Plane views: Himalayas and Mount Everest

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It has always been my dream to see the Himalayas and Mt. Everest!

“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!

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Me just before boarding the scenic flight to Everest!

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.

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Aerial view of Kathmandu from the plane. The Boudhanath Stupa, one of Kathmandu’s most iconic landmarks and a World Heritage site, can clearly be seen.

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!

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View of the Himalayas from my plane window.

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The Himalayas!

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And we got closer!

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The Roof of the World!

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!

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Mount Everest from my plane window!

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.

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More amazing mountain views on the flight back to Kathmandu.

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The highest peak on the right is of Gauri Shankar (7134m), a mountain considered sacred by the Nepalese and Tibetans.

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).

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On the way back to Kathmandu, I sat on the right side of the plane in front of the propeller. The sunlight reflecting off the propellers creates a flickering effect on videos and horizontal stripes on photos such as this one.

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.

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10 Responses to “Plane views: Himalayas and Mount Everest”

  1. Keith Jenkins 28/06/2018 6:14 pm
    #

    Hi Victoria,
    Thanks so much for your lovely comment! We’ll be great travel companions! Hehe! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  2. Victoria@TheBritishBerliner 28/06/2018 4:47 pm
    #

    This is such a great post Keith.

    Wow! Look at that photography and those beautiful peaks!

    Mount Everest is one of my life goals. I’ve hiked up live volcanos in the past, but it really isn’t for me so like yourself, I’d be more than delighted to simply get to the Everest Base Camp, and take a Mount Everest scenic flight tour instead.

    And as for the champagne at the very end. Very me!

  3. Keith Jenkins 12/06/2018 10:57 am
    #

    Hi Luke,
    From what I understand, the best time to visit the Himalayan region is in the autumn months (September – November). I was there at the start of the rainy season and it rained every day and was mostly cloudy – not the best weather for clear views of the mountains. I hope this helps. Have a great trip!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  4. Luke 11/06/2018 1:10 pm
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    Beautiful pictures Keith. You are a good photographer. Keith, I am planning to visit Sikkim and other parts of Himalayas this year. Please guide me the correct time to visit this heaven. Thanks in advance.

  5. Keith Jenkins 06/06/2018 2:13 pm
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    Hi Jeff,
    It sure was a GLORIOUS adventure! Thanks so much for your kind words. 🙂
    I hope you get to see Everest one day! Fingers crossed!

    Hugs,
    Keith

  6. Keith Jenkins 06/06/2018 2:12 pm
    #

    Hi Veronika,
    Thanks for your lovely comment. I’ve also heard that you can see Mt. Everest when flying in/out of Kathmandu, provided the plane is going/coming to/from the east (I think). But this flight took us closer than any commercial airliner would so that’s a big plus!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  7. Jeff Titelius 06/06/2018 1:34 pm
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    What a GLORIOUS Adventure my friend! Like you, I dream of seeing Mt. Everest one day from BaseCamp however, I would settle for this amazing flight!! What a nice surprise this must have been for you! I would have had to pick up my jaw after an invitation like this! Great write-up and your video speaks for itself … INCREDIBLE!!!

  8. Veronika Primm 05/06/2018 9:04 pm
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    Woow, that looks amazing Keith! And it really shows how excited you are on the photo before taking the flight 🙂 I’ve heard you can see the Mount Everest even when flying in or out of Nepal on a commercial airline. But of course you wouldn’t have such a clear and close look. How wonderful, I’d also prefer to see it from the air like you did 🙂

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  2. Photos of Kathmandu - 28/06/2018

    […] I hope you enjoyed my Kathmandu photos! Before I left Kathmandu, there was one more thing I knew I had to do: see Mt. Everest from the air! Read about my flight tour to Everest. […]

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