Flights, generally, don’t offer much by the way of views for someone sitting on the window seat – contrast that with trains where there is always the thrill of watching the world whizz past. But there are probably a few flights where it is worth picking the window seat and looking out of the window just for the views. A few of the east-bound flights from Delhi, esp. the ones to Paro (in Bhutan) hold some promise on this front. Not every flight is blessed with clear views of the Himalayan Ranges, but it can be a great feeling when you get lucky. This one is about the Paro-Delhi flight on a relatively clear day.
About 15-20 minutes after take-off from Paro the pilots usually announce the Kangchenjunga (8586m), if it is visible.
10 minutes later is the solitary Makalu peak (8463m) which many people confuse often with the Everest. A few minutes later one gets to see the Everest range with Everest (8848m) and Lhotse (8516m). The pilot would usually announce all 3 of these (Makalu, Lhotse & Everest) together and they comprise 3 of the 5 tallest peaks on terra-firma. The Everest ought to be distinctive by its height – but depending on the flight-path, this could be a little deceptive. However, it’s dark, snow-less triangular southern face is something that you need to scan for and if you’re still unsure, ask flight attendants for help.
Just few minutes after crossing the Everest you can spot the Cho Oyu (8188m), the 6th highest mountain peak in the world.
15 mins after passing the Everest, the aircraft will fly over Kathmandu. At this point, if you are lucky, you might get routed through the northern flight corridor into Delhi. If so, while crossing the Kathmandu valley, you could spot Shishapangma (8027m), which is completely located on Tibetan soil and is the lowest eight-thousander standing at 8013m. It should also be quite easy to spot as the backdrop would be the brown desert of Tibet.
Manaslu (8163m), the eight highest mountain in the world will follow after about 7-10 minutes. In the time-lapse I haven’t managed to hunt this down – maybe it has gotten obscured by the clouds. And a bit later the large range of Annapurna will become visible, with the tallest peak in this range at 8091m. The best way to spot the Annapurna is to look for the range first and then scan for specific peaks on the pictures that you may have clicked. And a bit later the Dhaulagiri (8167m) will present itself – if it is clear enough look for a big valley after the Annapurna range and the Dhaulagiri range should be just after this valley, the Kali Gandaki valley.
I have here a time-lapse where all of these 8000-ers have been captured and I have tried tagging them as close to the peak as I could without obscuring the peak. A bit of turbulence meant that the video is a bit jumpy at times, but that shouldn’t distract your attention too much from these majestic beauties.