7 February, 2021 | Reccy Guide
While Mount Everest may be the tallest mountain in the world, it’s certainly not the only giant in the Himalayas. Makalu Peak is the fifth highest peak in the world at a height of 8,581 m. Not only is the peak itself an incredible sight, but it’s situated in Makalu Baron National Park.
This region is known for its diverse and stunning beauty, including panoramic views of the most notable peaks in the Himalayas. Although it’s not as remote as it once was, the Makalu Base Camp Trek is still relatively untravelled. The park area was closed to the world until the 1950s, when Eric Shipton was allowed to enter and trek beneath Makalu.
The Makalu Base Camp Trek cost can be quite high, but it depends on the company you book with. Although this trek can be completed solo, most hikers opt to hire a tour agency. The price of the adventure varies but averages around US$3,000 or more per person.
When you’re ready to depart, you’ll need to make your way to Kathmandu international airport for a domestic flight. Your destination Tumlingtar, which is just 30 minutes away by plane. You can begin your trek here and set out on foot towards Num, or you can board a bus and enjoy a rough and bumpy drive in.
Regardless of how you reach Num, your Makalu Base Camp Trek itinerary is quite set from then on out. This trip is an out-and-back. You’ll follow the same path up to Base Camp that you will use to return to Num. Instead of being boring, this gives you the perfect opportunity to see views missed due to weather and gain new perspectives on the landscape.
From Num, the trip quickly begins in earnest. You’ll first hike down to the Arun river and then up to Seduwa. You can expect to cross suspension bridges and walk between giant bamboo and cardamom crops. This is the lowest part of the journey at just 700 m in altitude. Over the next eight to ten days, you’ll be climbing 4,500 m up.
Your next destination is Tashigaon. This portion of the path is marked by large stone steps and local mani walls. Small farms and rhododendron forests surround the rivers that lead to your lodging. The accommodations for this trip are local teahouses.
These teahouses are owned and staffed by families from nearby villages. Almost all trekkers opt to stay in teahouses, providing a perfect opportunity to socialize. You’re also encouraged to speak with the family in charge of the teahouse and share meals with them if possible.
The next day is filled with elevation gain, and the main highlight is following a series of small lakes on the way to Khongma Danda. Upon reaching this village, you’ll usually take a full additional day to acclimatize to the high altitude.
You’ll enjoy some of the most incredible views on this trip the closer you are to Makalu Base Camp. You’ll trek through four high passes, descend into Dobate, and pass Lake Pokhari. The trail winds along the Barun River and provides an excellent view of a waterfall before Yangri Kharka.
Prayer flags, more waterfalls, and sacred caves line the final steps to Base Camp. This colorful collection of tents and lodges sprawls below Makalu itself. After camping for the evening, you can spend an entire day exploring the camp.
The highlight of this exploration is a ridge above Base Camp at roughly 5,300 m. Here you’ll be able to see incredible views of Everest (8,848 m), Lhotse (8,516 m), Chamlang (7,319 m), and Baruntse (7,129 m). The following day will see you head back precisely the way you came.
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