and a series of Stupas, as well as the crop-growing area above Namche.
There were signs of Spring advancing, with tiny purple irises sprouting beside the path. Namche is at 3,440 metres altitude and there is not much vegetation around the village itself, we left the rhododendron and pine forests below in the valleys between here and Lukla.
But there are spectacular views across to the local mountain Kongde Ri, a reminder of the wonders yet to come in the Everest region of Nepal.
When the sun slips away at the end of the day the temperature plunges and I retreat to the warm fireside of the guesthouse kitchen with rosy cheeks for another restful night. The firelight glows in the huge copper storage containers along the wall and there is a happy buzz of multi-cultural discussion in the air.