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West Himalaya Treks

Makalu Base Camp Trek

Trip Length: 20 Days
Highest Point: 5,300m (Makalu Viewpoint)
Trek Grade: Moderate
Accommodation: Teahouse/Tent
Starting Point: Tumlingar
Ending Point: Tumlingtar
Walking Time: Approx 6 hrs per day
Region: Makalu

Trip Highlights

  • Trip to the foot of the fifth highest mountain in the world
  • Cross three high passes in a single day
  • Full day for exploration of the base camp
  • Great topographical diversity ranging from 400 to over 5,000 meters
  • Classic teahouse trek with lesser tourist footfalls
  • Amazing scenery with great diversity of flora and fauna
Trip Inquiry

Overview

Makalu Base Camp Trek has the equal grandeur of the popular Everest Base Camp Trek. This trail is less crowded and less explored making it a perfect trek for those who want to avoid the heavy traffic of the Everest region. This trek to the foot of the fifth highest mountain in the world is known among trekkers for its scenic beauty, hospitable people, diverse topography ranging from 400 to 5,000 meters, and great diversity of flora and fauna. The trek is challenging as it requires crossing four high passes – three of which are over 4,000 meters -- in a single day. In the lower areas, the trail is mostly through beautiful villages, forests and terraced fields. However, in upper areas the trail is mostly on rocky surface through beautiful pasturelands and bushes. The final approach to the Base Camp is the hallmark of this trek as it offers you spectacular scenery. Mount Makalu (8,485m) is the main attraction of this trek. But from a viewpoint above the base camp, you can enjoy a wide panorama consisting of Everest (8,848m), Lhotse (8,516m), Chamlang (7,319m) and Baruntse (7,129m), to name a few.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival in Arrival in Nepal

Welcome to Nepal. Upon arrival at Kathmandu airport, meet our representative who will transfer you to your hotel. You can relax in your hotel to unwind after a long trip. In the evening, meet your guide and attend the trip briefing session. O/N: Hotel

O/N: Hotel
Day 2
Fly to Tumlingtar (400m) & drive to Num (1,560m) – 35 mins flight, 4 hrs drive

After early breakfast, your guide will drive you to Kathmandu airport for a flight to Tumlingtar. The flight that takes about 35 minutes offers you scintillating mountain views from the comfort of your aircraft seat. You will meet trekking crew either at the airport or at Num. Board a waiting car and start driving toward Khandbari – the district headquarters of Sankhuwasabha. The drive takes about half an hour. After having early lunch, the winding road climbs up to a height of 1,960m before descending to a place called Chichila – a small town with a police station where you are required to present your trekking permit. From here, it’s a short drive to Num. But the road is in a really poor shape. Num is a small village that serves as the gateway to the Makalu region. O/N: Teahouse

O/N: Hotel
Day 3
Trek to Sidhuwa (1560m) – Approx 6 hours

Your trek begins in earnest today. First you will make a steep descent to Arun River which originates in Tibet. The descent takes around two hours. The trail passes through beautiful farms of big cardamom – a major cash crop in the area. After crossing the river on a suspension brdige, its a long and winding climb to Sidhuwa. The trail passes through huge bamboo groves and bustling villages. Sidhuwa is a beautiful village with small shops and few tea houses. O/N: Teahouse

O/N:Hotel/Tent
Day 4
Trek to Tashigaun (2100m) – Approx 5-6 hrs

The day’s walk will be easy as you won’t have to go through long ascents and descents like the day before. The trail passes through several Mani walls which means you are walking toward the land of Sherpas. The walk gives you a pleasant experience as the trail passes through small settlements, terraced farm, cardamom plantation, and bamboo and rhododendron forests. A walk of some two hours will take you to a place called Chyaksa Danda (1900m) with a teashop, school and some houses. After a brief tea break, continue walking toward Tashigaon. You will cross many streams on long bridges. Tashigaun village comes into your view after a brief walk from Chyaksa Danda. Before Tashigaun, the trail falls to a small stream which you cross on a log bridge. A final climb from here will take you to the Sherpa village of Tashigaun. O/N: Teahouse

