Thursday, June 25, 2015

Everest Region (Khumbu) Trek: from Kathmandu to Lukla

It is our third day in Nepal, and we are still in Kathmandu.

For two days high winds have caused our flights to Lukla, entry point to the Everest Base Camp circuit, to be cancelled.

We have spent hours sitting in the airport's main hall waiting in vain for the check-in desks to open. Twice, we received our boarding passes and were allowed into the departure lounge, only to be turned away after three hours. We even made it to the tarmac once. But we're relatively lucky - we hear about a flight that turned back to Kathmandu after the winds prevented it from landing at Lukla.

But Luck too has its limits. Today is the last possible day for us to fly out. Any later and there simply won't be enough time for us to complete the trek. Already we are down to seven days - to ascend more than 2.5km in vertical height.

After lunch, the announcement is made through word of mouth: no flights to Lukla today.

A ripple of frustration and disappointment runs through the swarm of trekkers. Some have been waiting for over a week, and in the dusty city of Kathmandu, where it has been irrepressibly sunny and windless, it is difficult to comprehend why flights are repeatedly cancelled.

At the end of the hall, someone stirs.

He is sitting beneath a placard that reads in bold Helicopter Flightseeing - an option we are aware of, but have been trying to avoid because of the price.

It takes a bit of coordination, negotiation, and persuasion, but soon I round up enough trekkers to charter a helicopter. The decision is made.

Finally, we are going to Lukla.

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