Archive for November, 2019

Recently I completed a beautiful trek in the Khumbu region of  Nepal. My 10-day trek took me to Gokyo- Ri Peak which has one of the best views of Everest on a clear day. For me there was a lot more on the journey itself to this amazing viewpoint and here is my attempt to share that story.

Gokyo lake view

One of the Gokyo Lakes and the Mountains around this Glacial Lake.

After landing in probably one of the world’s most dangerous airports at Lukla, we start our hike to Phakding a little village to halt for a night before beginning a long haul day to Namche Bazar at 3440m.







We leave early after a nice breakfast at Phakding to begin the ascent to Namche Bazaar. We are joined by porters and many other trekkers heading to other treks which originate from Namche Bazar the most famous being the Everest base camp trek ‘EBC’.  We enter the beautiful Sagarmatha National Park to begin our trek up to Namche. I get my first view of the beautiful Dudh Koshi River as it winds its way through the forests of this Park. our ascents in this area often bring us in front of these large suspension bridges over the river, that often have mules, Dzoes( a hybrid version of cattle and yaks used in lower elevations) and porters on them at the same time. My initial dismay at the shaking of these bridges is replaced with complete awe for the animals that navigate them patiently on a daily basis. Even more fascinating is also how their owners control them  by just using a whistle-like sound. The animal leader of the pack keeps the entire line focussed on their long voyage up to higher elevations.

Our other views en route to Namche are of some of the beautiful peaks in the valley and also the large heavy prayer wheels at every little village which take some muscle power to turn. The Buddhists believe these wheels are an extremely powerful tool for praying. Amitabha Buddha has said, “Anyone who recites the six syllables while turning the dharma wheel at the same time is equal in fortune to the Thousand Buddhas.” “It helps to purify the obstacles of life.” Buddhism is very prevalent in this region and most bridges also have prayer flags floating in the wind keeping in line with the Buddhist belief that these prayers are carried by the wind. All through this trek, we see many prayer flags at crucial points on floating bridges and near waterfalls and also see a lot of chortens and mani stones. Chortens are believed to house important Buddhist relics and the mani stones have the Buddhist prayer carved on them.

Mani Stones enroute ( photo credit my friend Julie)  and Buddhist Prayer Wheels at Namche Town

After about 6-7 hours of trekking, we reach the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazar. Namche is quite a large town and is really the gateway to a lot of amazing treks in the Khumbu Himalaya. The hotel we stay at adjoins a cute little bar called the ‘Hungry Yak’ which has the most amazing live music. we also giddily and greedily, as tired trekkers discover the most amazing coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants as well in Namche. Sweaty hair? “how about a shampoo and blow-dry?” A Shampoo and wash here feels better than staying at a Four Seasons Hotel. Namche also has a large NorthFace store for last-minute purchases. We stay one extra day to acclimatize to the altitude and do a mini hike to Everest Hotel for a magnificent view of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. The Everest Museum has information on the flora and fauna in the region and of some of the ascents. Close to the Everest museum is a little museum dedicated to famous sherpas and sherpa families and there is even a well preserved little sherpa home. My favorite part of that home is the very simple prayer room which is both colorful and peaceful.


Sherpa Prayer Room at Namche in the Everest Museum.

IMG_3119  Here against a clear blue sky ( a view of the two peaks on a saddle) Everest on the Left and Lhotse on the left and a Ama Dablam peeking out on the right.

We move on to  Mongla the next day and stop en route at crowded Khumjung for lunch.  Dhal Bhaat seems a good idea but the chinese chowmein comes in a strong second.

Dhaal Bhaat

Nourishing Dhaal ( Lentils) Bhaat ( Veg+ Rice) Photo( taken by Vikram)

Our Hike up to Mongla has spectacular views of Ama Dablam and the sherpa mountain of Khumbila.  Our teahouse at Mongla lay perched on the edge of the mountain and on a clear day one can almost touch Ama Dablam. We tried to stay up to see the night sky but it got cloudy and the mist set in for the night whiting out most of the surroundings.

Our Next stop was Dole and at this point, we bid farewell to beautiful Ama Dablam as we moved upward through some picturesque countryside covered in fall foliage Stone steps lead us further up the trail to cascading falls with a mini-view of Cho-yu and  Tabouche. We also came across a group of Yaks waiting patiently to go up the trail. Yaks are found all over the upper Khumbu area. Once comfortably settled in Dole, We have a warm meal of dhal bhaat and prepared for bed. 



Beautiful Ama Dablam 6812 Meters ( 22, 349 Feet) 

Our Trek from Dole to Machermo starts with a steep climb to an alpine meadow and was quite flat for a while before climbing up again to a viewpoint overlooking the beautiful green valley below. Our jaw-dropping views of Thamserku, Kusum Kangri, and Machermo Peak make us stop and take pictures but after a while, it did not seem enough. We walk down the hill and cross over the river to our lodge.


Our amazing group of super fun people.

One of the most special parts of this trek was the hike from Machermo to Gokyo.  This picturesque trail takes us up 400m while winding its way partly through open meadows and rolling hills with fall colors. Soon we can hear and see the Dudh Koshi River as it comes rushing down from the Gokyo lakes meandering down the hill. There is a huge stone staircase climb before us that is challenging but worth the effort as before us was a welcoming bridge over the river and then the first stunning emerald lake comes into view. Breathless and speechless at the beauty of this lake we are reluctant to move ahead, and I take a short pause here to admire the beautiful chortens and the serenity of this special place, a slice to paradise, a moment of extreme awe and peace. We then build our own mini chortens here in memory of our departed loved ones and then take a moment to silently pause and remember. I feel the healing tears flowing and sit paralyzed for that one moment.




Panorama of one of of the Gokyo Lakes.

We walked on to see the 2 other emerald green lakes and then enter the quiet town of  Gokyo under a line of prayer flags. Ahead us is stunning Gokyo Peak and on the side are amazing snowcapped mountain views. I manage to photograph a resting Dzoe as he takes a mini nap after a hard day’s work.


We reach our lovely Namaste lodge at Gokyo town in time to order a hot tomato cheese sandwich and discovered to our surprise that there is even potato gnocchi on the menu here.  Fitzroy Bakery next door to the lodge offers the best Apple Pie and hot chocolate I have tasted at 5000 meters. Oxygen levels here at close to 5000 meters are definitely at 50-60% lower than at sea level. We hike up a little more later that evening to get our first glimpse of the Ngozumpa Glacier. This is the longest glacier in the Himalayas, stretching around 25km from its beginnings on the high slopes of Cho Oyu another 8000meter Peak.


Our early morning wake up call is for a 4am ascent of Gokyo peak along with several other hikers, a steep climb that boasts some of the finest 360-degree views of many 8000meter peaks on a clear day. As I stand right below the summit I cannot help feeling glad for persevering up the trail to Namche Bazaar early on this Trek. The view has me mesmerized and breathless ( literally also due to  lower oxygen levels:))

This view is from 50m below the summit of Gokyo Peak which sits at a high 5443M

As I sit here now writing this mini account of my experience, I am so grateful for my amazing trekking companions, our guides, our hardworking and ever-smiling porters and the entire team at White Magic Adventures that made all this possible.


Our amazing Guides Nitesh, Dunbar and Madan and our Porters

Finally, I want to raise a salute to the spirit and friendliness of the Nepali people. They are the reason we will return to this special place every year.

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