I am just back from my 42nd Trek to Everest Base Camp and 24th Island Peak Expedition. This summit was in doubt from the very beginning. There were a host of challenges placed in front of us from start to finish of this trip. Check out our upcoming trips.
The Cost of Helicopters
The cost of a seat on a helicopter varies. It will be more expensive if you are adding in a local guide to accompany you but a normal it will cost for a seat on a helicopter in 2023 is approximately $510 from Kathmandu to Lukla and the same from Lukla to Kathmandu.
If you want a seat on a helicopter from Gorak Shep to Kathmandu it can be up to $1,400. It would be cheaper from Pheriche or Namche back to Kathmandu.
Again, the weather played its part in what has proved to be a challenging start to the post monsoon season in Nepal this year. With some quick maneuvering from our team on the ground in Kathmandu, we got on the first available helicopters and made it to Surke.
Surke is 700m/ 2,296 feet below Lukla. With he rain falling hard and we were lucky to make it into the mountains and get the trip underway.
The Weather Plays a Big Role
We roll the dice every season with the weather getting in and out of the Everest Region. What we have been finding over the past 6 years is that the monsoon has been finishing late.
The weather has caused problems for our teams in the September and October. Also weather patterns in the early season February to May have been changing causing teams to miss days of acclimatization critical for safety and success.
Every year the weather patterns change and cause more and more challenges flying in and out of the mountains. On any given day we do not know if there will be flights in and out of the Everest region. We are moving more and more to booking helicopters, to guarantee access to the Everest Region.
We have to make sure our trips can run as smoothly as possible. Booking a helicopter costs more, but worth it to make sure you can get into the mountain on your scheduled date. Check out our TOP 50 TIPS.
Changes to Internal Flights
The International Airport in Kathmandu has been overloaded with International and domestic flights. The hope was that the new International airports in Pokhara and Lumbini would free to the air space around Kathmandu. To date this has not changed anything.
In recent trekking season there have been so many delays getting in and out of Kathmandu. With only one runway at the International airport in Kathmandu. Delays and cancellations to flights in Nepal look like the new norm. Join our Facebook group.
Poor Decision Making
There have been some disturbing new changes to flights in and out of the Everest Region. For the most part flights are not going direct from Kathmandu to Lukla. The flights are flying from Ramechhap airstrip which is a terrible option.
To reach Ramechhap airstrip you have a potentially dangerous road journey which takes 4 hours from Kathmandu. This is a 7 hour journey on the return leg because of traffic. These changes may have a lasting effect of our treks to Everest.
New International Airports
There are new International Airports currently being built in Pokhara and Lumbini. In terms of trekking the New International Airport in Pokhara will obviously, help with congestion. All our Annapurna Base Camp Trek and people trekking in western Nepal will be able to arrive directly into Pokhara. This will help ease the congestion on Kathmandu and help with flights in and out of Lukla. We hope this is the case!
In the past few seasons all internal flight to Lukla have been transferred to Ramechhap airstrip. Firstly, this means a 5+ hour drive from our Hotel in Kathmandu in the middle of the night to arrive in Ramechhap airstrip.
Secondly, if there are weather delays you will be stuck in the middle of nowhere. Finally, there are limited support and infrastructure in Ramechhap.
The government need reinstate flights from Kathmandu to Lukla. If not, we are going to have to add Helicopter rides to all our trips heading into Lukla from 2021/22.
Challenges to our Unique Itineraries
We have developed the best itineraries for acclimatization for trekking to Mount Everest. These flight changes along with weather issues are having a effecting our ability to have the best acclimatization.
Having 3 nights in Namche Bazaar at 11,500 feet is undoubtedly, important to safely run our treks. This critical acclimatization gives you the best chance to adapt to the low levels of oxygen.
This is critical for safety and success. One of the ways to make sure we can keep our schedule is to helicopter into Lukla from Kathmandu.
Are Helicopters the way Forward
Helicopter rides into the mountains are the way to go. This is the only way to make sure all our treks maintain this critical acclimatization. Getting a good night’s sleep in Kathmandu before the trek is important.
Then you can go straight to the airport in Kathmandu and fly directly into Lukla Airport. If the weather is bad you can usually fly into Surke at 2,300m/ 7,600 feet. Surke is below Lukla and we can start trekking from there.
This means we can maintain our acclimatization schedule without a doubt, giving you the best chance to achieving your goal. We want to have the best experience reaching Everest Base Camp and hiking up the famous Kala Patthar.
New Search Option on our Website
Yes, there are real challenges getting in and out of the Everest Region in Nepal. The good thing is we have options. If you need to discuss further feel free to reach out to us at any time. Remember, you can also use the search option on our the home page of our website to find out additional information on trekking to Everest Base Camp.