everest base camp trek monjo to namche

Monjo to Namche – Day 2 Trek to Everest Base Camp

It’s day two of our trek to Everest Base Camp.  We’ve had our first night in tents and we are drinking lots of water to help with the altitude.  Today we’re heading from Monjo to Namche Bazaar.  It’s a big altitude climb for us compared to yesterday, but the weather is glorious and the views are stunning.

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Read a Day by Day Guide to Trekking to Everest Base Camp

Monjo to Namche Bazaar 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.

Monjo to Namche Bazaar Distance

The distance between Monjo and Namche Bazaar is 5 miles or 8 kilometers.

Monjo to Namche Bazaar Altitude Gain

The altitude of Monjo is 2845m, and the altitude of Namche Bazaar is 3340m.  Today we gained 485 meters in altitude.

A reminder that you should have good comprehensive travel and medical insurance to do this trek, a medical evacuation by helicopter will cost at least US$5,000. Get a price for instant coverage from World Nomads here – they even cover you after you’ve left home. Get a quote here.

Monjo to Namche Bazaar Time Trekking

It took us 5 hours to walk from Monjo to Namche Bazaar.

Monjo to Namche Bazaar Trail Map

Monjo to Namche Map

Altitude Problems Started Today

We’re supposed to drink a lot of water.  4 plus liters a day.  Wherever else we travel we use a filter water bottle to drink tap water, but here to be extra safe we’re going with the boiled water from the team we’re trekking with.  It helps with the altitude. What it doesn’t help with is sleeping through the night as that was the first night of 18 broken nights of sleep.  The altitude also doesn’t help with sleep.  Combine that and much more water than any of us normally drink and if we’re not laid awake with the altitude, we’re struggling out of sleeping bags and unzipping tents on the way to the loo.

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.

As we were tucked up in bed by 20:14 last night, it was disturbing that my first pee break was 2130.  We’d had a long day yesterday – we flew from Kathmandu after a 0515 start, and then trekked from Lukla to Monjo.   It’s cozy in the tent, but it’s not ensuite.  Unless of course, you brought a she-pee and a bottle and the extra privacy that single occupancy gives you. The toilets here at the Monjo campsite are in a block of three – two are western style, flushing and there’s a squat.   By the end of our time here there’s no water left to flush the western toilets. There have been 24 of us plus the support crew from 2 other groups here overnight.  

It doesn’t bode well for the Namche Bazaar camp where we’ll be staying tonight and where there will be 87 of us!

Night Skies in Nepal

Getting up in the night has its benefits, it’s gloriously clear.  The moon and the stars are stunning against the backdrop of the mountains. But sadly it won’t photograph with my iPhone.  The night is still.  It feels like I’m the only person in the world until I hear a tent zip and I stumble off towards mine.

 

Monjo Campsite


Day 2 Monjo to Namche Schedule

This morning was an early start.  630 wake up call, 730 breakfast

It’s a timetable we’ll become used to, although it will get earlier.  And the noise from adjoining tents starts around 530.  It will become a regular refrain that we hear Darryl whispering.  Then, the booming “Good Morning” from Rod.  I pull my beanie down lower and stay snuggled in my sleeping bag.

The wake-up call arrives with a cup of black tea.  Two sugars are actively encouraged, so we indulge.  Shortly afterward washy water arrives in what looks like a metal dog bowl.  We take it into the tent and wash the bits we didn’t get last night.  

Washing Bowl

This will become our routine, morning and evening, with washy water and a wet wipe.  We use the water to first use to wash ourselves, then to freshen up our underwear and socks.  We dry them hung on the tent or strung on our day packs as we trek.  When all else fails, I stick them inside my sleeping bag with me overnight.

Our Accommodation  – Tents

The orange tents are a World Expeditions trademark (all the other tents that we spot on the trek are yellow).  We can stand up in them. There are two metal framed beds with a wooden base and a thick foam mattress on each.  A small pillow and space at the end of the bed to store your Big Red Bag (BRB). It’s a good job we’re a couple, it’s pretty cozy.  

