Lukla Airport and how to fly out
It’s a bevy of frenzy even if you arrive at Lukla airport well before the first flight. Usually an hour after day break.
Be prepared for cramped conditions at the airport, no signs and a mass of people queuing for unknown things.
Everyone from summit climbers, scientific expeditions, expensive tours, base camp trekkers, locals, to the odd goat are all on the same level at this airport. Everyone wants to get out!
Best practice to ensure a ticket from Lukla Airport
1 ) Book well in advance. As in, before you start your trek from Lukla.
2 ) Don’t specify a return date! You don’t have to (yet).
3 ) While on the return leg of your trek call your booking agent in Lukla (or wherever you booked your return ticket) from Namchee, or closer, a day before you want to leave. If you’ve been reading from the start of the Everest Base Camp trek, you’ll have noticed I mentioned making friends with a booking agent before leaving Lukla on the trek!
4 ) Arrive early, and don’t panic at the crowds.
5 ) There’s a row of stands with airline stalls in the main terminal area, go there and try to locate your airline. If you can’t see it ask an empty desk, the name may have changed. (fun eh!)
6 ) If the desk is empty, wait. They usually don’t open until it’s close to take off time.
7 ) Get your bags weighed, and put your knives and sharp stuff inside them, check them in. Keep your valuables on your body.
8 ) Keep a note of the locals who’ve just checked in. Stand near them and don’t move away.
9 ) Wait.
10 ) Upon seeing the locals run like crazy you might have heard a little voice mutter something about your flight number. Don’t panic, but follow them through to security.
11 ) Security here is a strange affair of men to the right, women to the left. Unless everything is running very late. In which case gender goes to bits.
12 ) If bored the security people will annoy you with stupid things like “why are you carrying a bottle of water?” Meanwhile next to you five locals pull a gallon drum through. If your guide is there, ask him to step in and translate. (in other words your guide should be politely telling the security person that you will not be parting with your water bottle nor any money to get it through)
13 ) Security dealt with you can now walk into the waiting area to … wait. Maybe for 10 minutes, maybe 2 hours. This is where your own water comes in handy as all you can find inside are overpriced cups of tea.
(regular readers might find the end of the video amusing. I climbed a wall to take this video, Narayan starts shouting at me as our own plane has just been called for boarding. Finally I jump down from the wall! RSS/Email subscribers click here to view)
How to get on a plane at Lukla Airport
1 ) As above, wait for someone to whisper the plane number and then rush out the door in a mad crush. Follow the soldiers directions around the edge of the airfield to avoid various bits of propeller running into you.
2 ) At some stage someone will ask for your ticket as you all hurdle towards a plane, let them look at it. Wrong plane? No problem, just go back. Right plane, continue pushing to the front like the old Nepalese ladies with sharp elbows.
3 ) If you are nervous about flying don’t look at the plane: the goats being loaded off, nor the heavy bags of rice being thrown in under your seat. Nor perhaps the maintenance crew trying to get the propeller moving outside.
4 ) If you’d like to get one last look at snow-capped mountains fight for a seat on the right. Beware of monks with big cameras as they are worse than the old ladies for sharp vicious elbow prodding to get these seats. Monks up here also have the additional battle skill of strong body odor.
What is the flight from Lukla to Kathmandu like?
Sit back and relax. Take the boiled sweet and cotton wool the hostess gives you. Put the cotton wool in your ears as you will need it!
As you can hear from the video the noise from the planes two prop engines blew out my microphone. So yes, it’s very loud, and very exciting!
Ignore the cockpit instruments as the cockpit door bangs open and various alarms are set off along with lots of flashing red lights.
Be prepared for even more loudness as the plane maneuvers into take off position. Then join in the occasional gasp for air as the plane roars to a scream and blasts forward along one of the world’s shortest runways over a cliff.
Looking out the window is advised only if you have no fear. Four seconds later and the ground falls out under you and the little plane groans like a wooden box under the strain.
And, everyone shouts in joy at making it over “the edge”.
You are airborne, well done for not wetting yourself. Now enjoy the view!
(the video is taken inside the plane looking into the cockpit. The sound is terrible as the sheer volume of the engines broke my microphone! RSS/Email subscribers click here to view)
What to expect when you arrive at Kathmandu domestic airport
The plane lands on the runway, and you get off right there. It’s cold and windy. A mini bus “should” be waiting for you. Get on, and get off when everyone else does.
Then wait for your bags to arrive. Again, 10 minutes to 1 hour is normal. And, keep an eye out all the time. There’s no luggage checking here. Just lots of pushing.
How to get a taxi from Kathmandu airport to Kathmandu city
There are prepaid taxi’s available and a stand to buy said ticket. It’s more expensive here than bargaining for one by about 25 – 50%. That said it’s still under USD$10.
If you are on a budget, or like bargaining, avoid all plea’s to take a pre paid taxi or even a parking lot taxi. Just keep walking towards the exit until the last two taxi men are left hanging on. Then start the bargaining process. Fix a price before you get in.
Okay you made it to your hotel, now what?
Hope they have hot water. If they don’t, ask them to boil some for you. Trust me, you smell bad right now.
Enjoy the wash and go out to celebrate your great trek with a well deserved big slap up meal!!
- Prices, and the heavy crowds mentioned above change depending on seasons, fuel prices, and other unknown elements that make Nepal such a unique and great place.
- Please remember to back up all your great photos. I’ve written an extensive review of online back up solutions.
- If you’ve only just come across this article, it’s one of a series that covers the entire Everest Base Camp Trek.
- I’ll have another big trekking article up in a few weeks to help with planning and round things up … stay tuned!
A full index of the Everest Base Camp Trek in Winter:
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 1: Arrival
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 1: The start
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 2: First glimpse of Everest
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 3: Acclimatization
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 4 – Tengboche
- Everest Base Camp Trek day 5: the worst day
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 6: Lobuche
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 7: climbing Kala Patthar photos of Everest
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 8 Part 1: Snowed in!
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 8 part II: Trekking to Base Camp
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 8 part III: Retreating
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 9 part 1: Himalayan Tahr
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 9 part II: the locals
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 10: Oxygen highs
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 11: Trekking at night
- Everest Base Camp Trek Day 12: flying out from Lukla Airport
The Holi Festival in Nepal … A festival of color and fun that’s endangered by grouchy tourists and the Nepalese themselves
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