Everest Base Camp Trek Day 2: Phakding to Namche Bazar

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Due to delays in arrival at Lukla, the previous day’s walking had been a bit of a forced march in gathering gloom. Day two of the trek felt like the first real day of trekking – we woke up to a beautiful but rather chilly morning and proceeded up join a lot of other trekkers on the path to Namche Bazar.

The trail first enters a forest of Rhododendron and Magnolia and then passes though a village called Tok Tok. From here a canyon is entered and the trail climbs moderately upwards to the village of Chumowa before crossing a bridge into the village of Monjo where we stopped for an early lunch.

Shortly thereafter, the official entrance to the Sagarmatha National Park is reached. We took the opportunity for a short rest while our guide dealt with the paperwork (permits are required to enter the park). From this point the path descends steeply for a short while before levelling out and following the Duhd Koshi (river) to Larja Dobhan. We had another short rest just below the Larja suspension bridge (see photo above) before beginning the final slog up to Namche.

The final slog is a climb of around 600m beginning after the bridge is crossed. The climb up is relentless and surprisingly tough, although I didn’t complain too much given that we kept passing porters carrying a lot more than a daypack. The weather by this stage of the day was very warm and this combined with the altitude made the walk thirsty work. At a couple of rest points along the way, enterprising locals were selling drinks and fruit, and one of these points also provides the first view of Everest – that is if it is not obscured by cloud as it was when we arrived.

Passing up through Blue Pine forest the path eventually reaches the bustling hub of Namche Bazar, where we very happily collapsed into our room for a rest before venturing out to explore Namche’s narrow streets.

Day 2:
Phakding (2610m) to Namche Bazar (3440m) (net height gain 830m)
About 5 hours / 7 kms

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Everest Base Camp Trek Day 1: Lukla to Phakding

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The first day began early, with us arriving at Kathmandu airport at around 7:00am, for a supposed early flight to Lukla. The scene at the airport appeared to be one of barely organised chaos, with hundreds of tourists and locals endeavouring to secure seats on their flights. Although we were allegedly leaving around 8ish, we didn’t actually get out to our plane until about 2pm. I’m not sure how the seats are allocated, it seemed to be based on whose tour guide shouted the loudest (our guide spent most of the morning hanging around the desk for Tara Air waiting for the opportunity to grab some seats).

The planes from Kathmandu to Lukla are Twin Otters, with capacity for about 18 passengers. After squeezing in, the hostess offered us a mint and cotton wool (to stuff in your ears). When we eventually got going, our plane taxied to the runway, stopped…and then taxied back to the apron – Lukla airport had been shut due to high winds. Although disappointed that we were going to have to spend even more time sitting waiting in the departure lounge, I was in no hurry to fly to Lukla in adverse weather conditions. I’d already been warned about the airport there – there’s a very short runway that runs uphill (when landing), with cliffs on all sides.

We eventually got off an hour or so later, for a fairly smooth 45 min flight. The landing was certainly “interesting” – there’s no room for error, you hit the runway immediately it starts and then it’s heavy braking as you rush up the hill, before a turn to the right and a small apron in front of the terminal building.

After meeting our porter and collecting our bags our small party began the trek. Lukla – which apparently means “place with many goats and sheep” – is, as the launching point for trekking in the area, a hive of activity. Because of the delay in getting started though we didn’t have time to tarry and so after a quick meal we proceeded down the main street, passing numerous stores selling outdoors gear (mostly knock-offs) along with a (fake) Starbucks and an Irish pub.

After passing through a gateway with a painted message telling you to enjoy our trek, the path is generally downhill, eventually reaching the village of Chheplung, which is on the junction of the main Khumbu trail from Jiri. The path soon crosses Thulo Khola on a suspension bridge, with good views of Kumsum Kangure peak. We didn’t spend too much time admiring the view as it was getting dark and we were in a hurry to reach Phakding. Thankfully, we managed to reach Phakding just after the last of the daylight disappeared, and proceeded to enjoy a hearty meal in a dining room packed with other trekkers.

Day 1:
Lukla (2840m) to Phakding (2610m) net height loss 230m
About 2.5 hours / 6 kms

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Fairfield Park to City via Main Yarra Trail

Walk notes by DWP

This is the third and final section of the walk commencing in Eltham following the Main Yarra Trail. Again, easy walking or riding along mainly bitumen & gravel surfaced tracks with numerous attractive rest or picnic spots.

For access to this section of the Trail enter the car park at Fairfield Park from Heidelberg Road and pick up the path at the easily identifiable signs indicating Main Yarra Trail & Capital City Trail via Dights Falls to Federation Square.

After a few minutes walking around the edge of the Fairfield oval the path crosses Yarra Bend Road. On the other side of the road continue along the path as it meanders along the top bank of the deep gouge formed by the Merri Creek. There is a viewing platform part way along that is worth a brief visit. Pass under the Eastern Freeway overpass and then cross the bridge on the right over Merri Creek where it joins the Yarra River to enter Dights Falls Park and where the Merri Creek Trail and Main Yarra / Capital City Trail merge. This is an ideal spot for a break, to watch and listen to the falls and enjoy the pleasant and peaceful surroundings.

