Bad weather and poor visibility meant we were grounded for a week. Every morning we would arrive at the airport only to see the fateful words – delayed then cancelled – on the computer screen. Finally, there was a break in the weather and we hurried onto the Twin Otter before the flight was cancelled.
I felt like India Jones climbing into the little tin plane. No sooner as we had taken off, it was time to land. Lukla airport was about half an hour away, nestled 2,800m up in the mountains.I was also slightly nervous. Lukla was named one of the most dangerous airports in the world for its 420m long runway uphill, changeable weather and 2,000m sheer drop off the mountain face. Unlike the modern aircraft that we had flown over from the UK, the Twin Otter was dated but it had a charm to it. The pilots didn’t bother to close the door so I could see straight into the cockpit and out the main window where I saw the Himalayas for the first time.
Wherever there are tourists, there are Irish pubs and Starbucks. Lukla wasn’t any different, except there was also a Scottish pub thrown in for good measure. Living in the mountains is a precarious and hard. We passed boxes asking passing hikers to donate money to rebuild homes which were destroyed by rockfalls. People eke out a living from being a porter, guide or running a teahouse.