Mountain Flight and Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour

When someone plans to visit Nepal, probably the first things on their mind is the Himalayas, world heritage sites or old civilisation of the country.  But in fact, did you know, you have to spare at least two weeks time and hike all the way up to 5,550m in order to the get the close-up view of the Mount Everest?  

As a matter of fact, not everyone has the time and the level of physical fitness required for the treks.   So the question is how would you see the Everest Himalayas in a short period without spending multiple days. Indeed, there is an option available for someone who likes to visit the base camp of the world's tallest mountain just within 4 hours without spending a tremendous amount of money.  Today in this article I am prepared to give you some idea everything you need to know about Everest Mountain flight in Nepal

Everest Flight Options 

As of now, there are only two options available to anyone willing to see Mount Everest from Kathmandu just within a few hours of time. The first one is on the small aircraft which just round up the Himalayas and back to Kathmandu and the next one is via Helicopter. Which physically brings you to the base camp of the highest mountain in the world. In the topic below I will explain and break down everything you need to know about this two available option.

Buddha Air Mountain flight

Buddha Air has a well-established market reputation in the Everest Mountain flight sector. Buddha Air currently has 3 ATRs flying along with the Beech 1900D with 19 passenger capacity. In ATR 42-300 can travel 24 passengers whereas the ATR-72-500 carries 36 passengers. These are the small aircraft especially design in the United States to fly in the high altitude. Every morning at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 Buddha air flyes over Mount Everest. During one hour flight, each passenger on board gets the window seats. A crew member on board also acts as a guide telling you all different mountain as you see.
Closer you get to the Himalayas Buddha Air also offers an opportunity to see the mountain view from the cockpit.  From Kathmandu to Mount Everest it is roughly about 100 miles (161 km). Buddha air flyes as close as 20 Miles (32.1km) away from the top, to show the 360' view of Mount Everest. You will be able to see 4 of the tallest mountain in the world. (Cho-yu ( 8,201M), Everest (8,848M), Lhotse ( 8,516M), Makalu 8463M) and many other small peaks below 7,000m and hundreds of green hills along the way.
Before I dive into the deep, Let's look at a quick 3-minute video that explains everything about Mountain flight in Nepal. 

Buddha Air Mountain Flight Cost 

As of the year 2018, Buddha Air Mountain flight cost online USD 198 per person for the foreigner and for Indian nationality it will be INR 7,281 per ticket. For a local Nepali tourist, it will be NPR 11,650. However, the price online and local market it will be different by 10-15%.
If you look for a local company who could help you reserve the ticket on your behalf, it might be slightly cheaper.  Buddha air is not only the flight company who could conduct a flight to Mount Everest. There are few other air company who also fly over Mt. Everest such as Yeti Airlines and other budget air company. By market value, Yeti airline is one of the largest air company in Nepal with a 60% market share. You could get a flight ticket even cheaper If you consider flying with Yeti Air. It will be as low as USD 175 per ticket if you look for a local agency to book your flight. 
  Nationality   Cost
 Nepali  NPR 11,650
 Indian  INR 7,281
 All others  USD 198
 Yeti air  USD 175 -198
 Buddha air  USD 198
 Cheapest market price (Budget Airlines)  USD 165
 Highest market price  USD 198 + Transportation USD 20

Cancellation and Refund Policies

There might be certain delays if the weather is not best for the flight, a lot of my client ask me what if we didn't see Mount Everest?   The airlines have full refund policies even the plane took off, and you didn't see Mountains. 100% money you paid will be refunded back to your account, or refund stamp will be provided if the reservation was made from the local agency. In case if you like to carry over the flight for the next day, then they will re-schedule it for you.  

Buddha Air Vs Yeti Air 

My personal experience, both airlines are the same and offer a similar service. However, Buddha Air has a bigger window and could fly closer to Mount Everest.  While Yeti airlines have slightly old design aircraft with smaller size window but it is undoubtedly cheaper to fly compear to Buddha Air.  When it comes to the air safety ranking, Buddha air is by far the safest domestic airlines flying over the Nepalese sky. Since 1998 Budha air had one crash reported on Sep 2011 (Which was by the way mountain flight). Buddha Air was able to keep this trust in Nepali sky because they never fly to the danger zone like Lukla, Jomsom, Humla Simikot etc. Due to their legacy, they are one of the most expensive airlines. However, since then things have gone so much different in the current market. 

