Almost everyone headed to Everest Base Camp spends at least a day acclimatizing in Namche Bazaar the largest village in the entire Khumbu Region. We typically organize our Everest Base Camp Trek so that you can take a rest/acclimatization day in Namche and our guests usually hike up to the Everest View Hotel for a great panorama of the Himalayas which includes Everest, Ama Dablam and Lhotse. While this is a great excursion, it’s good to know what the options are. If you’re trekking with us to Base Camp and one of these sounds more appealing than the Everest View Hotel hike, just let us know and we can arrange it for you. Here’s a look at what we think are the four best day hikes from Namche:
- Khunde and Khumjung Loop – These two villages are known as the twin villages and lie in what’s known as the Green Valley, in reference to the standard green roofs featured by every house except the roof of the local gompa. The villages are home to a traditional Sherpa culture and while having numerous facilities for tourists are less busy than the villages along the main Everest Base Camp route. The Green Valley offers excellent views of both Ama Dablam and Thamserku. If you’re doing this hike its worth finding the Khumjung Monastery which houses the scalp of what’s said to be a Yeti. Another local attraction is the cave above Khunde where the guru Rimpoche is said to have meditated.This hike is best done as a loop from Namche. To start head northwest from Namche towards Thame and after about 30 minutes look for a trail heading (right) to Syangboche. It’s about an hour’s hike from the split to the village of Khunde where you will be greeted by a picturesque gate and a cracked stupa topped by a beautiful eye of Buddha. Continue down the valley to Khumjung where you have the option of heading down towards the main trail and back to Namche or heading up the mountain to Everest View Hotel and back. The trails are pretty easy to follow and if you ask any of the locals they are willing to help with directions.
- Everest View Hotel – This is probably the most popular day hike from Namche and not without reason. The hike starts with a 440m/1400ft climb up the mountain (Himalayan hill) behind Namche and then heads north along a long ridge to the Everest View Hotel. Visitors to the hotel can enjoy a drink on the deck behind the hotel and enjoy a beautiful panorama of Everest, Ama Dablam and the hotel itself was the vision of Takashi Miyahara and designed by Japanese architect Yoshinobu Kumagaya. It opened its doors to customers in 1971 and has been complimented for its simple yet elegant design. This makes a good half day hike and if you don’t have time to get all the way to Base Camp it’s a good stopping point (See: Everest View in 7 Days) . Some visitors who are really short on time opt to helicopter into to Syangboche and hike the 30 minutes up to the hotel rather than hike all the way from Lukla.
- Kyangjuma Lookout – If you want an easy hike to a scenic viewpoint where you can enjoy lunch and a cup of coffee then this is a great option. Kyangjuma lies along the main trail to Everest Base Camp about 3.5km (2.1 miles) from Namche Bazaar and is about an hour’s walk. Once you leave Namche the trail skirts the side of the canyon high above the Dudh Koshi below. Kangtega, Ama Dablam, Lhotse and Everest are almost continually in view from the trail. Stop at one of the small teahouses or cafes in Kyangjuma for a hot drink or lunch and relax with a beautiful panorama of the Himalayas spread out before you. If you are continuing on to Everest Base Camp the following day you will repeat the same hike which in my opinion is not at all a bad option.
- Namche to Thame – This trail up to Thame is the same one that trekkers doing the Three Passes take but it also makes a good day trip from Namche although a bit longer than those mentioned previously. The one way distance is 9.7km (about 6 miles) along a good trail. If you don’t want to go the entire route you can stop for lunch at one of the small tea houses located between Thame and the bridge over the Theshyo Khola (approximately 4 km and 7kms from Namche). Thame is a traditional village that has escaped the crowds trekking to Everest and has one of the older monasteries in the region. The village is notably the hometown of Apa Sherpa who has made it to the summit of Everest 21 times! The walk itself is peaceful with excellent views of the mountains as it winds in and out of the forest on the side of the canyon.
Unfortunately the villages of Thame, Khunde and Khumjung were all extensively damaged during the earthquake in April 2015 and rebuilding will take several years. I visited Khunde and Khumjung and several of the teahouses were left undamaged so it’s still a great place to grab lunch. All the locals are very friendly and hopeful that tourists will return soon to this region.