The long awaited improvements to Kathmandu airport are now due to start on April 1, 2019.
With the Everest climbing and trekking season just beginning, the changes mean most fixed wing flights will now go from a small airport a good 4 hours East of Kathmandu for the flight to Lukla, the gateway to the Everest region. You can see the town and landing at the airport here.
This small town has limited lodges and restaurants, and with flights leaving from 6 a.m. onwards for Lukla, either an overnight stay or super early start will be required.
Helicopters will now be at a premium as they may still fly Kathmamdu – Lukla. Increased congestion and Nepal’s safety record may be a consideration, with a reminder just last week with another heli crash and all passengers killed.
Ground transport and lodges will suddenly be at capacity. There are discussions around a tent camp. You may even wish to consider adding a few days to the walk in and trekking in from Jiri – at least you will be fit and acclimatized for the Namche hill.
The road also keeps pushing eastward and upward from Kathmandu, with an extension as far as Lukla planned for next year.
While climbers and trekkers may still prefer to fly, this will provide a lower cast way to transport goods and undoubtably a much cheaper option for those inclined to take the scenic bus journey. The hope is the road stops there, leaving the classic and scenic trek to Everest intact.
If you happen to be headed up to Basecamp on my trek In Hillary’s Footsteps With Peter Hillary and I, fortunately we are leaving a day before the airport changes. With a bit of luck we will be well up the hill as the dust starts to fly behind us.
You can sign up for my email updates for additional information as we set out for our trek.