Makalu is 5th highest mountain with an altitude of 8463 meters above the sea level. Makalu basecamp itself has 2 hotels & 2 Bhatti(porter shelter) for trekker’s accommodation.
In Makalu basecamp trekking – Mt Makalu(8463m -5th tallest), Mt Baruntse (7129m), Mt Chamlang(7319m), Mera peak(6654 m – famous trekking peak); are closely seen mountains along with many other named and unnamed peaks of Makalu Himalaya.
Apart from the dignified mountain landscape – Makalu is home to brave Sherpa mountaineers. Makalu region is famous as home of brave Gurkhas and mountaineer Sherpas, next to Everest region.
Among two options for traveling from Kathmandu to Makalu base camp trekking start point; we choose flight from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar. As an option you can start Makalu basecamp trekking overland by jeep/bus journey from Kathmandu – Itahari-Dhankuta-Hile-Leguwa-Shavakhola.
Benefit of taking flight to Tumalingtar makes drive to Num village possible, on the same day. Num is a beautiful hilltop with surrounding greenery.
Tumlingtar airport is located in the world’s deepest valley in lowermost altitude of Himalayan country Nepal.
Day one – Num to Tasigaon
Now-a-days Makalu base camp trekking is a tea house trek and it starts from Num village, in general. After walking for 4 hours on 1st day of Makalu trek we will get to Seduwa village. In political map of Nepal – Seduwa is in ward number 02 and is gateway of Makalu region.
Seduwa has bazzar for nearby villagers. This Village is junction for facilities like High school, police station, health post. Seduwa village boarders with 2 village development committees of Makalu region, with itself being entrance point of Makalu region for trekkers and mountaineers.
It takes another 4 hours to trek from Seduwa to Tasi gaun. We spend 1st night of our trek at Tasigaon. Starting trek from 1560 meters (at Num village) and ascending to 2100 meters at Tasigaon village will be a perfect first day trekking to Makalu base camp.
In these 2 villages of first day trek; trekkers can see local village life who keeps yak, cattle, cow and grows cardamom commercially.
Day one take us to the end of proper village. Ahead of Tasigaon we will stay in the hotel/lodge owned by people from these villages.
Day two – Tasigaon to Khongma Danda
We will start trekking from the last real village of Makalu basecamp trekking route. 3 hours trek from Tasigaon takes us to beautiful Khongma Kharka. Kharka are the meadow & shed location for yaks, sheep & cattle. On this section of Makalu trail we can see many sheds of yak and at one point to get to a Mane we have walk on the stairs.
Dada Kharka at an altitude of 2900 meters has 2 hotels.
After refreshing break at Dada Kharka it is another 3 hours to get to Khongma, the overnight stay for 2nd days trek to Makalu base camp.
Khongma at 3100 meters has 3 hotels and one porter shelter. View of mountains like Baruntse approaches close from Khongma. Whereas – there is small chance of altitude sickness symptoms from this altitude.
Day three – Khongma Danda to Thulo Danda
We start our trekking from the hilltop which is really close to the snowcapped mountains, surely in a good mood. Trekking by small bushes takes us eventually to no tree line zone.
At first we get to Tallo(Lower) Deurali and from here, after trekking for 3 hours we will get to Mathhilo(upper) Deurali. Trail is a ridge walk & after 3 hours of walk in no tree line zone we get to a fresh water lake called sano(small) pokhari (lake).
Sano pokhari has few mythical beliefs and worshiped as local deity by local Kirati community. People believe – if there is rubbish on the lake; birds will come and clean the lake.
Overnight stay for today is at Thula Danda (meaning bigger ridge) at 4300 meters with one hotel. Though it is pretty high altitude, this place is very close to the mountains and a stunning place to be in Makalu basecamp trek.
Day four – Thulo Danda to Dobate
Today we start trek from 4300m & finish at 3860m. This means trekking downhill. As we stayed on the hilltop last night – we initiate to trek downhill from the beginning of the day.
After 100 meters of descend – we reach to another fresh water lake called Thulo (bigger Pokhari). This lake (Thulo Pokhari) is at 4200 meters and is deepest & bigger than any other lakes we see in Makalu basecamp trek.
By the lake of Thulo Pokhari there used to be hotels in the past – but due to religious belief by local there is no hotel these days. Valuable herb Yarsa Gumba is found around this lake.
After walking uphill from Thulo pokhari – we get to a hilltop with Mane. It takes 3 hours to get to Mane danda. Mane Danda gives 2 options to trek towards Makalu basecamp. One goes towards another lake called Gairi (deep) Pokhari (lake) & other takes towards Dobate. Mane Danda to Assam Aakha via Gairi Pohari is a camping trail as it does not have any hotel accommodation.
