A complete guide to booking and going on a Kathmandu Everest Flight over the Himalayas from the capital city of Nepal, with 10 useful tips from my experience.
Kathmandu is the gateway to the Nepalese Himalayas, home to the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest. If you’re making a quick visit to Kathmandu, then one of the best and most popular morning trips is the incredible Himalayan scenic flight from Kathmandu Airport, sold as the “Everest mountain flight tour” in Thamel.
This is by far the one-hour flight is the most convenient way to see some of the world’s tallest mountains up close, including Mount Everest (8,849 m), Lhotse (8,516 m), Cho Oyu (8,188 m), Mount Makalu (8,481 m), and Shishapangma (8,027 m).
However, after booking the Kathmandu tour with limited prior knowledge of what to expect, there were some things that surprised me. That’s why, in this comprehensive guide, I will provide a breakdown of the top 10 things I wish I had known before embarking on the flight, accompanied by helpful tips for booking the best mountain flight, and a personal account of my own experience.
- How to Book an Everest Mountain Flight from Kathmandu
- 10 Things to Know About the Scenic Everest Mountain Flight from Kathmandu
- 1. You Will See Some of the Tallest Mountains on Earth – Including Mount Everest
- 2. The Flights Take off in the Early Morning
- 3. Flights Can be Delayed or Cancelled in Bad Weather Conditions
- 4. Several Airlines Operate Scenic Mountain Flights But…
- 5. The Plane is a Small Jet
- 6. The Best Time to Fly is April – May and September – October
- 7. The Flight Time is 60 Minutes
- 8. You get Guaranteed Window Seats
- 9. Both Sides of the Plane Get Himalayan Views
- 10. You’ll Want to Book in Advance
- My Experience on the Kathmandu Everest Scenic Flight
- Where to Stay in Kathmandu
- Read More Nepal Travel & Adventure Guides
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
How to Book an Everest Mountain Flight from Kathmandu
I booked my Kathmandu mountain flight using GetYourGuide, an online booking platform that is pretty popular in Nepal.
I highly recommend this option over finding a random tour agency in Thamel, since you won't have to haggle for the best price. More importantly, GetYourGuide includes free cancellation and a money-back guarantee in the event of bad weather conditions– which you'll be hard-pressed to get from a tour on the street.
After booking online, I got my flight ticket and hotel pickup confirmation sent to me within 30 minutes, which I was really impressed with. This tour has hundreds of 5-star reviews for a reason and organizes flights with Shree Airlines (a reputable jet airline with a good safety track record).
10 Things to Know About the Scenic Everest Mountain Flight from Kathmandu
1. You Will See Some of the Tallest Mountains on Earth - Including Mount Everest
The opportunity to come face to face at eye level with the world's tallest mountains is something that I just couldn't pass up. Some of the impressive mountains that you'll get to see on the flight include:
- Mount Everest - Standing at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet), this is the tallest mountain in the world. It is located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas and is also known as Sagarmatha in Nepali and Chomolungma (Goddess Mother of the World) in Tibetan.
- Lhotse - The fourth highest mountain in the world, Lhotse is located on the border between Tibet and the Nepalese Khumbu. Its peak stands at 8,516 meters (27,940 feet).
- Nuptse - A part of the Everest massif, Nuptse stands at 7,861 meters (25,791 feet) and is located in the Khumbu region of Nepal.
- Ama Dablam - Known for its distinctive shape, Ama Dablam is a mountain located in the eastern Himalayas in Nepal. It stands at 6,812 meters (22,349 feet) and is often referred to as the "Matterhorn of the Himalayas."
- Cho Oyu - Located on the border between Tibet (China) and Nepal, Cho Oyu stands at 8,188 meters (26,864 feet). It is the sixth-highest mountain in the world and is a popular peak for mountaineering expeditions now that Chinese permits are back.
- Makalu - Standing at 8,485 meters (27,838 feet), Makalu is the fifth-highest mountain in the world. It is located on the border between Nepal and Tibet and is known for its steep slopes and challenging climbing routes.
