For all you non-expert-mountaineers, there is a way for you to get up close to the Himalayas, including Mount Everest without having to hike or climb: Everest Mountain Flight Tour! There are a few airlines offering the Everest flight tour from Nepal’s Kathmandu airport. I went with Buddha Air since I had positive experiences with them before. Here’s a recap of my incredible Everest mountain flight experience from start to finish along with a few tips on getting the most out of your Everest Flight Tour.
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Kathmandu Airport’s Domestic Terminal for Mt. Everest Flight
For $7 I was driven to the airport and arrived in under 15 minutes from the center of Kathmandu. It was the lightest I’ve ever walked into an airport for a flight. An airy dress, some sandals, and my camera. It felt weird and funny.
The domestic terminal at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport is tiny but pretty straightforward; busy with local Nepalese getting on with their business and travel plans between different parts of their country.
It was my third time flying domestically in Nepal, so I was used to the local airport’s flow. I went straight to the small Buddha Air (but you can also fly with Yeti Airlines as well) counter that read “Mountain Flight” about 35 minutes before my flight. Handed in my printed ticket with an ID, and received a formal boarding pass. Passing through security took less than a few minutes. Women and men walk through separate lines as one female security officer stamps your boarding pass and a second female office pats you down.
With only 3 hours of sleep under my belt, I sat half-awake in the waiting room until 7:40 AM when they called my flight number and announced its name “Mountain Flight”. Together with the other 14 passengers, I boarded a bus shuttle to our plane.
Boarding the Mountain Flight Plane
The sight of our petite plane had many of us giddy with nerves and excitement. We were herded onto the plane more manually than usual since most of us were busy taking selfies and pictures of each other. Can you blame us? We were about to see the Himalayas and the top of Mt. Everest without having to hike Mount Everest, the tallest mountain peak in the world, in the smallest plane probably any of us had ever flown in, and we’d get to go behind the scenes in the cockpit with the pilots! Who wouldn’t be beaming with joy snapping away to capture the special moments of this once-in-a-lifetime experience?
The Buddha Air Plane for the Mt. Everest Tour
The size of your Buddha Air plane depends on the flight you choose. Our plane was so compact (16 seats) that it was impossible for two people to walk down the aisle at the same time even if we tried to squeeze by each other. But because of its slim shape and small size, every single passenger gets their own window seat!
Please note: There are no bathrooms since it’s a one-hour flight.
Tips For Choosing Your Seat on the Everest Flight Tour
1st pro tip: Ask to be seated either at the very front or at the very back so you get less of the wing in your view.
2nd pro tip: Ask to be seated on the left side if you want the holistic views of the mountains or on the right side if you want up close breathtakingly detailed views of the mountains.
3rd pro tip: If you go with a friend, you should each sit on one side of the same row so you can both trade seats throughout the flight to catch all the views.
4th pro tip: If you are flying solo, don’t be shy to ask a fellow passenger or the stewardess to take your picture. People are very friendly and hospitable in Nepal.
Buddha Air Everest Mountain Flight Experience & Review
The Buddha Air flight over the Himalayas and towards Mt. Everest is one hour round trip. And always in the morning for the best chance of clear mountain views. This is one of the best ways to see these majestic mountains, including the tallest in the world, without hiking to Mount Everest.
From the moment the flight takes off, the views are astonishing. First over Kathmandu, with sights of the white Boudhanath Stupa in the middle of the city street grids. Then, it took less than 10 minutes until we began to see the Himalayas. These mighty mountains towered over the thick clouds and as we got closer we saw more and even taller peaks.
We were instructed by the stewardess that in the first half of the flight, the left side of the plane will get mountain views and then the right side of the plane will get their mountain views on the way back. However, the man to my right kept leaning over and asking to take pictures over my shoulders. I wanted to just sit and enjoy the ride, but most were too excited to sit still. Which is understandable given the time.
On the way back though, the right side had epic up-close views of the mountains so I slid over to the man to my right and began taking pictures over his shoulders too! Haha.
Entering the Cockpit + Meeting the Pilots
One by one the stewardess invited us to slightly step into the tiny cockpit. We got to see the flight deck up close with all its buttons, lights and levers, talk to the pilots, and check out their window views. The pilots were very sweet and offered to shift around so we could get some shots through their incredible windows views. One of them explained which mountain we were looking at in his perfect American English.
The stewardess allowed us about 3 minutes each, to enter the cockpit twice. Once at the beginning and again towards the end of the flight experience.
Weather & Flights
If the weather isn’t conducive for the Everest Mountain Flight, Buddha Air will cancel the flight and refund/reschedule it. The best time to fly is during the fall or winter when there is less rain/clouds so the chances of seeing everything is greater. I flew with clouds, but in my opinion, it was still a stunning sight to see the clouds wrapped around the tall mountains.
Mount Everest Flight Cost & Other Options
Prices depend on the season and can range between $150 and $300 per person. If you book this Everest Flight Tour, you’ll get free hotel pick up and be able to fly with either Buddha Air, Yeti Air or Guna Air depending on which airline has availability. Check availability here.
However, if you have a bigger budget I also suggest looking into the Everest helicopter tour starting at $1299. It’s pricier, but it’s more intimate (fewer travelers), you get 4 hours of flying over the Himalayas. You can choose to land at the Hotel Everest View, where you can eat breakfast, walk around and experience an amazing view over the Nepalese Himalayas!
You could also consider this private helicopter tour, where you’ll land at Gokyo and Kalapatthar. You’ll get to fly over Tengobche, Dingboche, Gorekshep and the Khumbu glacier. Check availability here.
Related: Read How I Afford to Travel the World
Conclusion: Is the Everest Flight Worth it?
It is very likely that I will never climb to the top of Mt. Everest in my life. So I feel elated and fulfilled that I was able to fly towards Everest and appreciate it from above. It was an out of this world and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So yes, I think it is definitely worth it!
Nerdy Fun Fact: Did you know that the point on earth that’s closest to the moon is not the top of Mount Everest?
Where to Stay in Kathmandu
Traditional Comfort Hotel is a relaxing oasis in Kathmandu. Staying here is the perfect respite after a lengthy and adventurous trip around Nepal. The ambiance and decor inside make you feel relaxed the instant you walk through the doors. It is gorgeous with meticulous details from the woodwork to the sheets which are locally made. The breakfast is incredible and the dinners are delicious with a home-made and attentive touch.
Hotel Mulberry is tucked away in a quiet corner in the center of the most popular Kathmandu neighborhood for travelers: Thamel! The hotel is gorgeous and clean. Upstairs it has an infinity pool on the roof, a fitness center on the top floor, impeccably clean and other state-of-the-art amenities.
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