Makalu Base Camp Trek

Makalu is one of the formidable "eight thousanders," those peaks over 8,000km. While it is "only" the fifth-tallest mountain on Earth, it was the last of the eight thousanders to be summitted in the winter - it is widely considered to be one of the most challenging climbs in the world. Our riveting trek will take us to the Makalu Base Camp, 5,000m above ground! While this trek is one of the most challenging that we offer, our three-week itinerary is designed to ease altitude acclimatization and maximize the vivid scenery, rich cultural interactions, and singular experiences of Himalayan trekking.

The foothills and trekking route of Makalu are nestled in a former restricted conservation area, and even today pristine, and wild in the best possible way. This is a camping trek that will bring you close to the untamed loveliness of Nepal's most remote outposts and the cherished cultures of its most isolated inhabitants. We'll pass through five different ecological zones, viewing a diversity of flora and fauna as we go.

    What's Included?

  • All airport transfers from arrival to departure
  • 18 day trek, camping accommodations and all meals included
    *
  • 4 nights' accommodation in Kathmandu
  • Round-trip transport between Kathmandu and Tumlingtar
  • Mt. Makalu Base Camp map, one in a group.
  • English-speaking, government-licensed guide
  • Porter service
    **
  • All applicable trekking and climbing permits
  • All necessary camping gear
  • Sightseeing tour in Kathmandu
  • Government taxes, entrance fee(s), equipment fee, and other applicable fees
  • First aid kit
  • Trip certificate
  • Farewell dinner
 
  * Accommodations include hotel stay while in Kathmandu and Pokhara, and a combination of teahouses, lodges, and camping accommodations while trekking. Price based on twin occupancy. An additional supplement for single travelers applies.
** Single porter shared between two travelers. Weight restrictions apply
** Single travelers are accompanied by a guide. Additional charges will be applied for the services of a porter.

Day 1 - Kathmandu: Arrival Day

Welcome to Nepal! A representative will be waiting to welcome you to Tribhuvan International Airport and bring you to your hotel in Kathmandu. It's been a long flight, so enjoy the chance to rest! This evening, we'll hold a briefing on your adventure and what to expect regarding the trek.

Day 2 - Kathmandu: Sightseeing and Trek Prep

Kathmandu is one of the world's great historic and spiritual landmarks. It contains more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other city in the world, and we'll be visiting some today as part of a whole day of sightseeing. We'll visit Boudhanath, the world's largest Buddhist stupa, as well as the "monkey temple" of Swayambhunath and the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupatinath. We'll also see the historic and famous Durbar Square. You'll also have a chance to pick up any needed gear or clothing from Kathmandu's many trekking and mountaineering supply shops. This evening, you'll be introduced to your trip leader and have the opportunity to have any last-minute questions answered

Day 3 - Kathmandu to Tumlingtar, Tumlingtar to Khandbari

It's an exciting morning as we set off on the first official day of our trek! We'll hop a quick (40 minute) flight to Tumlingtar, the starting point of our hike, while being treated to overhead views of Ganesh Himal, Everest, Kanchenjunga, and - of course! - Makalu. We take the first steps of our trek heading upward through the village of Kumal, and then a subtropical forest of sal trees that eventually gives way to the farmlands of Khandbari. We'll make camp nearby at Mani Bhanjyang, and use the remainder of the day to either relax or explore the town.

Day 4 - Khandbari to Chichile

The road is reasonably wide and flat as we start our first full day of trekking, and it eventually ascends to a ridge before our lunch stop at Bhotebas. After, our trail brings us through fertile land and forest paths to the small ridge above the village of Chichile where we’ll pitch our tents. The village is small, but offers delightful views of Makalu and Kumbhakarna.

Day 5 - Chichele to Num

Scenic, cool, and completely peaceful, the forests of rhododendron, oak, and hemlock frame our path today as we scale the top of the ridge. At that point, it’s a two-hour downhill walk to the village of Num (which consists of just fifteen small houses and a primary school) and the large, flat ground where we'll make camp. From here, we have an excellent vantage point on the route we'll be traveling in the next few days.

