Into the Khumbu, Nepal

Most people fly from Kathmandu to Lukla to get into the Khumbu (region around Mt. Everest). Flights aren’t exactly cheap and the Lukla airstrip’s safety record is pretty spotty. We decided to take a bus to the town of Jiri (a 9 hour journey as death defying as the flight) and walk from there, making our trip seven day longer. Sadly three days past Jiri we were informed that 17 people had been killed in plane crash bound for Lukla.

The walk in was fascinating. The Himalayan foothills are startlingly lush. The rice terraces are endless. We shared the trail with buffalo, donkeys, and local villagers. There are many languages in the lowlands, even within a small area, but English is not commonly among them. We didn’t take a guide there were many confusing trail forks leading to some very comical charades with the locals. It took some time but we found our way.

It rained, a lot. Luckily for us it was mostly at night, but still the trail became treacherous. We were gaining, and subsequently losing, 1,000m (3,300ft) of elevation each day. It was arduous, miserable work at times but we loved it.

Namche Bazaar is the largest town and true start of the Everest region and indeed it seemed like a sprawling metropolis after nine days amongst the tiny villages of the lower Khumbu, in truth about 1,000 people live there. We quickly found a good hotel and ordered steak dinners. Access to a very hot shower and a bottle of whiskey detained us for further day. Beyond Namche the trail starts to climb in earnest and the air gets thin. So far so good.

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Scott Dusek is a writer and photography originally from Seattle, Washingon.

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