When is the Best Time for the Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour?

If you are an avid climber or trekker, or even if you simply follow others in this field, you will know there are definite ‘seasons’ for climbing and trekking.  Regardless of which country you are in or which region of a particular country, some times of the year are better than others for such activities.

For example, in the Everest Region, the peak season for attempting to summit Mt Everest is May.  The second most opportune time is around October/ November. Why? The peak season for the Everest Base Camp trek is October/November, and the second most opportune time is March/April.

Let’s look at climbing Everest or any other mountain in the Himalayas.  Although it takes weeks of preparation after the team reaches the base camp, that final push up the mountain has to happen when the weather is at its best. 

Weather is unpredictable in the mountains, and the wind is a natural hazard, especially if you are roped up on the side of a mountain at 8,000m plus!  This is why the final attempt at the summit happens during the very early morning hours when the wind is at its lowest.   The same can be said for trekking: the guide doesn’t get you up and moving at first light just for fun – although fun it is.  Similar to climbing, there are real reasons to start trekking early in the morning.

everest view hotel breakfast
Breakfast at Everest View Hotel (Syangboche)

Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour Seasons and Times

We closely examine the weather condition before any Everest Base Camp Helicopter tour. High winds can impact your tour, particularly landing; there are landings over 5,000m/16,402 ft on the tours in the Everest Region.   Roughly speaking, the best time for a helicopter tour in the Everest Region coincides with the best climbing times: spring and autumn.  Let’s take a closer look at the seasons.

Postponements and Cancellations EBC Heli Tour

The weather in the mountains is never guaranteed.  We can predict the weather based on the seasons, but Mother Nature has the last say in the end.  If bad weather means your flight on a particular day must be canceled, it will be rescheduled where possible.  You will be fully refunded if you cannot make this new date.

Everest Helicopter Tour in the Spring

During the spring (March to May), the weather around Everest base camp is generally milder, with temperatures ranging from around 0 to -10 degrees Celsius. The sky is clear, making it an ideal time to see the mountains in their full glory, white snow and black rock against the blue sky.  

As we mentioned, this is peak expedition season. Helicopters are extremely busy taking expedition members and equipment to base camp, being utilized for rescue missions (it doesn’t have to be a life-threatening problem to justify a helicopter mission – a simple broken ankle will be made it almost impossible to walk downhill for the required number of days), and for sightseeing tours.

As demand for sightseeing tours by helicopter is increasing, at this busy time of year, it is relatively easy to get a seat on a group flight (but plan ahead). 

Highlights of the Tour in Spring

The weather – making it less likely that you will postpone your tour due to inclement weather.  While it is never warm on a helicopter tour around Everest, aside from landing at Kalapatthar, at 5,545m, it’s not too cold.  But you should always dress warmly!  

On the visual side, flying into the foothills, you may see the colourful rhododendron forests below you, the mountains are clear, and mountaineers can be seen acclimatizing at base camp as they prepare to make their way up Mt Everest.  It’s quite thrilling to see the colourful tents of the different expedition groups below you.  

As for the mountains, just some of the mountains you will see are Lhotse (8,516m / 27,940 ft), Choyu (8,201m / 26, 906 ft), Nuptse (7,861m / 25, 791 ft), Pumori (7,161m / 23,494 ft), and Ama Dablam (6,812m / 22,349 ft). Then, of course, there is the Khumbu Icefall and Mt Everest, the highest mountain in the world and visible any time of the year!

Everest Helicopter Tour in the Monsoon

Monsoon  (the rainy season) hits Nepal around the beginning of June and lasts till around September in the lower regions or August in the mountains.  Naturally, in the high mountains, and this region means anything above Namche Bazaar, it doesn’t rain but snow.  

With fewer tourists coming to Nepal during this season, the demand for helicopter tours is lower.  This means if fewer people want to share a helicopter when you are available, you may have to pay a bit more for your seat.  For example, on a five-seater helicopter, if only three people wish to go, those three people will have to bear the cost of 5.  In this case, it is best to talk with us before booking for this time of year.  

The helicopter will not fly in bad weather.  Bad weather could occur in Kathmandu (departure point), on the route, or in the mountains.  So although the day may be sunny and dry in Kathmandu, your flight may be cancelled due to bad weather at another location. But, contrary to what people who do not live in a monsoonal country might think, a monsoon doesn’t mean bad weather 24/7.  There are windows of wonderful weather, great for the helicopter tour! 

Highlights of the Tour in the Monsoon

At this time of year, the land at lower altitudes is lush and green.  This makes the trip to Lukla very bright and interesting.  Landscapes washed clean, rivers at full spate, and everything looking brand new.  

As you fly through the Himalayas, you will see below you the market town of Namche Bazaar, the highest monastery in the region at Tengboche, and the highest settlement at Gorakshep.

You may be able to experience having your breakfast in the snow at Everest View Hotel.  Should it be snowing (lightly) when you arrive for breakfast, nothing is more atmospheric than being warm inside with a cup of something hot in your hands while the snow falls outside.  You can also enjoy standing and playing in the snow, as many younger clients do on this trip!

With less demand for helicopters, should you wish to hire the whole helicopter for your own small group or family, there is no problem in finding one at this time of year.  

