MT. EVEREST FLIGHT (the only flight of its kind in the world)
Booking available with Getaway ! Himalayan Eco-Trekking Pvt.Ltd..Kathmandu, Nepal.
The Himalaya is the youngest yet the highest mountain range in the world and forms a natural border for Nepal in the northern front. For Nepalese, these mountains are the sacred abode of the Gods but they also continue to captivate millions around the world due to their sheer majesty and beauty; tempting thousands to attempt at conquering its peaks. Those who actually reach the Himalaya will tell you that the experience can indeed be very humbling.
Of the fourteen peaks higher than 8000 meters, eight are located in Nepal. Although it’s undisputable that walking up and down the hills for a close up view of the Himalaya is very much worth the effort, this we have to confess that is not for everyone, primarily due to the physical challenges and time requirements. Buddha Air's Everest Experience is meant especially for those who don't want to leave Nepal without touching the sacred and majestic Himalaya.
To get the best of the weather conditions in the mountains where strong winds start blowing gathering clouds and raising snow plumes which block the view as the day progresses ahead, mountain flights take place early in the morning. Buddha Air's Everest Experience is not something you want to miss; regardless of how late your previous night was or how cold it is outside, it’s an experience beyond your imagination.
Upon receiving the green signal from the air traffic controller, the commander and co-pilot of the Beech craft 1900D, the safest plane operating in the domestic sector, start the engines to take you on the ride of your life. The flight heads north east upon take off and soon after the emerald green or golden paddy fields below, depending on the time of the year, start giving way to green sub alpine forests.
Less than ten minutes after being airborne, one gets the first glimpse of the snowy white peaks on the far left while below the hill slopes acquire a rocky rugged and barren look, like empty landscapes from another world. Within the next few minutes one is already flying above the snowy outlines of the greater Himalaya at an altitude of 25000 feet above the ground.
The first ones to come to view are the peaks straight north of Kathmandu Valley, starting with the 8013m high Shisha Pangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world, which is actually located in Tibet, a few kilometers from the border. Then comes a series of several smaller peaks beginning with Dorje Lakpa (6966m) which looks like the figure eight and is located on the eastern edge of Langtang National Park, followed by Phurbi Ghyachu (6637m) on its right, the 5970m Choba Bhamare which remains unconquered, Gauri Shankar (7134m) named after Lord Shiva and his consort, Melungtse (7181m) all part of the Rolwaling range.
For most distinguishing one peak from another doesn't come easy. But Everest is something else. Known simply as Peak XV until 1856, the Great Trigonometric Survey of India established the first published the height of Everest. As Nepal and Tibet were both closed to foreigners the British Surveyor General of India at that time named it Everest after Sir George Everest who measured its height and pinpointed its location. The local names of the world’s highest peak though pay tribute to her majesty; the Nepali name Sagarmatha means "mother of the skies" while the Tibetan name Chomolongma means 'mother of the universe". In 1999 Everest was found to have grown by at least six inches since the last survey bringing its total height to 8850m possibly due to the same plate tectonic movements that raised the Himalaya from the bed of the Tethys Sea.
Jutting up behind Lhotse (8516m) and Nuptse (7855m), Everest is as distinct as is it should be for a mountain of this status. Even from a distance of 5 nautical miles, one can clearly see why thousands are obsessed with the thought of conquering it. While most mountaineers still use the southeast ridge on the Nepal side considered to be technically easier to reach the summit, the northeast ridge which takes off from Tibet is also increasingly becoming popular.
Those who trek up to the Everest Base Camp located at height of 5380m may proudly state that they have been there, but viewing the Himalaya from onboard a mountain flight is an unforgettable experience altogether. What would on the ground take days of travel can easily viewed in a matter of minutes and from within the safety and comfort of the Beech craft 1900D.
One of the most distinct features perhaps is the receding snowlines and the glaciers, proof of climate change and global warming. As the flight begins to head back to Kathmandu, one cannot help but contemplate that we have only one earth and we must all work towards preserving its natural beauty for our children.
About mountain flights over Everest
There are two options for mountain flights to fly over Everest. The most popular method is on a plane with a group. The second option is on a helicopter flight.
There are many licensed domestic airlines that carry out Everest flights in the morning. Helicopter flights are more specialized and need to be booked well in advance.
Most flights last 45 minutes to one hour and leave from the domestic side of Kathmandu International Airport.
Did you know?
These are some of the peaks & sights you will see on an Everest flight from Kathmandu:
Langtang Lirung (7234M), Shisha Pangma (8013M), Dorje- Lakpa (6966M), Phurbi-Ghyachu ( 6637M), Choba-Bhamre (5970M), Kodari (1770M), the road to Lhasa & Tibet, Gauri Shankar ( 7134M), Melungtse (7181M), Chugimago( 6297M), Numbur (6957M), Karyolung (6511M), Cho-lo( 8201M), Gyachungkang ( 7652M), Pumoki (7161M), Nuptse (7855M), Sagarmatha-Everest (8848M), Lhotse ( 8516M), Ama-Dablan (6812M), Chamlang (7319M), Makalu 8463M).
The general feedback from people taking Everest flights is a positive one.
How to arrange an Everest flight
Everest flights take place daily and can be booked up until the night before. Flights are usually booked through travel agents like Getaway! Himalayan Eco-Trekking Pvt. Ltd. and not directly from an airline. We will arrange for a minivan to pick you up and take you to the airport. If the weather is bad the flights are usually postponed until the next day or full refunds given. Best views are usually achieved on the first flight. Meaning a 5am hotel pickup and 6am take off. Seat numbers are not given out. Everyone does get a window seat. Depending on the plane there can be up to 18 seats, 9 on each side. Rear seats are generally best as your view is not blocked by the plane’s wings.
Use the cotton wool the cabin crew gives you to place in your ears due to the loud engine noise. The flights last about 45-60 mins. Helicopter flights are similar though best arranged well in advance with a travel agent. Many come in the form of expensive package tours over a couple of days. However 1 hour flights are available and the cost is for the entire helicopter with a limited number of people 3-4.
Photographers tips for Everest viewing flights
Airplane windows: Windows can be dirty at times and they will have reflections. Short lenses are best due to cramped conditions. A circular polarizer will help with reflections.
Camera speed: Lighting is not the best inside the plane. Coupled with the plane's movement and with working through windows, it can reduce the quality quite a bit. Shooting in a high ISO can help a lot. After that it's post processing to clear up as much as possible.
Weather: Although you probably won't take off in high cloud cover, it's not unusual to take off with low cloud over. The plane does go above these clouds so don't worry too much about that. A bigger concern will be if it's hazy. Do check out the Kathmandu weather page to see the best times of year to go.
You won't be taking any award winning photographs on any Everest flight on a plane. For pro photographers with cash to spare helicopters is the way to go. Then again, you could always simply trek to Everest base camp!
Cost of Everest viewing flights
Buying an Everest flight online is possible through a travel agent but can result in excessive costs.
Buying a flight ticket in person usually means high end prices start at $185 and possibly even lower depending on the season.
Helicopter flights start at just over $2200 for 1 hour flights. Costs rise dramatically to over $5,000 for longer flights.