Lukla is maybe best known for having the dubious honor of being the town with the world’s most dangerous airport, the Tenzing-Hillary Airport. Not only are there no radar devices, but the airstrip is on a slope as well as flanked by both a 3,000-meter drop into the valley on one side and a steep cliff on the other. Each safe landing is a heroic feat by the pilot – if it can be achieved at all that is, since weather conditions regularly shut down the airport for days. Nonetheless, for travellers heading into Sagarmatha National Park for hiking as well as those starting their climb to Everest Base Camp, flying to this crazy airport is simply part of the already adrenalin-fuelled package.
If you can manage to keep your eyes open during the approach, the stunning views will stay with you forever. Between the haze and clouds covering the mountains, you can see terraced fields, the occasional village but mostly a landscape of tall peaks and harsh cliffs rushing past. Lukla itself is entirely tailored to trekkers and there are lots of shops with outdoor gear, cafés with free wifi and several guest houses. The houses are made of simple gray stone with bright blue door and window frames and colorful roofs. All the while the air in the lively village is filled with the hum of the propeller planes landing every few minutes and the surefooted steps of porters hauling huge loads of food, drinks and everything else needed toward the Everest region.
The plane is by far the easiest way to reach Lukla in this remote corner of the Everest region. The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is about 25 minutes, but for those with a fear of flying and no love for extreme airports, it is also possible to reach the village from Kathmandu via a bus journey to Jiri followed by a five day hike.