Day One Kathmandu to Lukla
People who have trekked to Everest Base Camp may forget some of the names of villages along the trail but are unlikely to forget the name Lukla. Unless you opt for the five-day hike in from Jiri, Lukla is the start of the trek to Everest Base Camp. Google Lukla and “air crash” appears near the top of the key words search list. “Flying into Lukla” was on the top of my Why I Don’t Want to Trek to Everest Base Camp list. A pilot friend allayed my fears about flying there and I decided to focus on the fact that the pilots fly in and out Lukla every day and are very experienced.
Our flight to Lukla was delayed several hours by thick fog. I was glad our plane was one of the first to take off, after the long wait in the departure hall full of people. After being offered cotton balls for our ears for the noise and a brief safety talk we took off. For most of the 35-minute flight my eyes were filled with tears, but not because of nerves. My worries were forgotten as I was so overcome by the magnificent view of the mountains and snow capped peaks we were flying along. When the runway came into view, I just closed my eyes and seconds later we were landed and parked in one of the bays. Easy peasy. Landed at the infamous Tenzing – Hillary Airport. Tick.
We were shepherded off the plane to collect our gear, walked a few minutes to a teahouse and were sitting down ordering our breakfast and talking to the owner in a matter of minutes of landing. An hour later we were walking down the shop lined main street of Lukla, giving way to the first yak train. After months of training I was finally, actually, walking the trail.