Everything you want to know about Namche Bazaar
Top 10 Facts and Information About Namche Bazaar
If you are trekking in the Khumbu region, chances are you will stop in Namche. Namche (11,286 ft) is the 2nd resting point in the Everest Base Camp Trek, and the 1st acclimation point. This crescent shaped village is the subject of many art galleries. In its own respect it has become iconic for its location, landscape, and surroundings. The Bhote Koshi river separates the village from Kongde Ri (20,298 ft) to the south. The Dudh Koshi river separates it from Thamserku (21,679 ft) on its east side.
Apart from its natural beauty and beautiful surroundings, Namche has many attractions. Namche has many world class hotels and lodges, a stupa, a monastery, a few museums, some wonderful bakeries, many stores housing a lot of overpriced supplies, internet cafes, and a rather attractive aqueduct that acts as source of hydro power to spin prayer wheels. The aqua-duct is a rather new addition to the district. It was purchased with money brought in by trekkers.
In my last blog post, you traveled with me as I hiked to Namche Bazaar. You can access the article here. Or you can jump ahead to Day 3 to acclimate with me at Everest View Point. If you only want to read 10 Facts and Information about Namche Bazaar, Great. This article can be read independently of my other posts. Kick back, relax, and without further delay, Namche Bazaar!
1. How to Reach Namche Bazaar
You have a few travel options to reach Namche. The most utilized and most expensive is a direct flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (about $200), then trek to Phakding to spend the night. The following day, you can trek along the Dudh Koshi river to Namche. Another option is to take a helicopter from Lukla to Namche (This could be pretty expensive, about $2,000 for a private charter). This option is not recommended because it does not allow your body a chance to acclimate to the elevation. The third option is to take a bus from Kathmandu’s Ratna Park to Shivalaya ( about $6). Then from Shivlaya, you can trek to Namche. The bus trip takes 12 to 14 hours.
It’s fairly simple on the map, but in practice there are many areas to get lost on the way to Namche.
How to get to the Bazaar
Once you cross the Namche bridge and check in at the police check point you are in Namche. Keep going into Namche until you see the stupa and aqueduct. Just after the stupa you can make a left off the main path to go deeper into the city. Near the stupa you can make left and go into the open field. The field is Namche Bazaar. On the Saturday vendors come from Kathmandu and sell their products. Tibetan, and Sherpa people also sell their goods here. It can be pretty expensive though.
2. Namche Bazaar Airport/ Syangboche Airport
Namche Bazaar does not have an airport; However, Namche has 3. There are 2 helicopter landing pads in Namche. One of them is reserved for military and police the other is reserved for the hospital. There is an out of date airstrip that has been converted to pasture land and has become a hotel construction site. At this air strip helicopters land and drop off supplies and passengers. During my last visit, there was a hotel being built on the air strip. This hotel was designed to replicate Everest Base Camp. In a few years, we will see how close they came.
The airstrip is not licensed for commercial operations. The majority of the air traffic it receives is from the military. Short takeoff and landing (STOL) planes do occasionally land there, but there are no facilities like run way lights or an air traffic controller to guide them. And as you can imagine there are no routine services. The only time the runway gets mowed is when the cows and yaks eat the grass along the dirt strip.
3. Namche Bazaar Trek
The Namche Bazaar trek takes visitors on a slow paced leisurely walk to Namche with a tour of the market on Saturday. The trek takes advantage of the many rest areas along the trail. however, it is ultimately up to you for how fast you want to trek, where you want to stay, and how long you want to stay there. Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure’s Namche Bazaar Trek itinerary is as follows:
Day 1: Arrive in Lukla and check into a hotel. 9,107 ft, 1 hr plane ride
Day 2: Walk to Nurning and stay in a guest house. 8,176 ft, 1.5 hr walk
Day 3: Walk to Phakding and stay in a tea house. 8,563 ft, 1.5 hr walk
Day 4: Walk to Monjo and stay in a tea house. 9,301 ft, 3 hrs walk
Day 5: Walk to Namche and check into a hotel. 11,286 ft, 3 hrs walk
Day 6: Visit Namche Bazaar, go shopping, and go see Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and Thamserku
Day 7 Walk to Monjo and stay in a tea house. 9,301 ft, 2 hrs walk
Day 8: Walk to Phakding and stay in a tea house. 8,563 ft, 1 hr walk
Day 9: Walk to Nurning and stay in a guest house. 8,176 ft, 1 hr walk
Day 10: Arrive in Lukla and check into a hotel. 9,107 ft, 1 hr walk
Day 11: Fly to Kathmandu to conclude your trip to Namche.