Day 6 - Num to Seeduwa

Steep downhill paths over terraced slopes greet us this morning as we head towards towards the Arun River, nearly 800 meters below. The lower slopes of this narrow valley are densely forested, and the paths are quite slippery! If all the precarious trekking this morning has yet to get your heart racing, there's still a suspension bridge crossing over the torrential river. We climb up and out of the valley by way of the rainforest, and stop for lunch after a busy morning! The afternoon consists of a steep climb towards Seeduwa, which is very tiny. Our campsite is nearby, allowing us the chance to relax.

Day 7 - Seeduwa to Tashi Gaun

Countryside, farmlands, and small villages dot the trail this morning as we trek uphill. The landscape gives way gradually to fields of millet and rice, signaling our proximity to Tashi Guan. We'll have time to walk around the village after setting up camp.

Day 8 - Tashi Gaun to Kahuma Danda

After Tashi Gaun we trek beneath the shade of the breathtaking rhododendron and oaks forest for some time, before arriving at summer pastures scattered with small, impermanent shepherd huts. Our subsequent hike to Kahuma Ridge is steep and strenuous, albeit lined in flowers and scented by juniper. We'll camp beneath the moonlight tonight with scenic mountain views as a backdrop.

Day 9 - Kahuma Danda to Mumbuk

We begin the day with outstanding views of snowy peaks and surrounding landscapes. Our trek follows a gradual trail with some up-and-down passes through the Thulo Pokhari (big pond) and Sano Pokhari (small pond). If the snowfall has been particularly intense, the path from here can be quite misleading and it can be difficult to find the trail. We walk further to cross the passes of Keke La ad Tutu-la, the latter of which is topped with a small chorten. It’s all downhill afterwards, heading back to vegetation and a small clearing place for camping in the middle of the woods.

Day 10 - Mumbuk to Nhe Kharka

The day begins with a sharp descent into a narrow valley, and then we continue on to cross the Barun Khola just beyond Tamatan Kharka. This takes about six or seven hours, and things definitely get challenging on the latter end. The trail gets hard to follow, things are slippery, and rock falls are a common peril. We follow our mercurial trail through the seasonal settlement of Yangri Kharka and then on to Nhe Kharka.

Day 11 - Nhe Kharka to Sherson

We cross the wooden bridge over the Barun River as we kick off today’s walk, and then cross boulders, along which a large prayer wall can be seen. The vegetation is starting to grow thin after a couple more hours, even as the rhododendron, barberries, cotoneaster and juniper bushes keep on for some time. Approaching Sherson, we have sight of the lower Barun glacier and the towering Mt. Makalu. This is also the lower base camp of Mt. Makalu, affording outstanding views of the surrounding peaks and ranges.

Day 12 - Sherson: Free Day

It's been an eventful trek so far, and between exertion and the need for acclimatization, it's high time for a day of relaxation! We linger in Sherson today, and you have free rein to rest at camp or hike about the valley for some excellent views. Come up close and personal with Makalu, Barun Pokhari, and the rare Kangshung face of Everest. The intrepid willing to walk an hour out of the way will reach a large, flat meadow with even better views of the peaks, and beyond.

Day 13 - Sherson to Yangri Kharka

We trek six or seven hours today through the end of Barun Valley to arrive at Yangri (Yak) Kharka for the night’s rest.

Day 14 - Yangri Kharka to Mumbuk

After breakfast, we continue our trek! It's between five and six hours to Mumbuk - and after leaving the Barun Valley, it is all uphill! The overnight camp is nestled in the midst of an alpine forest, making for many pleasant routes for a stroll once we camp outside Mumbuk.

Day 15 - Mumbuk to Kahuma Danda

Today we retrace our steps by five or six hours on the way back to Kahuma Danda via Shipton-la and Thulo Pokhari. Again, the scenery is gorgeous and the weather mild as we set up for our overnight rest beneath the stars.

Day 16 - Kahuma Danda to Tashi Gaun, Tashi Gaun to Navagaon

We return to Tashi Gaun today en route to our next stop, and then walk the upper trail for a few hours through cool forest shade. When the trees give way to farm terraces, we will be close to the larger Sherpa village of Navagaon, which is situated high above Seeduwa.

Day 17 - Navagaon to Seeduwa, Seeduwa to Num

It's downhill we go through vast farmlands for the first traveling leg after breakfast - we'll arrive in Seeduwa village within an hour or two. It's between six and eight hours to Num, two to three of which are downhill, and then an equal amount of time spent trekking beyond a suspension bridge. It's a pleasant and pretty walk, and overall quite a comfortable day.

