Lukla is a mid-sized village in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal and it is the starting point for nearly all Everest treks. It has a small but busy airport catering to eager mountaineers in the peak months (October – May) and locals throughout the year. Lukla has a reputation for being (one of) the most dangerous airports in the world, due to the runway being surrounded by mountains on 3 sides. For nervous flyers it can be a tad daunting but the pilots are seasoned experts and the flight only departs Kathmandu if the conditions are right. This can lead to delays in the capital and a build up of passengers, but better to be safe than sorry.
Lukla divides opinion. On the one hand it can appear unfriendly and transient; barbed wire lines the airport terminal and the backdrop of the black rock of the Himalayas, large and imposing. On the other, it is lively village with a constant population of international hikers. It has a variety of shops and lodges where one can have basic western style meals and pick up any last minute items for the trekking or climbing ahead. It is also one of the first/last places hikers can have a reasonably priced hot water shower before departing for weeks or months of more basic tea houses. Yak meat curry is also available (not so further into the mountains) in the lodges and it is a welcome change from the potato/rice/pasta and garlic soup combos that are served with aplomb in the more remote villages.
As it is the only place with an airport it is the starting point for many local porters who transport everything from doors and baths, to eggs and rice, on their backs up into the mountain range. There are no vehicles in this part of the world and because of the lure of city life, this quite literally back-breaking task is the responsibility of older men, for whom the cities of the sub-continent did not tempt them away.
Although Lukla means place with many goats and sheep, one is not likely to see many roaming around as it one of the more urbanised villages of this area. It is even home to a Starbucks! As you exit Lukla you will pass through the gate to the Khumbu region, a bittersweet moment as you are fully entering the land of the mountains and leaving behind modern life.
Features in the following itineraries
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Leslie Siben, India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka