Flying to see Mt Everest and the Himalayas
There are many reviews already here on Virtual Tourist about seeing Mt Everest from the air, specially for those who have no strength nor time to trek the mountains. I decided to do this after reading reviews from my VT friend Goutam Mitra. I used the same travel agent that Goutam used who was connected with the SOS Orphanage Charity, and they arranged for my flight on the day that I selected. In my review of the flight, it was from $170 upwards, but my fee was already included in the customized travel package for me which included my own car, driver and guide in the days I stayed in Nepal. At boarding time, we boarded a bus to the small plane and there were probably about 15 of us from different countries.
My airline was Air Buddha which was unfortunately involved in a crash in 2011: "Buddha Air Flight 103 was a sightseeing flight which crashed at Kotdada Hill, Nepal, on 25 September 2011. All 19 passengers and crew on board died. The aircraft involved, a Beechcraft 1900D, was operating a Buddha Air scenic flight to Mount Everest out of Tribhuwan International Airport, Kathmandu. It crashed while attempting to land in bad weather."
In all flight tours, there is always that danger of a crash but during my flight in July, the weather looked "okay", a bit cloudy in Kathmandu but no rain. The plane was small and each seat had a window and I think I was assigned 4D which was directly over the wing, so I was thinking I might have an obstructed view. But later on, as you can see, I did get nice pictures by moving to my co-passengers' window. Most were nice and would let me take pics, haha
As mentioned in other reviews, they do take you to the pilot for picture-taking and also the pilots points out where Mt Everest is - we were taken TWICE to the pilot - two rounds :) The stewardesses were very professional and will call you when it is your turn to see the pilots.
Despite the cloudy weather in Kathmandi, it was nice and clear when we saw the views of the Himalayas. So, I got really good pictures, using my zoom camera :) Would I recommend this flight despite the history of an air crash? Yes, as long as the weather is good :)
There is also a helicopter ride that goes and lands in base camp which I also considered but this trip costs about $2500 up (maybe $1800 when "on-sale") The helicopter ride covers more hours, but very costly and helicopters scare me more though, haha :)
- Adventure Travel
- National/State Park
CLIMB GOKYO PEAK
If you stay at Gokyo get up at 4 am, take a flashlight and climb Gokyo Peak. The earlier, the better as if you leave it too late the views of Everest may be obscured by clouds. The climb is tough at this altitude and it may take up to two hours but once you are there you will be rewarded with wonderful views of Everest and surrounding mountains. At the very top there are two rocks to stand on for taking excellent photographs. The settlement of Gokyo by the lake will appear to be very small. Take it easy going down the hill to avoid knee problems. When you have had enough experience trekking you will find it is easier or safer to go uphill than downhill.(IMO)
- Mountain Climbing
NAMCHE BAZAAR MARKET
Try arrange your trek so that you will be in Namche Bazaar on a Saturday as the weekly market is held then. Sherpas and locals travel great distances to buy and sell their goods. The place will be crowded and you will be able to take some wonderful photographs. Try not to take photographs of the people at close range, ask first as it would be impolite to shove a camera in front of their face
REST DAYS AT NAMCHE BAZAAR
There are many things to do here while you are acclimatising hike to Kumjung/Khunde,(you can catch a view of Everest from nearby), visit the Sagamartha Park Visitors Centre or the museums. There is one dedicated to Sherpas and another one dealing with medicinal plants and herbs. There is also the monastery to visit as well as stocking up with reading material from the many second hand book shops. Also stock up on your supplies as further up the trail prices will increase dramatically.
- Hiking and Walking
FOLLOW MY FOOTSTEPS-28 day Jiri-Gokyo-Everest&Jiri
This is just a rough itinerary for anyone who wants to trek to Gokyo, Everest Base Camp and back to Jiri. Many trekkers fly to Lukla and miss the beautiful trail between Jiri and Lukla area, which is much quieter due to the fewer trekkers. I always advise people to walk in and out, and it is surprising how quickly you can walk out once you are fit. There are buses from Kathmandu to Jiri where you will start your trek.
