On our 3rd day in Nepal, we were scheduled to start our journey of an eight days Trek to Khumbu Region. It was about six in the morning when Steve, the owner of Shivapuri Heights Cottage drove us to Tribhuvan International Domestic Airport in Kathmandu to catch our flight to Tensing-Hillary Airport which is also popularly known as Lukla Airport.
At the domestic airport in Kathmandu, we were met by a guy who is a representative of the travel agency where we booked our trek. He gave us our Tara Air Tickets and the Passenger Service Charge Ticket costs Nepalese Rupees (NPR) 200/- per passenger. All these were part of our travel package so we don’t have to pay anything. My best friend Lew and I thought that we are the only people in this trek. We were wrong! The travel agency guy introduced us to Swasti, a Nepalese Lady who loves to trek and also a traveler herself.
The harrowing stories of getting to Lukla from Katmandu are legendary, and I was nervous getting on the plane even though the weather looked good and clear as far as the eye could see. My buddy and I rushed to get seats just behind the pilot so we could see out the windows for all the good views we expected. However, that changed almost immediately after we got airborne and in the mountains. Suddenly the skies clouded up and it began to rain, light at first, then a downpour, and visions of almost annual crashes and deaths on these flights were beginning to rush through my mind. I could just see the headlines “Another plane plows into a mountain side attempting to get to Lukla. All Trekkers a grease spot, somewhere up on the mountain side”.
Well just as we were about five minutes from where Lukla was supposed to be, it lit up and as we began to see the actual runway, it suddenly cleared up just as fast as it had begun. We touched down to a very nice 3 point landing (1,500 feet long single runway and 65 feet wide) with just a sprinkle on the windshield. This story is exactly what I had read about this trek to Lukla that the weather can change literally in minutes. Thank God we got there safely with all but a few shaky legs when we deplaned. From the moment you enter the gate as the terminal, you are trekking it seemed. The gate is a very quick “formality” before you hit the trail and begin your hike in earnest.
We arrived almost eleven in the morning and we’re met by our tour guide Chettin and a Sherpa (name slipped my mind) to carry our luggage.
Here are some photos of that trip (Landing video on my next post):