What do you do when you want to see the Himalayas, but you don’t have enough time to trek to them?
This was my dilemma when I visited Nepal. Due to work commitments, I had only seven days which is, believe me, nowhere near long enough to do any justice to this beautiful country. As time was tight, and there was simply no way that I would be leaving without visiting the mountains, we headed to Pokhara: a small town in the foothills of the Annapurna region, where we had booked an hour-long mountain flight with Avia Club Nepal.
5.45am: It was very dark and very cold. Sleepily, we stood outside the guesthouse waiting for a taxi to take us to Pokhara’s tiny airport for a 6.30am check-in. Not fully knowing what to expect, I hoped and prayed that the day would be clear enough to give us a decent view of the famous Himalayas.
If I could get just one good photograph…
6.30: Slowly, the sun crept over the horizon, but low-lying early morning haze continued to obscure the mountains from view. Still, it looked like the day would be clear enough for the flight to proceed.
7.00: The check-in process was reasonably straightforward, and before we knew it we were heading onto the airfield to meet our pilots. My heart was racing with terror and excitement, torn between a debilitating fear of flying and my immense love for the mountains.
7.10: I was taken to a very small, very red, two-seater plane and strapped myself in. Having been pre-warned that it would get cold, I had wrapped up accordingly. As the pilot prepared me for take-off, he explained our route: we would head directly towards the mountain range and approach the ‘fishtail’ mountain to our left. We would then pass through a small gap in the mountain range and see the mountains up close and personal.
7.15: All of a sudden the plane was speeding down the runway; and my heart was in my mouth. Not only am I afraid of flying in general, but flying over mountains, in particular, terrifies me (I watched the movie, ‘Alive’ too many times as a teenager), yet here I was about to take a precarious flight right over the mountains. And not just any mountains: the Himalayas! But as the plane rose higher and higher, I looked ahead to the horizon where jagged white peaks were beginning to appear over the haze and the excitement of the moment erased my fears.
I am not going to describe the rest of the flight; my pictures speak louder than words! And believe me when I say, that the hour I spent on that flight is the highlight of my travels.
You can see my snapchat story of my time in Pokhara – including the mountain flight – here.