When it comes to the Yeti airlines, they were the king of the domestic sector.  They are the only company flyes in local airport lies at the high altitude, such as Lukla, Jomsom, Faplu, Simikot etc.  So their safety rating was terrible because they took the risk. But they lost the market credibility due to the multiple crashes.   

In order to increase air safety and lead the market, In 2009 Tara air, a sister company of Yeti Airlines was officially open.  While Yeti Airlines only serve a city like Kathmandu Mt Everest Sightseeing, Pokhara, Bharatpur, Bhadrapur, Nepaljung etc. where there is less risk (Following the same path as Buddha). Yeti Airlines and Tara Air combine to form the largest domestic airline in Nepal; the group has more than 60% of the total market share.

Since then Yeti air doing really good in the overall market and the service they are providing. The bottom line is, nothing wrong going with Yeti airlines especially past few years they are trying to build their trust in the market and also a cheaper.

Some Fact About Everest Flight 

⇒ Booked the flight ticket along with private car and driver. Don't rely on a taxi if you have an early flight. You may not find a cab early in the morning. 

⇒ Usually, the best views achievable on a first flight, Book your ticket as per.

⇒ Each passenger will get the window seat. Designated sets are only available during check-in time. It is recommended to be airport earlier and queue up on the first row. If possible request the left side of the aircraft on a back most seats or the frontmost seats. Which has a better view than in the middle? 

⇒ To avoid loud engine sounds use cotton wool. The cabin crew will give you to place in your ear, but make sure you will remove cotton wool time to time when cabin crew explains about Mountain you saw from the window as you fly. 
⇒ The plane will circle round Mount Everest, they will not land at any point. It is roughly about one an half hour flight to and from Kathmandu.

⇒ If the weather is nice and clear, you will see over 20 mountain above then 7,000m including 4 of the tallest mountain in the world. (Cho-yu ( 8,201M), Everest (8,848M), Lhotse ( 8,516M), Makalu 8,463M) and many other small peaks below 7,000m and hundreds of green hills. 

Everest Helicopter Tour 

If you are among those, who would like to have a memorable Mount Everest experience that doesn't involve hiking for two weeks, Everest Helicopter Tour may hold the answer. This is probably the best option for someone who doesn't have time and physical fitness to ladder up for two weeks but willing to make a trip of the lifetime. Everest Helicopter tour offers a magnificent view of the Himalayas.  Local travel company incorporate with a helicopter company in Nepal organised a group flight to Everest base camp every day.

First thing always first! Before throwing up my flowery word let me take you to Everest Base Camp on eagle eyes. You don't want to miss this 4 minutes video that shows how beautiful this tour truly is? 

How does this work? 

There will be  AS350/B3e series helicopter used for Everest flight with a passenger capacity of six at a time. The helicopter flies to Lukla and stops about 10 minutes for fueling. And flyes to Kalapatthar 5,550m to view the Mount Everest. Depending on a group size and weight limits Helicopter does two shuttles from Everest View Hotel or Yeti Mountains Homes Kongde. If the group size is six, they fly twice with three passengers at a time so each passenger can get the window seat. While half of the member having a sightseeing around Everest, the other half will have a chance to have a breakfast at Everest View Hotel. Situated on a mountain ridge at a Guinness Book record-setting 3,880m (12,729ft) above ground. This luxury property offers  360' views of the Himalayas, and It's the most famous mountain visible while having breakfast. 

Everest View Hotel Vs Yeti Mountain Home

There are two resorts usually Helicopter stops for breakfast. One is the Everest View Hotel, and the other is Yeti Mountain Home. What is the different between this two resort and which is the best point to stop for breakfast?  Personally, I recommend both properties offers a magnificent view. But If you ask me to be specific regarding the location and view, I would give a score of 51 ot of 100 to the Yeti Mountain Home and 49 to the Everest View Hotel. It may help you decide where to make a stop. Based on my knowledge, here is everything I know about this two property.  

⇒ Everest View Hotel is listed on the Guinness Book Of the world record (2004) as the highest placed hotel (3,880m) in the world. 

