Namche Bazaar

Travel Guide Asia Nepal Namche Bazaar

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Introduction

Namche Bazaar (3,440 metres) is the unofficial capital of the Khumbu region of Nepal, and is a major stop-off point for trekkers and climbers heading for Mount Everest base camp.

The village is located on crescent shaped mountain slopes that offer stunning views of the mountains across the valley. It is a grueling 3 to 4 hour climb up from the river to Namche, and at 3,500 metres, it is possible to suffer altitude sickness here. Therefore, it is advisable to spend at least two nights in the village to acclimatize.

Traditionally the village was a trading post, with locals bartering yak cheese and butter for agricultural goods grown at lower altitudes. However, after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's successful climb of Everest in 1953, the dynamics of the village changed forever as climbers and trekkers soon followed in their wake. At first the groups came in a trickle, but in the 1960s and 1970s this turned into a torrent, and being located at a confluence of trekking trails, Namche was best served to meet their needs. In addition, as Namche is the first place on the Khumbu trek that is above altitude sickness threshold, most travelers prefer to spend at least two nights here in order to acclimatize. Still, despite the village's popularity with trekkers, geographical restraints have contained its growth, and it remains a small settlement with no more than 60 dwellings.

Namche has prospered from the tourist trade, and according to government statistics it is the wealthiest district in Nepal, with 7 times the average national income and twice that of the capital, Kathmandu. In addition to an abundance of hotels, the village also boasts three small museums, a stupa, monastery, several cafes (locally known as bakeries) and many well stocked stores.

Namche has several official money changing facilities, and as it is the only place in the region to offer this service (besides Lukla), visitors should ensure that they have sufficient cash for the remainder of their journey before leaving the village. NB: The rate of exchange in Namche is much lower than in Kathmandu, and so it is advised to only use the facilities in Khumbu as a last resort or for changing small amounts of money.

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Weather

The winters are cold and dry, while summers are warm, but characterized by persistent mist, and so the spectacular mountain peaks often lost from view. The best time to visit the area is from mid-September to mid-November when it is still not too cold and the air is at its most pristine, affording crystal clear views of the mountain scenery. Spring is also a good time to visit Namche, though due to the higher proportion of dust in the air, the mountain views lack the clarity of autumn. However, to compensate, the hedgerows and wild flowers are in full bloom in April and May and bring a dash of colour to the mountain paths.

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Getting There

The trek from Lukla to Namche can be done in one full day, but unless you are experienced at trekking at high altitude and extremely fit, taking two days over the journey is strongly recommended. Many people who rush to Namche suffer altitude sickness and have to be brought down again the following day.

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Getting Around

There is only one way to move around in Khumbu - on foot. But, although expensive, it is possible to charter a helicopter between Lukla or Kathmandu and Namche.

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Eat

Namche is really geared for the ravenous tourist, and offers all kinds of delights. Namche's bakeries are quite famous in Nepal and, considering that the town is a six day walk from the nearest road, they produce some amazing pastries. None of the bakeries are open during the tourist "off-season" from June until September. All the hotels have dining facilities open to non-residents. During the off-season, not every hotel in Namche remains open.

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Sleep

Accommodation in Namche ranges from around 200Rs for an old style room with shared bathroom up to around 2,000Rs for a modern en-suite twin. Most have hot water. NB: Check the regulations regarding meals. Some hotels offer very cheap room rates, but in return expect their guests to eat on the premises.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet connectivity is increasing rapidly, and obviously its availability is most widespread in Kathmandu (especially in Thamel and around the Boudha Stupa in Boudhanath) or Pokhara. In those two cities, most hotels and lodges will have free Internet connection with Wi-Fi. So will many restaurants. More and more villages will have Internet available at some lodges, usually with Wi-Fi.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

There are two main mobile operators in Nepal. Government run NTC (Nepal Telecom Company), and private Ncell (previously called Spice Mobile and Mero Mobile). Both operators allow tourists to buy SIM cards for about 200NRs in Kathmandu and most major towns. You will need to bring a passport photo, fill in a form and have your passport and visa page photocopied, expect too also have your finger prints taken. Try to buy the SIM card at a shop owned by the phone company as if you buy it from a corner shop it can take some time for the card to be activated, despite promises that it will be done in " a couple of hours".

Ncell SIM's - can be bought from many stores, but are best bought from official stores in Birgunj or Kathmandu. Micro SIMs can be cut for free if you need. Ncell offers two different SIM cards. The first is a usual SIM card that allows you to make calls to any phone (local calls are about NPR2.5/min), and you can also buy mobile data to use. The second is a data only SIM card, and can not be used for making or receiving calls. The advantage to the second sim being the rates for data are significantly cheaper than a call and data SIM.

Post

Nepal Post is the Postal Service Department of the Nepali Ministry of Information and Communications and the national post office of Nepal. Services are terribly slow, especially to international destinations. Post offices are generally open Sunday to Thursday from 10:00am to 5:00pm, and on Friday until 3:00pm, although some offices keep longer hours. For packages, it is recommend to use international courier services like DHL, TNT or UPS.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 13:16 on Jun 20, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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