The first hours of the day past watching the clouds moving in the horizon, waiting for news from the airport and wondering if we will spend another day in the Himalaya or manage to reach Kathmandu? After a few hours of waiting, the American family decided for the more expensive option of using a helicopter to fly out. Soon after they left news came that the first planes will be landing shortly, so we headed for the airport. Many other trekkers had booked flights that morning, the airport waiting rooms becoming crowded with people anxiously scrutinizing the sky. Another hour passed before the first plane arrived, enlivening the spirits of waiting passengers.
527m of runway, with 11,7% inclination – Lukla airpot 😀
Once again the Lukla airstrip became busy with noisy aircrafts landing and taking off, and exchanging passengers some arriving and others boarding. Stepping out on the tart runway, we were directed to our plane and soon we were aligned for takeoff. Running down the inclined airstrip felt like a riding a rollercoaster. Once in the air we flew close to white, high Himalayan peaks, recognizing mount Everest with its snow plume in the distance. Half an hour later we arrived in Kathmandu, to an unexpectedly warm and dry weather, contrasting with the pleasant temperatures in the mountains.
taking off from Lukla airport
Everest and the Himalayan range seen from the plane
Now was time to lay back and relax. From the hotel’s rooftop terrace we enjoyed panoramic views over Kathmandu. Hitting the Thamel’s busy streets we explored the shop covered alleys, checking the merchandise on sale, deciding on what we will buy the next day, bargaining for food and fruits, and visiting the shrines unexpectedly positioned on the streets.
The next morning we planned to shop based on the selection we made the previous day. Waking up to strange crowd sounds emerging from the streets, we were intrigued about what was happening outside. When we eventually left the hotel, we realized where all the noise was coming from. It was Holi festival, a 2 day Hindu celebration also known as the festival of colors or the festival of sharing love, where participants play, chase and color each other with dry powder and colored water-filled balloons. Since this fight with colors takes place in the open streets and anyone is fair game, in less than 1 minute from leaving the hotel we had our faces already covered with multicolored powder.
after just 1 minute from exiting the hotel 😀
Cheers and laughter were filling the streets while everyone was painting anyone they could reach, coloring cloths, faces and hair. Because of all this joyful and colorful frolic most of the shops were closed, not to ruin their merchandise with paint, spoiling our shopping plans. After checking several streets and changing many colors on our faces, we managed to find only one souvenir shop opened, where we bought prayer flags as gifts for our friends back home.
Holi rainbow colors on everyone, with no exception 😀
Soon we left the playful crowds and headed for the airport, our happy colored faces bringing smiles to the airport staff. Rich with wonderful memories and experiences, it was time to get back home, leaving behind the beautiful and culturally rich land of the Himalaya and its inhabitants until we will return again for our next expedition to Everest base camp.
the Buddha, in Kathmandu airport, wishing us farewell, until our next return
For more pictures, check our EBC days 12 & 13 photo album 🙂