Following the Dudh Kosi River to Namche Bazaar

View of farmland and houses on Everest base camp trek

After my scariest and most spectacular flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, Nepal, I was ready to begin the 100km trek to Mt Everest Base Camp and back. Despite the chaotic events getting to Lukla, my flight still gave me an early morning arrival. The first day of the trek would only be a short half day, so I took the opportunity to take it really slow and allow myself extra time to acclimatize to the altitude. Lukla sits at 2800m and although I didn’t feel affected by the altitude at all, I knew that setting a slow pace would be highly beneficial in the coming days.

I walked through the village of Lukla, which was larger than I thought, catering for all of the trekkers and climbers that generally start their trekking here. There seemed to be plenty of guesthouses, internet cafes and shops selling trekking gear and everything else that you can think of. There is even an “Irish pub”!

Yaks on the road to Namche Bazaar, Nepal

Yaks on the road to Namche Bazaar

The trail along the start of the trek is of high quality for the most part, roughly paved with stone in a lot of sections, making it more like a road. The section between Lukla and Namche Bazaar is a high traffic area with trekking groups, guides, porters, donkeys and yak trains carrying supplies and equipment back and forth. As there are no vehicles in this area, everything that you can think of is carried up the valley by yaks and porters. I could never get over the extraordinary weight that the porters have to carry, many of them only kids.

Following the Dudh Kosi River valley, the trek goes through tiny villages, farms and forests with the beautiful snow capped mountains above and the glacier fed Dudh Kosi River below. The weather was mostly fine, however the cloud cover kept the mountains hidden most of the time.

Valley views on the trek to Mt Everest Base camp

View up the Dudh Kosi Valley

Dudh Kosi River on the trek to Mt Everest Base camp

Dudh Kosi River

Stopping often to rest and take in the amazing scenery, I began to see how the people live in this area and how truly happy they seem to be with their lives, even though they have very little. Sitting in the front of someone’s house, a little boy who couldn’t have been any older than three, came running out to meet me. Obviously we couldn’t understand each other, but we still managed to communicate and he took an instant liking to my walking poles. Collapsing it down to a mini version for him, he walked around as if he was a trekker heading towards Everest.

Stopped for a rest on the trek to Mt Everest Base camp

Stopped for a rest

Little local boy on the trek to Mt Everest Base Camp

A future trekker

After a few hours of fairly easy “up and down” trekking, I reached the village of Phakding which was my destination for the day. I crossed the river on a long bridge and found a nice tea house to spend the night.

Bridge over the Dudh Kosi River on the trek to Mt Everest Base camp

Bridge over the Dudh Kosi River. My guesthouse on the other side.

My room was basic but comfortable and quiet, allowing me to have a good nights rest. The shared toilet was a western toilet and the common area had tables and comfortable seating surrounding a central wood stove for heating. For breakfast I had some eggs, toast and a cup of coffee, everything I needed for a good start to the day.

Starting off around 7:30, I continued trekking up the valley, following the ever present Dudh Kosi River below. Crossing the river several times along the way I passed more tiny villages with locals going about their daily chores. I seemed to be sharing the trek with all manner of animals, yaks, goats, chickens, donkeys and dogs all making their way along the road without seeming to have anyone telling them what to do or where to go.

Dudh Kosi River on the trek to Mt Everest Base camp

Dudh Kosi River

Local sherpas on the trek to Mt Everest Base camp

Sherpas having a rest on their way up the valley

Although the weather was still cloudy, the clouds cleared every now and then to reveal some of the amazing snow capped mountains above, adding to the already beautiful scenery. The more I walked, the more I learnt about the local Sherpas and their Buddhist beliefs. I kept seeing stones and boulders with prayers carved and painted on them, I quickly learnt that passing on their left side was good luck. As was the case with any prayer wheels that you pass, which you spin with your right hand as you pass on the left side. Since I was having problems with my camera lens, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try for some good luck.

Mountain view on the trek to Mt Everest Base camp

Mountain views

Boulder with prayers carved into it on the trek to Mt Everest base camp

Prayers carved and painted on a large boulder.

Keeping my slow pace, I eventually made it to the village of Monju where there is a checkpoint for trekking permits and where you have to pay your Sargarmatha National Park fees to continue on the trek. After passing some more prayer wheels the trail continues crossing the river several times to the head of the valley.

himilayan bhudist prayer wheels on the trek to Mount Everest base camp

A building containing prayer wheels

A person spinning prayer wheels on the trek to Mount Everest base camp

Spinning prayer wheels for good luck

As I got nearer the end of the valley, I could see where the trek heads up the mountain to Namche Bazaar, my destination for the day. I stopped in a village to enjoy a delicious lunch of Dal Bhat, a traditional Nepalese meal made of rice with a lentil soup, often accompanied by a type of relish and/or a potato curry. Re-fueled, I was ready to tackle the climb ahead of me.

