About mountain flights over Everest

There are two options for mountain flights to fly over Everest. The most popular method is on a plane with a group. The second option is on a helicopter flight.

Taking a mountain flight
Taking a mountain flight

There are many licensed domestic airlines that do Everest flights in the morning. Helicopter flights are more specialized and need to be booked well in advance.

Most flights last 45 minutes to one hour and leave from the domestic side of Kathmandu International Airport.

The general feedback from people taking Everest flights is a positive one. You'll see an aerial version of this a panoramic Everest photograph I took.

Did you know?

These are some of the peaks & sights you will see on an Everest flight from Kathmandu:

Langtang Lirung (7234M), Shisha Pangma (8013M), Dorje- Lakpa (6966M), Phurbi-Ghyachu ( 6637M), Choba-Bhamre (5970M), Kodari (1770M), the road to Lhasa & Tibet, Gauri Shankar ( 7134M), Melungtse (7181M), Chugimago( 6297M), Numbur (6957M), Karyolung (6511M), Cho-lo( 8201M), Gyachungkang ( 7652M), Pumoki (7161M), Nuptse (7855M), Sagarmatha-Everest (8848M), Lhotse ( 8516M), Ama-Dablan (6812M), Chamlang (7319M), Makalu 8463M).

How to arrange an Everest flight

  • Everest flights only take place from Kathmandu
  • Everest flights take place daily and can be booked up until the night before
  • Flights are usually booked through travel agents and not directly from an airline
  • Your travel agent usually will arrange for a mini van to pick you up and take you to the airport.
  • If the weather is bad the flights are usually postponed until the next day or full refunds given.
  • Best views are usually achieved on the first flight. Meaning a 5am hotel pickup and 6am take off.
  • Seat numbers are not given out. Everyone does get a window seat.
  • Depending on the plane there can be up to 18 seats. 9 on each side.
  • Rear seats are generally best as your view is not blocked by the plane's wings.
  • Use the cotton wool the cabin crew gives you to place in your ears due to the loud engine noise.
  • The flights last about 45-60 mins.

Helicopter flights are similar though best arranged well in advance with a travel agent. Many come in the form of expensive package tours over a couple of days. However, 1 hour flights are available and the cost is for the entire helicopter with a limited number of people 3-4.

Photographers tips for Everest viewing flights

Airplane windows: the windows can be dirty at times and they will have reflections. Short lenses are best due to cramped conditions. A circular polarizer will help with reflections.

Everest mountain range from the plane window
Everest mountain range from the plane window

Camera speed: lighting is not the best inside the plane. Coupled with the plane's movement and with working through windows it can reduce the quality quite a bit. Shooting in a high ISO can help a lot. After that it's post processing to clear up as much as possible.

Weather: although you probably won't take off in high cloud cover it's not unusual to take off with low cloud over. The plane does go above these clouds so don't worry too much about that. A bigger concern will be if it's hazy. Do check out my Kathmandu weather page to see the best times of year to go.

You won't be taking any award winning photographs on any Everest flight on a plane. For pro photographers with cash to spare helicopters are the way to go. Then again, you could always simply trek to Everest base camp!

Cost of Everest viewing flights

Buying an Everest flight online is possible through a travel agent but can result in excessive costs.

Mount Everest Close up
Mount Everest Close up (photograph of Mount Everest Close Up)

Buying a flight ticket in person usually means high-end prices start at $250. Though with some bargaining, you can get them down to $180 and possibly even lower depending on the season.

To book online, you can check out some online trekking tours which often book Everest Flights.

Helicopter flights start at just over $400 for 1-hour flights per person with a minimum of 4. A whole helicopter costs between $3,500 and $4,000. Costs rise dramatically to over $5,000 for longer flights. There are also private custom tours available.

Technically, it is illegal to fly a non-rescue helicopter for tourism purposes to any of the trekking regions in Nepal. The helicopter scandals in Nepal have given the entire industry a bad name. Unfortunately, this continues on with many tour operators offering helicopter tours into trekking regions.

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