Makalu Base Camp Trek

Posted by Andy on Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Formerly a restricted area, Makalu spans five major ecological zones embracing the lush, tropical Arun Valley, dense forests of rhododendron, fir and alpine meadows that lead to the mighty Barun glacier. From the base camp, you can view the spectacular Mt. Makalu.

This mainly low altitude trek is centered on the Arun Valley. The sub-tropical valley floor of the Arun River is in places densely forested, contrasting with the terraced slopes higher up, which are farmed by villagers of diverse tribal groups. High pastures typify the upper slopes, which border on the Makalu-Barun National Park, an important conservation area for many threatened species.

Highlights of the trek

A genuine Himalayan wilderness experience. Fantastic views of the mountains of the Everest region. Picturesque Tamang, Gurung, and Sherpa villages.

Trek dates
Daily from September to end of November and early February to late June

Check list
Read our helpful check list before booking

Detailed itinerary
Itinerary can be customized according to your needs and length of stay.

Day 01 – Arrival in kathmandu

Upon arrival at Kathmandu International Airport transfer to your hotel in Kathmandu or Bhaktapur. Short briefing will follow concerning the necessary formalities and your trekking itinerary. Depending upon your arrival time you may spend free time visiting nearby sanctuaries or resting.

Prayer Wheels

Day 02 – Sightseeing / Cultural Day in Kathmandu Valley
Half day sightseeing around UNESCO Bhaktapur / Kathmandu where your guide will escort you on a tour of Buddhist and Hindu temples and shrines reflecting ancient local traditions. There is time to explore the city’s many places of interest on your own or take a rest while trekking permits are finalised. In the evening sample a delicious traditional Nepali dinner. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 03 – Kathmandu to Khandbari (1030m) via Tumlingtar (510m)
If all goes to plan, we should arrive by plane in Tumlingtar around noon, where we start our trek after lunch. The ascent starts from the Arun Kosi and the Sabha Khola rivers. It is a long ridge walk with numerous teahouses along the road. We can see views of the huge Chhamlang massif in the distance. The trail crosses a plateau then climbs gradually after which we will arrive in Khandbari.
We camp above the village on large grassy fields (4 hrs).

Day 04 – Khandbari to Chichira (1840m)
The countryside will become more rural and we will climb through bamboo forests along the ridge to Arun Than (1280m), after which we continue through bamboo groves and big rocks to Sheka (1350m). Ascend to Bhotebas (1740m) and trek further for 2 hours and reach the tiny ridge to the village of Chichira (1840m) where there are two excellent campsites and a few houses inhabited by Gurungs (6 hrs).

Sherpas

Day 05 – Chichira to Num (1500m)
Having the views of Makalu at dawn we start to trek slowly. It’s an enjoyable walk for the day. We will continue following the ridge past small Sherpa settlements of Baisake and Kuwapani (1870m). The route climbs about 100 meters before descending into oak forests and then follows alongside a stream for a short distance. We will then go upwards again to the village of Mure (2000m), a village inhabited by both Sherpas and Rais. After Mure the trail will descent on a rocky eroded trail to some stone steps and finally to Num, which is on a ridge above Arun Kosi river (6 hrs).

Day 06 – Num to Seduwa (1540m)
After leaving our campsite at Num we will descend steeply from the western end of the Num ridge through the cornfields of Lumbang, we will continue our way down through jungle to a suspension bridge over the Arun Kosi (620m). From here we will do the steep climb up to Seduwa (1540m) which has an excellent large camping ground below the national park office. Here we must register with both the local police and the national park office (5:30 hrs).

Day 07 – Seduwa to Tashigaon (2070m)
Today there are many streams to cross that may (or may not) have bridges and makes a gradual climb high above the Kasuwa Khola to a mani wall (1890m). From here on it is a gentle walk through terraced ricefields and forested areas to Hindrungma village, and then onto Ropsesa. The route crosses meadows and several streams and then reaches the Tashigaon school, after which there is yet another stream to cross and a short ridge climb to reach the foot of the Sherpa village of Tashigaon. This is the last settlement in the valley. Many of the houses in this village are on stilts topped with round stone or wood barriers to keep out the mice (5 hrs).

Day 08 – Tashigaon to Khongma (3560m)
This will be a though day with an elevation over 1400 meters on a steep trail. We will ascend through forests to a stream and then onto a ridge where there is a small shepards hut called Chipla (2520m). After this the trail becomes even steeper and passes a kharka (commonly owned grazing land) and finally follows a series of rough stone stairs ascending to the top of the ridge. From here it’s a short way down to Khongma. There are no buildings here and many of the tent sites are on the sloping hillside (6 hrs).

