Flying into the
Flying to Lukla
Nearly every trek begins with a flight from Kathmandu to the Tenzing-Hillary airport in Lukla, a small single landing strip airport high in the Himalayan mountains. It is the sole vehicle approach to the Everest Base Camp trek, Gokyo Ri Trek, Island Peak climb, Loboche east climb and many others in the region.
If flights from Kathmandu are not possible, we may need to take the alternative route of a 5 hour journey by road to Ramechhap airport and then a shorter flight to Lukla. This will mean a very early start to the day.
Lukla rests at 2860 m elevation (9,400 ft), and its airport is a hub of trekking and shipping activity throughout the year. Nearly every trekker and piece of equipment comes through this airport, and it has received a steady increase in traffic over the years. The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is pretty short, often only 30 to 45 minutes (only 12 mins from Ramechhap). In that time you’ll see first hand why overland travel in Nepal can be so difficult as you pass over one isolated mountain valley after another, watching the terraced landscape of Nepal’s interconnected mountain ranges pass below you.
Lukla’s landing strip is short and it runs to the edge of a large cliff face, making the approach very challenging. The airstrip has a single possible approach path through the windy valley it overlooks, and only very small aircraft and helicopters are able to make the journey. Due to its position and elevation, weather conditions and visibility can change rapidly. This makes the flight a difficult one to schedule or predict. The airlines do not take chances with weather conditions, and will cancel or return a flight to Kathmandu anywhere along its journey rather than risk an unsafe landing if conditions have changed since takeoff.
Delays with Lukla flights are very common. If your flight is delayed we will reschedule you on the next possible flight. As conditions can change so rapidly this may be very soon after your scheduled departure, or as much as a few days later – it is very difficult to predict. This can be pretty frustrating, but is simply part of the journey to the Everest region. If it is possible, we recommend you add at least a day or two to the end of your trip to give yourself some flexibility in the case of any delays.
Helicopters have a little more flexibility in their approach to Lukla, and can often make the flight in weather or visibility too poor for a small plane. It is sometimes possible to shift your flight plan to a helicopter instead, though this can be expensive and is no guarantee of an on schedule departure.
Individual travellers can take advantage of cheaper helicopter seat prices. However if you are travelling as part of one of our larger groups, we will need to charter private helicopters, for only our clients to use. This is more expensive, but will ensure that our whole group will keep to schedule and no one will have the need to cancel their trip due to inland flight difficulties that are out of our control. Prices are subject to timing and weather condition.
If you decide to take this route we will make arrangements with the helicopter company. We work very closely with both airlines and helicopter companies to ensure our guests are able to make the most efficient trip whenever possible.
All the above is true of return journeys/flights back to Kathmandu, as well as flight logistics to other areas of the Himalayas including the Annapurna Regions.
Please note: PJS Challenges takes no responsibility for flight delays, cancellations or extra flight charges around the Himalaya region. PJS Challenges will organise and pay airline/helicopter companies on behalf of clients. Clients are liable for reimbursement to PJS Challenges for any additional flight charges outside of our original included transfers. Any delays, cancellation or extra flight charges claims should be directed to your trip insurance provider.