Taken from behind a fence, this Dornier is returning to Kathmandu. Only the DeHavilland DHC6 Twin Otter and the Dornier DO228 have good enough short field performance to operate from Lukla.
Lukla is a town in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal where most people visiting the Himalayas near Mount Everest start their journey. Lukla, at 2,860 metres (9,380 ft.), contains a small airport where most people begin and end their adventure in the region. Although Lukla means place with many goats and sheep, one is not likely to see many roaming around these days.
Looking across the township of Lukla, with the air strip of Lukla Airport in the foreground.
Somewhere between 90-95% of the foreign nationals who reach Lukla will arrive by a ½ hour flight from Kathmandu. The remainder will mainly trek in from Jiri, about a seven to eight day walk. On organized treks, most of the Nepalese guides and kitchen staff will also walk from Jiri to Lukla, albeit in about half the time unless clients are also with them.
Lukla has a variety of shops and lodges where one can have basic western style meals and pick up any last minute items for the trekking or climbing ahead. If one cannot find required items in Lukla, better luck can be had in Namche Bazaar. There are a couple of good climbing shops (e.g. Mountain Madness) in Namche where one can rent carabiners, helmets, ice axes, jumars and harnesses. However, plastic mountaineering boots and crampons are best rented in Kathmandu if they are needed.
From Lukla, most trekking groups will take two days to reach Namche Bazaar, a nice easy pace to help in altitude acclimatization. Distance wise, this segment is doable in one long day (~8 to 10 hours) but not advised due to increased risk of altitude sickness. If not in a formal trekking group, one should double-check tickets with the airline before leaving Lukla. Empty seats on flights between Kathmandu and Lukla are a rarity during the prime seasons and people being bumped off their flights is not uncommon.
Lukla is served by Tenzing-Hillary Airport (Lukla Airport). There are frequent daily flights (i.e. no night service) between Lukla and Kathmandu, weather permitting. The tiny Dornier and Twin Otter aeroplanes which service the town offer some breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Lukla Airport has one of the steepest runways in the world, at the end of which is a drop to the valley below. [wikipedia]