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Makalu Base Camp Trek

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21 days, 20 nights
Availability : April - May and October - November
Min Age : 15+
Max People : 12

MAKALU BASE CAMP TREK

On the Makalu Base Camp trek, participants get up-close with the fifth highest mountain in the world – Mt. Makalu (8,485m). Eric Shipton was the first outsider to have trekked in the region in the 1950’s. Consequently, the Shipton Pass on this trek was named after him. The first climb on Makalu was made by an American team led by Riley Keegan and Sierra Club members including Bill Long and Allen Steck. They attempted via the southeast ridge but they turned back at 23,300 ft. due to bad weather. The first ascent of Makalu was by a French expedition team on May 15, 1955.

The Makalu Base Camp Trek starts at a relatively lower elevation which is home to Rai’s, Gurung’s and Tamang people. The last permanent settlement is Tashigaon which is the home of the Sherpa people. Ascending slowly, the trek follows a trail through the beautiful Makalu Barun National Park which is home to diverse flora and fauna. Continue to trek past the Barun river along spectacular granite rocks, pastures and waterfalls.

The Trek

The Makalu Base Camp trek is quickly emerging as a popular trekking destination especially among trekkers who prefer solitude. Trekking to Makalu is a great alternative to the more busier treks in the Everest and Annapurna region. And with daily flights available to Tumlingtar, the Makalu Base Camp Trek is also quite easily accessible. It has all the makings of an epic Himalayan trek including stunning snow-clad mountain scenery, high passes, intriguing mix of Nepal’s culture and soaring Himalayan peaks.

The journey begins with a 35-minute flight to Tumlingtar from where we drive to the road-head on a chartered vehicle. The lower parts of the Makalu region are quite hot and humid with lush rhododendron and oak forests, cardamom plantations. Ascend slowly over several passes and follow the Barun river valley to the Makalu Base Camp. Return to Tumlingtar is along the same trail but vistas are quite spectacular in both directions. For more information, do check out Jwalant’s blog: My Makalu Base Camp Trek

ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS

The Makalu Base Camp Trek is a combo Lodge Trek/Camping Trek. This means you will sleep and eat meals in local lodges along the trail and also in tents where necessary. The lodges on this trek are quite basic. Meals are not as varied as on the Everest or the Annapurna treks but options do include rice with veggies, noodles, local breads etc. On this trek, we will carry some food to supplement what’s available at the local lodges and a certified trekking cook will accompany the group to prepare more varied meals. Furthermore, we will also carry tents so you may opt to sleep in tents in some of the more basic places.

Video of our monsoon trek (June) to Makalu Base Camp:

BEST SEASON

Like most treks in Nepal, the best seasons for the Makalu Base Camp trek are Spring (April-May) and Autumn (October-November).

TREK RATING

The Makalu Base Camp trek is rated “CHALLENGING”. It is rated 5 on a rating scale from 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging). While it does NOT involve crossing 5,000 meter mountain passes, it is probably the MOST CHALLENGING trek in Nepal in terms of daily elevation gain/loss. No technical climbing experience is required but some sections of the trail (all stair-cases) are almost 50 degrees steep. The highest overnight altitude reached is at Makalu Base Camp (4,800 m/15,750ft) and the highest elevation reached is at the view point above base camp (5,300m/17,400 feet). There are two acclimatization days to allow for proper acclimatization.

Trekking to Makalu involves average daily hiking or around 6 hours with a few longer days of around 7-8 hours. Also, this is a relatively long trek in a remote area. Regardless of the rating, it is important to prepare for any trek in Nepal. Read our advice on training for treks.

WHY TREK WITH US?

The Makalu Base Camp Trek is a private trek for a minimum of two participants. We do NOT nickel-and-dime on services – all inclusions and exclusions are clearly listed in cost details. Some companies will advertise trips for very low prices but they have a lot of exclusions that is usually not clear. Most of our trekkers are either repeat clients or referrals. We have been in business for over 30 years and we employ only the most professional and friendly staff. Do read this article “Is Crystal Mountain Treks expensive?” to learn more about this.