Day 18 - Num to Chichele

It's about a 50/50 split between uphill and downhill walking today, with the first two or three hours being the harder leg. We reach a high ridge around the midpoint of our road to Chichele, and then get a break and easier walking. Chichele is a fun village to explore, and we’ll make it to camp with plenty of time to look around.

Day 19 - Chichele to Khandbari

The walking is sweet today as we take the gradual downhill path to Khandbari, a journey of five or six hours. We’ll pass through forests, farmland, and tiny villages before arriving at the larger town of Khandbari, and our overnight camp.

Day 20 - Khandbari to Tumlingtar

Our last trekking day is an easy one. We hike three or four hours downhill to arrive in Tumlingtar for lunch and then setting up camp. This is our last evening to camp, and your last one with your guides and porters as well. It’s time to celebrate the end of a long, difficult trek and our imminent return to civilization.

Day 21 - Tumlingtar to Kathmandu

Trekking being over, we fly today back to Kathmandu. We'll either fly directly in or layover at Biratnagar, but either way it's a brief flight. Upon arrival, we’ll bring you back to you hotel and you’ll be free to rest, do some touring or souvenir shopping, or otherwise divert yourself.

Day 22 - Kathmandu: Free Day

Today is a day for free exploration! Wander Kathmandu and take in the sights you may have missed on the sightseeing tour, or revisit sites that you loved. Spend these last hours with the friends you made within the trekking party, or luxuriate in the time by yourself. In the evening, we'll treat you to dinner at one of the city's best Nepali restaurants for a small farewell celebration.

Day 23 - Kathmandu: Departure Day

We bid you farewell today as our travels together draw to a close. We'll get you to the airport, or simply say goodbye as you move on to your next adventure. Remember to trade email addresses with members of your tour group! We always appreciate our guests' feedback, so don't hesitate to share your thoughts on the trekking experience.

    Exclusions

  • International flights
  • Nepal entry visa (approximately $40 USD)
  • Travel and health insurance
  • Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu
  • Drinks (alcoholic, mineral water, other) or desserts during trek
  • Battery charges
  • Customary gratuities for guides and porters
  • Unforeseen costs due to flight cancellation, weather conditions, etc.
  • All costs not outlined under "What's Included"


Cancellation Policy

We understand things happen and plans change and will refund your deposit minus a $150 cancelation fee. Once we have booked your flight between Kathmandu and Lukla your deposit is non-refundable. If your travel dates change we can generally reschedule you at no extra charge, but please provide at least 7 days advance notice.
The following are what we advise you obtain in the way of equipment and gear before trekking in Nepal, and are meant to keep you mobile and comfortable in a range of expected weather conditions. Trekking gear can be rented or purchased in Kathmandu at cheaper prices, remember Nepal is the home of Mount Everest, there is plenty of choice and our staff can assist you with the necessary arrangements. Except for your day pack, all luggage will be carried by porters. There is an allowance of 33lbs/15kg per person. Additional personal items not needed for the trekking portion of the trip can be checked in the hotel’s storage room for no extra cost.


    Head

  • Sun hat or scarf
  • Light balaclava or warm fleece hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Head torch


    Upper Body

  • Cotton t-shirts or thermals
  • Fleece jacket
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Down jacket


    Lower Body

  • Lightweight cotton pants (long)
  • Waterproof pants


    Feet

  • Thin inner socks
  • Thick, warm wool hiking socks
  • Comfortable hiking boots


    Hands

  • Gloves


    Accessories

  • Sleeping bag rated to 0°C
  • Trekking bag/duffel bag
  • Large plastic bags (for keeping items dry inside trek bag)
  • Trekking poles (optional, recommended)
  • Water bottle or camel bag
  • Toiletries
Start your adventure here with us!

FAQ

The basics

What is trekking?

Trekking is an adventure! For the uninitiated, this active pursuit involves lengthy, multi-day walks and climbs on village and park trails. The terrain is usually fairly steep, and we will likely encounter snow at higher altitudes (those above 5,500m/18,000ft).

Is trekking for me?

We like to think trekking is for everyone who is physically fit, patient, and loves the outdoors.

Why is a guide necessarily? I've trekked/hiked/camped before - can't I guide myself?

