Namche Bazaar is one of the most important stops along the Everest trekking Trail. Known as the capital of the Sherpa homeland, Namche is a bustling town carved on the side of a mountain. The town is built like an amphitheater overlooking the snow-clad Kongde Ri, Kusum Kanguru, Kantega, and Thamserku. Khumbila, the holy mountain of the Sherpas, rises right above and stands guard over the settlement.
This town is the economic center of the Khumbu Region and the biggest settlement of the Sherpas in Upper Khumbu. The town provides modern amenities to travelers as well as locals. There are shops, restaurants, cafes, luxury as well budget lodges, a bank, ATM, bakeries, spas, etc.
People from the surrounding villages flock to Namche to buy and sell their products. Every Saturday, there's a weekly market where traders from as far as Tibet gather at the open-air market to trade their goods. From jewelry and handicraft items to yak cheese and organic farm produce, you will find an assortment of goods on sale.
Since it lies at an altitude of 3,440 m meters and offers amenities that are not available at villages higher up, trekkers make it a point to spend their first acclimatization or rest days at Namche Bazaar.
Namche Bazaar Highlights
- One of the largest Sherpa settlements in the Khumbu Region, This place is a great place to get an insight into Sherpa culture and traditions. A must-visit place in Namche is the Sherpa Museum which showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Sherpas.
- This mountain town offers amenities and urban comforts that are rarely found in a remote high-altitude settlement. There is a bank and the only ATM on this side of the Everest Region. Bakeries offering authentic German pretzels to cafes brewing Italian cappuccinos and espressos line the street. There's also an Irish Pub for the more adventurous.
- The first proper view of Mount Everest can be enjoyed from the entrance of the town. One can enjoy amazing views of Thamserku, Kongde Ri, Kantega, and Kusum Kanguru from the town.
- There are several opportunities for day hikes in and around Namche. Hotel Everest View which is located right above the settlement offers panoramic views of Mount Everest and other peaks.
- It is located inside the Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The walk to Bazaar is filled with incredible natural scenery – pristine rivers, waterfalls, pine and rhododendron forests.
How to reach Namche Bazaar?
As Namche Bazaar lies in the middle of the mountains there is no road connectivity. Lukla (2860m), the nearest settlement with an airport, lies about 17 kilometers from Namche Bazaar. Commercial airline operators conduct regular flights from Kathmandu to Lukla. It takes around one or two days' trek from Lukla to reach Namche. Depending on your fitness level and speed you can walk to Namche from Lukla within 7 to 8 hours. But most trekkers prefer to break their journey and reach Namche on the second day of their trek having spent a night at Phakding.
The other settlement with an airport is Phaplu (2413m). But Phaplu is located further away from Namche than Lukla. It takes around three or four days to trek to reach Namche from Phaplu.
Trekkers who are short in time and can afford a chartered helicopter flight fly to Namche directly from Kathmandu. They start their trek in the village instead of Lukla thus saving their time and energy to trek to Everest Base Camp.
Best Time to Visit
Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons. The days are warm and the nights chilly. While one can expect fog and some rain during springtime, the skies remain crystal clear during autumn. But since spring and autumn are the peak seasons one can expect a lot more crowd on the trail. One will also have to struggle to get good accommodation if rooms are not booked in advance.
To avoid the crowd on the trail as well as at the teahouses, some trekkers choose to time their travel at the onset of the off-season (beginning of winter and the summer season). This way they get the trail all to themselves and enjoy almost vacant teahouses offering off-season discounts.
Accommodation and Food
Namche Bazaar has the best restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and lodges on the Everest trail. The town has been hosting tourists since Everest Region was opened for mountain tourism in the early sixties. The town offers budget, standard, and luxury accommodations at local teahouses and high-end lodges. There are scores of eateries where one can enjoy the world-class fare.
Day Hikes around Namche Bazaar
The most popular hike from Namche Bazaar is the one leading to Hotel Everest View via Shyangboche. The hotel which lies above the town can be reached by climbing a winding staircase out of the town and ascending the hill of Shyangboche. The views are impressive. Hotel Everest View offers outstanding views of Mount Everest, Ama Dablam, Kantega, Thamserku, Khumbila, and other peaks.
Khumjung and Kunde which lies just a couple of hours from Namche are also great destinations for day hikes. These two villages are some of the oldest settlements in the Khumbu Region. Sir Edmund Hillary chose these two villages to establish the first school and hospital in this region. The Buddhist monastery at Khumjung has a scalp supposed to be of a Yeti, the abominable snowman.
Namche Bazaar, though it falls on the routes of popular Everest Treks, is a destination in itself. The beautiful town has so much to offer travelers. From modern amenities to great mountain views and not to forget the immersive Sherpa cultural experience, Namche Bazaar is a destination not to be missed in the Khumbu Region.