O/N: Tent
Day 5
Trek to Khongma Danda (3637m) – Approx 7 hours

This is going to be a long and difficult day. After leaving Tashigaun on a paved steps, cross a small stream and continue walking uphill through beautiful rhododendron forests which blooms all red during spring season. You can see snow-capped mountains on the north and Tashigaun village below you. A walk of about three hours will take you to your lunch spot at Dhara (2867m). You will find not a single shop beyond Dhara until you reach Khongma Danda. The trail is again uphill after leaving Dhara. A walk of around an hour will take you to a small pass at Unshisa (3200m). There is a giant rock and few prayer flags at the top of the pass – an usual sight on high passes. A walk of about two hours from Unshisa will take you to a rest stop with prayer flags fluttering. Khongma Danda lies at a walk of only about half an hour from here.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 6
Rest Day for Acclimatization

You will take a rest day for acclimatization today to prepare for the higher altitude. Your guide will take you for a hike to Khongma La (3890m) – the first of the three passes that you will be crossing tomorrow. Hit the trail after having breakfast at your teahouse. The trail is mostly through rhododendron bushes. It will take you about an hour to each the pass. After spending sometime at the pass, its time to return to Khongma Danda.

O/N: Tent
Day 7
Trek to Dobate (3860m) after crossing three passes – Approx 8 hours

This is going to be one of the most remarkable days of your trek as you will be crossing three passes. Some section of the trek involves spectacular ridge walking offering you breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks and beautiful valleys all around. As there are only a few teashops on the way, you will be served packed lunch today. The first pass is located about an hour’s climb from Khongma Danda. It’s a small pass going by the name Kongma La (3,890m). You will see Mount Makalu and Mount Chamlang on a clear day. From here, make a small descent and climb on a ridge for around an hour to reach your second pass Sano Pokhari Danda (4105m). If the weather is clear, you can catch sight of Mount Kanchanjunga toward east. You will see a small lake near the pass. A small but tiring climb from here will take you to Shipton La (4,200m) – the highest of the three passes. There is a small shelter and a teahouse here. Like other high Himalayan passes, you can see cairns and prayer flags at the top. From here, the trail descends to Kalo Pokhari lake which holds some religious significance. Local people hike to the lake to take a holy dip during Janai Purnima festival which falls in August. From the lake, a climb of about 45 minutes will take you to the final pass – Keke La (4,170m). After spending some time at the pass, start descending toward Dobate. The walk takes around 45 minutes.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 8
Trek to Yangle Kharka (3,630m) – Approx 6 hrs

The walk today is pleasing as the trail passes through beautiful rhododendron and pine forests. Watch out for birds like Guldenstadts redstarts, minivets, tragopans and picas. The trail gradually drops to the Barun River which originates from the glacier of Mount Baruntse. After crossing the river, the trail briefly passes through a landslide-prone area. It then gradually climbs to Thembathang Kharka (3,500m). Just before reaching the grasslands of Thembatathang, watch out for a beautiful waterfall. From here, the trail again drops to the Barun River. After a short walk, you will come across stone steps hinting that your night stop at Yangle Kharka is not far. It takes about one and half hours to reach the beautiful meadows of Yangle Kharka from Thembathang. There is a small monastery below this settlement which you can explore in the evening.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 9
Trek to Langmale (4,420m) – Approx 5 hours

Another pleasing day. Resume your walk after having breakfast at your teahouse. The trail initially drops to the monastery and the river. The walk from here is on a more or less leveled trail with the river on your left. The trail passes through juniper forest and you can see prayer flags fluttering all around you. You can enjoy views of mountains like Peak 4, Peak 6, Peak 7 and Yaupa in front of you. Today’s walk is one of the most scenic walks of the day as you will be rewarded with views of snowcapped mountains, high cliffs, waterfalls and sacred caves, among others. After a short walk, the trail opens into beautiful pasturelands of Jhak Kharka and Yak Kharka before reaching Merek. You can take a tea break here. From here, continue walking toward Langmale. Though the walk is easy, you will feel the effects of high altitude. It takes around two hours to reach Langmale from Merek. Langmale is a beautiful place offering fabulous mountain views. The northern horizon is dominated by Peak 7.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 10
Rest day for acclimatization