⇒ Yeti Mountain Home is a privately own guest house and the highest resort of the Everest region located at the elevation of 4,250m. 

⇒ Everest View hotel is close to Mount Everest in terms of aerial distance compear to the Yeti Mountain Home. 

⇒ Yeti Mountain Home offers the best view of other sister mountains valleys Namche Bazar.   

⇒ While Everest View Hotel offers more close up view of Everest, Lhotse, and Amadablam. 

⇒ Yeti Mountain Home is located at higher ground compear to the Everest View Hotel. 

Note: Depending on the weather and wind sped of the current day, a pilot may take the decision where to make a stopping point for breakfast. If the weather condition is well enough to land, you can certainly request your favoured location for breakfast. 

Itinerary and schedule 

  Time   Activities
5:30 Drive from Hotel to Airport
6:00  Boarding
6:30  Kathmandu to Lukla Flight
7:15  Refueling in Lukla
7:30 - 7:45 Lukla to Everest View Hotel or Kongde Resort (Yeti Mountain Home)
7:45 - 8:00 Frist shuttle three person to Kalapatthar and landing for 10-15 minutes. 
8:15 Kalapatthar to Everest View Hotel or Kongde Resort via EBC
8:15 - 9:45 Champagne Breakfast while three others will depart for Kalapatthar and EBC
9:50 Everest View Hotel or Kongde Resort to Kathmandu

Why only 10 minutes at Kalapatthar and 30 minutes for breakfast? 

This is the questions, and we were frequently asked by our previous customer. Indeed, everyone like to spend more time and enjoy the view as much as possible in the higher ground.  As a matter of fact, spending more time at the high altitude of 5,550m is also increasing a risk of being sick (altitude sickness).  Imagine, the hiker who ladder up to the base camp for two weeks, which you are gaining just in 3-4 hours. Due to the safety concern for their passenger helicopter company wouldn't allow spending more time in the high altitude. I am sure 10-15 minute time would be enough to capture the memory in your camera. 

Everest Base Camp Helicopter tour Cost 

In the group of 5-6, It will be USD 1,200 per person. Which is literally the same price as if you ladder up for two weeks hike. It is just an idea to bring someone to the base camp of the world's highest mountain in 4 hours instead of hiking for two weeks. If you are in the group of at least 3-4 this flight will cost USD 1,500 per person. 
  Group Size   Total Cost   Per Person   Cost
 1 Person  USD 4,000  Per Person  USD 4,000
 2 Person  USD 4,200  Per Person  USD 2,100
 3-4 Person  USD 4,500  Per Person  USD 1,500
 5-6 person  USD 6,000  Per Person  USD 1,200
Local company gets 5-10% commission from the helicopter company. You may want to look for a local agency. The commission they get from helicopter company they pass into their customer. Where you could get price slashed at least 5%. NEST Adventure is one of the types of a local company who brings quality service at a competitive market price.  Feel free to check with us.

What does includes/ Excludes in the price? 

  •  Chartered Helicopter
  •  All government tax
  •  Sightseeing for 4 hours as per in the itinerary
  •  Passenger insurance from the helicopter company

Exclude:
  • National park entry permit (NRS. 3,400 per person)
  • Airport tax (NRS. 200)
  • Any meals, drinks or personal expenses
  • Tips  

FAQ

How can the middle one enjoy the view with 5/6  people on board? 

All six passenger can fly from Kathmandu - Lukla and up to Everest View Hotel or Yeti Mountain Home. Once you get the viewpoint, there will be two shuttle three passenger at a time, so everyone gets the window seat.  At the same time, everyone gets the opportunity to spend time at the hotel enjoy the view and time for a breakfast while we do the two shuttle. Sometimes the shuttle point could change either Pheriche or the two resort as mentation above. Depending on the weather condition and wind speed the pilot will decide where to make a shuttle point. However, it is still provided time in Everest View Hotel or  Yeti Mountain Home for breakfast even if the shuttle point is Pheriche. 

What is the weight limit? 

As we all know, the Helicopter could only carry limited weight.  Especially higher the altitude lower the weight limits for Helicopter. The helicopter used for Everest tour could hold up to 450kg. But after 4,500m Helicopter only could hold 250kg in total. It is necessary that you should provide your weight details while processing the bookings. 

