Nepal’s Makalu Base Camp, 10kms SE of Mt Everest, is the zenith of a dramatic trek through a rugged landscape of towering Himalayan peaks and deep river gorges. Between Mt Makalu (8,481m), the fifth highest peak in the world, and the powerful Arun Kosi (river), which cuts one of the world’s deepest river gorges, stretches the bio-diverse Barun Valley, a botanical zone of immense scientific importance, its contrasting altitudes creating dramatic changes in climate, wildlife and plants within only a few kilometres.
Amongst the 440 different bird species recorded in the 2,330 km² Makalu-Barun Park are the Rose-ringed Parakeet, Blyth’s Kingfisher, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Blue-naped Pitta, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Sultan Tit, Silver-eared Mesia and the White-naped Yuhina. Amongst mammals the park is also home to the snow leopard, clouded leopard, leopard, jungle cat, leopard cat, Asian golden cat, jackal, Himalayan wolf, red fox, red panda, black bear, Nepal grey langur, Assam macaque, Himalayan tahr, Himalayan goral, muntjac, musk deer, Himalayan serow, boar, flying squirrel, otter, spotted linsang, weasel and marmot. We suggest you keep your eyes open. The Barun Valley contains over 3,000 species of flowering plants, including 25 species of rhododendron, 47 types of orchids, and 56 rare plants.
This challenging trek starts off in the tropical climate of Tumlingtar, progresses through the whole climatic spectrum, culminating in the rugged high Himalayan terrain of rock and ice, and offers a true wilderness experience.
This trek is best down in October or November, but can also be done in March, April or early May. It can get very cold at altitude so you’ll need your down jacket.
This is a strenuous camping trek, though if you prefer there are rudimentary tea-houses on the early and latter stages of the trek where we can stay.
|Day 1||Fly to Tumlingtar (487m) and trek to Khandbari (1,020m) Your trekking guide will come to your hotel and, after breakfast, we take an internal flight to Tumlingtar. If we time this right there is a great weekly market, every Friday morning, full of local produce and people in various traditional costumes right next to the airport. From here we hike up the steepish hill to the lovely village of Khandbari with its flag-stoned main street, whitewashed houses, manicured gardens and Saturday morning market. (1 hour flight and 4 hour trek).|
|Day 2||Khandbari to Fururu (1,900m) We trek up through terraced fields, hike into a mixed forest and reach our first pass, the relatively benign Gogane at 1,840m. From here we have good views of Chhamlang (3,319m), Makalu (8,481m) and the Jaljale Himal ridge (5,333m). We’ll then trek through a spectacular mossy cloud forest of ferns and rhododendrons, singing birds and buzzing insects, past the cardamom pod growing village of Chichila and hike on to a camp-site at Fururu. (5 hour trek).|
|Day 3||Fururu to Num (1,500m) We trek up along a ridge for a bit then hike down to an oak forest. We then trek up and down to the village of Num which sits spectacularly on a promontory over the Arun Kosi. (6 hour trek).|
|Day 4||Num to Seduwa (Murmidanda) (1,510m) We now hike precipitously down to the Arun Kosi, undertaking perhaps the most dangerous section of the trek as we make the final descent. Careful here; fallen trees, enormous roots, rotting leaves and slippery mud make this final stretch tricky – so keep your eyes open. We then make the 1,000m hike up up to Seduwa, just across the river from Num. (5 hour trek).|
|Day 5||Seduwa to Tashigaon (2,070m) We keep trekking up the northeast side of the valley to Tashigaon, the last village before hiking into the uninhabited Makalu-Barun National Park. (5 hour trek).|
|Day 6||Tashigaon to Kauma (3,760m) We trek through gorgeous forest, sometimes on the level, more often ascending, before hiking along a ridge that takes us to our campsite. Due to the sharp elevation gains we must heed any altitude sickness symptoms. (6 hour trek).|
|Day 7||Kauma to Mumbuk (3,520m) Prepare to meet the snowline as we trek cross the Shipton La (pass) (3,900m), the Tutu La (4,075m) and the Keke La (4,127m), hiking past numerous freezing cold lakes and from where we will have awesome views, before trekking down into the pretty Barun Valley, which is filled with rhododendron trees and (in spring) a carpet of flowers. We camp here. (6 hour trek).|
|Day 8||Mumbuk to Nhe Kharka (4,320m) The trek leads down to the Barun River and we progress slowly scrambling across slippery gullies and negotiating boulders below steep loose cliffs, keeping an eye open for any rock falls, before the valley broadens into agreeable Himalayan pastures. We camp in one of them. (6 hour trek).|
|Day 9||Nhe Kharka We take a rest/acclimatization day as we have made a considerable ascent.|
|Day 10||Nhe Kharka to Shersong (4,600m) As we trek we pass below high cliffs, cross meadows, admire waterfalls, negotiate swamps and hike through splendid forests, before trekking below the towering giants of Pyramid Peak, Peak 4, Chamlang, Peak 6, Peak 3, Peak 3 and Peak 5. At long last we get to see Makalu, which bursts into view as we turn north into a side valley. (6/7 hour trek).|
|Day 11||Shersong to Makalu Base Camp (4,800m) After about 4 hours of spectacular scenery we hike into Makalu Base Camp and then trek up to the Upper Barun Glacier for views of Everest and surrounding mountains. The spectacular sight of Makalu’s dramatic pink rock buttresses makes all the effort worthwhile. We could also trek up to one of the surrounding ridges or spend an extra day here and make an excursion to the West Barun Glacier. (4 hour trek).|
|Day 12||Makalu Base Camp to Yangle Kharka (3,540m) We start the return trek down the Barun Valley, this time seeing it from a different angle. (6 hour trek).|
|Day 13||Yangle Kharka to& Mumbuk (3,520m) We trek down the valley and hike up toward the passes. (5 to 6 hour trek).|
|Day 14||Mumbuk to Kauma (3,760m) Spend some time admiring the views, it’s a lot easier hiking across the passes now that you’re fitter. (5 hour trek).|
|Day 15||Kauma to Tashigaon (2,070m) We trek back into the Arun Valley. (4 hour trek).|
|Day 16||Tashigaon to Balung (720m) We trek to the Arun River, but instead of hiking back up to Num we trek along the river toward Tumlingtar. (6 hour trek).|
|Day 17||Balung to Pukuwa (550m)|
|Day 18||Pukuwa to Bumling (370m) We enjoy the river as it cuts its way through the mountains. (4 hour trek).|
|Day 19||Bumling to Tumlingtar (460m) The final trek. (6 hour trek).|
|Day 20||Tumlingtar to Kathmandu We fly back to Kathmandu.
We hope you’ve had a great trek, some cracking adventures, have fond memories to take home and we look forward to you trekking with us again on your return to Nepal.
|Ballpark price; US$ 1,850 plus accommodation in Kathmandu.|
|Price includes airport pick-ups and drop-offs. All inclusive trek costs; all camping equipment, breakfast, lunch, dinner, trekking and park permit fees, guide and necessary porters and all their costs such as transportation, accommodation, food, equipment, insurance etc. All flights and other transport.|
|Price excludes food and accommodation in Kathmandu, alcoholic beverages, tips, your insurance and personal expenses.