DAY 1 Jiri to Bhandar
DAY 2 Bhandar to Kenja
DAY 3 Kenja to Junbesi Probably the toughest day of the trek as you cross Lamjura
DAY 4 Rest day at Junbesi, beautiful spot, explore the valley
NOTE----- the first 3 days are rather tough so the second time i trekked Everest i took 4 days to reach Junbesi via Shivalaya, Bhandar, Sete, Junbesi
DAY 5 Junbesi to Nhuntala
DAY 6 Nuntala to Khari Khola
DAY 7 Khari Khola to Pakding --another of my favorite villages by the river.
DAY 8 Pakding to Namche Bazaar -- trial is busier now with trekkers who flew in to Lukla
Day 9 Namche Bazaar--rest day to aclimatise
DAY 10 Namche Bazaar-- rest day but take a trek up to Khunde or Khumjing
DAY 11 Namche Bazaar to Phortse Bridge
DAY 12 Phortse Bridge to Dole
DAY 13 Dole to Machermo
DAY 14 Machermo to Gokyo
DAY 15 Get up early and climb Gokyo Ri for sunrise, view Everest. In the afternoon explore the valley to the north and view the glacier
DAY 16 Cross the valley and trek to Pangboche.
DAY 17 Pangboche to Dingboche
DAY 18 Dingboche to Chakung, then explore further along the Chakiung Valley, great views of Ama Dablam (optional, could stop at Pheriche)
DAY 19 Chakung to Lobuje
DAY 20 Lobuje towards EBC and return or stay at Gorak Shep and visit EBC the following day
DAY 21 Lobuje to Pangboche
DAY 23 Pangboche to Tengboche and relax for most of the day in this beautiful village
Day 24 Tengboche to Namche Bazaar
DAY 25 Namche Bazaar to Surke
DAY 26 Surke to Junbesi
DAY 27 Junbesi to Bhandar
DAY 28 Bhandar to Jiri
NOTE---it may take 5 days to trek out, but we were extremely fit and trekked all day
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
From Namche Bazaar it is worth a day hike up yo Khumjung-Khunde area while you acclimatise. The walls by the village paths are very neatly made from stone as well as the houses. You can also visit the medical center that Sir Edmund Hillary funded and stayed at for several years. The compounds that you see are for their animals during the winter
The BIG one - Sagarmatha, Qomolangma or Mt.Everest
I had planned to go on the Everest Trek, all the way via Kala Pattar to the Everest Base Camp......but the change of temperatures from the Indian Thar desrt to Kathmandu during monsoon gave me a bad cold with fever. So I had to cancel my trekking dream, before I could start it.... But therefore I had two other opportunities to the one and only Mt.Everest.
My first view on this magnificent mountain was taken on my return flight from Bhutan. The clouds cover all the mountainrange with big names like Lhotse, Makalu and Choy Oyu - except one peak, the peak of the highest mountain of this planet, Mt.Everest.
This view is of course not what you can call watching by "fair means".
But my second possibility from Tingri/Tibet show a "fair" view on the mountain, called Qomolangma by Tibetans and Sagarmata by the Nepali people. We stood for ours in Tingri watching the Mt. Everest hiding behind clouds (hours, because the road was closed due to rebuilding anyway). Even if the was no perfect view on it, the scene of this montain range is incredibly fascinating!
Later, shortly behind Tingri Monsieur Forclaz from Switzerland took this picture and did not forget to send it to me. Mr. Forclaz deserves all the credit for capturing this beautiful moment!
If you have two days to spare it is worth taking a side trip from Dingboche to Chukhung and stay in a lodge there. Get up early next day and trek further up the valley for wonderful views of Ama Dablam (Ama Dablam means mother's necklace as the mountain and ridges supposed to be similar to a mother cradling her baby!). Just follow the trail as far as you can, it will become harder to follow the further you go, and you will be unlikely to meet anyone else but a hike that may take your breath away with great photographic opportunities
- Hiking and Walking
And here it comes!!
Oh my God! This is what is all about. Chomolungma, Sagarmatha, Qomolungma or Mt. Everest, whatever you want to call it. First climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Norgay back in 1953, just because it was there.
Words is what I don´t have to describe it. I´m just so lucky to be there, at least once, from a plane. Now I hope to come back to do the base camp trekking. Perhaps someday...
- Mountain Climbing
YETI'S SKULL and HAND
I just read that the yeti's skull and hand on display are replicas of the stolen ones from 1991, but you can still go and see them. Actually i may have been about the last person to see the real skull or shall we say the original yeti skull before it was stolen. i stayed one night in Pangboche so i was looking forward to going to the monastery to see the skull. the custodian of the monastery lived in a up and down building next to the monastery and when i requested to see the skull she squatted on the ground and relieved herself, before asking for a few rupees to open the monastery. I entered the monastery to see some beautiful coloured displays but casting my eyes around i failed to see the skull, but the problem was solved by producing a few more rupees and she produced a glass case from a cabinet with the skull and hand inside. The next morning when we woke at the lodge we were informed that the skull had been stolen so for those of you who have to make do with the replica here is the original. Probably this would have been sometime in April 1991 if i am not mistaken. Please visit the replicas, the monastery is interesting anyway.
CAMERA READY-----FIRST VIEW OF EVEREST
Time to get your camera out as you catch your first glimpse of Everest, not much more than a distant spec. After you leave Junbesi on day 4 or 5 of the trek you will cross the valley and climb up the hill for an hour or two then Mount Everest will be seen in the distance. There will be a sign indicating this, but probably a different sign than the one in the photograph as this was taken years ago. However it is still a breathtaking view, and i suspect a few more lodges.
Mountain view flight - First step
Something you can't miss. It was my first time in Nepal, and perhaps certainly the last. How could I skip a view to this natural monument? Not only for Nepal, but for the World.
There are several agencies that arranges those flights. In my case it was Yeti Airlines, on Friday May 13rd. Are you supersticious? Well, I lived to tell the story.
The picture was taken in the bus heading to the plane at Kathmandu Airport. Be ready to be checked, and checked, and touched, and checked several times before departure.
Sir Edmund Hillary & Tenzig Norgay
In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and his sherpa, Tenzig Norgay became the first men who successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest, thus creating history. They did it using the South Col route from Nepal passing through the dangerous Khumbul Icefall. Mount Everest can also be climbed from the northern route from Tibet, but it is more difficult this way.
- Adventure Travel
- Mountain Climbing
FLY IN OR TREK FROM JIRI
There are many questions on the forum about whether to fly from Kathmandu to Lukla or trek in from Jiri, and i always advise to trek in from Jiri as the trail is less crowded and you pass through some amazing scenery as you climb mountain passes, cross rivers, stay at lodges in beautiful villages. But of course this depends on how much time one has, and if you only have two weeks you will have no choice to fly in and out. If you have a month to spare then i definitely advise you to walk in and walk out again, but it will take the best part of a month, perhaps 3 weeks if you decide to fly out of Lukla on the way back.
If trekking from Jiri the trail will by-pass Lukla, and you would have missed nothing as it is just a village where people wait for their flight or spend a night as soon as they arrive from the capital. Often the guest houses can be full during bad weather as the planes will not fly then.
During my first two Everest treks the airport was just a grassy runway and is still rated as one of the most dangerous airports in the world with a few plane wrecks still lying around the area. It is called Tenzing -Hillary Airport, after the first conquerors of the world's greatest mountain, and now the airstrip is paved.
When landing at the airport the plane will reach the cliff and land uphill, but when departing the plane will take off as it reaches the cliff's edge, and there is no stopping for emergency. Back in '89 each individual passenger and his luggage were weighed and often the plane had spare seats due to the weight capacity.
Since 1973 there have been 10 plane or helicopter crashes-----yet another reason to trek in from Jiri!!!
Phakding is a pretty village to spend a night, it's next to a river. The guest house by the river was in an excellent location and one of the places i enjoyed the most. Don't bother diverting from the path to visit Lukla as it's not worth it!
- Hiking and Walking