Everest Base Camp Trek Breakfast

We breakfast on rice pudding with honey and sugar.  Black tea again.  There’s also muesli, toast, and egg.  We’re encouraged to not stint on breakfast.  There’s even hot milk for coffee, muesli, or chocolate.

While we’ve breakfasted our BRBs have disappeared.  Ours were the last to go, our speedy packing skills, it seems aren’t transferable once we switch to a huge bag with oodles of space.   You can find out what we packed in our Trek Gear List.  There’s an additional briefing over breakfast.  

Recommended Walking Pace – SLOW

We’re to take it slow today.  Not fast, like yesterday, says Ramesh, seemingly talking to Ellen, our Norwegian super hiker, who leads off literally on the heels of Lapka or Meg, our Sherpa Guides.

Monjo to Namche Route

Today’s the first half of the trek should take an hour, and its flat says, Ramesh.  At this point, we believe that the Nepalese definition of flat is the same as the English, Australian, and American.  So we head out of the campsite and continue up the valley quite happily.  

Views from Monjo

It’s about an hour or a little up and down, past tea houses, a rustic toilet which causes much amusement and that we’ll look back on fondly in days to come.

 

Toilet en route


We’re going pretty slow and we’re passed by a few folks, dzos, and donkeys on the way.

Walking from Monjo to Namche Bazaar

One group remind us that we really ought to put the tape that we bought into the day pack, in case we should have a problem with our Nepali-made boots.

 

Trekking is hard on the shoes

Everest Base Camp Trek on a Topographical Map

At the entrance to the National, Park  Ramesh takes us through the route on the topographical map on display.  He answers all our questions, then after a quick toilet stop, we’re off again.  Going slowly of course.

Sagarmatha National Park
Everest Base Camp Trek Topographical Map

For our “flat” hour the terrain is pretty undulating.  

Monjo to Namche

Nepal Suspension Bridge Crossing Etiquette

There are several suspension bridges that we cross without incident (well the dzo meets Manny was only a “minor” incident…)

 

We haven’t been given guidance on what to do about dzos on a bridge.  Hold on and hope seems to be the best option.

 

Dzos on a Suspension Bridge

We soon arrive at the “high” suspension bridge.  It’s placed directly over a lower bridge and will apparently save us 30 minutes on what is now pure uphill to Namche Bazaar.  Still, as you’ve probably guessed with the description “high” we had to climb up to it.

 

Suspension Bridge between Monjo and Namche Bazaar

Altitude Gain from Monjo to Namche

We started from Monjo this morning at an altitude of 2845 meters.  All that work yesterday gained us no altitude whatsoever. Today, en route from Monjo to Namche Bazaar, with Namche being at 3340 meters we’ll be gaining a whopping 500 meters.  And virtually all of that will be after this suspension bridge.

Nepalses Bridge

 

Animals on the Trail to Everest Base Camp

In this 500-meter climb, Ramesh thinks we should be at Namche by 1230 in time for lunch and an afternoon of rest.    It’s important, it’s beaten into us, to gain altitude slowly.  And to drink water.

Fast Group, Slower Group, Back Markers

We split almost into three groups – the fast folks, the slower folks, and those of us in the middle.  Nigel keeps running off and I stick to the advice to go slow.  Although I admit this is more because my lungs and legs are working in harmony.  Just slow harmony. 

My heart is really really jumping out of my chest  – there are lots of switchbacks and natural stops, and my legs are fine.  All those Chinese and Korean mountains were worth it.

Our First View of Everest

But there are rewards.  We’ll get our first sighting of Everest (the one from the plane doesn’t count) after the first part of the climb.

Our first view of Everest comes almost as a surprise. 

 

Everest Base Camp Trek First view of Everst

It still seems like a long long way away.

Selfie with Everest

And it’s still quite a long way to Namche.  This is the easy bit now, says Ramesh.  None of us agree.  While it might gently slope upwards, we’re walking through the woods. Some of the slope is less gentle than others, there’s not much to see until you get close to Namche.

