Tuesday 20th April 1982: Kathmandu to Lukla and Jorsalle (8 miles)
Up at 05:15 and to the Nepali Airline Office by 05:45 where a bus to the airport was waiting. A good clear morning so the weather shouldn’t prevent the flight going. Got to Kathmandu Airport by 06:15 and checked in soon after. My rucksack weighs 7 kg although I will also be carrying binoculars, camera, notebook & guide and when hot some of my warmer clothes. After a perfunctory security check I was in the departure lounge at 06:30. Soon boarded the plane, a small (12-15 seater) twin engined STOL, and left on time at 07:05 touching down at Lukla airstrip (9200 ft) 36 minutes later. A small rough runway perched on a hill side with the wreck of an old Dakota at the end where it appeared to drop straight down to the valley below. I was pleased I saw that after safely touching down! Crowds of people were hanging around, many seemingly waiting for a flight out. Seeing those waiting, and hearing that some of the later flights were likely to be cancelled when the clouds came in, I was glad I’d not booked a return flight. My plan to walk out when I’d visited the Everest area should save a lot of hassle and anxious hanging around, as well as hopefully taking me through some interesting country. I set off and dropped nearly 1000 ft to the Dudh Kosi, crossing it three times and climbing at a very shallow gradient to Jorsalle (9200 ft) where I entered the Sagamartha National Park (costing 60 rupees). Sagamartha is the Nepali name for Everest, apparently made up in the 1960s to avoid using the Tibetan name of Chomolungma or Qomolangma “Holy Mother”. I decided to spend the night at Jorsalle, in Ahnay Hotel, knocking off for the day at 15:00 having seen some nice birds including male Golden Bush Robin and a flock of Rufous-fronted Tits, the latter being new for me. I am a bit concerned at how cold it is even at relatively low altitude (9000 ft) and relatively early time (17:00) and feel sending my thick coat back home was probably a mistake. Rice, vegetables and boiled potatoes for supper, vegetables very spicy but managed them OK. Great to be back in the land of the potato!
Birds recorded: Black Kite 2, Lammergeyer 1, Himalayan Griffon Vulture 2, Cuckoo h, Oriental Cuckoo h, Rufous Turtle Dove 5, Himalayan Swiftlet 6, Asiatic House Martin 3, Olive-backed Pipit 2, Rosy Pipit 1, Grey Wagtail 1, Long-tailed Minivet 15, Brown Dipper 1, Rufous-breasted Accentor 1, Alpine Accentor 3, Red-flanked Bluetail 1, Golden Bush Robin 1 male, Blue-fronted Redstart 8, Plumbeous Redstart 7, Grey Bushchat 15, River Chat 15, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush 1, Blue Whistling Thrush 35, Red-throated Thrush 1, Little Forktail 1, Golden Spectacled Warbler 20, Blyth’s Crowned Leaf Warbler 100, Greenish Warbler 1, Ashy-throated Leaf Warbler 1, Lemon-rumped Warbler 15, Beautiful Niltava 1, Verditer Flycatcher 1, Rufous-gorgetted Flycatcher 12, Yellow-bellied Fantail 10, Streaked Laughingthrush 20, Black-faced Laughingthrush 8, Red-headed Laughingthrush 1, White-browed Fulvetta 3, Black-capped Sibia 6, *Rufous-fronted Tit 8, Green-backed Tit 3, Grey-backed Shrike 5, Gold-billed Blue Magpie 1, Nutcracker 3, Large-billed Crow 20.
|preparing for take-off|
|Boudhanath, just outside Kathmandu, is one of the largest Stupas in the world|
|leaving the Kathmandu Valley|
|distant views of Himalayan peaks|
|Lukla departure - a quick turnaround|
|but not the most inspiring runway|
|Lukla airport, waiting to depart or for the next flight|
|trail north of Lukla|
|looking down towards the Dudh Kosi|