Do contact us (info@crystalmountaintreks.com) if you have more questions. We are happy to help.

Trip at a glance

Brief Itinerary

Day Description Overnight Altitude
Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu Kathmandu  1340m/4,300ft
Day 2 Exploring Kathmandu Kathmandu  1340m/4,300ft
Day 3 Fly to Tumlingtar. Drive to Num. (All meals) Num 1,560m/5,110ft
Day 4 Trek to Seduwa. (All meals) Seduwa 1,560m/5,110ft.
Day 5 Trek to Tashi Gaon (All meals) Tashi Gaon 2,100m/6,890ft.
Day 6 Trek to Khongma Danda (All meals) Khongma Danda 3,637m/11,950ft.
Day 7 Acclimatization day (All meals) Khongma Danda 3,637m/11,950ft.
Day 8 Trek over Khongma la, Shipton La and Keke La to Dobate (All meals) Dobate 3,860m/12,700ft.
Day 9 Trek to Yangle Kharka. (All meals) Yangle Kharka 3,630m/11,900ft.
Day 10 Trek to Langmale Kharka. (All meals) Langmale Kharka 4,420m/14,500ft.
Day 11 Acclimatization Day. (All meals) Langmale 4,420m/14,500ft.
Day 12 Trek to Makalu Base Camp. (All meals) Makalu Base Camp 4,800m/15,750ft.
Day 13 Explore Makalu Base Camp. (All meals) Makalu Base Camp 4,800m/15,750ft.
Day 14 Trek to Yangle Kharka. (All meals) Yangle Kharka 3,630m/11,900ft
Day 15 Trek to Dobate. (All meals) Dobate 3,860m/12,700ft.
Day 16 Trek to Tashi Gaon. (All meals) Tashi Gaon 2,100m/6,890ft.
Day 17 Trek to Seduwa. (All meals) Seduwa 1,560m/5,110ft.
Day 18 Trek to Num. Drive to Khandbari. (All meals) Khandbari 1,560m/5,110ft.
Day 19 Drive to Tumlingtar. Fly to Kathmandu. (B) Kathmandu 1340m/4,300ft
Day 20 Sightseeing in Kathmandu. (All meals) Kathmandu 1340m/4,300ft
Day 21 Final departure. (B)  
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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1Arrival in Kathmandu

Arrive Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport. Transfer to Hotel Tibet or similar. Day Free. Enjoy welcome dinner. Briefing during dinner. Overnight Hotel Tibet or similar. (Dinner)

Day 2Exploring Kathmandu

Visit Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, with its two-tiered golden roof and silver door. Here, you’ll probably witness a Hindu cremation along the banks of the Bagmati River.

Then drive to Bhaktapur, the City of Devotees, for lunch and a tour of the royal palace square. Bhaktapur is a medieval city in the Kathmandu valley and is least disturbed by modern life. Here, you can absorb the architectural splendor of the five-storied Nyatapola temple, or the sculptural delight of the Peacock Window.

In the afternoon, make final preparations for your Makalu Base Camp Trek.

Overnight Hotel Tibet or similar. (Breakfast and Lunch)

Day 3 Fly to Tumlingtar. Drive to Num.

Fly to Tumlingtar. This airport is much larger than the STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) airports of Lukla or Suketar. From, Tumlingtar we will drive on jeep track to Chichila (1,980m/6,496ft) and then to Num. The 4-hour drive begins on a winding road to Khandbari – the district headquarters of Sankhuwasabha district. Continue on a winding road to Chichila, a small Gurung village and then to Num.

Overnight lodge. (All meals)

Day 4 and Day 5Trek to Seduwa and then to Tashi Gaon

Seduwa can be seen right across from Num but to get there involves a steep descent followed by a steep ascent. The day begins with a big and steep descent through forests, cardamom fields and terraced farms to the Arun River followed by a slog to Seduwa. Enter Makalu Barun National Park here where permits will be checked.