Mumbuk

Day 09 – Khongma to Mumbuk (3550m)
Today we will first climb on steep switchbacks adorned with prayer flags to a ridge at 3840 m, from where there is a very nice view of Chhamlang, Peak 6 (6739m) and Peak 7 (6105m). We will follow the ridge through a rhododendron forest for a while and then go up to the first of three passes we must cross today, which is Ghungru La (4050m). Descend to a small turquoise lake after which we will ascend again through Shipton Pass (named after Eric Shipton, who used this pass with Edmund Hillary on their 1952 Everest reconnaissance). We then have to pass Keke La (4150m) after which we will enter a valley filled with rhododendron forest and continue on to our campstite at Mumbuk (7 hrs).

Day 10 – Mumbuk to Nghe Kharka (3750m)
Descend to Barun Khola through fir and rhododendron forests and we pass a small cave at 3250 meters and then traverse up and down to a large open area. We will have good views of Peak 7 from here. The valley widens and we have to pass several streams and then cross the Barun river on a wooden bridge to Yangle Kharka and then onto the large grassy plain of Nghe Karka (6 hrs).

Day 11 – Nghe Kharka
Rest day. It’s a very special place for a rest and observes the nature closely. And it also gives you the opportunity to wash some of your clothes if necessary.

Day 12 – Nghe Kharka to Shersong (4610m)
Beyond Nghe Kharka we will follow the Barun valley past Piphuk Kharka (3930m). Then we will climb alongside a waterfall and then on to a swampy meadow and stream. Here we will go to a single house at Jhak Kharka (4210m) and continue our way through the meadows of Yak Kharka where there is a rough hotel and an amazingly well equipped shop. Beyond Yak Kharka we will follow alongside a moraine formed by the lower Barun glacier. There are excellent views of Peak 4 (6720m), Peak 3 (6477m) and peak 5 (6404m). We will continue our way through the valley until we reach Shersong for overnight camp through pine and rhododendron forests and grassy plain. Halfway into the valley the dramatically beautiful summit of Makalu comes into view (7 hrs).

Makalu BC

Day 13 – Shersong to Makalu Base Camp (5050m)
From our camp site at Shersong it is a gradually climb to a minor pass about 100 meter above Makalu base camp after which we descend to a stream and cross boulders to the base camp on the west side of the river. There are terrific views of the south face of Makalu. There are no huts, shelters or vegetation at base camp which is at an elevation of about 5000 meters. We will return to Shersong on the same day for our overnight camp (6 hrs).

Day 14 – Shersong to Yangle Kharka (3600m)
We will retrace our steps down the Barun valley to the pleasant camp of Yangle Kharka (5hrs).

Day 15 – Yangle Kharka to Mumbuk (3550m)
We will continue descending through the rock-fall area and then climb up the rocky gully to the trees of Mumbuk (4:30 hrs).

Day 16 – Mumbuk to Khongma (3560m)
Trek across Shipton La and descend to Khongma (6 hrs).

Day 17 – Khongma to Tashigaon (1700m)
We make a long steep descent (almost 1300m)Descend across Arun and through Num camp at Mure back into civilization. The Norbu’s hotel at Tashigaon usually has a good stock of cold beers and the local Khukuri rum to help you recover from the high altitude (4 hrs).

Day 18 – Tashigaon to Num (1500m)
We retrace our approach route and will ascend around 580 meters and have a 240 meter descend (6 hrs).

Day 19 – Num to Chichira (1840)
We retrace our route of day 5 back to Chichira (6 hrs).

Day 20 – Chichira to Mane Bhanjhyang (1100m)
This day will bring us even closer to civilization when we follow our route back to the camp site at Mani Bhanjhyang (5:30 hrs).

Day 21 – Mane Bhanjhyang to Tumlingtar
A 740 meter desent will bring us back to Tumlingtar (4 hrs).

Day 22 – Tumlingtar to Kathmandu
Today we will fly back to Kathmandu. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 23 – Kathmandu
Departure from Kathmandu.

The trek program is – because of weather or unforeseen events – subject to change.

Services and costs included in the price

  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Three nights hotel accommodation and breakfast in Kathmandu
  • Licensed and trained trekking guides
  • Porters for carrying goods and supplies
  • All accommodation during trek
  • All meals and hot beverages whilst trekking
  • Transportation to and from trailhead
  • All necessary documents and permits for trekking (where applicable)
  • National Park/Conservation Area entry permit
  • Equipment such as sleeping bag, tents, mattresses
  • Cooking equipment
  • Camp-site charges
  • Insurance, medication, and equipment for staff
  • Coordination of Quick Rescue service (costs covered by your insurance plan)

Services and costs NOT included in price

  • International airfares
  • Travel/trekking insurance
  • Excess baggage charges more than 16kg and hand bag more than 5kg in domestic flights
  • Visa fees
  • Airport departure tax
  • Rescue charge
  • Drinks (cold and alcoholic)
  • Expenses of personal nature
  • Permit and liaison officer fee (where applicable)
  • Lunches and dinners whilst not trekking