Best time to visit Nepal

Lukla Tenzing–Hillary Airport in Nepal

The world's most dangerous airport is not for the faint-hearted

Best time: March–May | mid-September–November

Lukla Tenzing–Hillary Airport
Lukla Tenzing–Hillary Airport
Lukla Tenzing–Hillary Airport

Lukla is a town where many climbers start their ascent to the Mount Everest Base Camp. If you decided to conquer the mountain, your adventures might start as soon as you arrive. After all, Tenzing–Hillary Airport, also known as Lukla Airport, was rated the most dangerous on the planet. It is located in Khumbu, Solukhumbu District, Province No. 1, in Eastern Nepal. Built in 1964, it has the elevation of 2,845 m.

The Lukla Airport won't forgive the slightest misstep in landing or takeoff. Due to the complexity of landing at the airport, only highly experienced pilots, with at least 100 short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) missions, can fly here. At Lukla airport departing and arriving planes have to use a single runway. A 1500-foot runway with a 12% incline, which was paved only in 2001, drops into a river valley. And there is high terrain right beyond its northern end.

There are flights between Lukla and Kathmandu almost every day during the climbing season, which is spring and autumn. Summer monsoon season starts in June and sometimes continues till mid-September. The airport is often closed due to high winds, clouds, and poor visibility.

Practical info

When is it advisable to visit Lukla Tenzing-Hillary Airport?

Lukla Tenzing-Hillary Airport is best visited during spring, from March to May, or autumn, from mid-September to November, owing to favorable weather and visibility conditions that enable safe plane operations. The airport is frequently closed during the monsoon season from June onwards due to adverse weather conditions. These closures may last for several days, stranding passengers in undesirable situations. Show more

What is the minimum flying experience expected of pilots flying into Lukla Tenzing-Hillary Airport?

Only pilots with over 100 short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) experiences are authorized to fly into Lukla Tenzing-Hillary Airport. Landing and taking off at this airport are particularly challenging due to the complex terrain, single runway that drops into a valley, and high terrain beyond its north end. As such, airlines meticulously scrutinize pilots to ensure passengers' safety. Show more

Apart from air travel, what other alternative means can one use to access Lukla?

One can trek from a nearby airport, such as Jiri, to reach Lukla, which takes roughly 6 to 8 days. This option provides breath-taking scenery and an opportunity to interact with friendly locals. As most climbers begin their Mount Everest Base Camp ascent from Lukla, trekking to Lukla gives one a head start and an opportunity to acclimatize before embarking on their climb. Show more

How frequently is Lukla Tenzing-Hillary Airport closed due to weather-related reasons?

Lukla Tenzing-Hillary Airport frequently closes during the monsoon season, which starts in June and sometimes continues till mid-September, due to issues such as high winds, clouds, and poor visibility, making flight operations hazardous. Passengers could experience delays of several days waiting for the weather to clear up. However, the airport enjoys a high level of operational regularity during spring and autumn. Show more

What safety tips should passengers bear in mind before flying into or out of Lukla Tenzing-Hillary Airport?

Passengers ought to prepare themselves mentally and physically for a sharp descent due to the airport's steep incline runway. The passengers are advised to carry appropriate gear for unexpected weather changes and avoid traveling by air on the day of their arrival in Nepal. It is also essential to pay attention to the pilot's instructions while on board the plane to ensure a safe and uneventful flight. Show more

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