“Would you be interested in going on a scenic flight tour to Mount Everest?”, the gentleman asked.
I was in Kathmandu, Nepal, for a conference and I was just milling around after my presentation when this gentleman approached me. I was stunned by his question. You see, it has always been a dream of mine to see Mount Everest, at 8,848m (29,029ft), the world’s highest mountain. I knew I would never scale it – Everest Base Camp would be as high as I could possibly see myself going to – so the other, more attractive alternative was to hop on a Mount Everest scenic flight tour!
“Are you kidding? YES!!!”, was my response. I didn’t need to think twice. When I was a kid, an aunt of mine (who had just returned from a trip around South Asia) told me about her trekking adventures in Nepal and seeing the view of Mount Everest from the plane window. That image stuck in my mind and the thought that I was going to experience it myself made me tremble with excitement!
The Mount Everest scenic flight tour
The following day, I made my way to Kathmandu Airport’s Domestic Terminal. I looked at the Departure screens and saw various scenic flights with destination ‘Mountain’. Another destination caught my eye: Lukla. Now that’s another flight I’d love to take one day. It’s reputedly one of the most perilously-located airports in the world, with a short runway that dramatically slopes down the side of a mountain and disappears off a plunging cliff. The gateway to Everest Base Camp, Lukla Airport is consistently voted as one of the most dangerous airports in the world to fly to!
I checked in at the Yeti Airlines counter and received my Everest Express boarding pass. Yeti Airlines is a Nepalese airline that operates domestic as well as scenic flights to Mount Everest with a fleet of turboprop aircraft. As I waited for the boarding call, I looked around me and sensed the excitement of the people. I was just as excited!
I boarded the plane and found rows of four seats in a 2-2 configuration. Every passenger was given a window seat, leaving all aisle seats empty. Boarding was swift and we were in the air at 6:45am. The views of Kathmandu quickly unfolded.
The plane broke through a layer of clouds and the peaks of the Himalayas, glistening in the morning sun, were immediately visible. I pinched myself as we approached the mountains. It felt so surreal! I reminded myself that I was looking at the view from my plane window of the Himalayas – the highest mountains in the world! It was a dream come true!
The view of Mount Everest
The flight attendants dropped by regularly to point out the different peaks we passed. Just before we reached Mt. Everest, the passengers were invited into the cockpit to check out the views. The captain said that Mt. Everest would soon come into view on the left. I hurried back to my seat and soon enough, it appeared as we cleared some clouds. There were various peaks in view and the flight attendant pointed at the lone peak sticking out above the clouds. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, THAT is Mount Everest!”, she announced. I pinched myself again. It was undoubtedly one of the most majestic mountain views I’d ever seen!
Back to Kathmandu
The plane banked to the left and slowly made its way back to Kathmandu. The mountains seemed somewhat closer now. I realised how lucky I was with the weather, and the fact that the flight wasn’t full allowed me to enjoy the views from both the right and the left side of the plane.
To celebrate seeing Mt. Everest, the flight attendants came around with glasses of champagne – a lovely touch!
We landed at Kathmandu Airport exactly an hour after we took off. Everyone was handed a certificate of the flight as a memento – another lovely touch. This flight was such a treat and a dream come true for me! If you’re visiting Nepal, I can definitely recommend this scenic flight tour to Mount Everest! Check out my short video below of the entire experience:
A few notes
The best time to view the Himalayas on this scenic flight tour is between September and May. I went in June, the start of the monsoon season, and was very lucky with the weather. Weather conditions may force flights to be cancelled. Should this happen, guests can opt for a flight the next day or ask for a refund. Passengers on the left (row A) get to see the peaks on the flight to Everest whilst passengers on the right (row D) see the peaks on the return to Kathmandu. If possible, ask for a seat behind the propellers. Especially on the flight back to Kathmandu, the sunlight reflecting off the propellers creates a flickering effect, impacting photos and videos (you’ll see this effect in my video above).
Read my photo essay with 36 photos of Kathmandu.
Read about other Plane Views on Velvet Escape.
Note: a big thank you to Yeti Airlines for inviting me on this flight. As always, all views expressed above are mine, and mine only.