Buzzing the Roof of the World
Everest & Annapurna Mountain Ranges, Nepal
Mount Everest Helicopter Tours
“It’s like seeing the world through 3-D glasses,” is how one person described flying in the mountain range around Mount Everest in a helicopter. The speaker, on a helicopter excursion arranged by Cox & Kings, explained that right after touring the Buddhist monastery in Tengboche, which sits atop a hill in the Everest region, they took off and the ground dropped away. The valley floor was suddenly a thousand feet or so below and the jagged slopes of Mount Everest, and the other Himalayan mountains, loomed larger than life through the helicopter’s windows. There’s no comparison to the feeling you get seeing a sight like this. And there’s only one way to do it.
Airplane flights through the region are available, but the fixed wing planes can fly only alongside the range. Helicopters can weave among the mountains, ensuring both panoramic and close-up views of the Himalayan ranges. Cox & Kings, which specializes in private travel arrangements to a wide range of places including Nepal, India, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, offers this 3-hour signature event, Mt. Everest: Roof of the World. The flight also includes a stop in Lukla, in the Khumbu region, the starting point for many visitors to the Himalayas near Mount Everest—a prime spot to photograph the surrounding mountains. A guide who knows these mountains well comes along to provide additional insight into the culture and geography of the region.
Himalayan Heliski Guides also offers sightseeing trips in the Everest and Annapurna regions of Nepal. Hikers should check into the company’s heli-trekking trips, on which clients are flown to scenic spots in the Everest region where they can hike for a few hours before being picked up afterward. This company, which uses Russian and Nepalese pilots that have major flying time hours in the Himalayas, is also offering a “See all the Himalaya in a week” program, where guests will be flown to various regions to see all the 8,000m (26,240-ft.) peaks and other regions in Nepal.
Mount Everest Helicopter Tours Cost:
About $1500 to $2500, depending on the length of the ride.
When to Go: Late fall to spring. Spring is climbing season.
$$ Kantipur Temple House, Chusyabahal, Jyatha Tol, Thamel, Kathmandu ( 977/ 1/ 425-0129; www.kantipurtemplehouse.com). $$ Hotel Courtyard, 67/27, Z-St., Thamel, Kathmandu (977/ 1/ 470-0648; www.hotelcourtyard.com).