Best time to go! 

The most uncertain part of the EBC helicopter tour is the weather. It is not only the possibilities for the flight but also the view what you will get during this tour. This is the only reason; we would recommend you to visit Everest Base Camp on a Helicopter during the best time of the year. Autumn and spring is the best time to plan this tour. From the last week of September to until mid-December is the best autumn weather and during the first week of March to until May also remains the sky nice and bright. This time of the year a large number of tourist visits Nepal. So you have high chances to meet the other group who could share a flight with you. Here is the weather report of autumn season of Everest region.
  Elevation   Wind Speed   Temprature
 Lukla 2,800m/9,842 ft  19km/hr  12'C / 53'F
 Kalapatthar 5,550m/18,044 ft  28km/hr  -10'C / 14'F
 Top of the Everest 8,848m/29028 ft  157km/hr  -32'C / -25'F
 

What types of cloth to wear?

Depending on the season, the weather varies in different elevation and place where you would stop. A universal principle, higher the altitude colder it becomes. So prepared for both low elevation (warm weather) and freezing temperature for high elevation.  

Here is the list, you may need to consider for EBC helicopter tour. 

20-25l day pack -1 
Down jacket - 1 
Inner thermal wear set top and bottom - 1 set 
Pants - 1 
Warm Shocks & Shoes - 
Warm gloves - 1 pair 
Warm hate - 1 set 
Sun Glass - 1 
Sun cream or Cold Cream - 1 
Lip guard - 1 
Water bottle - 1   
Camera, power bank and extra batteries 
Go-Pro with a big mounting frame (You can mount GoPro in Helicopter)

Is the helicopter landing at Everest Base Camp? 

There will be two choices; either landing at Kalapatthar 5,550m (18,208 ft) or Everest Base Camp 5,380m (17,600 ft).  You can't get the view of Mt. Everest from Everest Base Camp. But the Kalapatther is a viewpoint located at higher ground.  Most of the tourist who chose to take a Helicopter tour, they land at Kalapatthar from where you will see, extremely close view of Mt. Everest and Basecamp itself. When you take off, a pilot flew over Everest Base camp and returned back to Kathmandu. It is also hard to find a landing spot on EBC due to it is located in the moving glacier. During the Everest expedition month, the climber makes temporary helipad in Base Camp. If you are lucky ever in this region around this time, you may request a pilot for quick landing to get the picture of Everest Base Camp as well. Some pilot may allow you to land in Basecamp some may not. 

Cancellation policies due to bad weather condition 

Typically, there is a high chance of flying in a helicopter then regular mountain flight jet. While the regular flight to Lukla is being cancelled helicopter could do rescue operation and transport the passenger to Lukla. That means flying option with a helicopter has higher chances. But in case the weather is bad, even the helicopter couldn't make it, your money will be 100% refundable or schedule for the next day. Or Flying to Annapurna Base Camp is also an option. 

Can I bring Infant, Child in this tour? 

Yes, a child under two years can travel for free of cost and child above two years required to pay the full amount same as an adult. And it is entirely safe. 

Should I worried about altitude sickness? 

Not at all! Let me tell you why? 5,550m in 4 hours it may sound crazy but the concern about altitude sickness is the timing and itinerary.  As long as you will not spend more time in high altitude area, you will be fine. Altitude sickness is not something appears instantly when you scale up. It is the matter of a long period when your body changes altitude need more time to adapt with thin air. 

Is there supplementary oxygen available on board? 

Yes, there is.! The same type of helicopter used for search and rescue does this kind of job, and they always have an extra oxygen cylinder on board. In case anyone required supplementary oxygen.

Helicopter pilots experience and safety 

The same helicopter used for search and rescues from up to 7,000m will take this job. So you can be sure the level of experience and their expertise on this tour.  I will confidently say this is a piece of cake for the pilot. You may have heard some news of crash in Nepal, but there is no single helicopter crash on Everest Base Camp Helicopter tour history. 

How about someone with Hyponatremia, Asthma or physical disabilities? 

