Flying to the base camp of the highest peak on the earth and landing at its very heart was a distant dream for travellers up until a decade ago. Today, it can be planned within a few days and completed in a couple of hours. While trekking is still the best way to explore the Everest region, flying in a helicopter is a close second. Even more so if you are short of time or lack the physical ability. During trekking, you have to ramble on endless trails for weeks on days while fighting thin air, blistered feet, and cruel cold. However, you don’t have to worry about any of these looming risks and uncertainties during the Everest Heli Tour. Nonetheless, it is always wise to understand the realities and manage your expectations. Here’s a list of everything you need to know about Everest Heli Tour
A short itinerary
Before knowing anything else, you should be aware of the hour-by-hour itinerary of the trip. The day begins as early as 6 am in the morning. After breakfast, you will be driven to Tribhuvan International Airport, where your chopper will be waiting for you. From here, you will embark on a 30-minute-long journey to Lukla. The Heli will land at Lukla for a refuel and a second breakfast. From here, you will be flown over Namche and other Sherpa villages for about 15 minutes to reach the Everest Base Camp. At maximum, you will be given 15 minutes to explore the base camp and relish in the view of the peaks. Depending on the itinerary, the chopper may land once again at Kala Pathhar or Dingboche for some more sightseeing. That’s something you need to discuss with your travel agency.
Depending on the time of the year, the price of a ticket may vary anywhere from USD $1000 to $2000. On average, you can say that the heli tour will cost you somewhere around $1500. At first glance, it may sound incredibly expensive, but it is a private heli tour that will land at more than one destination for sightseeing. The place, which takes a week of walking to reach, can be reached in a mere hour. However, if you go in a group, you can land some good bargains.
Understanding insurance and heli scams
As the popularity of Everest heli tours continues to grow, so has the number of fraudulent companies that scam travellers and insurance companies likewise. Following a sting operation, a year ago, finally, this issue has come to the surface. Some companies make fake insurance claims and present them to receive chunky amounts of money. There have also been cases where forceful landings were made and travellers were coaxed into signing fake documents for the sake of making insurance claims.
Choosing the travel operator
The aforementioned point has already stressed the need to only travel with a very credible and trustable travel operator. Everything from the aircraft’s size and condition to the pilot’s efficiency, from the agency’s experience to external factors like weather comes into play when choosing a travel agency. So, make sure that you do proper research and compare everything about the packages that travel agencies offer. Flying on a chopper to the mountains is no joke. Thus, nothing can be taken lightly.
It differs from mountain flights
The Everest heli tour is very different from mountain flight and ultralight flight. First of all, the mountain flight will cost you only around $200, whereas, the heli tour is very expensive. It is because it is a private affair and the aircraft will land at the base camp and other viewpoints for an incredible, first-hand experience. On the other hand, mountain flights are uninterrupted and only limited to aerial views. Moreover, you will be sharing the plane with almost 20 passengers. So, it’s safe to say that a heli tour is a more private, enriching, and vivid experience by miles.
Understanding the risks and being patient
It is important to weigh down the potential risks and manage the expectations accordingly. The weather in the mountains is very unpredictable. Thus, the flights might get frequently delayed, shortened, lengthened, and even cancelled at times. You need to understand that your safety is always the first priority for the respective operators. Similarly, you should also prepare yourself wisely by dressing in layers and understanding the risks of altitude sickness.
Some trekking itineraries with heli tours:
The following listed tours are some of the finest treks that include a helicopter flight out at the end.
1. Everest base camp heli trek: This trek includes a trek to Everest base camp with helicopter return
2. Everest base camp Gokyo Lakes heli trek: This trek includes a trek to Everest base camp and Gokyo Lakes with helicopter return
3. Luxury Everest base camp trek: This trek includes a luxury trek to Everest base camp with helicopter return
4. Everest base camp heli tour: Helicopter tour of Everest with landing