4. Namche Bazaar Height
Namche rests at an elevation of 11,286 feet above sea level. Acute mountain sickness (AMS) or altitude sickness generally occurs at an elevation of 8,000 feet or greater. Once you ascend above about 9,000 feet you should take a “rest day” every 3,000 feet to acclimate. And once you ascend above 10,000 feet you should not ascend more than 1,500 feet in a day. Namche is positioned at the perfect elevation to allow trekkers to acclimate. Here is an article about how to prepare for this trek.
During your acclimation day you should advance to higher altitudes to prime your body for future altitude gains. Just above Namche there is a view point at Hotel Everest View (13,000 feet). From the balcony you have phenomenal views of Tabuche, Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse, and my personal favorite, Ama Dablam. Then from here you can visit Khumjung (12,401 feet), which has a pretty cool monastery you can see. Then you can make your way back to Namche.
5. Hotels in Namche and Best Places to Stay
A side note before I get to the best places to stay: During the busy season, rooms fill up fast! If you are an independent traveler, you may be asked to share a room or change hotels. Do not worry though. Most hotels give preference to trekkers with a guide. And now without further ado:
Panorama Lodge and Restaurant ($40/ night)
Himalayan Lodge ($5/ night)
Yeti Mountain Home Namche ($20/ night)
Namche Hilltop Lodge and Restaurant ($5/ night)
Sherpa Village Hotel ($5/ night)
Most trekking companies, Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure included, pay for your rooms while you are trekking. Depending on the package you purchase, they may also pay for your food too. The room rates are more expensive for independent travelers. Also the rates are more expensive during peak season, October.
6. Namche Bazaar Clothing
There are a few outlet stores in Namche. When I was there, I saw a Sherpa Adventure Gear store, and a North Face store. I also saw a REI store (or at least they called themselves REI), and yes, I know REI is not an outlet. The stores are seasonal though. You may not get service in the winter or summer.
In regards to clothing you need when you travel to Namche:
Trekking pants (quantity 1)
Trekking shorts (quantity 1)
Socks if you where them (quantity 10). I like to have a clean pair of socks each day.
Trekking shoes or trekking flip flops (I have seen people trek in flip flops) (quantity 1)
Sweat pants (quantity 1)
Tank top (quantity 1)
T-shirt (quantity 2)
Long sleeve shirt (quantity 1)
Sweat shirt (quantity 1)
Beanie hat or cap (quantity 1)
Under wear (quantity 2)
That’s about it. The trick is to layer your cloths so that you do not get too hot or too cold. Yes, you can only shed so many layers before you are naked, and not recommended. You want to buy your clothing before you go on your trek, that way you wont be naked, and flapping in the breeze.
7. Map of Namche and Namche Bazaar
8. Administrative Center
Namche is the unofficial district capitol of Solukhumbu. It is also the administrative center for the Khumbu region. Lonely Planet ranked Khumbu as the 6th best area in the world to visit. Coming into Namche you will encounter a trekking check point and a little further up the road an army station. The Sagarmatha National Park headquarters as well as Rastriya Banijya Bank (government bank) are in Namche. One fun fact, former president Jimi Carter, his wife, and a former California senator visited Namche in Oct 1985.
The Sagarmatha National Park Visitor’s Center has a tremendous amount of information stored within its archives. It also showcases a lot of pictures of the local fauna. The visitors center is located in the north east quadrant of Namche. It is accessible from the Tengboche trail leading out of the village.
9. Weather and Climate
Namche has cool wet summers and relatively cold and dry winters. You can expect year to year variation in temperatures and precipitation levels. Warmer winters and warmer summers have been more frequently observed within the past 10 years.
10. Sherpa Museum
This is exactly what it sounds like. It is a museum that honors Sherpa people and culture. The museum showcases Sherpa artifacts and highlights famous Sherpa people who have summited Everest. The star of the show is Tenzing Norgay, who is recorded as the first Sherpa person to Summit Everest with Edmund Hillary. There is a reconstructed Sherpa house inside the museum, which can provide a glimpse into the living conditions of the area. The museum charges $2.5 entrance fee.