Dudh Kosi River on the trek to Mt Everest base camp

View of the Dudh Kosi River from my lunch spot

My camera had been playing up on me for most of the trek so far, struggling to gain any focus, I couldn’t take many photos. Along the trek so far I had learnt to keep to the inside of the track when passing any yaks and to wait for them to cross a bridge before you attempt it. I saw several unaware trekkers get stuck trying to squeeze past a yak, or simply having to run back to safety to avoid it’s sharp horns.

Yaks crossing a bridge on the trek to Mount Everest base camp

Waiting for yaks to cross a bridge as my camera continues to fail

At the end of the valley the trek crosses the river one last time before heading up the mountain to Namche Bazaar. At this point I had to give up on my camera and just take mental photos instead.

Bridge over the Dudh Kosi River on the trek to Everest Base camp

The last river crossing before heading up to Namche Bazaar. This photo was taken over a week later with a disposable camera on my way back down the mountain.

Although only gaining about 200m, the climb up to Namche Bazaar is a big change from the fairly easy trekking so far. Every time I stopped to catch my breathe though, I found that I couldn’t complain as I watched the porters and yaks plodding their way up the mountain, carrying ridiculous loads on their backs.

I found out that the people can actually carry a lot more than the yaks can, with some of them carrying up to 100kgs on their backs. Their special baskets that sit on their backs and attach with a strap to their head are filled to the top with supplies ranging from cases of beer, to full cuts of meat. I counted one person carrying 10 cases of beer, others had mixtures of rice, drinks, chickens, biscuits and building supplies. I saw people carrying full sheets of ply wood and others carrying a bunch of around eight, 3 meter drainage pipes. If that wasn’t enough I saw one man carrying a full sized fridge up the mountain. I wish I could have taken some photos of these people, my hat goes off to them.

At the top of the mountain I passed another check point and entered the village of Namche Bazaar. The main village for the Khumbu region, Namche Bazaar is a hive of activity. Like Lukla, the town seems to have everything you need including a pharmacy.

View of Namche Bazaar, Nepal

Looking down on Namche Bazaar

The following day was to be an acclimatization day for me. The afternoon before had the village covered in cloud, restricting any views of the mountains. I awoke in the morning to incredible blue skies with some of the most amazing views I have ever seen. Beautiful snow capped mountains surround the village and as part of my acclimatization exercises, I headed up to the view point at the top of the village. Here I got my first view of Mt Everest, the top of it peaking out above the other mountains in front of it.

View of mountains over Namche Bazaar, Nepal

One of the many amazing mountain views from above Namche Bazaar.

I spent the rest of the day wondering through the village, visiting the local produce market and making my way to the main central market, where people come all the way from Tibet to sell their goods.

Namche Bazaar is a lovely little village, where all roads seem to lead. To the left was the road to Tibet, to the right was the road to Mt Everest. This was to be my path through the Himalayas.

View of Mt Everest from above Namche Bazaar

View to Mt Everest in the distance from Syangboche, above Namche Bazaar

Everest Base Camp Adventure Series:

  1. My Scariest and Most Spectacular Flight
  2. Following the Dudh Kosi River to Namche Bazaar
  3. Trekking to a Buddhist Monastery in Tengboche
  4. Snowed in at Dingboche
  5. Going Face to Face With Mount Everest

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15 comments… add one
  • Jessica Jul 28, 2011

    Amazing photos! Looks like an incredible journey. Can’t wait to see more!

    • Dean Wickham Jul 28, 2011

      Thanks Jessica. I was cursing my luck with my camera. The photos could have been so much better, but at least I still managed to get a few shots. It was an amazing journey and there is a lot more to come 🙂

  • Kris Koeller Jul 29, 2011

    Pretty amazing locale. Funny how ho-hum Everest looks from that vantage point..

    • Dean Wickham Jul 29, 2011

      Yeah it’s funny, Everest always seemed to be hiding behind other mountains all the way there, with only glimpses of the very tip of it. It’s also funny how your perspective changes, from that view point it doesn’t look that much higher, but the truth is I was only standing at about 3500m, Everest is over 5000m higher than that! When I got up close and personal with it several days later, that’s when I felt truly small.

  • Nomadic Samuel Jul 30, 2011

    You really captured this nicely this gorgeous area with your photos and writing. Although I’ve travelled a lot in Asia I’ve yet to visit here.

    • Dean Wickham Jul 30, 2011

      Thanks Samuel. Nepal is actually the first part of Asia that I visited, I absolutely fell in love with the place, especially the Himalayas. It’s an amazing place you should definitely check out.

  • Pauline Neilson Oct 5, 2011


    I have read your narrative and looked at your fab photos. My son is currently making his way to base camp everest and will be in namche tommorrow so your photos bring it all alive

    Many thanks

    • Dean Wickham Oct 7, 2011

      I’m glad that I could help, your son is on an amazing journey. You can read about the rest of the trek here. Thanks Pauline 🙂

  • The photos are pretty exciting. Makes you go there right now and see it by your eyes. Namche Bazaar has certainly changed a lot in recent times. I really enjoyed reading your experience in trekking in Nepal. I bet it was really unforgettable moment. Cheers to you… and hope you trek Nepal again.

    Adventure Nepal

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