While it is not a legal requirement, we cannot overstate the importance of trekking with a licensed, experienced guide. You'll be traveling through wilderness, remote countryside, and high elevations - from an aspect of pure safety, it is highly dangerous to go it alone. Additionally, very few locals in Himalayan villages speak English. Should you get lost (and, with many paths crossing through many, many villages, this is more a likelihood than a possibility), it would be difficult to communicate directions or obtain food and shelter. Additionally, our guides are experts in Himalayan treks with an average of over 15 years trekking experience. No matter how confident you feel in your skills or knowledge, it is almost certain that we can help enhance your experience.

Who can go?

Are there any age limits for Himalayan trekking?

Nepal law requires that children under age 18 are accompanied by a parent or guardian while trekking. There's no upper limit on our adventures, as long as participants are healthy and willing!

How difficult is trekking?

It depends on the specific trek, and, to some extent, on the preferences of those trekking. We offer all sorts of treks, ranging from easy to difficult.

Is previous trekking experience really necessary?

In theory, no. Anyone with robust cardiovascular capability and good stamina should be able to cope with higher elevations and lower oxygen density. Trekking or hiking experience anywhere in the world is strongly recommended for maximum enjoyment of your Himalayan adventure, however.

Preparation

What type of insurance should I have? Where can I obtain a policy?

Travel insurance is mandatory and obtaining for the days you are trekking is your responsibility. We suggest World Nomads as it covers Helicopter and medical evacuation up to 6000m. Some standard policies only cover up to 4000 meters for evacuation so please confirm with your insurance company if you purchase it from another company. If you get to Nepal and don't have insurance already we can help you purchase it for a reasonable price before you start the trek.

What's the best time of year to book a trek in Nepal?

The best times for trekking the Himalayas are February to May, and then September to December. Unless you are trekking in rain shadow areas such as the Upper Mustang, trekking during monsoon season is going to be a very wet event. Winter isn't the optimal trekking season either, as very cold temperatures and heavy snowfall may impede crossings of high passes (treks that maintain lower elevations are accessible year-round).

Are any permits required for trekking?

Again, it depends on your specific trek. Some trekking areas require a special permit for trekking, while as others require only permits to enter conservation or national parks. Most require a Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) card. We handle all permits for you, so you have one less thing to worry about!

About the trek

How long do treks last?

Most of our Himalayan treks range from two to four weeks.

How long do we spend walking each day?

Trekkers generally walk four to six hours a day. That's between five and fifteen kilometers depending on trail conditions and the state of the weather.

Room and board

What kinds of accommodations will we utilize?

Unless you signed up for a camping trip specifically, most treks include lodge or guest house accommodation. A small minority of trekking areas may not have lodges available, and accommodation in these places will involve sleeping in tents.

What is teahouse trekking?

Teahouse trekking is a type of accommodation unique to mountain treks, in which lodging and meals are set up at local teahouses or lodges on a full-board basis.

What is camping trekking?

Camping trekking involves sleeping in tents. We provide you with full board on these treks, with meals being prepared by professional trekking cooks in a mobile camp equipped with a kitchen and adequate support staff.

Where will our drinking water come from?

Bottled water is available everywhere on established trekking routes, and most villages on the way will have locally-purified water as well. The teahouses or camping crew will supply boiled water for drinking.

Where do we eat our meals?

The most frequently-traveled Himalayan circuits feature lodges and guesthouses. Continental menus are generally available, along with soups and dishes of noodles or rice. Other routes will include more limited choices. On the most remote routes, only traditional dal bhat, curry, or instant noodle soups will be available.

Health and safety

What physical criteria will ensure I'm fit enough to trek?

Good overall fitness, flexibility, and healthy will ensure you trek safely and comfortably. Those with acute or chronic health conditions impacting their stamina, range of motion, coordination, or balance may have difficulty completing the trek. If you are in doubt about your own physical readiness, consult a physician well in advance of booking your trip! General hiking experience and comfort with the idea of multi-day hiking will also ensure you are 100% ready to trek!

How will we deal with altitude acclimation?

At higher altitudes - the kind we experience frequently on our treks- your cardiac and pulmonary systems are affected by lower oxygen density. Our bodies must adjust to the mountain elevation gradually, or we can become ill. Physical symptoms can range from general breathing difficulties all the way to acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness, soroche, or "the bends"). To avoid altitude-related maladies, we pace our treks appropriately and incorporate acclimatization days throughout the itinerary. There are points throughout many treks during which trekkers may choose to either tackle additional hikes/day trips or rest and relax as their bodies demand.

