Lukla, as the small mountain town, which is a typical beginning for treks in the Everest region, as well as the Everest Base Camp Trek. There are only two ways to get to Lukla, as there is no motorized road from Kathmandu: by air, or on foot. And it’s a busy little place.
Kathmandu to Lukla by flight
Time: 30 minutes
Most travelers fly to Lukla from Kathmandu. It takes 30 minutes. The Tenzing-Hillary Airport is particularly famous for its short, mountain-side runway, but the many of flights arrive and leave from there without incident. However, due to weather conditions in Lukla, or en route, delays are very common. It’s important to add some buffer days to your itinerary in the Everest region, so if Lukla flights are grounded for a day or two, you don’t risk missing your flight to home.
Helicopters are a convenient back-up alternative if you had been booked to take flight on a canceled or seriously delayed flight. They can fly in weather conditions that airplanes can’t, so in urgent situation can get you back to Kathmandu.
Update: The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has shifted all flights to and from Lukla to Manthali airport in Ramechhap because of the flight congestion at the international airport in Kathmandu.
Manthali Airport is approximately 133 KM from Kathmandu which takes about 4 to 5 hours of driving by Private Jeep or Bus. You can either drive the day before your trip to Manthali and spend the night (The accommodation is basic) or leave Kathmandu at midnight around 2:00 AM. You can still take a helicopter from Kathmandu to Lukla for those who are short on time.
Kathmandu to Lukla by helicopter
Time: 45 minutes
Getting to Lukla by helicopter is an unforgettable experience if you aren’t on a tight budget. You will depart from Kathmandu Tribhuvan Airport domestic terminal and arrive less than an hour later in Lukla. On the way, you’ll see Kathmandu’s hilly, agriculture landscape rises to the higher elevations of the colder, less fertile mountain regions.
Most people who travel by helicopter from Lukla continue on to Everest Base Camp for a sightseeing flight and return to Kathmandu on the same day.
Kathmandu to Lukla by road & on Foot
Time: 4 to 6 days
Although this is a much less popular way of reaching Lukla, from Kathmandu take a jeep drive to reach the towns of Jiri or Phaplu, from where you can trek to Lukla. The trek from Jiri is named the “Pioneers ‘Route” because before the airport was built in the 1960s, it was how pioneering mountaineers used to reach Lukla.
The trek from Phaplu to Lukla takes three days, while it takes five days from Jiri. These days, these trails hardly see any visitors, but those who do make the trip truly enjoy the Everest region more gradual approach, exploring the slow changes in landscape and culture.