At 5 in the morning we were sitting outside our hotel waiting for the cap to pick us up. Even Thamel is quite peaceful at that time, eventually I saw Ram walking down the street, Ram is one of the Directors of Nepal Social Treks & Expeditions, and him and Basu have become good friends.
Ram wasn’t doing this just because we were friends though, as part of his job he often has to pick up groups of people from the airport and take them on to their hotel. So he arrived and we got a cab to the airport. At the airport we met Nima, my Sherpa guide who comes from the Everest region (and therefore knew pretty much everyone we met on the way).
We said goodbye to Ram, so he could go back to bed and headed into the chaos of the airport; well almost; the airport wasn’t actually open yet and there were a large number of people like us who were waiting for their flights to Lukla which were supposed to leave at 6.30.
We followed Nima through security and check-in barely knowing what was going on and were finally ushered though some doors into the departure lounge from where we were bused to the twin engine, 16 seater plane that would take us to Lukla (Lukla is the closest airport, only 6 days walk from the Everest base camp), given that there are so many people heading to the Everest region each year, I thought that it was odd they used such small planes.
The flight itself was uneventful, Nigel dosed most of the way and clouds stopped me from seeing too much of the scenery. Once we got into the Himalaya properly it was fun watching the peaks sliding by on each side of the plane.
Lukla has to be the best airport in the world, if you can call it an airport. The run is so small they have built it on slope so any planes coming in to land have to go up the slope to help them slow down and the planes taking off use gravity to help gain momentum. There is no arrivals terminal, everyone is just ushered out of a gate and into the street and in the evening once the airport has closed you can watch the armed guards taking goats out for a walk (i’m not sure if the goats are there for added security or to keep the grass short).
Food of the stay: There is a German bakery just outside Lukla airport which apparently does great apple pie, but we didn’t have time to try it.
Rosko recommends: Sita Airlines (pronounced with a sh at the beginning) just for the name. Oh and Nepal Social Treks etc. They are great guys and work really hard.