When I first visited Nepal, it was for a long weekend break in Kathmandu from Delhi. Knowing that I wouldn’t have enough time or the fitness to trek to anywhere near base camp and beyond, I just couldn’t leave this Himalayan country without seeing the tallest mountain in the world! The mighty Mount Everest.
An Everest experience flight is the perfect option for those that are on time constraints in Nepal or would like to see the mountain range in it’s entirety from above before/after their long trekking adventure begins.
Seeing the Himalayas from the air was spectacular and captivating, there’s something about these forces of nature that is almost too awesome to behold. They’re like a siren to many and call you in, some never make it out.
Luckily for me, it was a crystal clear sky kind of day. Not a single cloud in the air. So, we jetted off to do our round trip of the mountains and meet the big guy. This is what it’s like to take an Everest experience flight from Kathmandu.
Which airline to choose?
The first and foremost thing that popped into my head when I was thinking of booking a flight ticket to the mountains was the amount of accidents that are reported in Nepal.
I was frantically searching for the stats to make sure that I wasn’t heading into a disaster zone. But, when searching, I didn’t find much and it’s actually the flights landing in to Lukla (for Everest base camp) that have the most issues as it’s a steep curve in a mountain range.
Any reputable airline will not fly over the mountains when it’s bad weather here. In any mountain country, the weather can change at any moment and those high peaks can easily get shrouded in cloud in a matter of minutes. The airlines will not fly in bad weather and so you will be told on the day if the flight is going to head out. If it’s bad weather, you will be told to come back the next day or refunded your money.
By far the safest airline that I found from reviews from other travellers was Buddha Air. This was closely followed by Yeti Airlines. Most offer the same service which is an hour’s flight experience over the mountains. But, Buddha claim to go slightly closer to the mountains than most and you’re guaranteed a window seat so I decided to pick them.
What’s the cost?
The Everest experience flight is not cheap, so if you’re on a budget you may want to give it a miss! In 2017, it was $190 USD (£140) by booking directly online via the Buddha Air website. This is the price for foreign nationals but if you’re Nepali or Indian you will be paying half that price around $80/90.
I’m used to tourist attractions having a different price tag for foreigners which is fair enough. But, in Nepal even buses and hotels have different price tags for Nepal and Indian nationals! Crazy.
I’m sure that you may get a different or cheaper price if you book directly through a travel agent who will take you through each airline, what service they provide and the cost.
I waited until the day before I knew it was going to be a clear morning on the weather forecast and booked online. This way, I knew I was guaranteed for blue skies or at least the odds would be better in my favour than just booking it randomly!
If you’re worried about it being booked up, don’t be. There are around 6/7 flights which go daily and they will put more planes on if people want to fly. When I was waiting in the airport, there were so many mountain flights taking off in the morning, I got a bit confused as to which one mine was.
Where does it fly from?
All the mountain flights take off at around 6am in the morning time to try and beat the cloud cover. They will all fly from the Tribhuvan International Airport which is located on the East side of the city. You will need to make sure you have a taxi transfer booked to get you there on time.
It’s good to note that this airport is not a 24 hour type of place. When I arrived in my taxi around 5.30am, there was a MASSIVE queue of backpackers waiting to get inside the airport. All had their big bags with trekking gear, boots, pick axes and roll mats tied to their bags! We all had to wait in this tiny little area by the doors to get inside.
This works just like a normal airport so before you enter you will need to scan your bags. Try not to let your little bag for your flight get crushed by the big backpacks being loaded in to the scanner.
Like any airline you will need to check into your mountain flight. So I headed to the Buddha Air counter in the airport and wait in the ‘queue’. When I arrived there was no one checking people in and so I had to wait in a pretty weird line for a while before the staff arrived for their shift.
You need to bring your print out of your booking confirmation with you for check in. I’m sure that your phone confirmation barcode will work just as well. I brought my passport but I don’t think its necessary.
You won’t be assigned a seat online so if you’re after a certain seat, I would make sure you ask the counter to assign you. By far the best seat that you can get is the seat right at the back as you won’t have a big plane wing blocking your view of the mountains!
Knowing which flight is yours
As there are many different airlines which fly to the mountains each morning, you will need to know what flight is your one when boarding.
It’s a small waiting area in the domestic departure lounge but you will find that all the flights which are heading out to Lukla fly first and the airport clears out quite quickly.
Your flight ticket should have a number assigned to it and this is the one to look out for on the TV screens. You will hear ‘mountain flight’ being called and the number.
Although I was told my flight was heading out at 6am, it was actually almost 7am before I took to the skies. I think it goes in order of who booked first, but I can’t be sure.
When we were called, we all piled onto an airport transfer bus and headed out to our plane. I was a little skeptical as I had head reports of it being a tiny little tin can. But, the plane that I flew on was quite spacious. It was almost like a normal domestic plane with two seats either side.
But, don’t worry, no one will sit by you on the other seat as it’s a guaranteed window seat!
You’re given a little booklet which has the whole mountain range on there so you can try and match it up to what you’re seeing outside. The hostesses are also happy to tell you the names of the mountains and of course, point out Everest!
Each passenger will be asked to come up to the cockpit to have a look at an unaltered view of the mountain range. The pilot will point out where Mount Everest is. I would make sure you bring your camera and snap like mad as you only get a few minutes!
What an awesome job!
Waiting to head into the cockpit (and waiting for photographers to stop snapping lol)
Meeting Mount Everest
From my seat, I was struggling to match up which mountain peak was Mount Everest. Obviously, I knew it was the tallest one but there are just so many, I couldn’t work it out. Then, I was asked to make my way into the cockpit and the pilot explained to me which one was Everest.
Then, I finally saw it! The legendary Mount Everest. Just looking at the size of it and the jagged mountain range surrounding it, makes you wonder about the effort it must take to try and climb it. So many people have tried, some failed and some never come back. It’s unfathomable. But, I can also see why it draws you in. For climbers, it’s the ultimate challenge. It takes months, even years of preparation and training. It’s an incredible feeling seeing it.
The Everest experience
It was a spectacular flight and I was so happy I decided to do it in the end. I would say that it was well worth the money. When else can you say that you’ve seen the tallest mountain in the entire world!?
Of course, this price is also a fraction of what you would pay to trek to Everest Base Camp or indeed try and attempt Everest! Plus, if you have no time or hope of trekking like me, this is definitely the way to go 😛 .
As a little added touch, you even get a souvenir certificate to say that you’ve seen it. A new super tourist level for me was unlocked: Ultimate! 😉
P.S. forgive the tragic socks and sandals look, my tootsies were freezing in the air!
Like it? Pin it!
Did you like this post or have any feedback? Please let me know in the comments section below! Or, if you have any further questions, feel free to ask. Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Bloglovin’!