It’s an easier walk from Seduwa to Tashi Gaon without the steep ascents and descents of the day before. Today you will pass several mani walls as you trek into the Buddhist Sherpa country. The trek today is through small farms, cardamom plantations and bamboo and rhododendron forests.

Overnight lodge. (All meals)

CHAMLE KHARKA TO SEDUWA

Distance: 4.9 kilometers/3.04 miles approximately
Ascent: 2,581 feet/786 meters
Descent: 1,055 feet/321 meters
Total Time: 4 to 5 hours

SEDUWA TO TASHI GAON

Distance: 8.7 kilometers/5.4 miles approximately
Ascent: 2,062 feet/628 meters
Descent: 193 feet/59 meters
Total Time: 5 to 6 hours

 

 

Day 6 and Day 7Trek to Khongma Danda and acclimatization day

Today is an all ascent day – almost 4,500 feet of ascent! The trek begins with an ascent out of Tashigaon on stone steps. Cross a log bridge and continue ascending through a rhododendron forest.

After three to four hours, arrive at Dhara at 2,867m/9,400ft. which has a tea shop where we stop for lunch. After lunch, continue to climb to Unshisa at 3,200m/10,500ft. and onwards on staircases through rhododendron forest for another 2-3 hours to arrive at Khongma Danda at 3,560m/11,700ft.

We are at an altitude higher than Namche Bazaar. So it is important to acclimatize. We spend an extra day at Khongma Danda to allow our bodies to adapt to the altitude. You may opt to hike up to the Khonmga viewpoint or further to the first pass. Look out for Kanchenjunga in the east.

Overnight lodge. (All meals)

TASHI GAON TO KHONGMA

Distance: 5.85 kilometers/3.64 miles approximately
Ascent: 4,488 feet/1,367 meters
Descent: 203 feet/61 meters
Total Time: 6 to 7 hours

 

 

Day 8Trek to Dobate over Khongma La, Shipton La and Keke La

Today is a challenging day involving crossing of four passes! Start by ascending to Khongma La at 3,890m/12,800ft. On a clear day, Makalu and Chamlang are visible. The begin the slog towards the second pass and descend to Sano Pokhari (Small lake) at 4,105m/13,500ft. Continue ascent to Shipton La pass at 4,200m/13,800ft. Descend to Thulo Pokhari (Big lake) at 4,080m and climb to your last pass of the day – Keke La at 4,170m/13,700ft. Descend for an hour to your lodge at Dobate.

Overnight lodge. (All meals)

KHONGMA TO DOBATE

Distance: 4.85 miles/7.8 kilometers approximately
Ascent: 2,734 feet/834 meters
Descent: 2,019 feet/615 meters
Total Time: 7 to 8 hours

 

Day 9, 10 and 11Trek to Yangle Kharka and onward to Langmale

Begin with a steep descent through rhododendron and pine forests to the Barun River. Follow the Barun river to reach Phemathang Kharka 3,500m/11,500ft. In between is a section with landslides so make sure you walk with one of the staff as some sections are tricky. Cross the Barun Khola and walk for around two hours to reach the wide valley of Yangle Kharka. The total walk today is around 6 hours. Today and tomorrow, you will be walking in the Barun valley with the impressive granite rocks on either side.

From Yangle Kharka, it is a moderate walk to the Langmale as we trek through yak pastures, lush forests and boulder fields. Trek past the pastures of Yak Kharka to arrive at Merek after around 2 hours. From Merek, it is another 2 hours to Langmale.

The next day is an acclimatisation day. You make hike around Langmale or just sit and read a book.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

DOBATE TO YANGLE KHARKA

Distance: 10 kilometers/6.19 miles approximately
Ascent: 1,200 feet/365 meters
Descent: 2,174 feet/662 meters
Total Time: 5 to 6 hours

 

YANGLE KHARKA TO LANGMALE KHARKA

Distance: 8.04 kilometers/5 miles approximately
Ascent: 2,166 feet/660 meters
Descent: 45 feet/14 meters
Total Time: 4 to 5 hours

 

Day 12 and Day 13Trek to Makalu Base Camp. Explore.