2. The Flights Take off in the Early Morning
One important thing to know about the Kathmandu Everest Flight is that it starts very early in the morning, with the flight departing at 6:30 am. This means that depending on where you stay in Kathmandu, your hotel pickup can be as early as 4:30 am.
When I booked my mountain flight on GetYourGuide, I received a WhatsApp message informing me that I would be picked up from my hotel Aloft (highly recommend) at 5:15 am to be at the Tribhuvan International Airport by 6 am.
The early start is because the best time to view the Himalayan mountains is during the morning hours. During this time, the skies are clearer and the sun is shining brightly on the snow-capped peaks.
All things going well with weather conditions, expect to be back at your hotel at around 9 am.
3. Flights Can be Delayed or Cancelled in Bad Weather Conditions
On that note, perhaps one of the most important things to know about the Kathmandu mountain flights is that in poor weather, flights will be canceled.
Actually, adverse weather conditions including dense cloud cover can be a common occurrence in the high Himalayan region.
So, if you can, try to check the forecast before booking your flight. Again, this is a good reason to book with GetYourGuide. Cancellation will result in an immediate refund with them (with an option to postpone).
4. Several Airlines Operate Scenic Mountain Flights But...
You'll find that that mountain flights vary in terms of pricing and availability. That's because many airlines in Nepal, including Yeti Airlines, Shree Airlines, and Buddha Airlines operate similar scenic flights.
However, as you might have heard, Nepalese airlines do not have the best track record for safety or compliance. Shree Airlines is the best one of the lot, which is the airline I flew with on the GYG tour.
5. The Plane is a Small Jet
The aircraft used for the flight are small and usually accommodate between 16-20 passengers. However, they are larger than the Lukla flight planes and are actually small jets rather than the propeller planes you usually see flying in the Himalayas– at least the Shree Airlines flight was.
6. The Best Time to Fly is April - May and September - October
During these months, the weather in the Himalayan region is typically more stable, with clear skies and good visibility, providing ideal conditions for the Mount Everest flight tour.
However, Everest scenic flights do operate out of Kathmandu outside of these months. If you want my advice, try to nail the forecast.
Consequently, this is also the best time for Himalayan trekking. This including the popular Everest Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Circuit, and Three Passes trek.
7. The Flight Time is 60 Minutes
The duration of Kathmandu Everest flights typically ranges between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the airline and flight path.
The tour that I booked lasted nearly exactly an hour, which in my opinion was enough time to take in the sights. Any shorter would feel rushed.
8. You get Guaranteed Window Seats
This is probably the most important thing to know! These scenic mountain flights only sell window seats, this is the best way to ensure all passengers get a personal, close-up view of the Himalayan peaks.
While there are some old review reports claiming they were able to enjoy the views from the pilot's cockpit, this was not the case on my flight.
9. Both Sides of the Plane Get Himalayan Views
However, this also means that you will only get the best mountain views for half of the journey. The plane's flight path flies in a way that the left side of the plane gets the views first, then the plane turns around, offering views of the snowy peaks to the right side on the way back.
10. You'll Want to Book in Advance
Kathmandu Everest flights are one of the most popular experiences in Kathmandu. Therefore, you can expect reliable airlines to sell out.
I recommend booking roughly 4-5 days in advance if you can. This way, you'll be able to check the weather reliably, while also leaving enough time to secure a seat.
On the other hand, if you've got limited time in Kathmandu, then I'd suggest booking as soon as you can, since you get free alterations and cancellations in bad weather anyway on the GetYourGuide tour.
My Experience on the Kathmandu Everest Scenic Flight
Below is a quick rundown of my experience on the flight from Kathmandu.
Hotel Pickup Service
Setting my alarm bright and early, my driver met me at the Aloft hotel lobby in a large, comfortable Tata 4x4. In less than half an hour, we were at the airport.
