Mount Everest National Park

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Sagarmatha National Park is named for its highest peak, Sagarmatha in Nepali or Mount Everest in English. Adventurers approaching the base camp from Nepal do so by trekking through the Khumbu valley from Lukla over a period of around nine days, stopping to acclimatise along the way at villages such as Namche Bazaar.

As high and remote as the park is, I found it to be remarkably well resourced and a comfortable as well as spectacular experience to trek through, although we were short of time and only got as far as Khumjung. Our trek was just a taster of the Himalayas, I shall surely be back perhaps to Gokyo, Island Peak or Everest base camp if I have enough time.

Mountain of Nepali writing

The trail to Everest base camp is studded with stupas, many formed by rock carved with Nepali script. A stupa should always be passed in a clockwise direction - we stuck to this rigorously.

Even the cows knew which side of the stupa to pass by. Here they happily debunk the myth that cows can't walk downstairs.

Cows walking down stairs

Himalayan out-house

Whilst the facilities weren't exactly five-star, they were well more than adequate, and who could ask for a better view from the back of your out-house?

Beautiful strong colours of Sagarmatha National Park - after the dust and haze of Dubai it was a delight to be in such a crystal clear environment.

Colours of Sagarmatha National Park

River of meltwater from the high peaks

Meltwater from the glaciers and snows of the high peaks charges down the Khumbu valley in icy cold rivers. Enormous rocks have been dropped here in the past.

Local Nepalese kids gave us a cheery smile as we trekked past.

Local Nepalese kids


The trek to Namche Bazaar took us past the towering peak of Thamserku, which at over 6,600 metres looked pretty big to us, but is still over two kilometres inferior to Mount Everest.

There may be very little in the way of fixed infrastructure in the Khumbu valley, but safe water is produced by boiling with gas burners, supplied by the donkey-driven gas main seen here in full spate.

Nepalese mountain gas supply

Prayer flags and mountains

Iconic image of Nepalese prayer flags and a gigantic Himalayan peak behind.

According to this fountain, the path to Namche Bazaar is the Nirvana path…?

Nirvana path

High suspension bridge

The highest of the many suspension bridges we crossed on the trek up to Namche Bazaar.

Everything comes up the mountain by muscle power - you can thank this chap for that beer you drank in the mountain bar last night, as he slowly carries nearly one hundred kilos on his back.

Beer porter

Bridge and prayer flags in the wind

Suspension bridge with prayer flags fluttering in the wind. We were pretty lucky with the weather, although clouds continued to obscure Mount Everest.

Namche Bazaar, one of the main crossroads of the Khumbu valley and common stopping point for acclimatisation on the way to the peaks.

Namche Bazaar

The bazaar in Namche Bazaar

Named not without good reason, Namche Bazaar sells much in the way of clothing and trekking gear in addition to the beads and souvenirs of the bazaar itself.

View of another towering Himalayan peak, from the Everest View Hotel. Mount Everest herself remained coyly shy and did not reveal herself through the clouds.

Towering peaks in the clouds

Local women in Khumjung

Local ladies in Khumjung out for an afternoon stroll.

Khumjung village sits further up the valley from Namche Bazaar, and was the most distant point on our short trek. It feature this monastery with a special artefact inside.

Khumjung Monastery

Yeti scalp

The Yeti scalp of Khumjung Monastery is the only Dalai Lama-approved Yeti scalp in existence. You can see for yourself for a small fee, but it is only put on display for a few moments before being locked away again.

Red and gold prayer wheels at the Khumjung monastery - remember to spin them as you walk past.

Red and gold prayer wheels

Villager in Khumjung

Another cheerful local in Khumjung village.

Sir Edmund Hillary's likeness we found in the playground at Khumjung school, one of many which he set up through the Himalayan Trust. Hillary spent much of his life in Nepal after his conquest of Everest with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, helping to improve the lives of the Sherpas. A true hero.

Sir Edmund Hillary's bust, Khumjung

Nepali script carved in stone

The trail was often flanked by carved stone tablets with Nepali script, occasionally painted as seen here.

Yaks in the mist above the village of Namche Bazaar. Although I was reliably informed that these are in fact only half-Yaks, being a cross-breed with cows.

Yaks in the mist

Mount Everest and Lhotse

Mount Everest herself, as seen from a scenic flight from Kathmandu. Unfortunately the cloud never cleared enough for us to see the peak from the ground, so I took to the air to see the highest point on earth. On the right is Lhotse, the world's fourth highest peak.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2013