Makalu is a rarely visited gem. It’s considered one of the toughest 8000m peaks to climb – even the great Edmund Hillary failed twice. But the wilderness around it is just waiting to be explored by the intrepid trekker prepared to forgo the comforts of teahouse treks. The camping trail to Makalu Base Camp from the south is considered one of the tougher routes in Nepal, and you’re more likely to have the company of birds than fellow hikers. This is even more the case if you intend to trek the Great Himalaya Trail from Kanchenjunga over to Everest: be prepared for a combination of cross-country and mountaineering to cross into the upper Barun Valley and then over the high passes of the gruelling Three Cols, which take you to almost 6200m.
The rewards are generous. Makalu shelters 3000 species of flowering plants, 440 species of birds and 75 species of mammals. The towering granite cliffs capped with glaciers in the upper reaches of the Barun Valley have been likened to those of Yosemite – on a bigger scale! As you walk up the river valleys, immense mountain vistas will unfold before you, including the massifs of Makalu, Everest and Lhotse. You may well wonder why you have the views all to yourself – something to ask the indigenous groups of Rai, Limbu, Sherpa and Lhomi people you will encounter lower down.
The Makalu region is known for its heavy rains and snow, so hiking is best done in the autumn months of October and November. But don’t wait too long – with a major hydropower project in the works, trek Makalu now before it changes forever.
Top 3 Treks
Makalu to Everest Traverse via 3 Cols – 26 days
The highest and most challenging section of the GHT! Cross three passes, two of them over 6000m, traversing the mountain range between Makalu and Everest.
Makalu Exploratory – 7 days
Low altitude trek in a remote area, passing through sub-tropical vegetation and villages reminiscent of Laos. This is a camping trek, although there are basic teahouses in some villages.
Makalu Base Camp Trek with Arun Valley – 20 days
This challenging trek goes through remote wilderness. There are hard-won rewards: spectacular scenery with magnificent views of Makalu, towering cliffs, hanging glaciers and waterfalls. This is a camping trek, although there are basic teahouses in some villages.
- The region is named after Mt Makalu, which at 8463m is the world’s 5th highest mountain
- It’s home to more than 3000 species of flowering plants, including 25 species of rhododendron and hundreds of varieties of orchids
- You need to be prepared for some serious mountaineering to cross the high passes of Sherpani Col, West Col and the Amphu Labsta into the Everest region
- Remote valleys little visited by foreign travellers
- Lots of rain and stunning, immense glaciers
|GHT Section||Specific area||Permits||Where to get the permit||When|
|Makalu Barun||All trekking areas where no Trekking Permit is needed||TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System):
Organized trekkers: blue TIMS cards;Nepali currency equivalent to US $10; can also be payed in US$
Individual trekkers: green TIMS cards;Nepali currency equivalent to US $20; Nepali currency only
|TAAN or NTB office in Kathmandu or Pokhara (individual trekkers)
Through travel agency (organized trekkers)
|Before the trek|
|Sankhuwasabha District; Areas of Kimathanka, Chepuwa,Hatiya and Pawakhola Village Development Committee||Trekking Permit: US$ 10 per week for first 4 weeks, after this US$ 20 per week (or equivalent convertible foreign currency)||Department of Immigration
Can be arranged through travel agency
|Before the trek|
|Makalu Barun National Park||Makalu Barun National Park entrance fee: Foreign nationals: NPR 3,000
SAARC nationals: NPR 1,000
Nepali crew: NPR 25
|Entrance of National Park||During the trek|
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