The Makalu Base Camp Trek is a solitary and spectacular trek. It is one of the least frequented routes in Nepal, passing through subtropical forests to the foot of the Makalu pyramid, which appears over us more impressive than other 8000m peaks on other treks. A trek that will demand but also reward you.
19 days / -18 nights full trip in Nepal (minimum recommended)
16 days’ trek
Highest altitude ~5300m
Highest altitude overnight 4870m
Local mountain guide English-speaking
Meals and overnight in lodges or camping during the trek
Accommodation in hotel in Kathmandu
Transfers in private vehicle, local jeep and domestic flights
Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world, at 8481 metres (although there is some variation depending on the source). It appears over us quite spectacular, as it is an isolated peak, so it rises imposingly with its pyramidal shape with no other mountain nearby. It is in the Makalu Barun National Park in north-eastern Nepal, between the Khumbu-Everest and Kanchenjunga areas.
The Makalu area is one of the least trekked in Nepal, perhaps because having Everest as a neighbour is a big competition. But this is a great advantage for those who prefer more solitary trails. There are no “highways” here like in the Khumbu. The paths are narrow and variable, there may be snow on the mountain passes and base camp, and it can be some landslides to cross. This trek requires physical and mental fitness, and the lodges are much more basic than their Khumbu neighbours and with less capacity, so it is a trek that we recommend camping.
A short flight will take us from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar and, from there, it will still take us about four hours by local jeep to get north to the village of Num, the starting trek point.
The trek starts by crossing the Arun Nadi, the main river that marks the whole region, still walking through low altitudes with small farms scattered among terraced crops, banana trees and subtropical forest, soon climbing the slopes above the Kasuwa Khola River, which lies further downstream.
The Kongma-La, Shipton-La and Keke-La passes mark the transition from the Arun Nadi Valley to the Barun Nadi Valley. We have now passed 4000 metres altitude in a much more alpine landscape and we are enjoying spectacular views. Again, following the valley, we walk accompanied by spectacular waterfalls falling from vertical rock walls. The path continues to gain altitude and we leave the forest area behind to reach open, wild and rocky terrain. The Himalayan peaks surround us and the glaciers, which are suffering a worrying retreat creating large lakes barely contained by the moraines, accompany us during the final part that takes us to the Makalu Base Camp, at 4870 metres above sea level. The imposing ice and rock walls of the fifth highest mountain in the world dominate the landscape and we are surrounded by high white peaks very close to Everest and Lhotse.
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