After your break continue along the path as it follows the bank of the Yarra River and passes by the Abbotsford Convent and Collingwood Children’s Farm, an excellent spot for a cup of coffee, snack or meal depending on the time of day.

Continue along the path until Gipps Street Bridge. Cross the bridge and either join the main trail along the side of Yarra Boulevard or preferably follow the path through the trees along the bank of the river eventually merging with the main trail just south of Dickinson Reserve. Follow the main trail a little further until the footbridge is reached leading to Walmer Street Richmond. After crossing the bridge stay on the path that follows the bank of the river and enjoy the very attractive scenery and unexpected tranquillity of the surroundings as you pass through Hawthorn heading towards Burnley.

The path continues to meander alongside the river and Yarra Boulevard for some while eventually passing under Swan Street and Monash Freeway just after which the Gardiners Creek Path joins the trail from the left.

Just before reaching the Grange Road roundabout and bridge one has to choose to either continue along the riverside path to Federation Square via the Burnley Boardwalk, Yarra Park, Olympic Park and Flinders Park or cross over the Mac Robertson Bridge and then follow the Main Yarra Trail as it snakes its way to Southbank sandwiched between Alexandra Avenue and the river.

Following the main trail across the bridge allows the opportunity to visit Herring Island in the Yarra River, Como Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens before completing the final section of the walk to Southbank and St Kilda Road. Flinders St rail station is just a few minutes walk across Princes Bridge.

Overall another pleasant generally undemanding walk mainly following the banks of the Yarra River with numerous rest spots and access points for shortening the walk or ride if required. Although relatively peaceful during the early part of the walk it is impossible to escape the intensity of traffic noise as one approaches the Monash Freeway and also along Alexandra Avenue on a busy day which can detract somewhat from the overall enjoyment of the environs.

Start – Fairfield Park
Finish – Southbank or Federation Square, St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Fairfield Station rail connection and off-street parking available at Fairfield Park
City – Parking restrictions apply. Distance Approx 16 Kms

Main Yarra Trail previous sections:

Eltham to Heidelberg

Heidelberg to Fairfield

The following documents (pdf) show all bike trails in the City of Yarra, including the Fairfield to City portion of the Main Yarra Trail:

Map p.1

Map p.2

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Brisbane CityWalk, Queensland

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This was my first visit to Brisbane for leisure rather than work, and I found this walk, along with a visit to the Maritime Museum (which is passed along the route), to be most enjoyable, helped no doubt by some fabulous weather. Highly recommended for visitors to Brisbane – it takes in some lovely parks and attractive heritage buildings.

A detailed route description and map can be found here. The walk officially starts at the Brisbane Information Centre in Queen St Mall, but you could start it anywhere along the route. Allow 2-3 hours for the walk itself, longer if you stop off at any of the attractions along the way.

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Devils Marbles, Northern Territory

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I’ve been a bit slack updating this blog, but more walks will be added soon.

I recently was able to make a short visit to the Northern Territory; my first visit in 30 years since we lived there in Warrego (45km west of Tennant Creek) for six months back in 1980.

Just off the Stuart Highway about 95km south of Tennant Creek are the ‘Devils Marbles’ (Karlu Karlu in the local aboriginal languages). These are well worth a visit – there is a self guided walk as well as plenty of walking trails allowing you to explore.

More information: National Parks information sheet (pdf)

Bushwalking: Hartz Peak, Tasmania

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This is another great day walk that is easily accessed from the lovely city of Hobart. It provides for excellent alpine walking with extensive views and secluded and attractive lakes and tarns.

The walk commences from a car park at the end of the gravel road that leaves the C632 road (see access below). There is a large visitors shelter and the path to Hartz peak is clearly signposted. Follow the path, which is boardwalks for a good deal of the way, as it climbs slightly and passes a signposted track to Lake Esperance (worth a side-trip). The path reaches Ladies Tarn another 1km or so further on at which point the track becomes less well used but still easy to follow, turning westwards for a short but very steep climb up to Hartz Pass.

From here the path turns south climbing steadily, marked by regular signposts with orange arrows and a series of small cairns. A bit of rock scrambling is required to attain the summit. The summit has a trig point and there is a small wind shelter nearby. The walk returns by the same route.

The day I was there in May the weather was pretty terrible on the way up to the summit – no views but plenty of wind and rain, which pretty much describes the weather when I did the walk in May 2008. Nonetheless, it was still enjoyable – or perhaps invigorating is the best word. Highly recommended, but please be ready and equipped for poor weather. There were a few Japanese tourists walking ahead of me in jeans and casual jackets – thankfully they only went as far as Lake Esperance as they were completely un-equipped for the conditions.

Walk date: 9th May, 2010
Time: Around 4 hours
Grade: Moderate day walk
My rating: A

Access: Follow the A6 from Hobart to Geeveston. From here take the road signposted ‘Hartz Mountains National Park’ and keep an eye out for further signposts. Eventually a gravel road is reached (just after Arve River Picnic Area) which leads to the car-park and start of the walk.