The 2015 earthquake caused landslides and bridge collapses: today there is often no alternative to flying to reach the great mountains
Plane, bus or taxi? the classic question among mountaineers and trekkers heading to the great mountains of Nepal. It often happens that the answer is dictated by the weather conditions. Wind, low clouds and thunderstorms inevitably require traveling by road. Local airlines don’t cancel flights to keep customers and so it’s not uncommon to find yourself staring at departure announcement tables long after take-off time, only to be told at check-in that it would be better to show up again tomorrow. Taxis are relatively cheap (at least by Western standards) and buses are frequent. For times increase dramatically: often full days instead of an hour’s flight.
But there are sections that in any case must be made by plane. The most classic is the one for Lukla at an altitude of almost 3,000 metres, where the trek to Everest base camp starts. The flight lasts an hour and the sceneries are gorgeous. The alternative is a full day by car or bus, followed by four or five days of hard trekking, which includes overcoming two hills close to 4,000 meters in height. A trip from other times between rice fields and very green valleys, where for some foreigners who love walking alone they have also been attacked and robbed by local criminals. Just after the severe earthquake of 25 April 2015 (which cost over 8,000 dead), the collapse of several bridges and hundreds of landslides isolated entire regions of the country, flying became imperative in many cases. Plane crashes certainly represent an unknown factor. Indian media records 67 of them in the last sixty years. Even the most inveterate traveler cannot help but think about it. And it is enough to see the small twin-engine jets of the Yeti or Himalaya Airlines parked on the Kathmandu runway to wonder how they will manage among the black clouds that often station at the gates of the valleys that open in the distance, just beyond the hills covered with vegetation all around the capital.
The landing and take-off at Lukla is certainly impressive: the runway built on a sloping meadow overlooking a gigantic ravine. On the bottom lie the metal remains of the planes that didn’t make it. Pokhara airport appears much quieter. There are no cliff faces and narrow valleys that lead to the highest peak on earth. It is used to reach the starting point of the fantastic trek around Annapurna. It used to be an almost three-week-long adventure, but in the last decade a road has been built and a small airport added, making it easier to access Mustang’s barren mountains. It is still unclear what are the causes of the accident in the last few hours to the twin-engine Yeti which caused the death of 68 passengers and 4 crew members. There were about fifteen foreigners, among them 5 Indians, 4 Russians, 2 South Koreans and a Frenchman. The trekking season ended in mid-December and will resume towards the end of March, otherwise there might have been more Westerners. Pokhara however easily accessible by bus, those with wooden superstructures covered with gaudy designs are still in service. If you are not in a hurry, an interesting alternative that becomes an integral part of the trip.
Here the updates from NepalCopyAMP code.
January 15, 2023 (change January 15, 2023 | 11:21)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED