By Vishal Gulati
If you are holidaying in Nepal and want to enjoy sublime experience above the snowy peaks, just fly up to the majestic Mt. Everest. In less than 60 minutes of the flight, you can fly close to Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak in the central Himalayas on the border of Tibet and Nepal.
Travel agents here say private airlines are daily operating mountain flights for the tourists from Kathmandu. The best time to see the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas from the sky is September to December.
Buddha Air, Guna Airlines, Agni Air and Yeti Airlines are among the private airlines daily operating Everest flights.
For Indian and Nepalese passengers, Buddha Air, like other airways, is charging a subsidised fare of Rs.6,078 per passenger. For other nationals the fare is $205 or Rs.13,272.
Buddha Air daily operates six flights starting at 6.30 a.m. from the domestic airport.
“What an awesome flight it is. Within minutes it takes you above the mighty Himalayas. It was a memorable, life-time experience,” Robert Barnett, a British tourist, told this IANS correspondent.
Added his wife Nancy: “It seems the entire Himalayas are just standing tall in front of your window. Among all, the encounter with Mt. Everest with white candyfloss clouds is beyond description.”
She said everyone would have the opportunity to go into the cockpit, one at a time, to get photos of the approaching Mt. Everest, located at an altitude of 8,848 m or 29,028 feet.
While Mt. Everest is known as Sagarmatha in Nepal, in Tibet, also known as the roof of world, it’s called Chomolungma, meaning ‘Goddess Mother of Mountains’.
In the 18-seater or 24-seater plane, every passenger will get the window seat, either left or right side to encounter the Himalayas, say airline operators.
The passengers on the left side will see the Himalayas first.
The lure of the Himalayas attracts more than 100,000 trekkers each year to this Himalayan nation. The tourists mostly prefer to see Mt. Everest through mountain ride.
Tour operator Deepak Ghimire said the Everest flight is a highly popular activity among foreign visitors, especially Britons and Chinese.
“If you are flying in from Bhutan, there is a chance you might be able to see Mt. Everest from the plane. But you don’t get as close as one can see on a mountain flight. Moreover, the crew in the mountain flight assists you in identifying the peaks,” he said.
As an example, he said the airlines would provide a brochure to help identifying the peaks that fall on the route.
According to him, early morning flight with the stronger rays of the sun gives you clear visibility about the glowing Himalayas, oval-shaped, glacial-fed lakes and glaciers.
The prominent peaks included Langtang Lirung (7,234 m), Shisha Pangma (8,013 m), Dorje-Lakpa (6,966 m), Gauri-Shankar (7,134 m), Melungtse (7,181 m), which looks like a plateau, Cho-Oyo (8,201 m), Gyachung Kang (7,652M), Pumoki (7,161 m), Nuptse (7,855 m), Mt. Everest (8,848 m), its eastern peak Lhotse (8,516 m), Chamlang (7,319 m) and Makalu (8,463 m).
For the Hindus, the Gauri-Shankar peak is religiously important as it’s believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva.
At the end of the spectacular journey, Buddha Air hands over a certificate to the passengers with an inscription: “I didn’t climb Mt. Everest but touched it with my heart”