Flying to Lukla
We woke up bright and early to catch our 6:15am flight to Lukla from Kathmandu. After three days at the fantastic Hotel Tibet International hotel, taking day trips to dirty, crazy, smoggy Thamel to buy gear, we were excited and ready to go to Lukla and start our hike. We were nervous about flying into the world’s most dangerous airport but hopped on the plane anyway.
Backpacks on, we arrive at the Kathmandu domestic airport early. The airport staff were still arriving as lines began to form outside check in door. Allowed in, we check in to our flight, got tickets and waited for the a-ok weather report out of Lukla. There isn’t radar on the planes and pilots receive weather reports via phone from the airport in Lukla. Then, it’s a mad dash to see how many round trips they can do before the weather turns. There were lots of trekking groups in matching down-puffs and gear, making for an intimidating sight for us lonely guide-less, porter-less backpackers. The weather announcement is made over loudspeakers “good”, so we board the mini airplane on Tara Air. The plane is tiny, one column of seats on the left and one column on right. We could view the cockpit and captains from our seats.
Take off flying above Kathmandu in our small propeller plane, we were excited to be out of the Kathmandu smog. The flight was only 25 minutes, passing terraced hillsides, farmlands and finally giant snowy peaks.
The ground seemed to rise to meet our plane although our plane hadn’t changed elevations since leaving Kathmandu. We were in the land of the big mountains now. A few bumps but nothing crazy, we spot the Lukla runway through the cockpit and before we know it smack down onto the runway. We arrived safe and sound in Lukla.
Lukla is a small town with only a few lodges. Not knowing much, we pick a lodge overlooking the airstrip and made ourselves at home in a little box of a room with two twin beds. 300 rupee per person = 3$ per person. Our thought was to stay one night in Lukla to acclimatize at 9,100ft. It was only 8:30am. What to do with ourselves all day.
The lodge is a family owned business with Dad running the Lodge and an Everest emergency helicopter business. We felt we were in good hands. The daughter was young, maybe 14, and did the majority of the cooking while the younger brother played waiter. Dad mentioned his other daughter was in Texas getting her masters degree. A little two month old puppy rounded out the family.
After settling in, we ordered “lunch” including potato pancakes and jam. It was very tasty. As the sun came out, we took cat snaps in the front lawn making small talk with owner and fellow guests throughout the day.
Later on in the day we walked the parameter of Lukla, spotting shops, bakeries and homes before heading back to our homey lodge. We ate an early dinner of potatoes and veggies before calling it a night. It was an unsettled first night sleep in the Khumbu.