What do I need to know about sun protection?

It may seem counter-intuitive, but your skin is in more danger of sun damage on the mountains than while at the beach! The sun's intensity increases dramatically as we rise in altitude, and fresh snow reflects exponentially more UV rays than does the sand. You will need to protect your skin with clothing and sunblock. A sunblock specifically for mountain conditions is recommended. If you wear prescription eyeglasses its recommend that you get your prescription fitted to sunglasses.

What happens if I get sick or injured while trekking?

We take all possible precautions to proactively ensure the safety and wellness of our trekkers, but rest assured that our guides are trained and experienced in dealing with emergencies. Each guide is trained in first aid. In the case of altitude sickness, you will immediately be taken to a lower altitude. If necessary, your guide will utilize your travel insurance information to call a rescue helicopter, and you will be flown to Kathmandu or Pokhara for medical attention.

Are solo female travelers safe on Himalayan treks?

We ensure the travel safety of all our trekking guests, both male and female. Nepal, on the whole, is both very safe and welcoming of foreign visitors. We have longstanding, strong relationships with the lodges we frequent, and know them to be safe and reliable. In addition our guides are consistently mindful of all guests' whereabouts while trekking. We travel in small groups, all the better to easily maintain continual contact.

Practical matters

What should I pack?

Your specific trek and the time of year during which you depart will greatly impact your packing list. A recommended outline of clothing and equipment is listed with each trek. In general, a down jacket, a warm fleece jacket, thermal underwear, trekking pants and shorts, and sturdy boots are recommended to wear, and a thermal sleeping bag, backpack, and camera are recommended for your kit. If you take any medication, this should obviously be a packing priority. Utilize common sense - you don't want to end up short-handed on the mountain, but overpacking is undesirable. It's worth noting that just about anything you need in the way of trekking clothing and/or equipment can be purchased or rented in Kathmandu when you first arrive.

What sort of footwear is recommended?

Comfortable, sturdy trekking shoes or boots are a must. Ideally your footwear will have Gore-Tex or similar lining, along with thick soles. This will ensure that your feet stay warm and dry, and that you are comfortable walking on rocky paths. Wool socks are recommended instead of cotton, and these too should be thick and warm.

How much can a porter carry?

Porters' ability to carry baggage depends to some extent on the trekking route and altitude in question, but the average trekking porter carries between 15 and 25kg. A camping porter carries up to 40kg. One porter is typically assigned per every two travelers.

Should I tip my guide? How about my porter?

While not mandatory, tipping is customary and always appreciated in Nepal and on our treks. Your guides and porters will tremendously appreciate a small gratuity at the end of your trek, as these little extras go a long way towards helping their families. Tipping is a great way to show your appreciation for the team's hard work and devoted attention to your happiness.

How much money should I bring along?

Our treks are all-inclusive. We cover accommodation, food, park fees, permits, and many other costs, as a means of making your adventure as stress-free and convenient as possible.. Travelers generally bring a small amount of pocket money to cover bottled water, snacks, or tea beyond your included meals, souvenirs, tips, or donations to monasteries along the route (if you are inclined to give one). Trekkers find that around $20 a day is reasonable for these extras.

What communication options exist while trekking?

It varies. Mobile coverage is expanding around the world rapidly, and the Himalayas are no different… did you know that 3G coverage is available all over Mount Everest? There is no guarantee of uninterrupted coverage, however. Most trekking routes feature local VHF phones, but on the more remote trails, a satellite phone is the only option.

Do you have any extra charges for solo travelers?

We generally don't charge solo travelers any extra fees. Solo travelers can expect their own hotel room in Kathmandu but will need to share a room with other group members during the trek. If availability allows we will arrange private rooms on the trek as well upon request. If you are going solo and not joining one of our group treks you will be charged an extra $10 a day for a porter.

Can I get a refund if I don't finish the trek?

Its sometimes the case that trekkers finish ahead of schedule or they end up stopping the trek early for health or personal reasons. If this is the case please understand that we can not offer any refunds for unused days on the trek. Please understand that our costs are the same as we have an obligation to pay our guides and porters for the time they have committed.

What is your cancellation policy? How about other terms and conditions?

Check out this link, or contact us for more information. We love hearing from you!