After the powerful earthquakes which struck Nepal in April and May 2015, the country is being rebuilt little by little. This article was written before the earthquakes.
After two days of walking from Lukla, you'll reach Namche Bazaar, at an altitude of 3440 metres and the trekking capital of the Khumbu region, the region of the sherpas and of the impressive Mount Everest.
The path which links Lukla to Phakding is an easy path across rice fields. There are several stupas along the way and you can admire manis, rocks which are engraved with sacred Buddhist texts.
The walk becomes slightly more difficult after Phakding, where the path starts to go uphill. Nepal as you imagine it is within arm's reach: bridges suspended above the rushing waters of the Dudh Kosi river, forests with hundreds of conifer trees, prayer banners blowing in the wind. Every minute is full of wonder.
Half way, if you're lucky, your efforts are rewarded with the first view of Everest. Some local people are there offering oranges to hikers so that they can gain some strength back. But tourists quickly devour the vitamin filled segments, so eager they are to glimpse THE mountain, the Everest, or Sagarmatha in Nepalese, the 'mother goddess of the sky'.
Then, after a final burst of effort, you eventually reach Namche Bazaar, a large village at an altitude of 3440 metres. You enter the village through a Buddhist gate with vibrant colours of red and green. On the left, there is a big stupa which overlooks the valley. Namche Bazaar is made up of different levels. a natural amphitheatre surrounded by tall mountains.
The village has an overall lively atmosphere, a stop off point for several trekkers on their way, or on the contrary, making the most of a break on the way back from long days of walking. Time passes by slowly and you can really take advantage of it. Spending one or two days in Namche Bazaar allows you to give your body time to acclimatise, so that it produces enough red blood cells to help you to withstand the altitude.
Make the most of your first day to walk around Namche's lively streets, up to the monastery located in the west of the village. The ochre walls contrast with the bright gold of the prayer wheels. Here, time seems to stand still. Breathe in the spirituality by going around the monastery in a clockwise direction, using your hands to turn the prayer wheels. Then sit on the steps and observe the life below where children play, women wash their laundry in the river, and just beside you, yaks peacefully graze. Then enjoy a pastry before ordering a plate of Tibetan momos in your lodge.
The acclimatisation walk will lead you to the hotel Everest View Lodge, a balcony over the Everest. Throughout your walk, the Ama Dablam can be seen, an elegant and elongated peak which seems within touching distance. And then, suddenly, you'll see it. The one that you wanted to see. Everest. It goes beyond being a little pyramid, and it's there, powerful and small at the same time. The view is uninterrupted if there are no clouds in sight. Have a cup of tea at the hotel and contemplate the prettiest view that there is. You can stop there, like many do, or go on to the base camp or the Gokyo lakes, and continue your mystical initiation to the country of Sagarmatha, where the mountain is the master and where you feel small, where nature has full control.