Kathmandu to Lukla is the first journey of the trek in the Everest region. This beautiful town in the Solukhumbu District is popularly known as the gateway of Mt. Everest (8848 m). Situated at 2,860 m (9,383 ft), this high-altitude location remains in Province No. 1 of eastern Nepal.
There is Tenzing Hillary airport in the town, one of the smallest in the world. With only a 500m runway, the landing and takeoff of flights are pretty thrilling. Small Twin Otters make flights to and from the airport in early mornings with clear weather.
Since there is a cliff on one side, it is widely considered one of the most extreme airports globally. Lukla is also home to many guesthouses, restaurants, and hotels. There are many shops around where you can go souvenir shopping. Some restaurants provide western meals and trekking supplies.
How to Arrive at Lukla?
Duration: 30-minute flight
This is the most popular means of travel to Lukla from Kathmandu. Although the Tenzing-Hillary Airport has a notoriety among travelers, many flights safely take place quickly. However, since the flight only happens in clear conditions with high visibility, you must separate some buffer days.
By Road and Trek
Duration: 5-7 days
Road and trek are other alternatives to travel to Lukla in the Everest region. Firstly, you can take the scenic drive to Jiri or Phaplu, which takes around a day. From Jiri, you can start your trekking journey to Lukla. This is the trek route taken by the first expeditioners on Everest.
The quiet trails pass through the scenic landscapes of the area. There are beautiful Himalayan vistas, cliffs, waterfalls, and others. The trek journey from Phaplu to Lukla is around three days, and from Jiri to Lukla is five.
Trek from Phakding to Lukla
Lukla Elevation: 2,840 m/ 9,318 ft
Phakding Elevation: 2,610 m/ 8,563 ft
Lukla to Phakding Distance: 5.1 mi/8.2 km
Lukla to Phakding Duration: 3-4 hours
After arriving at Lukla, you will rest for a night or trek to Phakding on the same day, based on your preference. Phakding lies at a lower elevation than Lukla. However, you will still gain around 900 ft as you will be traveling from Kathmandu. Trekkers will first descend from Lukla and then hike up the valley along the river to Phakding.
After arriving in Lukla, you can have some meals at nearby small restaurants. Then, you can proceed to the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality Office to get the necessary permits. You can get the permits if you haven’t already and carry them throughout the trek.
There are mostly downhill trails, but you will pass through short uphill sections throughout the trek. Trekkers will pass through challenging terrains with steep rocky areas and dirt roads. On a level of difficulty, it is generally considered as relatively easy.
You will also pass through some of the cultural settlements and small villages. You can experience the local lifestyle and heritage along the trail. There you can interact with the locals with the help of your guide.
Lukla to Phakding has a lot of vegetation along the lower region trails. You can find many flora and fauna in the region. The view of the snow-capped mountains of the area is quite enthralling. You will also encounter much wildlife along the trail.
As the trail moves alongside the Dudh Kosi River, there are many suspension bridges. The total distance covered along the trails is 5.1 miles/8.2 km which takes around 3-4 hours. The time duration required to complete the trek also depends on the trekker’s pace and the breaks taken.
Trekkers must have proper fitness for the trek as they pass through some uphill and downhill terrains. After arriving at the Phakding, you can have your lunch and stay at the tea house. The trekkers can stay on Phakding for a night before making their way to Namche Bazaar.