Everest Base Camp trek – flight problems 2019

Most hiking the Everest region in Nepal fly into and/or out of Lukla, a small village at 2,860 metres (9,383 ft).

You can walk in and/or out, but that requires a lot more time.

Lukla’s very short runway

In order to ease congestion at Tribhuvan International Airport (in Kathmandu) and facilitate ongoing runway repair works … Lukla flights were rerouted to fly from Manthali.

An airport that had barely seen a dozen flights in the last decade began to handle 85 flights daily, and it was ill-equipped to deal with the hundreds of tourists arriving daily. The airport lacks proper parking, a waiting room, toilets and even a restaurant.

More than 800 tourists arrive and depart daily during peak season. About 85 flights a day.

For Everest enthusiasts, an unpleasant experience awaits at Manthali airport (Nov 15, 2019)

It’s 132km (82mi) from Thamel, Kathmandu to the airport. That’s at least a a four-hour drive IF there are no delays. You leave Kathmandu around 2am.

Know that there are still a couple of Lukla flights departing Kathmandu airport after 8am each day. But it’s risky to buy that ticket as your flight might be cancelled.

Flights out of Ramechhap airport at Manthali — however — are shorter, cheaper and more reliably get you to Lukla.

The international airport in Kathmandu is terrible. Current renovations won’t help much.

The planned (2025) replacement will be situated 150kms from Kathmandu by road.

Two other new airports already under construction should help relieve traffic:  Pokhara International Airport (opening 2021) and Gautam Buddha Airport. (opening 2020) should help.

I’ll try to fly into Pokhara in future. We should avoid polluted Kathmandu, if we can.

we need more diversity in outdoor sport

My favourite gear shop — Mountain Equipment Co-op — got called out by one of their members.

She was right.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

To their credit, MEC responded. Here’s their CEO:

Do white people dominate the outdoors?

Let that question sink in for a moment. If you consider every advertisement you’ve ever seen for skiing, hiking, climbing and camping, you might think that’s the case.

… White athletes hold the spotlight in advertising, while the diversity that exists and continues to grow in outdoor spaces isn’t represented in the images we produce and promote. The truth is that we haven’t represented the diversity of Canadians or of our 5 million members.
We’ve let our members down.

We can’t move forward until we acknowledge our past. Historically, the models we’ve used in our catalogues and campaigns and on mec.ca have been predominantly white. And this imagery has perpetuated the vastly incorrect notion that people of colour in Canada don’t ski, hike, climb or camp.

This letter is about recognizing the role we’ve played in underrepresenting people of colour in the outdoors, and committing to change. It’s not OK.

As CEO of MEC, I promise that moving forward, we will make sure we’re inspiring and representing the diverse community that already exists in the outdoors.

This initiative isn’t about patting ourselves on the back. It’s also not about me, another straight white male with a voice in the outdoor industry. This is a conscious decision to change, and to challenge our industry partners to do the same. We know we’ve been part of the problem, and we’re committed to learning from our mistakes and changing the way we represent the outdoor community.

Outside is for everyone. It’s time we acted like it.

Check their new Diversity page. I’m proud to be a member and loyal customer of MEC.

Outdoor Retailers QUIT Utah – cost $500 million

Utah will lose half a billion dollars from the five planned shows — the three annual shows and the industry’s smaller “grass-roots” show for new innovations that were scheduled right before two of the annual shows. That will hit hotel owners, restaurants and other sectors of the service industry hard.

It also loses any shot of landing the Interbike trade show, the largest cycling show in North America, that had been aggressively courted by Salt Lake City and would have brought with it an economic impact of about $22 million a year in direct spending by attendees. Its contract with Las Vegas expires in 2018, but organizers now say they have zero interest in coming to Utah, again because of its hostile public lands policies. …

Salt Lake City Tribune 

Utah Governor Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) and the Republican State government are bad for business. They don’t support outdoor recreation.


Boycott that State, if you can. Oregon would LOVE to host.

hiking the Gila Wilderness, New Mexico

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

You’ve heard of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

It’s adjacent to the Gila Wilderness.


