Wednesday, April 1

Trek Day 01 - Kathmandu to Lukla (2,840m) to Bengkar (2,630m)

Early 5:00am start from Thamel to drive to Kathmandu domestic air terminal as we were booked on one of the first flights out. But as with anything in Nepal other forces often influence ones plans.

There was a low slightly smoggy cloud over the valley hence likely that our flights would be delayed. The airport was a buzz of exited travellers all looking forward to leaving the smoky noisy hectic pace of Thamel, the tourist area. And yes an announcement that the flights would now depart around 8:30am. We all nestled down and sat people watching.

I had been very fortunate to have been able to organise that Nima would join us as our trekking Sherpa. I had met him back in 2007 one my second attempt at Shishapangma. He was one of the Sherpas supporting Jamie's (Project Himalaya) commercial expedition. Unfortunately I was stopped by bad weather and only got to camp I at 6,500m.

Just after we had organised a hot cup of coffee, there was a rushed announcement that our flight was boarding! Typical, but I was actually very relieved as it is always touch and go whether one gets out to Lukla airport on ones first attempt.

Soon we were all boarded and charging down the runway through the mist. Obviously it had been the Lukla side which had delayed us. They don't fly when there are clouds as "there are mountains" in them...

It was really clear and we had uninterrupted views of the Himalayan range. Soon we were changing course and diving down with mountains very near on either side of us. It is one of the most exiting and sometime nerve wracking landings in the world. With a loud bump we "landed" and were hurtled towards the stone wall at the end of the short runway. The reason for the wall is that the runway is actually carved into the side of a mountain. The loud noise of the air brakes thankfully slowed us and we veered right into the small taxi area. They perform remarkably fast turnaround times and we were ushered of with whistles blowing to collect our baggage. Relative peace and quiet AND lovely clean fresh mountain air, what a change from Kathmandu. Within minutes the next flight arrived and it was noisy pandemonium again.

Nima was able to organise a porter for us who lived in the same village and soon after a little admin our merry band took of down the streets of Lukla.

This consisted of Wendy & Ray (Mum & Dad) and Sonal Amin a friend of ours from London. Claire unfortunately was unable to join us. Her recent appointment of COO of Garrard Webster required her full time attention and even though it meant missing the trip, she was thoroughly enjoying the challenges.

I'll let a couple of photos describe the rest of the 6 hour trek to Bengkar...

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