Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Lukla to Phakding

The day began in spectacular fashion with the infamous flight from Kathmandu to Lukla.  Renown as one of the most dangerous airports in the world (combined with the fact that the EU has banned every Nepali airline for safety reasons), there was more of a sense of anticipation/apprehension than a normal flight. 

It was a lovely clear day and by all accounts there were great views over the mountains and Everest.  These views are very dependent on what seat you can grab!  The left hand side or front row is the best.   The flight is short and sweet but the landing is even shorter!   Lukla’s runway is a one shot only affair, you either get it right or crash, there are no second chances.

From here we had a short walk to a teahouse to eat our breakfast (pre-packed in case we had a long stay at Kathmandu airport).  The sights are great from the very start, with high snow-capped mountains and a lush green valley.  Lukla has a few shops selling the (what will become) standard fare of Mars bars, Pringles and water.

The walk today was mainly downhill and was a nice relaxed start to the day.  Dropping from 2840m down to around 2600m it makes a nice start to the trek, and a good introduction to higher altitudes.  We had lunch just after the first suspension bridge at Thado.  During lunch we met a film crew from the History channel who had been making a film about the Yeti!

The walk was down and along a lush green valley above the Dudh Koshi river.  The path was fairly busy but didn’t feel too much of a procession or motorway.  We passed numerous  prayer wheels, Mani stones and Mani walls and displaying the same mantra of ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’.

The day ended at Phakding and our first teahouse.  To be honest, the teahouses were pretty good throughout!  Some might find them a bit too basic, but they were on the whole clean and tidy.  The toilets were a bit stinky but taking into account the plumbing, there were few complaints.

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