Gila Wilderness was designated the world’s first wilderness area on June 3, 1924. … part of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. …

The Mogollon Mountains traverse an arc across the wilderness. The tallest peak within this range, Whitewater Baldy at 10,895 ft (3,321 m) …

I headed for the most popular Baldy trailheadCrest Trail #182.

I never made it due to mountain road improvements January 2017. ROAD CLOSED.


So I read some of the Peakbagger trip reports instead.

The consensus was not good: bad roads, snow into July, forest fire recovery sections, hunters.  It will not go on our list of the best hikes in North America.

The most popular hike in Gila Wilderness is the Catwalk – “… a one-mile trail suspended above a rushing stream in a gorge only a few feet wide.”

It had been rebuilt over a period of 2 years costing over $4.4 million dollars. And opened again in 2016.

I’d been advised by a Ranger that only the catwalk part of the trail was open. Hikers often continue on to #207. I would have wild camped if it had been open.

Sadly, that Ranger was wrong. It was all closed due to flooding.


Still, the Catwalk does look very cool.


The 1.1-mile Catwalk National Recreation Trail winds through the canyon’s steep, pink walls of volcanic rock, following the path of a pipeline built in the early 1890s to provide water and electricity for the mining town of Graham.   …

Desert USA

LESSON LEARNED — Before driving out to hike the Gila Wilderness, phone first to be sure your trail is open.


boycott Utah

Support Patagonia and Black Diamond.

The company this week threatened to pull out of Salt Lake City’s biannual Outdoor Retailer Show, a trade show that brings in 45,000 visitors spending more than $40 million each year. …

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (R) vowed to sue the White House last month after Obama set aside 1.35 million acres, including sacred tribal lands, to become Bears Ears National Monument. The Navajo Nation and conservationists alike hailed the designation as a victory. But Reyes, later joined by the state’s Republican governor and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., denounced the move …

Patagonia Is Gearing Up For War With Utah Republicans Over National Monument

Most Republicans in the USA seek to sell of public lands to the highest bidder. 😦


Decline of Mountain Equipment Co-op

Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op has offered the best shopping for hikers for decades. I’d argue it’s still the best hiking shop in the world.

But anyone in one of their stores in 2015 would concur it’s not as good as it once was. The staff is much younger and less experienced in the wild than in the past. Prices are higher. There’s too high a percentage of yuppie, urban crap on the shelves.

Outdoor gear for city folks who have no intention of going to any mountains. Click through to Canadian Business magazine for a history of the change through to 2013.

MEC without the Mountain

Outdoors retailer goes mainstream


Fansipan, Vietnam – not recommended

World → Asia → Vietnam → Fansipan

No longer one of the best hikes in the world


  •  Vietnamese: Phan Xi Păng

“the Roof of Indochina”

A cable car will open September 2015 or sooner, degrading the hiking experience. The Sapa area is great, but trek elsewhere in the region. This summit will soon be flooded with suitcase tourists. 😦

Below is our old information page, no longer being updated.

Update (this is an exception 🙂) from patriciaoprea March 2017:

I paid about 60 USD the night before (I’m so last minute) for a tour from Sa Pa
It was 2 days,1 night.

The good thing about this? We arrived at the summit at 7:00 in the morning.
The cable car is built, but NOBODY is there at that hour, because it hasn’t opened yet!

I loved this hike, go for it 🙂



  • map Fansipan3,143 meters (10,312ft), it’s the highest in Indochina
  • Northwest region of Vietnam, near the Chinese border
  • 9km southwest of Sapa (Sa Pa), a gorgeous hill station developed by the French
  • 1-3 days hiking
  • pine forests, bamboo thickets and jungle
  • best months October through April. Some say April and May are best as it’s warmer. And the flowers are in bloom.
  • avoid the wet season from June to September, with heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August
  • record for scaling Fansipan is one hour and thirty-five minutes, in case you want to better that time. 🙂

Panoramic views of the mountain ranges of northwest Vietnam, if you get any views at all. The summit is famously shrouded in cloud.:-(