Himalaya Views

The Trekkers Check Point Below Namche Bazaar

We pass the Trekkers Check Point and not far beyond that is the entrance to the village of Namche, we seem to pass by and walk around the corner.  There are a few hundred meters of steps and slope and we arrive at a Stupa at the bottom of the hill.  There’s a stream to the right where the locals are doing their washing.

Arriving in Namche Bazaar
Nepali Women Washing Clothes at Namche Bazaar

The water must be freezing, but folks are standing barefoot, washing with their bare hands.

The Last 20 minutes are the worst of the day

Out of 18 days of trekking, the next 20 minutes remain fixed in my mind as the most hellish of all.  I was conned.  We were AT Namche Bazaar.  Now we had to go up.

And I’m stuck in the middle of all the groups.  The fast folks are probably jogging up front.  I can’t see anyone behind me.  Nigel is running backward and forward to keep the fast folks in sight and all I can see are bloody steps. And blind bends.  Around which lurk more bloody steps.  And frigging yaks or donkeys.

Hiking up to our campsite at Namche Bazaar

There are coffee shops with wifi.  There are pubs.  If I could catch my breath I would wonder why the hell anyone would want a beer at this altitude.

The 20 minutes (and I don’t know that it’s only 20 minutes until afterward) is endless.

The end is NOT in sight.  There are just more and more blind bends and steps.  And the steps are evil, some big, some small.

Campsite Namche Bazaar

The orange tents finally come into view and all I need to do is haul myself up the last four steps, where the fast folks are waiting.  We left this morning at 08:10 and I arrived at 13:00.  It feels like a lot longer.

In Which I Question My Ability to Do This

I silently question my ability to complete this trek for the first time and internally chuckle insanely thinking it’s only day 2.   It’s important to be mentally strong, Ramesh has said.

At this point, the only positive mental attitude that I have is that I cannot do this. But of course, I share that with no one and spend the rest of the day having an internal fight with myself.

We pick tents, and lunch on toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, chips, veggies, and a great instant noodle soup – which will become a favorite of everyone’s over the next few weeks.

Camspite and Lodge at Namche Bazaar

The lodge here is wonderful, while there’s no stove to keep us warm, the sunny aspect and large windows heat it up in the afternoon.  This works to the point where we all struggle to stay awake.  Some who shall remain nameless don’t succeed and head for a nap in the tents.   The view is marvelous.

View over Namche Bazaar

No Naps to Acclimatise.

No naps, says Ramesh, it will help you acclimatize if you don’t nap, then you’ll sleep through the night.  That may be true, but Nigel looks more than ready to test the theory.  Pam takes on the role of kicking him awake when I head to the toilet (again)

I know there’s little hope of me sleeping through the night unless my bladder has increased massively since last night, but still, I hang on.

Electric and Showers in Namche

Here in the lodge at Namche, you can charge your electronic devices for 300 Nepalese Rupees (US$3), connect to wifi for 400 NPR for 1 day or unlimited (including when we return here in a couple of weeks) for 600 NPR, or take a shower for 350 NPR (450 with a towel provided).

We splash out and take a shower.  I get the towel and don’t take it back until after Nige has also used it.  The shower is hot and it doesn’t time out.  I just have to share it with someone’s old Elastoplast, but it’s wonderful.  Kathmandu seems like a long time ago and sweating all the way up those 600 meters feels icky.  Even the washy water didn’t help, so the shower is heavenly.

Food When Trekking is Carbs Loaded

Dinner fills us with carbohydrates and we all start to notice Ramesh watching us closely while we eat.  As the snow starts to fall outside, we head off to bed, reminding ourselves that snow is an insulator.

Snow overnight in Namche Bazaar Campsite

It’s been a hard day.   It’s also been a beautiful day.  It’s been long, even though we’d finished by lunchtime.  And it will be an early start tomorrow.  There’s an optional hike in the morning.  It means a 0515 start, so of course, questioning my ability to finish this trek, I’ve signed up for it.   As you do.

Essentials for an Everest Base Camp Trek

And… the most important thing…

Travel Tips for Exploring Nepal

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