Located in the Khumbu area of the Solukhumbu district in north-eastern Nepal, Lukla is a small town perched at the height of 2,860 metres above the sea level. While many would describe the place to be just an airport and a strip of hotels, this quaint little town definitely offers much more than that. With the development of the airport here, Lukla started to gain more and more popularity, and today it has become a popular place for tourists who further wish to visit the Himalayas. In fact, once trekkers reach Lukla, they will need only two additional days to reach the village Namche Bazaar, which is an altitude acclimatisation stop for those who are planning to continue further on. However, trekking is not the only thing that this town is famous for. It is also reputed, (or rather notorious!) for being one of the scariest airports all across the world, which has one of the most dangerous landings. That being said, one cannot deny that this airstrip has made the Everest region accessible to numerous people, and many more and not just mountaineers can now explore the beauty and grandeur of this place.
Although Lukla means the place which houses many goats and sheep, few of these are found in the area these days. What the place does, however, house, other than the airport that services the region, are the variety of shops and hotels that cater to tourists and trekkers, providing them with Western-style meals and trail supplies. The town also boasts of having two expensive and up-scale places where visitors can stay and enjoy luxuries such as hot tubs in the laps of the Himalayas. A couple of small hotels, which are relatively simple, can also be found here. What was once a tiny farming community has now become a huge trekkers' town, since the airport that Lukla houses is the region's sole airport, and thus all trekkers who visit the region enter and exit from this town only.
The flight from Kathmandu to the village of Lukla is just a 40-minute affair. How difficult can that possibly be? Well, those who have been on the flight have described it to be 40 minutes of mountain dodging, and the sensations being the same as that when experienced on a roller coaster.
Firstly, the runway of the Lukla Airport is incredibly tiny, only 1729 feet long. Secondly, Lukla's elevation with little descent further complicates matters. On one end of the runway is a cliff with the 2,000 feet drop, while the other end has a solid stone wall. This means that the plane will either land or drop off the cliff.
In spite of all of this, Lukla is one of the busiest domestic airports in Nepal. Accidents happen rarely, and the airport is considered to be one of the most breathtaking airports in the entire world, with the mighty Himalayas surrounding it and the little flowers bordering the runway making for a picturesque scene.
The small town of Lukla is home to less than five hundred people, but it still houses a large number of trekkers each day. This is because the town is the most popular starting point to further go onto the Everest trekking route, be it for a two-week trek or for a forty day trek to the peak of the Everest.
Lukla boasts of having numerous restaurants and food outlets that never fail to please visitors. One such place is the German bakery that is located just opposite the entrance to the airport and is well known for its apple cheesecake and coffee. Other places like the Eco Paradise Lodge, K2 Lodge and North Face Resort offer excellent accommodation options with comfortable bedrooms, and the food served here is also quite decent.
For those who do not have the nerves to travel to Lukla by aeroplane, they can choose from a few other options. Visitors can opt for an 11-hour bus ride from Kathmandu to the town of Jiri and then hike uphill for five days, or they can pay a hefty sum to hire a private helicopter to take them to the town.
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