Machhermo to Gokyo – Day 8 – Trek to Everest Base Camp


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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.

Machhermo to Gokyo Logistics

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

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.
Machhermo Lodge
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.
Machhermo to Gokyo Trail

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.
Machhermo to Gokyo Terrain and Trail

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.

Machhermo to Gokyo Landscape

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 buildings along the trail

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.

Machhermo to Gokyo Steps along the river

Then, crossing a small metal bridge, we’re on the Nepali flat again.

Machhermo to Gokyo bridges and trail

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.

Machhermo to Gokyo Trail in the Snow

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.

Trekking at altitude carries risks. We insured ourselves through World Nomads – buying specific altitude coverage in case of altitude sickness. We were also able to renew our policy while out of our home country. Get a price for your travel and health insurance now.

Lalit - our Sirdar

Lalit – our Sirdar

Today we Trek with the Boss – our Sirdar

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.

Gokyo Lakes

Gokyo Lakes

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.

Gokyo Lakes

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.
Porters on the Trail from Machhermo to Gokyo
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.
Transport on the Machhermo to Gokyo Trail
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.
Machhermo to Gokyo Tea Arrives
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.
Gokyo Lodge

We’re in Room 101

It’s a leisurely warm lunch and we have our room assignments. We’ve been relegated to room 101.
Room 101 Gokyo
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 Gokyo

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.
Gokyo Toilets

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.

Ngozumba Glacier

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.
Ngozumba Glacier View from Gokyo

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.
The incredible Ngozumba Glacier
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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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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