You will take another rest day for acclimatization today. Your guide will take you for small hikes to prepare you for the climb to the base camp.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 11
Trek to Makalu Base Camp (4,800m) – Approx 5-6 hours

This is going to be the most memorable day of your trek as you will be reaching your destination – Makalu Base Camp – today. As you climb toward the base camp, you can see Peak 7 and Peak 6 is full glory ahead of you. You will walk upstream of the Barun River on its right. The trail snakes through the beautiful valley. It is an easy walk as you will be gaining only 400 meters, but your progress will be slow because of high altitude. There are some difficult sections though. As you climb higher, Peak 4 comes to your view. After a walk of couple of yours, the trail opens into a flat area going by the name Shershong (4,630m). After a short walk from here, Mount Makalu comes to your view. The view is so clear that you can see its formidable face lashed with icefalls, seracs and crevasses. Eventually you will see few lodges which suggest that you are finally at the base camp. Before reaching the base camp, you will have to make a small descent to the river and go across it. Mount Makalu dominates the view from the base camp. In spring season, you can see numerous tents erected by climbing parties.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 12
Exploration Day

Today, you will explore the Makalu Base Camp area. There are a few options. One option is to climb to a high ridge of around 5,300 meters that offers breathtaking views of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse as well as the close up view of Mount Makalu. It takes around three hours to reach the top. Other option includes climbing a smaller ridge just above the base camp. The third option is a hike beyond the base camp to see the beautiful lakes. Having assessed your stamina and fitness level over the past few days, your guide will suggest you the best option to explore the base camp.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 13
Trek to Yangle Kharka – Approx 6-7 hours

The return leg of your trek begins today. After enjoying final views of the base camp, start descending to the beautiful meadow of Shershong. A walk of around an hour from here will take you to Langmale and after another one and half hours you will reach Merek where you can have a cup of steaming hot tea. From here, Yangle Kharka is a walk of about two and half hours.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 14
Trek to Dobate – Approx 6 hrs

Follow the same old path to reach Thembathang. It will take around one and half hours to reach Thembathang from Dobate. From here, you will have to negotiate some landslide-prone sections to reach Dobate. Please note that there is no teashop in between.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 15
Trek to Khongma Danda – Approx 6-7 hrs

Today is the last day to see the mountains as you will be crossing four high passes. Begin with Keke La, then the highest pass of Shipton La and Sano Pokhari Danda and Khongma La. A sharp descent from Khongma La will take you to your teahouse at Khongma Danda.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 16
Trek to Tashigaon – Approx 5 hrs

You will be reaching lower areas today. A walk of around two hours from Khongma Danda will take you to Dhara Kharka. From here, your destination Tashigaon is about three hours away. You will be losing around 1,400 meters of altitude today.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 17
Trek to Seduwa – Approx 4-5 hrs

This is going to be the last trekking day of your trip. Enjoy an easy walk through beautiful settlements and terraced land to Seduwa.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 18
Trek to Num; and drive to Khandbari – Approx 6 hours

You will enjoy a half-day walk today. The trek to Num is easy. You will have to drop to Arun River before climbing up to the village of Num. After lunch, bid adieu to your amazing support staff and drive toward Khandbari.

O/N: Teahouse
Day 19
Drive to Tumlingtar and fly to Kathmandu

Enjoy the short drive to Tumlingtar airstrip. Board your aircraft and fly to Kathmandu. You can get last views of the mountains from the comfort of your aircraft seat. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, get transferred to your hotel.

O/N: Hotel
Day 20
Departure

Your last day in Nepal. Our representative will transfer you the airport for your return flight. While traveling back home, you will have plenty of time to reflect on the amazing time you had in Nepal.

Trip Map

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Makalu Base Camp Trek

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