I've flown Royal Nepal a few times. They are much cheaper. The major problem with them that I've experienced is that they will cancel a flight if the flight isn't full and call it a "technical problem". It happens all the time. On the other hand, when a flight is canceled they put you in a fairly good hotel overnight. As long as you have a flexible scedule, flying RNA may be worth the savings.
As far as the worst airline in the world goes, how much have you flown in Africa or through Russia? I swear that one of the planes we flew on Siberian Air was held together with duct tape.
Duct tape??? NO, we in the aviation business call that "speed tape" or "200 mph tape." It is quite common on all aircraft. Seriously!!! It is kind of scary to think of flying on non-flag carriers. I think the Russians have the worst safety record in regard to commercial aviation, but don't quote me on that. But then I hear about helicopter charters in Asia and that is a whole other story.
Absolutely agree with Vito and William. When I did Kala Pataar in Nov 2002 we spent 8 days getting there from Lukla and still one girl on the trip, after pushing herself to get to the top, took a serious case of AMS when she got there with the incoherent babbling, projectile vomitting and the full works, and had to be carried all the way down to Lobuche on a porter's back. Trust me, you do not want this to happen to you when it can be avoided just by taking a little extra time.
When I flew to Lukla Royal Nepal was the ONLY airline flying there. We got out first time we booked and were very happy. For those who have been there "recently"- are the planes that did not land successfully still just off the runway? I would welcome any runway pic additions to this page. I have also flown some rickety planes in Africa...but yet to fly Aeroflot ( the worlds reputed worst)
Actually, I was moderately impressed that Royal Nepal would cancel flights for weather... hence many days backups... but that was in the eary 1990s. I welcome more current info.
Anybody who does this kind of travel needs to be flexible and have a pad for uncertainties. If it was easy everybody would be doing it! Have fun and I will see you at the summit!
Ditto ditto ditto...it isnt a race...its a journey... a great trip... take your time and smell the rhododendrons. Staying in the teahouses will be lifetime experiences. I saw many get sick trying to do it too fast ( and by drinking too much chang on the way UP). Take your time going up... and party coming down.
We had been in Tibet before coming to Nepal so had a bit of acclimatization- but for what it is worth here is how we did it:
Day 1- arrive Lukla... original plan to stay in Phakding, but we were really feeling good so went on to Jorsale.
Day 3- acclimitize day again at Namche...minor exploratory treks
Day 5- set out for either Dingboche or Pheriche ( depending on how we were feeling and how high we wanted to sleep) stayed at "Island Peak View Lodge" in Dingboche. Speaking of hydration- I read my trip notes and saw that this day I drank 2 liters water, 10 teas, and 2 bowls of soup.
Day 6- Chunkung side trip for some really neat scenery and a bit more acclimatization. Stayed the night again in Dingboche.
Day 8- Summit Kala Pataar- great photos of Everest...
back to Lobuje
Day 10- Lukla
All in all a great trip.... now that I think of it... I have already written a trip report... I will try to add it soon to this site.
Update: Please do not consider my above itinerary as a "roadmap" for your trip. I had spend several days in the Tibetan Plateau before coming to Nepal and had some extra days of acclimatization because of this. The main thing is listen to your body. Err on the side of climbing slower rather than faster. AMS is a real threat in the Khumbu and should not be treated lightly. Spend what time you need to to acclimatize and enjoy your trip. Namaste.
I have changed the overview to reflect about 8 days to get to Kala Pataar from Lukla. I have also suggested leaving about 2 days of slack in the planning schedule for additional acclimatization if necessary. Your comments are accurate and appreciated. It took me 8 days and I was already somewhat acclimatized.
We went to Nepal about six years ago, but it might be worth to consider what we did: Frankfurt-Delhi by Lufthansa and Delhi-Katmandu with Indian Airlines. Not bad, if you care to make reservations with enough time.
Added this to Annapurna site as well. Also, I just posted a link for the US State Department Travel Warning.
Coming from Europe, Gulf Air is also a good alternative - relatively cheap. Note that it includes usually a stop at Bahrein and Abu Dhabi (sometimes to stay there for the night)
Although the flights run by Royal Nepal Airlines are cheaper than the ones of other airlines, try to avoid them. They are far less reliable than the other ones. In fact, they seem to be one of the worst airlines in the world. You get what you pay for...
I would say that five days from Lukla to Kala Pataar is not enough if you haven't properly acclimatized before. Altitude sickness definitely has to be a concern in the Khumbu, and only in spring 2004 a british tourist died because of that there. Spending at least two nights in Namche Bazaar (3450 meters) for acclimatization is necessary. Think about another acclimatization day later on (in Dingpoche or Pheriche). About 9 or 10 days from Lukla to Kala Pataar should be o.k. for most people, but you never know before. So take your time, be flexible with your itinerary and allow for rest days to acclimatize. The more time you spend acclimatizing, the better you will feel higher up. AMS can easily ruin your trip, and I saw some very sick people there that went up too fast.
At the moment it is not possible to take the bus to Jiri. There are no busses going to the east of Nepal from Kathmandu because maoists shot at a public bus and killed several people, including civilists. After that, all the bus services were suspended. Nobody knows when the busses will be going again. If you really want to go to Jiri dispite of the worsening security situation (probably not a good idea) you have to hire a car.
Still, there are no problems with maoists above Lukla.