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What it’s like to fly from Lukla Airport

Lukla Airport

If you’re a nervous flier, you might want to look away now. But if you love an adrenaline filled take off (and landing!) then this is right up your street! When you head over to Nepal to trek Everest Base Camp or climb Mera Peak, you fly into Lukla Airport. Generally considered to be one of the most dangerous landing strips in the world, Lukla provides quite a thrill! To find out what it’s like to fly from Lukla Airport, we’ve got some insider stories to give you an idea…

What it’s like to fly from Lukla Airport

First off, a bit of background. Officially named Tenzing Hillary Airport, this spot is renowned as one of the world’s most picturesque (and difficult!) airports. Every day, flights ferry trekkers between Lukla and Kathmandu airport. The trickiness comes from a few things. For one, it’s at a very high altitude, which makes things tricky for the pilot. It’s also surrounded by glorious mountains, which makes navigation complicated. Plus, the runway is fairly short. Incredibly short, in fact. Most airports around the world are more than 10,000 feet long. The runway at Lukla is just 1,729 feet. In fact, the runway is so short that they’ve designed it to sit on a slope, to help planes slow down. 

The best way to understand just how tricky it is? By watching our video…

Pretty cool, right?! But what do our guides and trekkers think?

Orla Bowers

“Kathmandu airport demonstrates an impressive calibre of organised chaos and thankfully we had no delays in setting off on the infamous flight to Lukla. Despite fear mongering from friends and colleagues regarding it being “one of the worlds most dangerous landing strips”, it was by far the most spectacular flight I will probably ever take; ascending from Kathmandu we passed endless rice terraces, lush mountains with waterfalls cascading at all angles, and in the distance the snow-capped peaks of the Khumbu region reared their heads before we started the descent towards the matchbox sized landing strip perched against a cliff some 2860m up in the Himalayas.”

Read Orla’s trip report here

John Healy

“For me this iconic flight into the tiny airport somehow etched into the side of the foothills of the Himalaya is one of the highlights of any visit to the Everest region. For others it is a source of trepidation – whether it is the rudimentary domestic airport in Kathmandu or the sight of the quite small aircraft waiting on the apron it certainly left a few people a little anxious. Nonetheless, 45 minutes of flying later saw us drop out of the sky and safely land at the busy hub of Lukla to began the trek in earnest.  A good breakfast and a few official formalities later and we had hit the trail to Phakding.”

Read John’s trip report here

Megan White

“Looking out onto the runway, I couldn’t help but notice the size of the plane, a little 16-person plane – the smallest I’d ever seen. I put my brave face on and boarded. The views were amazing and the mountains just stunning.

My heart was in my mouth as we neared our landing strip, perched on the side of a cliff with a short runway and tiny airport. I peered out the window looking at the drop below if the pilot missed. We landed with a little bump and came to an easy stop.”

Read Megan’s trip report here

To read more about our expeditions to Everest Base Camp and Mera Peak, click the links!

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