We were up early and back at Kathmandu airport ready to try to get our flight to Lukla. Getting there early and being on the first flight of the day gives you the best chance of getting there. Often flights get cancelled because of bad weather through the mountain pass. This is something we are too familiar with, last time I was here we sat in the airport for 2 whole days because it was too cloudy for the planes to fly before realising on the third day the choice was get a helicopter or don’t go – so we got a helicopter. This time we had already agreed as a group not to wait around, if the flights were cancelled we would get a helicopter straight away.
We had our luggage weighed, we were 95kg over our weight allowance!! Some people aren’t as well practiced in the art of ultralight I guess. The cost of the excess luggage was spread throughout the group, I think it was about $10 each. This is when I first thought that this trip is going to be a huge mental challenge as well as a physical one.
Being in Kathmandu airport teaches you the art of patience. Something I thought I didn’t have, but it turns out I’m quite good at waiting. The flight was scheduled for 7:30am, but it would have been a miracle had that happened. We’re on Nepalese time now.
Sitting. Waiting. Sitting. Waiting. Sitting. Waiting.
Our flight got called and we were on the bus to the plane. I was still not getting my hopes up, this was as far as we got last time but the bus turned around and took us back to the airport. Only when we eventually got on the plane at about 9am did I allow myself to think we might actually make it. Then the realisation that I was about to take one of the world’s most dangerous flights dawned on me. Please let us survive the flight!
We then sat on the runway for about half an hour. The sun was coming in through the window, I got so hot that I thought I was about to spontaneously combust! I was just falling asleep / starting to pass out when we finally took off. The flight is about half an hour and it cruises at 11,000ft (the summit of Mera Peak is almost double the altitude of the plane!). We experienced a bit of turbulence when we went through some clouds and it was a bit hairy, but we landed without incident, alive and well!
The flight is so dangerous because the plane flys through a mountain pass and it has one shot at the runway, which is short, on an uphill gradient with a stone wall at the end! The planes land and make a sharp right hand turn at the end to slow down.
We had a couple of hours to kill before lunch so we wondered the main street of Lukla. If you wanted to you could turn up at Lukla and kit yourself out with everything you need for a trek at a pretty reasonable price.
Went to the lodge and had some lunch, the weird Nepalese diet begins. Chicken with chips and vegetables and…spaghetti.
We then went on a little two hour acclimatisation walk. The good news is that it was an easy walk, my legs didn’t ache at all, the pace was very slow and very manageable. But, walking in big boots feels like I’m learning to walk again! I feel like Bambi on ice, stumbling and tripping. How I wish I had my trusty Salomons on.
We had a few hours to kill before dinner so we wandered the shops of Lukla again. There is no shortage of Ramen and Oreos here!