The answer is YES! Someone with Hyponatremia and Asthma could still do this tour with extra oxygen. For someone who is physically disabled could also do Everest Base Camp helicopter tour. Although there might not be enough place to roll a wheelchair, it can be transported on a helicopter and make them sit to enjoy the view while landed.  Everest Base Camp helicopter tour could also be a lifetime experience for an elderly or senior citizen. If you want to give a lifetime surprise to your elderly parent's grandmother or a grandfather, this is the tour you should take them in Nepal. 

How to book the trip? 

If you set up your mind to chose one of the options as described above, It is straightforward if you decide to go with mountain flight in a sharing plan with Buddha Air or Yeti air. You just need to find out the agency who could reserve a ticket for you. Or if you are happy to pay full fare, you can also book from the airline's website itself. As long as the concern about helicopter sharing tour you need to be careful while finding a right agency. Helicopter company doesn't deal with finding a passenger for the flight. All they do is schedule flight once bookings arrive. For example, air dynasty has fix date departure for the flight on their website, but If you are single and inquire them to join, they simply ask you to contact them again closer to the date.  That means they also had to wait for a reservation to come through the local agency. A lot of local agency post similar package online but very few of them are specialised. 

How to find a good company that specialised for EBC Helicopter Tour

⇒ Here are some tips on how to find the suitable travel company for your next adventure to EBC flight. Some of my suggestions below could save a couple of hundred dollars but still end up with the best service. 

⇒ Look for a company who is not listed on the top advertising section page of Google.  Because these companies would pass on the cost of advertisement to clients.
 
⇒ Avoid third party booking agency like Bookmundi, Getyourguide, Viatour etc. as it is likely the local travel companies are required to pay at least 25%-30% commission to these third-party websites means the cost is higher with third-party agency compear to the local agency.
 
⇒ Look for a company legal document page to make sure they are registered and appropriately licensed by the Nepal government.
 
⇒ Check what other travellers say about the company such as Tripadvisor.  These are independent reviews done by clients and verified by Tripadvisor so you can be sure of the type of service these companies are capable of.  If they treat 90% of their clients well, chances are, you will experience the same service.  
  
⇒ Make it secure and safe payment gateway! Like Paypal e-transfer etc. for advance payment. Do not pay 100% in advance until you are sure you have a group to join. However, most of the company requires at least some percentage of the total amount as a booking confirmation. It is recommended to make a deal payment after the flight. If you are paying via card as the flight could get cancelled makes easy, if the amount needs to be refunded in USD.   The reason behind this is when you make the payment via card you need to pay in local currency (NPR) in the equivalent of USD exchange rate. If the flight get cancelled, it might be hard for a local agency to give back 100% money in USD due to the buying exchange rate of USD.  It may depend on the company, but at least we take the full payment after the flight. Which makes our life more comfortable in case we need to refund. 

⇒ Bring Cash if you can! Instead of paying by card. You will save 4.2% if you pay in cash
If you would like to try how we do in our company, please give us a quick inquiry at nestadventure@gmail.com

About Rajendra Khanal (Raj)

Rajendra Khanal (Raj) Born and raised in Gorkha, Nepal, I am proud to call the Manaslu region my home! I have been in the travel business for over a decade from being assistance guide to being a guide/leader to being a manager and finally a founder of NEST Adventure. So you could say, I know my way well enough in the Himalayas especially in some of the off-the-beaten trails in Nepal like Manaslu, Kanchenjunga or Mustang
I am passionate about travelling and I strongly believe that seeing the world shouldn't break the bank (at least not too much!).  I studied in the UK and three years of living experience in the United States taught me how to deliver quality customer service in the business. I have backpacked to over 15 countries in Asia, Central Americas USA and Canada, one-third of Europe, Caribbean Island and  Latin America. As a backpacker myself, and travel expert of Nepal Himalayas I'm happy to share my experience with you. If you believe I can be helpful in planning your next trip to Nepal, then please do not hesitate to contact me. at nestadventure@gmail.com. I am also available 24x7 on Whats app and Viber +977- 9851052042 Or direct phone call +1(702) 465-9789. If you are interested to know more about my travel journey follow me on  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
 
1 + 7 = ?


Both the mountain flight and helicopter tour offers the amazing experience. Thanks for sharing information. 
- Cring Packer

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