AsiaNepalLukla

Everest Base Camp Trek - Day 1 Take 2 (Kathmandu - Lukla - Phakding)

Lukla Travel Blog

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Plane taking off from Lukla.

Headed back out to Tribuhvan Airport again at 5AM.  Another painfully early morning, but slept better than the night before thankfully.  Back through the crazy, odd Nepali security apparatus and quickly headed back out to the exact same Dornier 228 plane from yesterday's last two attempts to leave Kathmandu.  Finally we rolled down the runway and were on our way to Lukla.

Once above the haze, the views of the high Himalayas from the left side of the plane were amazing.  The flight itself may have been one of the craziest things I've ever done.  We crossed ridges at what seemed like treetop height.  The mountains were so close it felt like I could reach out the window and touch them.

Looking towards the mountains from the trail.
  And then there was the landing - Holy ApeS&^$.

There are no cockpit doors on these small planes so I could look up through the front of the plane and out the cockpit window in front of me.  I had been looking out the side window when I heard the landing gear lowered and a short time later I looked up to see what I could see out the front window.  All I saw was the runway straight ahead in my full field of vision and then - BANG - we were landing and stopping - FAST...

Why the sudden stop on landing.  Well for one thing Lukla's runway is short - really short.  At only 450m (1476 ft) it is one of the shortest runways used for commercial service.  Oh and one other thing - from one end of the runway to the other there is a 60m (200 ft) elevation difference for an average 12% slope of the runway.

Stupa in Sano Gamila
  Of course that helps the planes stop before they hit the mountain wall at the far end of the runway.  If you don't stop by then the mountain will surely stop the plane for you.  And of course on the way out, the downhill slope helps you gain speed to takeoff before the 700m (2300 ft) dropoff at that end of the runway down into the river valley below.

Well we survived, gathered our gear and were off to meet our porters, assistant guides and a quick stop for breakfast at a lodge before starting to trek.  Now Lukla is at 2800m (9186 ft) so we were starting off much higher than what I started out at on the Annapurna Circuit.  As we left Lukla our first bit of trekking took us down from Lukla into the Dudh Kosi valley.  Our ultimate destination was Phakding at 2650m (8695 ft) about 3 hours walk away from Lukla.

Porters carrying a heavy load.
  The scenery was amazing.  The Sherpa villages here seemed much better taken care of than those on the Annapurna Circuit.  Later learned that part of that reason is that the Sherpas as a whole are much better off than other groups in other areas of Nepal.

Upon reaching Phakding we had lunch at our lodge (Snowland Lodge) right at the entrance to town.  After lunch Scott and I took a short walk across the river to Sano Gamila.  Some views on this side of the river back to Phakding and also could look down and see down to a mini-hydroelectric project that was being constructed in the valley below (and possibly where the porter carrying the large pipe was going to that we saw earlier.  Returned to the lodge and napped briefly before dinner (esp. necessary after the last two early mornings).  Before dinner we also played some games of what would be our status quo game for the trek - "shithead".

After dinner we watched "Into Thin Air" about the ill-fated Everest expedition in 1996 chronicled by Jon Krakauer.  Not sure the best movie to be watching heading up to base camp, but oh well.  From there it was off to bed to rest up for tomorrows trek to Namche Bazaar.

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Plane taking off from Lukla.
Plane taking off from Lukla.
Looking towards the mountains from…
Looking towards the mountains fro…
Stupa in Sano Gamila
Stupa in Sano Gamila
Porters carrying a heavy load.
Porters carrying a heavy load.
Our Yeti Airlines plane once again…
Our Yeti Airlines plane once agai…
Back on a plane hopin to take off.
Back on a plane hopin to take off.
View of Himalayas from plane on fl…
View of Himalayas from plane on f…
View of foothills from plane on fl…
View of foothills from plane on f…
View of foothills from plane on fl…
View of foothills from plane on f…
Lukla Airport.
Lukla Airport.
Plane taking off from Lukla.
Plane taking off from Lukla.
Airborne at the very end of the ru…
Airborne at the very end of the r…
A different plane landing on the r…
A different plane landing on the …
Runway is behind the first set of …
Runway is behind the first set of…
A view of the sloped runway in Luk…
A view of the sloped runway in Lu…
Fields, trees, mountains, and lodg…
Fields, trees, mountains, and lod…
Small monastery - Lukla
Small monastery - Lukla
Street scene - Lukla
Street scene - Lukla
Prayer Wheel in Lukla
Prayer Wheel in Lukla
Leaving Lukla
Leaving Lukla
Scenes from some homesteads outsid…
Scenes from some homesteads outsi…
Rest break on the trail.
Rest break on the trail.
Yaks (or more appropriately Dzopky…
Yaks (or more appropriately Dzopk…
First view of the Dudh Kosi.
First view of the Dudh Kosi.
Another rest break on the trail.
Another rest break on the trail.
Large prayer stone in a small vill…
Large prayer stone in a small vil…
Porters carrying a heavy load.
Porters carrying a heavy load.
Stupa in Sano Gamila
Stupa in Sano Gamila
View of Phakding from Samo Gamila
View of Phakding from Samo Gamila
Waiting for the yak to cross the s…
Waiting for the yak to cross the …
Lukla
photo by: halilee