The most dangerous airport in the world.
At an elevation of 2800m, a narrow runway only 460m long and a steeply angled 12% gradient, there is no margin for error when attempting to land here. There is high terrain immediately beyond the end of the runway, and a sheer drop into the valley below proceeding it. Every few years a plane or helicopter crashes with major and minor incidents.
Why would any sane person want to risk their lives and climb into a small, fixed-wing aircraft to fly here?
Well, because Lukla is the place where most people start the climb to Mount Everest Base Camp. And you only live once.
Flights arrive early every morning from Kathmandu when the weather is the calmest. Once it reaches late morning and the sun has warmed Kathmandu, winds and cloud cover increase and make it too dangerous to fly to Lukla, so the few airlines scramble their planes as quick as possible to get as many passengers there as possible. Safely of course.
There was about twenty people onboard our early flight. Weather was fine, calm and great for flying. The views were unbelievable, especially with the rising sun casting long beams of light through the morning mountain haze.
Of course, smaller planes mean a rockier ride, but ours was nothing we didn’t expect. We read that these pilots are amongst the best in the world, in order to land and take-off safely. Nothing much to it really. The landing felt normal, and soon enough we were on the tarmac. By the time we turned around to take a photo of our plane, it was loading people onboard for the return flight to Kathmandu.
Our “family” for our trek would be us two, our trekking guide, Arjun from Outshine Adventures and one young porter to carry our big backpacks while we took daypacks.
- reach Everest Base Camp (5364m) and return in 15 days
- conquer the infamous Cho-La Pass and picturesque Gokyo Lakes on our way
- summit Kala Patthar (5545m), the highest point on the trek
- achieve the first of Starks’ Epic Adventure’s BUCKET LIST items
Bring it on.
Visited 7th November 2013.