The traffic at this hour is much calmer than what you experienced in Kathmandu during the daytime. After we arrived, our driver showed us the way to check in and told us that he'd wait outside for us to return.
Checking in at Kathmandu Domestic Airport
Kathmandu Domestic Terminal can get a little chaotic in the early morning. That's because many trekkers heading to the Khumbu region for the EBC trek or climbing expeditions fly from here to the village of Lukla.
However, since we were on a mountain flight, we were ushered along through the security and we didn't need to wait too long at the check-in desk, since there were much fewer people on this flight.
Upon checking in, we received our ticket, as well as a small brochure outlining the peaks we were about to see firsthand.
Taking a Bus to the Plane
Luckily for us, the weather conditions were ideal for a mountain flight, and our takeoff time was right on cue. However, after our flight number got called, we had to get onto a small bus, which took us to the opposite side of the airport.
I figured that this might be the area where they keep the small jets for mountain flights. Immediately upon arriving, the flight attendants ushered us onto the plane and were shown to our seats.
The Scenic Mountain Flight
The takeoff was very smooth, and felt much like a regular domestic flight, only in a smaller jet. Immediately after breaking through the hazy skies of Kathmandu Valley, I laid my eyes on the first Himalayan peaks.
The plane's flight path starts in a northern direction towards the Langtang Range. The first 8000-meter peak is Shishapangma, located on the Tibetan side of the Himalayas. The pyramid-shaped Dorje Lhakpa was next in the Jugal Himal.
Next, we took a southeast turn and followed close to the Nepalese and Tibetan border. Soon, I spotted the triple peaks of the Gauri Sankar massif in the Rolwaling Himal.
The following notable peaks included Phurbi Chyachu and Gauri Shankar, before making our way deep over Sagarmatha National Park (Everest Region). Here, we spotted Cho Oyu, Pumori, Ama Dablam, Baruntse, Makalu, Mount Lhotse, and of course, Mount Everest– the world's highest mountain.
Looking into the distance, I also caught a glimpse of the mighty Kanchenjunga on the border with Sikkim.
Tip: Even if you are unfamiliar with the different peaks of the Himalayan ranges, the flight attendant and cabin crew will help by calling out their names.
Return to Kathmandu
As I was sitting on the left side of the plane, I got to experience the scenic views first. On the way back, I enjoyed the views of the rolling foothills leading into the hazy distance towards India.
Soon, after an epic 60-minute flight, we landed back in Kathmandu airport, where our driver was waiting for us. After a truly epic morning, I returned back to Aloft Hotel in time for their buffet breakfast!
Where to Stay in Kathmandu
The trekking and tourist hub in Kathmandu is called Thamel. This is where you will find all of the best trekking shops, hostels, restaurants, bars, and hotels in Kathmandu.
If you're planning a trek in the Himalayas, you'll want to find a hotel or hostel that allows you to leave your luggage there until you return. Read my guide to Kathmandu's best hotels, or take a pick from the three best accommodation options below that offer this service.
- Aloft Kathmandu - overlooking the city from the heart of Thamel, this is "the place" where climbers stay before big expeditions. It's a luxury pick with epic amenities like a gym, rooftop pool, and an EPIC buffet breakfast. This is where I stay every time I'm in Kathmandu before heading to the mountains.
- Flock Hostel - the best backpacker hostel in Thamel. This place has very clean dorms with curtains and private rooms with excellent views. There's also an amazing on-site cafe and restaurant serving delicious coffees and international meals and is rated #1 on Trip Advisor for breakfast and dinner in all of Kathmandu!
- Vastu Boutique Hotel - if you'd prefer a peaceful boutique hotel to escape the hustle & bustle, then Vastu will be the best mid-range pick. This place has a 9.7/10 rating on Booking.com with over 300 reviews!
Read More Nepal Travel & Adventure Guides
I hope that this quick guide to taking a Kathmandu Everest flight in Nepal has been useful and inspired you to take this once in a lifetime experience. While you're here, check out some of my other guides, from trekking to higlights in Kathmandu Valley.