It was an exhilarating experience as the chopper rose a few feet into the air from the landing pad, turned and – and descended down the valley, towering mountains on each side, the pilot skilfully navigating his way through the clouds, occasional turbulence and mountain passes.
Whilst there are many trekkers like myself who choose to walk to and from our destinations, increasing numbers of well off travellers/tourists use choppers to visit the region. Many risk altitude sickness as they have not had adequate time to acclimatise to the altitude.
The helicopter is a critical form of transport in the mountainous Himalayas. Without roads – the transport choices are walking, yaks, occasionally horses. Helicopters save lives in medical emergencies, allow trekkers and mountain climbers to rapidly reach distant locations and carry supplies of many types, to wherever they are needed.
As you descend leaving Namche Bazaar, the well-worn EBC trail becomes lusher and greener. The yaks disappear and are replaced by bullocks. The harsh rock strewn terrain above 4000 metres is replaced by lush rainforest, tall trees and fast running icy rivers.