You might be sunning yourself on the beaches of Europe as you read this. Or you might be donning your waterproof mac for sightseeing in Scotland. But how about a short trip to Everest Base camp this autumn or in the spring break next year?
How to Reach Mount Everest in a Few Hours
Okay, so first you need to get yourself to Nepal. As far as we know, there are no direct flights currently available from outside Asia, but there are several very good airlines that will get you there on two connecting flights.
Helicopter Tours to Mount Everest
Once you are in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, you have the option of taking the long road to Everest by way of the classic Everest Base Camp Trek. This will take you around two weeks to complete. While that is not to be sniffed at, you might want to forgo the possibility of blisters, high altitude problems, and living in trekking lodges, and take the faster way. On the other hand, you might want to both trek and take a helicopter – that option is here also.
Meantime, the newly introduced Helicopter Tour to Everest Base Camp has now become extremely popular. With this tour you set off from Kathmandu in the early hours and return in time for lunch, having seen all the most iconic places in the Everest Region.
Entering the Mountains
Just as there is a ‘classic’ Everest Base Camp Trek, there now is a ‘classic’ helicopter tour to the Everest base camp which has recently been developed.
With this Everest base camp Heli tour you are collected from your hotel in Kathmandu and taken to the airport where you are introduced to your pilot and fellow adventurers. There is the option of a private charter, which you can also consider.
Having boarded with your 4 or 5 companions, high altitude helicopters can only seat 5 or 6 plus the pilot, you fly out over the waking capital city, over the Kathmandu Valley with its hill top villages and farmlands, and into the mountains.
Stopping to refuel first at the Tenzing Hilary Airport, more of a high-altitude landing strip really, at Lukla, the helicopter then flies you through the Sagarmatha National Park and into the mountains proper. In case you didn’t know, Sagarmatha is the Nepali name for Mount Everest, just as Chomolungma is the Tibetan, and local Sherpa name.
Quickly the pine forests, swift rivers and yak pastures turn to rough mountainous terrain. You fly over Namche Bazaar, a kind of rallying point for expeditions and trekkers alike. Another famous village is home to the highest monastery in the region at Tengboche. From here the mountain views surely must strengthen the spirituality of the attending monks.
Flying over the region, it’s hard to know whether to look straight ahead and up at the mountains surrounding the helicopter, or down to the wonderful landscapes below of boulders, mountain trails, and glaciers. The pilot is well trained in giving you the best possible views and can answer your questions on the area.
Depending on the time of year, Everest Base Camp might be a hive of industry as climbing expeditions set up camp, which will remain there for two months as they acclimatize themselves on the mountains before their final push for the summit.
The pilot will point out that fact that there are two base camps. One located a little further away from the mountain which is visited by the thousands of trekkers who annually come through the region. And one situated on the infamous and dangerous Khumbu Ice Falls. Here the climbers make their camp, sitting atop an ever-moving ground of ice.
Landing in the Mountains
Because the base camps are so busy and the land so precarious, non-emergency helicopters are not able to land here. Instead, you will be taken to a high ridge of suitably hard rock to disembark. This is Kalapattar and at 5,645m the mountain views are simply the best you can possibly get. Trekkers also incorporate climbing up here in their itinerary for the fabulous views of Mt Everest and the other Himalayan mountains.
The third landing has equally as amazing views of the mountains, including the world’s highest. What’s more this landing comes with breakfast. Sometimes called Breakfast on Everest, this tour gives you time to relax while being mesmerized by the views and drinking coffee. Or champagne if you want to push the boat out!
You can book one seat on a group tour or charter the whole helicopter. It is also possible to incorporate part of the classic Everest Base Camp Trek with a return by helicopter, giving you the best of both world. Everything can be discussed with the agent ahead of time. It is recommended you book well ahead and do not wait until your arrival in Nepal.
And finally, it is not too expensive. Actually the helicopter tour, which takes around 5 hours, is cheaper than doing the two weeks trek. It will cost you, depending on the season, around USD 1,175.