EXPERIENCE NEPAL…through the lens of my guest writer Ms. Apurba Roy Chowdhury 🙂
When my parents and I decided to travel to Kathmandu; taking a mountain flight to see Mount Everest was one of the to-dos on our list. We were not planning to trek or take a helicopter till the base camp, so the best option for us, was to take the mountain flight.
Planning and booking
I booked our tickets only 2 weeks before travel. And they costed around USD ~95 per person (for Indian tourists). The price varies a bit based on your home country/currency.
I booked the mountain flight by Yeti airlines. Other airlines like Buddha air also have mountain flights, the prices are mostly similar. As I booked a Yeti airlines flight, this is the experience of the same.
Getting around on the website
On the website’s homepage, click on the drop down menu of the originating city and pick “Everest sight seeing flight”. Then pick the date of journey, your home country and the no. of passengers you want to make the booking for. On clicking search, the website indicates the ticket price per person on that date. Pick a date and complete the transaction.
The customer care team of Yeti airlines is highly responsive (over e-mail) and they meticulously clarify all the questions that you may have about the trip.
Picking the seats:
The aircraft is a 75 seater plane. As the mountain flight is special flight for sight-seeing, so only the window seats are allotted and all passengers get a window seat for sure.
Now the next question is, which side of the flight do you sit on, to get the best view. The airlines had recommended me to sit on the left hand side. Let me tell you about what can you experience if you sit on either sides.
If you sit on the left hand side, you start seeing the mountains quite early, during the onward journey. However, they are at a greater distance. Now, during the return journey as the flight takes a u-turn, the tourists sitting on the right hand side, then see the mountains. This time, the flight is very close to the mountains and the view is much better.
If you want to see the mountains closely and you are sitting on the left side, just join another co-passenger of yours on the right side, after the flight takes a u-turn.
I would recommend that you sit on the right side, towards the back, so that even if you see the mountains later in the journey, you get the best view.
To get the desired seats, reach the airport an hour in advance of the flight timings and ask for the side on which you want the seats.
Weather on the day of the travel
You can check the weather of Kathmandu and Lukla on the day you are travelling. The airline will not provide any help on visibility and weather on the day of the travel. However the weather information may vary across sources and may not provide you clarity.
The ticket prices however are refundable, so if the weather is bad, the airline either refunds or reschedules you flight. What can be done is, you can keep a day free in Kathmandu, after the planned date of travel. So in case your flight gets rescheduled by a day you can still accommodate the change in your itinerary.
About the trip:
The mountain flight takes you from Kathmandu, completes the trip around Mt. Everest and flies you back to Kathmandu.
The duration of the flight is one hour and it takes offs at 6.30/6.45 am. The flight duration is divided into three parts, 20 minutes from Kathmandu to the mountains, 20 minutes of viewing the mountains and 20 minutes of flight back to the city.
Arriving at the airport
As planned, on 4th October 2019, we were all set for our date with Mount Everest. It all began at 4 am in the morning, when we got up and started getting ready for the flight. We left from our hotel in Thamel area (city centre) of Kathmandu at around 5.15 am, to reach the Kathamandu international airport. It took us around 15 minutes (5.3 km) to reach the airport.
After the security check, our wait got over soon and we got into the transit bus. The staff was very friendly and helped take some nice pictures in front of the flight. We entered and took our seats.
The excitement kept on rising with take off. As we were sitting on the left hand side of the flight, we could see the mountain ranges gradually approach. The mighty peaks were looking beautiful draped in snow.
The day we flew was a sunny day. The sky was clear and all the ranges and the peaks could be seen clearly. Just the previous day, we had heard that the flights had been cancelled because of bad weather. So we were glad and yes, really lucky.
Along with our tickets, the airline also gave us a pamphlet, which provided the images of the mountains in the sequence in which they would appear. During the flight, the air hostesses also were coming over to us and helping us map the mountain peaks we saw, with their names.
One of the unique things of the flight is that every passenger gets the opportunity to go to the cock pit once and witness the mountains from there.
They start from the passengers on the right-hand side, go all the way to the end and then come all the way to the front on the left hand side. As we were sitting on the left in the front, our turn came towards the end, when we had reached Mt. Everest.
We were all spellbound by the endless white beauty. The mountains stood there shoulder to shoulder, like a band of brothers. They looked majestic and handsome.
One of the peaks which has an interesting shape was Mount Gauri Shankar. It has a twin summit, one peak is pointy (considered to represent goddess Parvati or Gauri) and the other peak is blunt (being same as the shape of a shivaling, considered to represent lord Shiva or Shankar). You can distinctly make out the shapes of the summit as the flight passes by the peak.
The surreal moment came for me when I saw mount Everest. I could not believe that I was witnessing the tallest peak in the world, the great Mt. Everest. It stood there strongly, with a calm grace.
In no time I realized, that this was one of the best moments in my life. I could not believe my eyes and kept on gazing at it without batting my eyelids. I didn’t want a single moment to pass with my eyes not absorbing the view. And just then I was called into the cock pit. The pilot, signaling to his left, said that is Mt. Everest. I hurriedly clicked a few pictures through my camera and gaped at the peak for the rest of the moments.
And some minutes later, the flight took a u-turn. The air hostess served champagne to all of us, to celebrate the moment. We clinked our glasses, and drank to celebrate. Those were moments of complete euphoria, filled to brim with amazement. It was indeed a different feeling, unparalleled.
Soon the flight took a u-turn, and the mountain ranges could now be seen on the right-hand side of the craft. I switched my seat and moved next to another co-passenger who was sitting on the right side of the flight. This view was even better, as we were flying very close to the mountains (compared to the onward journey).
Until next time…
We enjoyed the wonderful view for some more time, before the mountains started getting smaller and eventually vanishing, as we flew towards Kathmandu.
Throughout the rest of the duration, I kept on replaying the sight of Mt. Everest inside my mind, to relive the feeling and prolong the happiness. I wanted that moment to form a strong impression on my mind and heart…
The mountain flight, indeed has gone down into one of the most unique experiences in my life and I am so grateful for that….
So, if you are travelling to Kathmandu and not planning to trek (through Sagarmatha National Park), this mountain flight can be one of the things on your itinerary.
If you happen to experience it, do share your thoughts and feelings. Keep Travelling!