My alarm sang out at 5am heralding the day’s early start. I dressed quickly and headed down to the hotel lobby with seven others, piled into a minibus and off we headed for the airport.
It was still dark outside and the usually chaotic streets of Kathmandu were empty. It felt weird to be driving through Kathmandu without the earsplitting sound of car horns, or exhaust fumes blasting around me.
We arrived at the airport and headed to the domestic terminal, checking in for the aptly named Mountain Flight.
It wasn’t long before we walked up one by one onto a small plane where everyone had a window seat.
As the sun rose and cast an orange glow across the airport, we sped down the runaway. Then we were airborne, flying above the hazy streets of Kathmandu.
The sun was a perfect circle outside my window lining up with the left wing.
As the sun rose, the flight attendant handed out a map of the mountains we were to see that day as we flew parallel to the Himalayas.
The chart listed the mountain names and altitudes. Of course, I immediately scanned it to find out how far away we were from Mt Everest.
First up was the 7234 metre Langtang Lirung mountain. We then passed Dorje-Lakpa, Phurbi -Ghyachu, Gauri-Shankar, Melungtse, and Chugimago mountains.
One by one we were led up to the cockpit, standing between the pilot and co-pilot.
The co-pilot turned to me and pointed out key mountains on the horizon. We were allowed up for about a minute at a time, getting a rare glimpse of the Himalayas from the pilot’s view.
Getting closer to Everest was 6957 metre Numbar, then 8201 metre Cho-Oyu. Right before Mt Everest was the 7855 metre Nuptse peak.
The second time I went up to the cockpit, there she was. Mt Everest. Right there on my left. At 8848 metres, the mountain’s triangular peak rose above the other mountains on the horizon – coloured muted shades of grey, blue and white.
It was one of those surreal moments seeing Mt Everest and admittedly I overstayed my time allowance getting a good look at Mt Everest before the flight attendant led me away from the cockpit. I was spellbound by getting to see the peak of Mt Everest. This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to seeing the peak.
After Mt Everest, the co-pilot showed us the 8516 metre Lhotse peak, then 7319 metre Chamlang and 8563 metre Makalu.
We flew parallel to the mountains for about 20 minutes before turning around and going back the other way to give the other side of the plane the ultimate view. Another bucket list item ticked!
Things You Should Know:
- Expect to pay around $US300 for the Mountain Flight. There are a number of airlines that do the mountain flight. The operator I flew with was Buddha Air.
- The Mountain Flight departs just after sunrise when weather conditions are the best to see Mt Everest. If you’re not guaranteed to see Mt Everest, you don’t fly.
- The Mountain Flight leaves from the Kathmandu Domestic Terminal.
- The Mountain Flight can be booked easily in Kathmandu through your hotel or a local travel agency.