Why We Like This Hike

  • about 2,024 floral varieties and 327 fauna species (sadly many of the larger animals have been hunted out)
  • no ropes or technical climbing skills are needed
  • plaque at the peak placed February 2007
  • colourful minority ethnic people, especially on market days
  • ridge walk sections were our favourite



  • malarial mosquitoes can be a danger some months of the year
  • bring warm clothes. Temperatures below freezing are frequent.
  • snow is possible
  • climb is rough, wet, muddy and cold. Some bring rubber boots.
  • gloves with good grips recommended for ladders and rock scramble
  • scramble ladders and tree roots
  • you may be clutching bamboo at points
  • we’ve seen warnings about poisonous snakes, leeches, rodents, perhaps exaggerated
  • dogs are a worry, both in Sapa and on the trail. Even if you don’t carry a trekking pole, you might want to carry a stick
  • Sapa is a tourist trap. Touts are a pest.


Guided trips are no longer as inexpensive as they once were. Seems the government got stricter with guide requirements.

We paid $95 for a one day, up-and-down for 1 person October 2014.

A two day trek costs $180 for 1 person October 2014. You can negotiate on price with some agencies.

Shop around. The official government tourist information office quoted $120 for the $95 tour. Assume the difference is commission.


There are a number of options, including a 1 day guided up-and-down.

It’s possible to do independently. But we wouldn’t recommend it unless you are familiar with the route.

click for larger version
click for larger version

There are three routes to the mountain. One is from Tram Ton, the others from the villages of Sin Chai and Cat Cat.

The first route is a more gradual climb because it has been selected for tourists. The trip can be made in a day.

The route from Sin Chai is shorter but more adventurous, requiring climbers to sometimes use ropes or other special facilities for climbing.

The route from Cat Cat is the longest, but mixes some challenging climbs with great scenery. After one day of climbing, there’s a break at 2,200m above sea level. Climbers can have a meal cooked by a Mong porter and camp, followed by a second camp at 2,700m before reaching the peak on the third day.

Most climbers chose a tour from Sa Pa at a cost of about VND1.5 million excluding train fare from Ha Noi, and tours should be booked a month in advance.

Climb Sipan
  • many hikers arrive by overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, then bus from Lao Cai to Sapa. Those tickets sell out during high season, especially during holidays, as Sapa is super popular with Vietnamese.
  • even better, some feel, is the night sleep bus direct from Hanoi
  • we stayed at the Sapa Unique Hotel for about $35 / night. It gets rave reviews.

Trekking Guides


We recommend you hire a guide. Let them do the logistics. You simply enjoy the journey.

  • on the most popular route up from the Ranger Station Camp 1 is located at around 1,500m (4,920ft). Simple accommodation and food are offered.
  • at 2,800m (9,190ft) is Camp 2. Sleeping is communal in a very poorly maintained ‘hut’. Might have rodents. Have your agency bring tents, instead. Camp 2 is trashed and unsanitary.

Local Information

  • none aside from hotels and lodges

Best Trekking Guidebooks

  • none that we know of

Best Travel Guidebooks

Best Web Pages

Best Trip Reports


Click PLAY or watch Leonard Boey’s 2013 trip highlights on YouTube.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page. Our editors will reply.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

ramblin’ boy:

To walk down from the Gateway of the Sun (Inti Punku) to the site of Machu Picchu is one incredible experience.  …

MPThe nice thing about getting to Machu Picchu via the so-called Inca Trail is that walking past a number of other remarkable Inca ruins provides a context as well as a build-up for the ruins of  Machu Picchu.  Here is a graphic that I’ve “borrowed” from the SAS Travel site because it very neatly and quickly encapsulates the entirety of the trek.  …

inca-trail-breakdownWalking The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Click through for his excellent trip report.

… Now the downside. The Inca Trail is packed. Up to 500 hikers start each day. REI charges $3,399 and up for 9 days….

That’s $375 / day! 😦

You could do a lot of better adventuring in Peru for $375.

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