16 Oct, 2018

Day 1 – Helicopter to Lukla

Written by: Russ

South Downs Way





Elevation loss:


Everest Base Camp Trek

The Everest Base Camp Trek is approximately an 80-mile round-trip through the Khumbu Valley from Lukla to the foot of Mount Everest. Passing through the most iconic mountain range landscapes in the world, the trek will be one you’ll remember forever.

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Day 1 route overview

The trek begins in Lukla. Famous for having one of the most dangerous runways on earth. Your arrival will kick start the trip with excitement and a memorable landing. Shortly after arrival to Lukla, you’ll head north towards the village of Phakding.


On the first day of the trek, you’ll actually lose a lot of elevation on the way to Phakding. It’s a steady descent and reassuring that you’ll have more time to acclimate to the high altitude.

Over the M3

Cancelled flights!

From my hotel on Z Street in Kathmandu I already had everything booked and ready to go by the trekking company, Magic Expedition Tours who arranged everything from flights to permits and accommodation. All of which I’ll list in the sidebar throughout this blog. It was a short yet emotional taxi ride to the domestic airport.

The airport itself was incredibly busy and clearly overrun for its size. You’ll need to keep your cool in the airport as there’s nowhere to sit and flights are almost always delayed for hours. My flights were delayed for over 7 hours before being cancelled.

After the flights got cancelled, I had 2 choices, either rebook the trip and leave my guide waiting in Lukla or get a helicopter ride which didn’t require queuing or waiting. It was expensive at over $1000, but luckily I met some amazing people who wanted to share the ride and we split it 5 ways. Phew!

I was actually very glad we had to get the helicopter, it was by far the best and simplest way to get to Lukla with incredible views.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

Arrived in Lukla

Finally, I arrived in Lukla to meet my guide Kalyan Tamang. A very kind and softly spoken man who’d already trekked for 2 days to get to Lukla and meet me. We sat in a café near the airport, drank tea and ate a meal. Most hikers make their way straight to Namche Bazaar on day one, but because I arrived in Lukla so late due to the delays we decided to make our way to Phakding for the night before heading to Namche the following day.

Over the M3
Over the M3

Let’s go!

Very shortly after our meal, there was nothing left to do but start walking. We made our way to the gate to the north of Lukla and signed the register. Lukla was a very clean, yet busy village with very new buildings and lots of shops and cafés. I was ready for some wilderness. As the sun began to grow lower in the sky, the cloud made it much darker and before long I was wearing my headlamp and we were walking to Phakding in Darkness.  

Over the M3
Over the M3

A welcome night’s rest

Arriving in Phakding was my favourite part of the day; second to the helicopter ride. The painfully long and stressful wait in the airport, coupled with the trekking at high altitude had me completely pooped! The tea room in Phakding was warm, cosy and the food was hot and hearty. The perfect end to the first day.

Over the M3



  • Views and vista 50% 50%
  • Difficulty 40% 40%

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