The big day! We are finally heading to the Himalayas, after months and months of planning. I wish I could say I am looking forward to it, but my mind focuses on the flight to Lukla which we are taking at 8am.
The flight to Lukla is well regarded as one of the most dangerous in the world, landing on one of the shortest runways in the world, carved into the middle of a mountain, on an uphill runway!!!! And I can tell you, it lives up to its name!! I’m not the best of flyers to begin with, but when I see all the size of the plane, I really start to get nervous! When we board, I am three seats away from the pilot, I can see out the front window of the plane as there is no barrier between us and the crew and our pilot is wearing fingerless, leather driving gloves – I figure he knows what he’s doing. I am accompanied on the flight by a few real characters - Lucky Lewis from Vegas, a lovely family from South Africa, our travel companions Elise and Angus and our guides. Even they seem a little nervous, which both comforts and terrifies me in equal measure.
The 16-seater propeller plane takes off from Kathmandu for a 25 min flight which takes you right into the middle of the Himalayas. You are unbelievably close to the mountains around you – sitting on the left ensures you set the most amazing views of the mountains. The plane flies like a car skidding on ice and my knuckles were white. But in a sick way, I was really enjoying it all!! There is a massive right turn and I look out the window, to see the little itty bitty runway in the distance....i think, no surely not, surely THAT’S not the runway......but the wheels come down, and so do we. The talented pilots lined the plane up with the runway, the wheels come down, we slam onto the runway and the full brakes are applied. Thank goodness we stop before the runway ends!!! We’re down and we’re ready to go!!!
We hit Lukla with a spring in our step and a renewed respect for life!! Lukla is a nice town with shops, restaurants, a Hard Rock Cafe, Starbucks and lots of bars! We walk through and make our way to Phadking. It’s a long day trekking, up and downhill, taking us from 2800 meters to 2600 meters. We all struggle with the pace and steep hills.
Phadking is another lovely village and the rest at the tea house is very welcome after our first long trek. I’m glad to get my boots off and chill for a while! We had lovely veg curry for dinner and I sampled some of the local milk tea , which is lovely, like hot, sweet milk? sounds terrible, but it was lovely. We were asleep for 9pm – rock and roll!!