Today we left Namche Bazaar to reach Tengboche at 3,870m (12,700ft). Despite a sore throat and pretty strong headaches, the night wasn’t too bad. After a couple cough drops and some tea, we went down for breakfast where I ordered a huge chocolate pancake and Tibo ordered porridge with apples, which Bhim happily dubbed ‘mountain food’. He said the chocolate pancake, on the other hand, was not mountain food… oh well. After breakfast we set out for the fourth day under a clear blue sky and a warm rising sun.
The first part of the trek to exit the village is the same path we took the previous day to start off the acclimatization hike. Even though we know the trail, it doesn’t feel any easier. We ‘settle’ for (re-)enjoying the incredible views that we had seen the day prior.
The trails are lined with stupas and mantras carved into rocks. Stupas are circular Buddhist monuments that serve as meditation shrines. Just like with prayer wheels, you are supposed to pass them in a clockwise motion, but Bhim wasn’t as strict with us since the clockwise way is sometimes longer or more difficult. Their sizes vary from giant ones in Kathmandu, for example, to these smaller, more colorful ones, each one cuter than the last.
Can you guess which mountain this is? (Hint 1: It’s my favorite one….) (Hint 2: Ama…) (Hint 3: Ama Dab…. Ok it’s Ama Dablam).
This is the last part of the trail that is shared by trekkers on various routes (Gokyo Ri, Three Passes, Everest Base Camp), so we say our goodbyes to the friends we made in teahouses along the way.
All along the trail, we pass by small mountain villages, composed of a few houses and shops selling anything you may need for your trek (hats, gloves, maps, etc.). The region’s principle source of income is the trekking industry, so nourishing your starving body at a small restaurant or buying some souvenirs at a stall is a good way to support the local economy.
We stop for lunch next to the river and decide to eat outside to soak up the sun. Tibo orders his daily all-you-can-eat dal bhat, while I go for a fried rice full of garlic. Garlic is said to be good for the altitude, at least that’s what certain tourists seem to believe as you can see them biting into whole, raw garlic cloves with their food.
Each color of the prayer flags represents one of the five elements: blue for the sky, white for the air, yellow for the earth, green for water, and red for fire.
Who blends in better with the backdrop, me or the yaks??
Those of you who know me personally know that I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. It was torture for me to see these signs offering cakes and pastries. I decided not to have any on the mountain, partly because I was scared they might disappoint, but mostly so that when I got back home after Nepal, I could devour everything I had been dreaming of for two weeks, haha.
Just a few hours of uphill trekking left until reaching our final destination for the day. It is extremely hot, as it has been for the first few days, and the closer we get to the tree line (the altitude at which environmental conditions are no longer optimal for trees to grow, approx. 4,200m / 13,800ft) the less cover we can find under trees.
The feeling of freedom and being alone in the world… It was one of the few bridges on which we didn’t have to share the narrow walkway with porters or yaks. Luckily the yaks stay calm because one nudge from them and it would be a long fall into the river below..
We finally arrived in Tengboche! Unfortunately, the village was hit hard by the 2015 earthquake, so much so that it feels deserted. The main attraction of this small village is its monastery, the Tengboche Gompa, the biggest and most active one in the Khumbu region. It is prohibited to take pictures, but the monastery is open to the public for two Pujas (spiritual ceremonies), one at 5p.m. and the other at 6a.m. We opted for the 5p.m. one since we knew we wouldn’t want to be up at 6a.m. in the freezing cold. There were numerous trekkers who also assisted, all sitting on the ground around the monks, everyone as clueless as the next as to what was happening. The ceremony (which lasted approximately an hour) was full of prayers and meditative chants – ohmmm ohmmm.
Meditating after the Buddhist ceremony… hahaha.
Saving the best for last… This sunset on Mt. Everest and Lhotse was breathtaking. Thanks to the perfect visibility, we had the impression of being so close to these giants.
It was undoubtedly worth fighting the glacial winds of the evening. Just looking at these pictures makes me smile and relive these moments. There are no words that can adequately describe seeing the sun set in such an immensely beautiful and calm environment.
One final magical photo before finishing off the day, with Ama Dablam’s summit catching the last rays of sun before falling, like the rest of the Himalayas, into darkness. Check out our next article for a recap of our fifth day in the Nepal Himalaya!
Starting point: Namche Bazaar (3,440m / 11,290ft)
350m (1,150ft) descent / 780m (2,560ft) ascent
Arrival point: Tengboche (3,870m / 12,700ft)