Experience Mount Everest from the comfort of a Helicopter

Mount Everest, situated high in the Nepal Himalayas, has long been the playground of climbers and serious hikers.  But what if you want to see the world’s highest mountain but cannot afford the high fees and huge costs of spending around two months on the climbing route or do not want – for whatever reason – to hike?

Helicopter Flights and Tours to Mount Everest

A new way has opened up in the last few years to see Mount Everest.  Previously the only way to see the world’s highest mountain, other than trekking, was to catch a glimpse through binoculars from a very far away. Or take a fixed-wing plane mountain flight from Kathmandu, which does not give a much closer view.   Both of these alternatives do not do justice to the mountain’s majesty. 

With the Everest base camp helicopter tour, opened up, departing from Kathmandu and landing at two spots in the Everest Region, including the third stop for refueling, there is no excuse not to get a close look at this iconic mountain. 

Additionally, if you want to do some trekking, you can fly by helicopter directly from Kathmandu to Lukla in the Everest Region, trek for several days, then return from the mountains base camp to Kathmandu, again by helicopter.

What is Involved in the Day Helicopter Tour?  

There are several different agencies and helicopter companies offering tours.  Which helicopter you get will very much depend on demand for the date you want to go.  But every ‘day tour’ is the same and takes around 4 to 5 hours to complete.  

You can expect to be picked up from your hotel in the early morning and taken to the domestic terminal of the Tribhuvan International Airport for your departure, which will be around 6.30 am.  In the 45 minutes it takes to fly there, you will fly over the Kathmandu Valley and over hills, forests, farmlands, and settlements.  As you near the Tenzing-Hillary Airport at Lukla, the mountains come into view.  There is a compulsory stop in Lukla to refuel the helicopter, giving you just enough time to snap a couple of photographs and perhaps watch a fixed-wing plane come in filled with trekkers and their gear.  

Heading off again at the next stop, there is a weight adjustment.  Although the helicopter seats 5 passengers and the pilot, at very high altitudes, the weight has to be reduced to 3 passengers plus the pilot.  

The tour’s highlight is landing on a high ridge directly opposite Mt Everest.  This ridge is called Kalapattar due to its color (black = kala) and sits at 5,545 meters.  Here the air is icy cold and thin, meaning humans and helicopters can stop for only 10 to 15 minutes.  This gives time to be awed by the panorama views of Everest and its surrounding mountains.

The final stop is for breakfast in one of two stunningly placed hotels.  Sitting on the outside terrace with a hot cup of coffee while staring at the mountains, including the one you came particularly to see, is simply an out-of-this-world experience.

Then it’s off again, back to the warmer climate of Kathmandu.

Is This Tour Safe for Children and the Elderly?

The oldest person we know of to make this trip is an 86-year-old Indian grandfather and his wife. Children are allowed to fly as long as an adult accompanies them. Although you will be landing at a high altitude since it is for a short period of time, there is very little danger of altitude-related problems, making it a safe way to see the mountains so close you can almost touch them. 

What Should I Take on This Tour?

Although no hard walking is involved, we suggest you wear warm walking shoes as it is cold and may be slippery.  A warm-down jacket, hat, and gloves are also recommended.  Some drinking water and your camera are the only things you need, along with sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare. 

Tell Me More About the Helicopter and Trek Trip

On this trip, you follow the same pattern as the day trip, leaving Kathmandu in the early morning and arriving at Lukla 45 minutes later.  From Lukla, you follow the regular Everest Base Camp Trek route.  This covers Namche Bazaar, the main market town in the area, Tengboche Monastery, the highest monastery in the region with spectacular views, and Everest Base Camp and Kalapattar.  This trek takes in other interesting settlements on this route and takes 10 days from Kathmandu to Kathmandu.  On the final day, a high-altitude helicopter collects you from Gorakshep near the base camp. It transports you to Lukla, where you transfer to a different helicopter to travel to Kathmandu.

This trip reduces the number of walking days by four and provides easy transport out of the region – saving time and energy.  

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