Most people think of climbing Mount Everest when they hear someone mention this natural wonder. Although climbing it is the first thought, most of us do not have a desire to do that. So was the case with me.
I wanted to see Mount Everest since it is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I was and am still interested in trekking in the mountains around it, but I have no desire to try and summit the world’s highest point. For me seeing Mount Everest was sufficient.
Not that I was looking for the easiest, but the simplest and most convenient way to see Mount Everest is by taking a scenic flight from Kathmandu’s airport out to view the mountain.
The scenic flights are all scheduled in the morning, which is the timeframe where Mount Everest is most likely visible before the afternoon clouds roll in. The good news is also that these airlines monitor the visibility of Mount Everest and don’t plan to fly if you cannot see the mountain.
There are a few airlines that provide scenic flights, but I had the opportunity to fly on Yeti Airlines. All the planes are basically the same operating with small planes that sit 2 on one side and 1 on the other.
My friends and I arrived at the airport at 5:00 in the morning and it was completely dark outside. A guide helped us get to where we were going, which was appreciated because it was a little crazy outside as others were trying to find their way too.
As the light began to rise, fear began to set in with us. The sunny days from earlier in the week had vanished and we were socked in with clouds. The clouds were actually more pollution and dirty air from the city, but either way we were trapped by the haze.
We saw the board change and our early morning flight was delayed an hour because of clouds. We would watch the board change every so often with further delays, one right after the other.
We knew we needed to kill some time, so we made our way to the Nepali snack area and found some treats to give a try. Some options proved tasty, but one proved to be worth leaving on the table and throwing away. But hey, we tried it.
We discovered that the problem was not with the immediate clouds that we were seeing but rather that another airport was not visible. The scenic planes require 2 airports to be visible in case of any emergencies. Additionally, we heard that Everest was visible. This provided a glimmer of hope, however we were still skeptical because of the delays and the soupy clouds we could see (how could anyone see through this???).
Finally, they announced that our flight was boarding and we made our way to the transit bus that would take us to our planes. Upon getting off the bus, everybody started taking the touristy flight of the plane – hey why not it is a “Yeti.”
The plane departed and within just a few moments where had broken through the soppy weather greeted by a sprawling blue sky that blanketed a mountainous horizon as far as the eyes could see. Immediate excitement overwhelmed me because this was confirmation that we would see a clear view of the earth’s highest natural wonder.
I had always thought that these planes flew out and around Mount Everest, but that proved not to be the case. No one flies around the mountain. The planes flight path is parallel to the Himalayan mountains all the way out to and beyond Mount Everest.
After passing one of the world’s most famous peaks, the plane makes a U-turn to return to the airport, which places Mount Everest and the Himalayan mountains in view for the passengers on the other side of the plane.
The collective Himalayan Mountains offer more breathtaking views as a whole than the climactic view of Mount Everest. The mountain range is completely majestic and no picture captures the breadth and true nature of what you are seeing as you fly over these mountains.
There is child like anticipation as you approach Mount Everest and a unique satisfaction that accompanies the moment you are really seeing it at its closest. The pilots let me come into the cockpit and view the mountain through the larger windows. Although I could see Mount Everest, I was more impressed with the expansiveness of the Himalayans themselves.
Everyone can experience Mount Everest and you don’t have to be a trekking or mountain climbing enthusiast either. The scenic plane rides to view the mountain and accompanying Himalayas is worth the effort.
Mount Everest Tip: When scheduling your flights be certain to ask for the very front or the rear of the plane to avoid or limit your view of the wings and propellers.
Below are a few images showing the majestic nature of the Himalayas: