Few things in life can enthrall as much as the thought of mountain flight to the highest peak of the world. During my maiden visit to Kathmandu in March 2016, I had the opportunity to board this 50 minutes odd flight to the top of the world. An overwhelming experience to say the least. The breathtaking panorama was spiced with a chance to visit the cockpit and a Window seat to soak in the majestic heights.
It for sure feels like ticking off an item from your bucket list and to put it straight in three words,
A lifetime experience !
But before that, let me share how the journey was off and on in matter of just two days.
As it happened I had to miss early morning flight to Mt. Everest as it was cancelled.
The Culprit - Weather. Fog to be precise.
But hoping against the hopes, I tried my luck, the very next day despite similar weather conditions as I woke in the morning. The glimmer of hope led to eventuality, as the rays of the sun criss-crossed the skies almost suddenly. The golden hue of the slanting rays covered the mountains, and there I was.
The visibility was just enough for the flight to take off after 3 hours of delay from the scheduled departure. There were last minute jitters as the airline staff were hooked to their transmitters and travellers to the sky for the final nod to go ahead.
And there it was, announcements that led to stamping of the Boarding Pass(held till this date as a souvenir) and we were even more excited to be :
Eclectic Airport :
The mountain flights operate from the domestic airport of Kathmandu, viz. the domestic terminal of Tribhuvan International Airport. The early morning sights of this airport is more of a flux of over-energetic foreign nationals and contrasting calm locals. There is some method to the madness here. One, the foreign nationals were either like me, the people taking one of the mountain flights or they were on their way to Lukla, the nearest airport to the Everest base camp. The locals were heading to Pokhara. That somehow explained the reason for the contrast.
The Airlines :
Several airlines operate mountain flights for Everest. I had taken a Buddha Air Mountain flight for this trip and indeed it was every bit worth it. Their customer handling, quality of information off and on air, and the views of the panorama during the flight were wonderful. (Every seat being a window seat in the 24 seater carrier.) However, the views were better from the seats at back because of the wings mid-way. Their safety records are also quite good, if not the best in the league. The refunds in case of cancellation are prompt and without hassle.
In the nutshell, I'd recommend the airline.
In the nutshell, I'd recommend the airline.
|Wings of Panorama|
The Experience : Journey is HEIGHT of Specialty:
|Golden Array of Himalayan Cousins|
- The mountain flights passes through several of the top 15 mountain peaks (eight thousanders as they say) of the world.
- Apart from that, there are several glaciers and landscapes that is sure to transport to a fairy tale dream like world.
- There is an opportunity to visit the Cockpit from a distance, which is an amazing experience in itself.
- Travel hostess was friendly and introduced us to the peaks that were passing by.
- At the end of the flight, the travelers are given a certificate of completion. As a memoir, it was a nice idea.
Tips for YOUR Mountain flight:
- Safety First: Generally all the carriers adhere to the basic safety norms. However, the reputed carriers have better aircraft and maintenance.
- Weather the Weather. Yes, the weather is the most important factor beside the safety. The best season to travel is from September - December. Next Best: March - May (Generally post local 'Dushera' festival). The reason being the rains. With clear skies, as in the above seasons, the views would be the best. Remember how I ended up missing my flight.
- Time it. The best views are on the offer in the first flight of the day. More to do with the dispersion of the sun rays. So the first morning flight is highly recommended. Check in Early to ensure that the first flight is not overbooked.
- Have ample juice in the camera batteries: The views in the mountain flight are simply amazing. So make sure you have spare batteries to support videos. PS: The views are even better through the cockpit.
- Air pressure all the way is well regulated, but it's always better to take general precautions.
- Note: In case of poor visibility, domestic flights are given preference.
- It's better to schedule taking mountain flights in the middle of your Kathmandu itinerary to allow cushion for some bad weather days (or rather not so good weather days). Many people miss it because of their last day attempt not having enough blessings from the weather gods.
- The flight is priced in USD, and it generally varies from season to season. There are many booking counters across Kathmandu, particularly near the city center.
- The best way to book is through the counter on the airport, for efficient refunds, if need be.
- Mountain flights are also available from Pokhara but to a different mountain range.
The mountain flight was truly highlight for my Nepal trip and I'd recommend it without hesitation. There aren't many mountain flights that I've heard of, globally. So although some people may find the pricing a bit steep, the experience is every bit worth it.
|Panoramic Views of Himalayas|