We flew into Lukla this morning. For those of you not familiar, Lukla is one of the most dangerous airports in the world (at least according to the History Channel) with zero margin for error on the steep 12 percent grade runway. Yes, this is a one shot deal.
We had to get up at 4:30AM to catch a 5h15AM taxi to the airport. Our guide, porter, and travel agent were to meet us at the hotel and sort out all the associated paperwork. We were also to give the travel agent our insurance papers in case he needed to arrange a rescue. Given our restlessness, we were out front at around 5am and our ride was late, just adding to the sense of anticipation.
When it came, we packed the 5 of us (Anne, guide, porter, driver, and myself) into a TINY Subaru, our luggage in an open luggage rack on top of the car with no straps to secure it. We made our way to the airport, the driver driving like he’d never gone to the airport before and the car acting like it was ready to drop the gearbox onto the street. At one point, I was afraid we wouldn’t make it up a short hill!
Finally at the airport, Dorje (our guide) made quickly for the terminal, greeting people all along the way as he carried 20 or 30 pounds of salt for his uncle in Lukla. Dorje whisked us through the airport like he owned the place and in the end, we wound up being second on the plane giving us some pretty great seats with views of the Himalaya in our twin engine, Twin Otter.
The flight to Lukla itself was uneventful save some low level turbulance. We had some great views of the Himalaya on the way into Lukla as well as the terraced farmland of the countryside. After about 30 minutes of flying time, we were on final approach. As we were able to look through the cockpit, it was possible to see the tiny spit of pavement pasted on the side of the hill. Here’s a video of the final minute or so of the journey to the “most dangerous airport in the world.”