6 Best Helicopter tours in Nepal

There is a relaxing yet thrilling, unique, and stunning way to explore the Himalayan mountains of Nepal. No need to spend days hiking up hills and overpasses or spending months in the gym beforehand in preparation.  What could this method be?  Helicopter tours!

For some time, there have been limited helicopter tours, mainly to Everest and the pilgrimage site of Gosainkunda Lake.  These tours have been expanded to take in other amazing locations and frequently run so that more people can experience the thrill of seeing the Himalayas up close without the worry and stress of arranging a trek.

We offer six of our favorite helicopter tours here, which we think you will also love. Go through the overviews, then look at the trips in more detail.  Get in touch with us if you require more information; we will answer your questions.

1. Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour from Kathmandu

Highlights 

  • Fly directly from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport to Everest Base Camp.
  • Fly over major points of interest such as Namche Bazaar, Tengboche Monastery, base camp, glaciers and ice flows, rivers, and other stunning scenery.
  • Get close to the Himalayas, including Mount Everest (8,848m/29,029ft), Lhotse (8,516m/27,940ft), Choyu (8,201m/26,906ft), Nuptse (7,861m/25,791ft), Pumori (7,161m/23,494ft), and Ama Dablam (6,812m/22,349ft).
  • Land at Hillary-Tenzing Airport, a high-altitude airstrip at the entrance to the Everest Region. 
  • Land at Kalapatthar, a high ridge with the best views of Mt Everest and a panoramic view of neighbouring mountains. 
  • Have breakfast on the terrace at one of the best high-altitude hotels while overlooking the mountains, including Everest. 

Overview 

The trip takes around five hours to set off in the very early morning from Kathmandu.  It takes five hours to reach Mt Everest, which will take trekkers two weeks of hard walking. 

Why Everest Base Camp?  Many people dream of standing on the highest peak in the world, but only a handful can physically and financially do that climb.  Many more make a wonderful trek of around two weeks to reach base camp.  And while this a fantastic way to see Sagarmatha National Park with its gorges, glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, and lakes, not to mention its unique flora and animal life, again, not everyone has the time or energy to get their hiking boots on and set off. 

On the other hand, helicopter tours enable those who may not be physically strong enough or have enough time to tackle a trek.  Similarly, for those who have trekked this area, taking a helicopter tour is a way to enjoy the mountains from a new angle.  

With helicopters holding between three to five passengers, plus the pilot, this is an ideal way for your children and elderly relatives to experience the mountains.  

After spending around five hours on tour, the helicopter lands three times.  Once for refueling at Lukla and again to allow passengers to get a close look at Mount Everest and collect stunning photographs and memories on top of Kalapathar.  Finally, your tour stops at a high-altitude hotel (not all tours do this, so please check when booking), where you enjoy breakfast while gazing at the amazing views around you.  Few people can say they had breakfast close to Mount Everest.

Helicopter tours are available by chartering the whole helicopter for your own group or joining another scheduled group.  Please discuss this with us.  

2. Annapurna Base Camp Helicopter Tour from Pokhara

Highlights

  • The Annapurna Range is the most popular after Everest; even in Pokhara, you feel you are already in the mountains.
  • The flight leaves from Pokhara, flying over a landscape of villages, terraced fields, rocky trails, forests, and the world’s deepest gorge.
  • After 20 minutes of flying, the helicopter lands at Annapurna Base Camp.
  • You are in the heart of the mountains at base camp, with beauty and mountains all around.
  • Spending around 30 minutes at Annapurna Base Camp gives you enough time to take some great photographs and have breakfast which was especially prepared for you earlier.  
  • The 360-degree view of the Annapurna Range includes Annapurna itself – the 10th highest mountain in the world, Hinchuli, Gangapurna, and Machhapucchre Himal.  What a wonderful sight and wonderful experience.  

Overview 

This fight departs from Pokhara and is around two hours round trip.  Since the altitude is not as high as for the Everest flight, it is possible to have six passengers in the helicopter.  This ensures you can take your whole family or friends group.  Alternatively, you can travel with another group on a scheduled flight. This is a fantastic way to see the Annapurnas and reach the base camp without having to trek for more than a week.  It is also a wonderful add-on trip to your visit to Pokhara and your trek around the area.  

3. Muktinath Helicopter Tour from Pokhara 

Highlights

  • Depart from the scenic, laid-back yet lively town of Pokhara.
  • Fly over the foothills of the Annapurna Range with villages, fields, and orchards in view.
  • Get a birds-eye view of the lakes around Pokhara: Rupa, Begenas, Phewa, as well as the Pokhara Valley.
  • Spend around 1.5 hours exploring Muktinath Temple at 3,800m, with its 108 water spouts, eternal flame, and a small temple.
  • Witness pilgrims come to pray and bathe at the temple and water spouts. 
  • Be awed by Dhaulagiri and the Annapurna Range mountains. 

Overview 

After breakfast, you will be collected from your hotel in Pokhara and transferred to the airport, where you will board your helicopter after receiving some safety information from your pilot. 

It takes around 30 minutes to fly to Muktinath Temple, taking in forests, rivers, and the Gandaki Gorge.  With 1.5 hours on the ground, there is enough time to explore this ancient pilgrimage site and see pilgrims from all parts of Nepal and India who have come to worship.   The eternal flame is exciting to see as are the 108 water spouts.  We don’t recommend you bathe in the water from the spouts (unless your trip is a pilgrimage), as it will be very cold on the ride back to Pokhara.  

4. Langtang Valley Helicopter Tour from Kathmandu

Highlights 

  • Langtang is also known as the Valley of Glaciers: you are in for wonderful views. 
  • Although very close to Kathmandu, the mountains are incredible, including Langtang Ri, Langtang. Ganesh Himal and Ganjala Peak. 
  • Flying over Gosainkunda lakes adds to the beauty of this trip. 
  • Land at Kajin Gompa, a Buddhist monastery. 
  • See rhododendron and bamboo forests far below, along with thundering waterfalls and stunning snow-capped mountains.

Overview 

Langtang Valley is situated only a day’s drive from Kathmandu, yet it is not a very busy trekking area. Being an area dominated by Tamangs and Sherpas, the area has a Buddhist culture and is home to the ancient monastery of Kyanjin Gompa.  The helicopter lands at the gompa, giving you time to explore the surroundings. The area is a national park and is home to various wildlife, such as Himalayan pheasants, Himalayan deer, Himalayan bears, monkeys, and the hard-to-spot red panda.

The helicopter tour takes off from Kathmandu with a flying time of 30 minutes each way. 

5. Gosainkunda Helicopter Tour from Kathmandu

Highlights 

  • Fly over the Langtang National Park and Langtang Valley.
  • Fly over the wonderful lakes and forest landscapes. 
  • The Himalayas spread out in front of you, giving you a wonderful close-up of the mountains, such as Langtang and Langtang Ri. 
  • Land at Gosainkunda Lake, a pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists alike. 
  • Fly over the ancient monastery of Kyanjin Gompa. 
  • Have breakfast in Langtang Valley, surrounded by the mountains. 

Overview

Gosainkunda Lake is a freshwater and Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance) and is considered a holy site by Hindus and Buddhists.  Mythology states that the god’s Shiva and Gauri live in this area. It is said that Lord Shiva created the lake by thrusting his holy trident into the mountain to obtain drinking water.  During the festival of Janai Purnima, at the full moon in August, the area is awash with thousands of pilgrims. 

This helicopter ride takes you from Kathmandu to Gosainkunda Lake, where you will land to explore the area.  The flight takes 30 minutes each way, and there is time for exploring, photography and having breakfast before the return trip.

This is an exciting tour if you are interested in culture and mythology.  As well as being a great way to get right into the mountains in a single morning. 

6. Gokyo Lake Helicopter Tour from Kathmandu

Highlights 

  • Fly directly from Kathmandu to the Everest Region.
  • See Mount Everest and other mighty mountains.
  • View and spend time at Gokyo Lake (actually several lakes all with the same name)
  • Have breakfast overlooking Mt Everest.
  • See the wonderful landscapes of the Everest Region, including the famous town of Namche Bazaar and the Monastery at Tengboche. 

Overview 

You will be collected from your hotel in Kathmandu and introduced to your pilot for the day before boarding and setting off over the Kathmandu Valley to Sagarmatha National Park.  The first stop is the high-altitude town of Lukla for refueling before heading onwards. You will fly over the trekking trails used by hikers and climbers heading toward Everest to reach the lakes.  Way below is Everest Base Camp.

The Gokyo Lakes are six lakes located at an altitude of 4,700 to 5,000 meters in the Gokyo Valley.  This is the highest freshwater lake system in the world and is a Ramsar site (wetlands of international importance). The lakes are also sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.  There is time to explore, get some wonderful photographs, and soak up the atmosphere before heading off for breakfast. 

Your helicopter will land at Everest View, a high-altitude hotel ideally placed to give fantastic views of Mount Everest and the other snow-capped mountains. Sitting on the outside terrace, you will have breakfast before flying back to Kathmandu.

The whole trip takes around four to five hours.

Conclusion

So, which of the six helicopter tours are you interested in?  Regardless of your choice, you will definitely have the experience to remember.  Whether you wish to take a helicopter because trekking is not for you or a helicopter ride is on your bucket list, we are sure you will have the time of your life.

Safety is our priority, and each pilot will give a safety briefing before taking off.  The tours are suitable for people of all ages.  As we do not spend long periods of time at high altitudes, there is very little risk of altitude illnesses.  The helicopters carry oxygen and a first aid kit as standard, just in case.  

Depending on your tour (high altitude tours are limited to fewer passengers), your tour will take up to six passengers.  You may wish to charter the helicopter yourself – it’s up to you!

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Article by Pradeep Guragain

Pradeep is the co-founder of Magical Nepal. He was born and bred in Nepal and is a seasoned hiker and rider.

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