Monday, December 30, 2019

5 Ways to See Mount Everest

Mount Everest is undeniably the most popular mountain in the world. With its mighty height of 8,848 meters, many mountaineers aspire to reach its peak and take pride in being one of the very few to do so. But it is definitely no easy climb. Rigorous training is required to even consider taking on Everest. And the average budget of $45,000 to ascend is definitely no joke. Thankfully, there are other ways to get to see Everest. And it won't hurt one's bank account that much. 

Hello, Mount Everest.
A flight to Nepal from Manila usually takes 9 to 12 hours depending on where you plan to take your connecting flight. And considering the long queue for Visa on Arrival, expect to spend an additional hour before officially setting foot on Kathmandu, Nepal. And it would be a total waste if you visit Nepal without even taking a tiny peek of the glorious mountain.

Though climbing Everest is the most rewarding way to enjoy the mountain, there are easier and cheaper ways to bask in its beauty. 
Several travel agencies offer 12 to 14 day treks to Everest Base Camp from Kathmandu or Lhasa at an average rate of $1,400-1,500. 
If you want something less tiring, you can opt to go for an Everest flight tour via helicopter or plane. Helicopter tours cost about $1,200 - $2,000 per person depending on whether you want the ride to be shared or not. Plane tours cost a lot more affordable rate per person. R and I opted for the plane tour as it was deemed the safer option. 
R suggested that we check out the rates of travel agencies before booking ours online. And to our surprise, most quoted $195 versus the online rate of $160. However, our hotel (Hotel Osho Home) which also runs a travel agency, matched the online price and added airport transfers for free. The catch though was that we had to go with Shree Airlines instead of Buddha or Yeti Air which have better reputations. We gambled and decided to go with Shree. 
Note that all Everest flight tours fly out of Kathmandu at 6:30 in the morning as it offers the best visibility. So best to stay in the capital the night before. We made a costly mistake of thinking that the flight tours are available in the afternoon too. 
We got picked up from our hotel at 5:30 a.m. and we got to the airport around 6 a.m.. Unlike in Manila, Nepal seems to be very lax with time allowances for flights. 
I was so worried when I couldn't see Shree's counter from the domestic airport. It made me remember reviews talking about scams and nonexistent flights. Fret not as its counter is located inside, right beside the security area.
Getting our boarding pass and getting through security was a breeze. We were by the gate in 15 minutes. 
I was expecting to board a small plane where there's only one seat per side (as the mountain flight tour guarantees everyone window seat). But I was surprised that our plane was bigger. We boarded the plane they usually use for domestic flights (with two seats per side). It was a relief though as it meant less turbulence.
Before flying out, we were given some candies. I was about to open mine when R signaled that it tasted (and smelled) really bad. 
I was a bit bummed that my window was fogged up and couldn't see anything outside. Thankfully, it cleared up a few minutes after we took off.
The flight attendant started to ask us one by one to go to the cockpit for a better view after 15 minutes into the flight. And since there were only a few passengers on board, we got to do it twice!
The first time we got to the cockpit gave us a far view of Tibet and the second was a close look of Everest.
And it was magical! I cannot imagine what it would be like if one gets an even closer look!
Before landing back to Kathmandu domestic airport, we were handed certificates for joining the flight tour. I found it quite cute.
I was so worried that we would just waste money taking this flight tour but it turned to be the highlight of our Nepal trip. I'll surely consider taking the trek or a helicopter flight if ever I find myself back in Nepal.

Dislike flying and have a few days to spare? You might want to consider visiting Nagarkot, Kathmandu Valley for a lovely view of Everest.

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