Lukla Airport - The Gateway of Everest Trek

  • Hemanta Budhathoki
  • Last Updated on Jun 21, 2024

Table of Contents

Tenzing-Hillary Airport, otherwise called Lukla Airport, is a domestic airport and antiport in the town of Lukla, in Khumbu Pasanglhamu, Solukhumbu District, Province No. 1 of Nepal. The airport is famous because it is viewed as the beginning step for the trip toward Mount Everest Base Camp. The air terminal is held inside a steel wall and, for security, is watched by the Nepali armed police. There are daily trips between Lukla and Kathmandu during sunlight hours in a great climate. Albeit the flying distance is short, a downpour typically happens in Lukla while the sun is sparkling splendidly in Kathmandu. High breezes, overcast cover, and changing permeability frequently mean flights can be postponed or the airport closed.

Overview of Lukla Airport

Only 25 to 35 minutes via air from Kathmandu is the riskiest air terminal on earth: Lukla. However, similar to the most dangerous runway in Nepal, this strip - also called Tenzing-Hillary Airport - is the most active, filling in as the central issue of passage and exit for climbers wanting to rise to Everest. Lukla Airport, between mountains, was named Tenzing-Hillary Airport in 2008 to honor Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. Also, this air terminal is "the most hazardous air terminal on the planet" because it is situated on the mountains' incline at 9000 feet above ocean level, with a staggeringly short runway. The black-top cleared runway is just 1,500 feet in length and 65 feet wide with a slope of 12% from north to south.

In the meantime, there have been a few mishaps and accidents in the small blue terminal, and no electrical power rules out blunder. Otherwise, arrival and take-off become more dangerous. Arriving in awful weather conditions generally brought about lethal accidents. What appears to be challenging about this airport is the weather conditions factor. Horrendous weather conditions are the number one reason for the cancellation of departures from and arriving at Lukla. We could habitually hear that the departures from Kathmandu are promptly in the first part of the day, just when the sky is clear. In addition, the flight will be exciting and captivating in a good climate. Enough with great perspectives on mountains and variegated scenes of the Himalayas.

Past the dangers brought by the length and rise of the runway, Lukla Airport is additionally made tricky by the harsh surrounding landscape. At the arrival end of the runway is the sheer essence of a lofty mountain, implying that stirring things up around town on time is even more objective. The opposite finish of the runway ends at the edge of an unexpected 700m (2,297ft) drop, so if you don't make it up high, you'll tumble down the mountainside. This makes cutting short a take-off or landing incomprehensible.

Story of Lukla Airport

Lukla airport was built in 1964. It was built on most farmland around Lukla. Local farmers did not agree to provide this land for airport construction. Since the airport was planned to build under the supervision of Sir Edmund Hillary, he bought the land from local Sherpa and also involves them in airport construction work. It is said that Hillary ask local Sherpa to perform a foot-stomping dance in the area of the runway to flatten the land, he bought local drinks for those Sherpas who involve in the work of flattening the runway. Lukla airport runway was only paved on 2001. In 2008, this airport was renamed Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary who are the first peoples to reach Mount Everest. This is not only the reason to name Lukla airport on their names but also to mark their effort in the construction of the Lukla airport. This is only one regular flight operating airport in the Khumbu region.

Options of Lukla Airport

Shyangboche airport in Shyangboche village has an optional airport in this region. But this airport is at more altitude and not in regular operation. This airport was built in 1971 with the purpose of serving Everest view hotel which is the world’s highest 5-star hotel. The first tested flight was done by government aircraft at the time, which was successfully done. At the time of expanding this airport as a regular one, the local people from Lukla and from Namche did not allow it. If this airport begins to fly regularly, locals from Namche and Lukla lose their business. Another airport nearby Lukla is Phaplu airport. This is also a remote area airport at an altitude of 2413 meters. It takes another 2 days to catch the regular Everest region trekking route from this airport.  Now only one established airport in this region is Lukla airport anyhow.

Hotel and Resort in Lukla Airport

There are plenty of hotels and resorts accommodating tourists and locals. Super deluxe lodge Yeti Mountain home is serving the best. Several other semi-deluxe category lodges are nearby the airport of Lukla. Trekkers or locals can choose their accommodation as per their budget. Since Lukla has plenty of it. Any number of trekkers can accommodate in Lukla even in peak trekking season. Tourists have to overnight at least a night in Lukla to catch their flight back to Kathmandu at early in the morning. Lukla flights are only in the morning time. Trekkers walking back from Namche or from Phakding only reach Lukla by afternoon. There can be a shortage of accommodation in the case of Lukla flight cancellation for more than a day.  

Everest Trek from Lukla

Lukla airport is popular for Everest trekking. This is the starting point of the Everest base camp trek and many other routes inside the Everest national park. Overcrowded trekkers arrive in Lukla by flight during the peak trekking season. The main season of trekking in the Everest region is in autumn and in spring. Summer and winter are the fewer tourists in the region but trekkers still trekking in this off-season too. People who are not able to trek for long days, reach the Everest viewpoint in short days trekking. Tengboche trekking is one suitable for experiencing the Everest region in short days. If anyone is not able to even take a short day's trekking, they have the option of a Helicopter tour to Everest to capture scenic high Himalayan ranges and the valley views in a single day.   

Everest Region Trek without Lukla Flight

Lukla airport is sometimes listed as the most dangerous airport in the world by counting accidents that happened severally. Trekkers looking for trekking Everest without flight were so long days before but now it is ended. Everest Trek without Lukla flight is not possible. Drive to the trekking starting point nearby Lukla from Kathmandu takes two days time. This plan does not touch Lukla. This way is also the opportunity to explore the less touristic region of Khumbu.   

Conclusion: Lukla Airport - The Gateway of Everest Trek

Lovely yet frightening' is by all accounts the standard reaction from any person who has flown into Tenzing-Hillary Airport - all the more generally known as Lukla Airport. Situated on the substance of a mountain at a rise of practically 2,900m, the airport is encased toward one side by a 600m drop off a precipice face and on the opposite end by a substantial stone wall. As a result of its hazardous area and length, the air terminal has been evaluated as one of the world's riskiest. Its peril is specialized in that the mix of an exceptionally short runway, outrageous elevation, and frequently unfriendly weather patterns make it very much a painful ride while taking off and landing. Even with the frightening, the flow of trekkers fly to Lukla to start their adventure to Everest base campvalley, Chuukung valley, and Gokyo valley. With the changes in the road facilities, Lukla airport now can be skipped.   

Hemanta Budhathoki

Hemanta Budhathoki

Hemanta Budhathoki is team leader of Nepal Highland Trekking and travel company. 

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