Everest Base Camp Trek - Day 1 Take 2 (Kathmandu - Lukla - Phakding)
Lukla Travel Blog› entry 67 of 136 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.