When visiting Nepal, a trek through the Himalayan or Annapurna mountains is a must. The sixteen-day Everest Basecamp trek was not feasible within my timescales, so a more humble trek to Namche Bazaar seemed like a good compromise.
My trip was immediately compromised when Summit Air’s plane crashed two days before my departure. During take-off at Lukla airport, their plane veered off the runway onto a helipad, killing the pilot and two people standing on the helipad. This was actually the plane I was scheduled to take two days later from Kathmandu. So I was rerouted to Ramechhap instead, requiring a very bumpy five-hour bus ride through the night.
Lukla’s reputation as the most dangerous airport in the world is not to be taken lightly. The runway is only 460m long, allowing only small fixed-wing short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) aircraft to land. At one end is a mountain face and a cliff face on the other. To make it just a little more difficult, the runway is on a 12° incline.
With 25kg on my back, I set off for Phakding, my first stop. It’s supposed to be an easy trek, being mostly downhill, but my body wasn’t used to carrying such a payload. Having past 50 also doesn’t make it easier.
The second day was even more brutal. From Phakding to Namche Bazaar is a 900m net climb. But with the up and down trail, the total was probably double. The last three hours was a nonstop climb right up to Namche.
After returning from my four-day round trip from Lukla to Namche Bazaar, I was off to Chitwan for the tail end of my Himalayan adventure. I was fortunate to talk to the Tharu villagers, watch them play football, work the fields, and take care of their elephants.
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