Everest Helicopter Tour in the Autumn

The autumn runs from September to December, and like in the spring; it is a popular time for trekkers and climbers.  The weather is similar to spring also, with clear blue skies and temperatures from 0 to -10 at base camp.  

Demand for helicopters is high at this time also, so there will be departures pretty much daily for the Everest Base Camp Tour. It is rare for flights to be cancelled because of the weather.  Many alternative route helicopter flights will be running, too, so there is plenty of choices if you wish to select another area to fly to.  You can also choose different areas of your choice if you are chartering your helicopter, as all areas are open due to the excellent weather at this time. 

Highlights of Helicopter Tours in the Autumn

With many heli tours, it is possible to split your time between helicopter and trek.  For example, you can trek up to Gorakshep and then helicopter down to Lukla or Kathmandu.  

With the trekking routes so busy this time of year, this is a good alternative for you.  For those not into trekking, it is also possible to take a helicopter from Kathmandu into the region and stay at one of the deluxe hotels for a few days, taking short hikes around and marveling at it the mountains before helicoptering back to Kathmandu. 

Everest Helicopter Tour in the Winter

While there are very few trekkers during the December to February winter season when temperatures can go to -20 at night, and many lodges are closed as local people head down the mountain for the winter, this is a magical time of year to visit the mountains! 

The mountains will be covered in snow, making them even more beautiful.  And the land will also be covered in snow, giving the Everest Region and the Himalayas the appearance of how they must have looked before the influx of tourists. 

There is the possibility of postponement due to bad weather, but during the winter, there are many times of perfect flying weather.  Again, with less demand for helicopters, you may need to pay more for a seat on a group flight.  But if you wish to charter your heli, this will be fine.

Highlights of the EBC Helicopter Tour in the Winter

The snow!  The pristine landscape, with very few trekkers walking below, gives the land a unique untouched look.  The opportunity for you to experience snow at the landing points.  We find this is a huge plus point for our guests who come from hot climates! It is also a very romantic time if you are traveling with your significant other. 

Best Time for Everest base camp helicopter tour

The time of year you can come to Nepal may be something you have little control over; you may have holidays in the summer (monsoon season).  As you can see, there are year-round helicopter tours to Everest Base Camp. If you have a choice of when you come to Nepal, spring and autumn are the best time for helicopter tours and offer more opportunities to change the route, add trekking to your tour, etc.  But we love the winter also!

Let’s not forget, regardless of what season you come in, the Helicopter Tour to Everest Base Camp makes three stops.  The first is at Lukla, which is the entrance point to the region for all the climbers and trekkers. 

Sir Edmund Hillary was instrumental in setting up the airport, known as the Tenzing Hillary Airport. We simply stop here to refuel, but it gives you a taste of the hustle and bustle of the trekking/ expedition routes.

 The other two landings consist of the amazing rock overlooking Everest.  From Kalapattar, the views of Everest and the surrounding mountains are something you will remember quickly!  This is the closest anyone can get to the mountain without physically climbing it.  Here the helicopter stops for around 10 to 15 minutes. 

Unfortunately, because of the high altitude, the stop cannot be longer but rest assured, it is long enough to amaze you. Views from Kalapattar highlight the EBC Trek and give much better views of Mt Everest than can be seen from the base camp.   The third landing on this tour is at Everest View Point Hotel, the highest hotel in the world. 

Here there is time to enjoy breakfast on the terrace while having nearly equally beautiful views of Everest.  If you prefer to eat inside, this hotel is designed so that there are views of Everest from every room!  Over breakfast, there is time to reflect on the beauty of the area and on what you have experienced. You may compare notes with the trekkers at the next table.  Or you may meditate under the gaze of the mountain grandeur before you. 

Keeping Warm in Everest Base Camp Helicopter tour.

Even if it is 30 degrees in Kathmandu when you set off for your heli tour, remember it is cold in the mountains.  Bring a warm jacket and wear good walking shoes on the trip.  For time spent at landing, you should ensure the clothes under your jacket are suitably warm too.  Kalapattar will be very cold, regardless of season, and windy as it is over 5,000m.  A hat and gloves are sensible additions.   Please do not bring bulky bags on board; there just isn’t enough space.  If you have professional and bulky camera equipment you wish to bring, can we kindly suggest you charter your helicopter to give you enough room?  

Group Tour or Chartered Flight to Everest Base Camp

We have outlined the differences between group tours and chartered flights for you.  It is easier to charter a flight at short notice in the monsoon and winter, but still possible in the peak seasons with plenty of advanced warning.  It is cheaper to get a seat on a group tour in peak seasons when there are a lot of visitors in Nepal. Remember, even on a group flight, at most five people will be on your tour.  This is a deluxe way to view the Himalayas! 

But regardless of when you come or whether to take a group or chartered flight, aside from the mountain views, we can guarantee the pilots are fully trained and experienced. And a lot of fun too!

“I had an amazing time on the Everest base camp helicopter tour with Magical Nepal and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an amazing experience…. the pilot was knowledgeable and entertaining and made the tour even more enjoyable with his sense of humor.”  Lucas Hernandez, Germany, autumn 2022. 

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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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