Begin the day by making a gentle acscent. After a couple of hours, reach a flat area called Shersong (4,630m/15,200ft) and then reach a wide sandy valley. Continue by making a gentle ascent and soon Makalu and Makalu Base Camp comes into view. The trip should take around 4-5 hours.

You have an extra day to explore the Makalu Base Camp including to climb to the ridge (5,300m/17,400ft) above base camp for panoramic views. From this viewpoint you can see Kharta valley in Tibet, Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse as well as close-up, dramatic views of Makalu.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

LANGMALE KHARKA TO MAKALU BASE CAMP

Distance: 8.5 kilometers/5.32 miles approximately
Ascent: 1,353 feet/413 meters
Descent: 235 feet/72 meters
Total Time: 4 to 5 hours

 

Day 14, 15 and 16Retrace trail back to Tashi Gaon

Retrace trail back to Tashi Gaon via Yangle Kharka, Dobate and Khongma Danda.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

Day 17 and Day 18Retrace trail to Num and drive to Khandbari

Retrace trail to Seduwa and Num. Drive onwards to Khandbari and Tumlingtar.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

Day 19Drive to Tumlingtar. Fly to Kathmandu.

Drive to Tumlingtar and Fly to Kathmandu.

Overnight Hotel Manaslu. (B)

Day 20Sightseeing in Kathmandu

This is a contingency day in case of flight delays from Tumlingtar to Kathmandu.

If your flight arrives on schedule, sightseeing in Kathmandu. Visit Swayambunath, better known as the Monkey Temple. It is situated on a small hill overlooking Kathmandu City. Be prepared to climb almost 300 steps to reach the stupa at the top of the hill.

Drive to Bhaktapur, the City of Devotees for lunch and a tour of the royal palace square. Bhaktapur is a medieval city in the Kathmandu valley and is least disturbed by modern life. Here, you can absorb the architectural splendor of the five-storied Nyatapola temple, or the sculptural delight of the Peacock Window.

A final farewell dinner in Kathmandu.

Hotel Manaslu or similar. (All meals)

Day 21Final Departure

Drop off at airport for final departure. (B)

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Cost Information - Makalu Base Camp Trek

(valid until 31 Dec, 2025) – Lodge Trek

2 persons: $ 3,800 USD per person

3 – 4 persons: $ 3,500 USD per person

5 – 10 persons: $ 3,300 USD per person

11 or more: $ 3,060 USD per person

Single Supplement: $300 

Please inquire for quote in GB£ or Euros.

  • For late Autumn treks (November 10 onwards) we are offering a US$ 200 per person discount. All our treks are private treks for two or more participants and can be arranged for a date of your choosing.

Payment policy:

  • A 20% non-refundable deposit is required at the time of booking.
  • Balance is payable a week prior to departure or on arrival in Kathmandu.

Cancellation policy:

  • Deposit is non-refundable. But if you cancel a month prior to trek start date, your deposit will be applied to any trek you undertake with us anytime in the future.
  • No refunds for unused services once trek begins.

Price Includes

  • Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information 
  • Motivated, well-cared-for staff 
  • All airport transfers 
  • Two full days sightseeing in Kathmandu as indicated in the itinerary and entrance fees to monuments 
  • 4 nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Manaslu (3 star) in Kathmandu 
  • Airfare: Kathmandu to Tumlingtar to Kathmandu 
  • Chartered vehicle: Tumlingtar to Khandbari to Tumlingtar
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Lodge trekking as indicated in the itinerary 
  • Three meals a day on the trek
  • Boiled water for your bottles three times a day 
  • Guide and staff wages, equipment and meals 
  • Guide and staff insurance
  • Makalau Barun National Park fee
  • Gamow Bag (High altitude pressure chamber)
  • Satellite phone.

Price Excludes

  • Your international airfare 
  • Nepal Visa 
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary 
  • Tips and gratuities 
  • Personal equipment (a suggested list will be mailed to you) 
  • Travel insurance (Required
  • Other expenses of a personal nature.
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