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It’s Day 8 of our trek to Everest Base Camp, today we’ll head from Machhermo to Gokyo. It’s an altitude gain of 320 meters today to get to Gokyo at 4790 meters. The landscape changes significantly today, we trek through snow, over boulders and alongside a river. We’ll spot the glorious Gokyo Lakes, although they’re covered in snow and we stay in our first tea house of the trek so far.
If you’re interested in the details of how far we trekked each day and what the altitude gain is, here are those details.
Machhermo to Gokyo Distance
The distance between Machhermo and Gokyo is 4.2 miles or 6.8 kilometres.
Machhermo to Gokyo Altitude Gain
The altitude of Machhermo is 4410m, the altitude of Gokyo is 4790 m. Today we gained 320 metres in altitude.
Machhermo to Gokyo Time Trekking
It took us 6 hours to walk from Machhermo to Gokyo.
Machhermo to Gokyo Map
We’ll head up over the ridge – and its a steady ascent we’re told. If we don’t say “Yeah, Yeah” out loud we certainly use the words in our head. Once again Nepal has graced us with a most glorious day.
We’re into a rhythm now – the 0630 wake up, with black tea, washy water 10 minutes later. Breakfast at 0730 and we’re heading off by around 0815. Unless the wake up call is 0530, which we get surprised with occasionally. Not, though today.
And while we might set off with gloves, hats and several layers, it’s warm enough to dry clothes and towels on the back of our day packs. The layers gradually come off as we start to get warmed up. You can find out what we brought with us for this 18 day trek in our Trek Gear List.
The Landscape Changes
We’re starting to leave behind the glorious towering snow covered peaks. It’s now a brown and grey landscape, spotted with snow. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s certainly not pretty or stunning, but simply stark and unforgiving.
The trekking is relatively easy. The ascents are gentle and the dry stone walls – that we first saw in Khumjung and Khunde are spectacular in their style. There’s never a flat stone, I’ve never seen walls made of round stones before.
The shaped stones appear to be saved for buildings and the flat stone roofs are incredible in the size of the stones.
Machhermo to Gokyo Trail
We’re following the route of the river and the roar of the sparkling clear glacial water rises up the valley to greet us. Our route now heads upwards. The steps that look as though they were made for giants tax my lungs more than my legs.
Then, crossing a small metal bridge, we’re on the Nepali flat again.
It’s back to a gentle ascent and the snow. Its old snow and there is a trail most of the time. There are holes too and occasionally we drop through.
We’re walking with Lalit today – he has three of us – Nigel, Michael and me. Michael’s got over most of his gastro problems but is crippled with agonizing abdominal pain. We’re stopping often so he can crouch low to the ground and gain some relief.
Lallit is our “Sirdar” – that’s the Nepalese term for “boss of all the team”. It’s Lalit who’s responsible for the porters, the cooks, the Sherpas and even Ramesh, our lead guide. He liaises with the lodges, when we’re not in tents and rearranges accommodation when our schedule changes. He’ll be busy over the coming days. And of course, he encourages us along. He carries day packs and cameras when we can’t and pushes us up hills.
Here on the flat we start to walk past the first of the Gokyo Lakes – but they’re mostly still frozen over, there’s no stunning azure blue to reflect the local wildlife, it will be a few days before that happens.
While pilgrims have headed to this area for decades, it’s relatively new to the trekking community, which is why the tea houses and lodges we’ll see when we reach Gokyo all look much newer than the ones we’ve seen on the trail so far.
And building continues – with all materials having to be walked or yakked in – each time I see the porters carrying crippling loads of wood, that we agree none of us could even lift at sea level I’m glad I’m staying in tents most of the time, and I feel guilty that where I’ll stay tonight – the lodge, the bed, the mattress all had to be carried in on someone’s back.
We were warned when we set off that it might be chilly as we walked up this valley – but warmed by the thought that the World Expeditions team would be meeting us with a hot drink. And it arrived as promised – with one of the kitchen team, toting the huge kettle that is ever present and cups. Hot mango juice has become a firm favorite that we’re presented with whenever we arrive at a lunch destination.
It’s a sunny dining room that greets us in Gokyo – Michael goes to the Porter Rescue Point and comes back feeling a little better, with pain relief.
We’re in Room 101
It’s a leisurely warm lunch and we have our room assignments. We’ve been relegated to room 101.
It’s toasty with a glorious view. It will be cold one the sun goes down – we consider that there might be more insulation in the tents than in the lodges, but for our first lodge it’s a wonderful introduction- reviews had indicated that we weren’t going to enjoy the lodge nights, so we’re pleasantly surprised.
View from Room 101
Nepali Toilets at Gokyo
There are indoor toilets too. Flushing is manual, and we have to break the ice on the water tubs in the middle of the night, but at least we’re not crunching over the ice to get to it.
The provided warm toilet seat cover brings back memories of our first Mongolian toilet, no one admits to using this “Mammoute” here either.
Hiking to the Ngozumba Glacier
After lunch, once again there’s an optional hike, and this really is stressed as optional, not “optional”. It’s a scramble up the rocky hillside behind the lodge that we’re in, to the lateral moraine of the Ngozumba glacier.
The Ngozumba glacier is reportedly the largest in the Himalayas. It’s 36 km long and sits at the foot of the world’s sixth highest mountain – Cho Oyu.
I am stunned to silence. This is incredible. I’ve been on glaciers in the US, Canada, France and Switzerland, but this is from another world.
Views above Gokyo onto the Ngozumba Glacier
There have been marvelous views, there have been incredible peaks, vistas and landscapes that I’ve never seen the like of, but standing here on the moraine of the glacier is like nothing I’ve experienced before.
It stretches as far as I can see. It’s grey and dirty in one moment. Sparkling white another. Translucent alien blue the next.
And when the wind drops, the group stills and silences, there’s the heart-stopping sound of a resounding crack as she continues her sorrowful slow journey to the Spillway lake, where she’s slowly melting.
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