Instead of camping route – we take route towards Dobate & stay overnight at Dobat at 3860 meters.
It takes 3 hours to trek from Thulo pokhari to Dobate. This place has one hotel and one porter shelter.
Day five – Dobate to Yangle Kharka
After trekking for almost 2 hours we get to the Arun riverside. In last 1 hours trek of Dobate to Arun riverside we hike by the landslide zone. In this landslide area you have to be careful and follow your trekking guide. Trail from Dobate to Arun riverside is mostly downhill and here, we get back to tree line of big & old trees.
At this point the tall mountains starts to show again which are closer than before.
Another 3 hours of trek from landslide zone – we get to Hematang. Hematang is at 3600 meters & has one hotel. Crossing over wooden bridge of another river called Barun is attraction of today’s trail above Hematang. In 2 hours trek from Hematang we get to Yangle Kharka.
Yangle at 3600 meters is our overnight destination. By the Barun riverside, close to mountains, a flat terrain in between towering hills – Yangle Kharka is best place for acclimatization side trip.
Yangle Kharka has 2 hotels and locals sheds for keeping Yak, sheep and goats. Animal sheds are seasonal as people migrate their animal as accordance to season and availability of grass. Even here at 3600meters – landscape of this place makes you feel like to be in the low lands of Nepal.
Day six – Acclimatization Hike to Shiva Dhara
If you are not used to multiday hiking, acclimatization day will work as a rest/break during 2 week long trekking to Makalu basecamp. Otherwise – taking a day trip to shivadhara will make thi acclimatization day better in many ways.
At first place – there is no rush of getting to any further destination as we will spend another night at the same place i.e. Yangle Kharka. So normally it is more like strolling and less like a trekking – although trekking trail from Yangle to Shiva Dhara is not very easy.
When we start our short day trekking to Shivadhara; we have to cross wooden bridge, walk in the narrow trail with fixed rope, visit centuries old Buddhist Temple/monastery, and we need to cross Barun River time and again. Trekking trail from Yangle Kharka to Gumba takes 1.5 hours and is in the flat terrain. And uphill trail starts.
It takes 4 hours to get to Shiva dhara from Yangle Kharka. There is no hotel at ShivaDhara.
Interesting thing about Shivadhara is a water tap in there – which is believed to distinguish sinful person. If the water coming from tap does not deviate from you – that proves you have no sins. Apart from that stone with print of Buddha, Shiva and Parbati is another interesting fact of this side trip destination in Makalu basecamp trekking.
Day Seven – Yangle to Langmale/Lanele
We ascend more than 500 meters today, which is basically not recommended. But as we have already spend one night above 4000 meters at Thulodanda which is at 4300 meters (remember on our 3rd day); even trekking to basecamp from Yangle kharka – has been okay with 99% clients. It takes 8 hours to get to Makalu basecamp from Yangle Kharka, if everything is perfect.
But in general we trek from Yangle to Langmale/Lanele at 4270 meters. It takes 4 hours to trek from Yangle Kharka to Langmale/Lanele.
Buddhist mane wall, landslides, waterfalls, yaks & their sheds in this altitude makes a refreshing walk today. Yangle to Langmale is a short trek of 4 hours – that means there is plenty of time to enjoy the nature & closeness of the mountains seen along the trekking route.
There are 3 hotels at Langmale/Lanele. People in local hotels/lodge grows potatoes, vegetables even at this altitude of 4270 meters, and interestingly organic food up here.
Day eight – Langmale/Lanele to Makalu Basecamp
After walking by the Barun riverside for 2 hours, we will get to the Barun valley. Until we get to Barun riverside, trekking trail is uphill and then goes flat as we start trekking along the Barun riverside.
Barun Valley has a glacial lake also called Lamo(meaning long) pokhari(meaning lake). This lake is glacial lake of Baruntse peak.
From lamopokhari/Baruntse glacier – we get to a meadow after 2 hours trekking towards Makalu basecamp. From this flat terrain surrounded by stunning mountains, trekkers can see Mt Makalu the 5th tallest mountain in Himalaya.
After a close look at Mt Manasu(5th highest mountain in the world) we have to start trekking uphill for 1 hour.
Makalu basecamp stands at 4870 meter above the sea level. 2 hotels at the Makalu basecamp give hospitable facility to tourists whereas porters stay in 2 porter shelters nearby. If reached early or in the next morning before heading down to Dobate trekkers can trek towards Dudh pokhari. Dudh pokhari is water source of Barun river. The reason to trek to Dhudh pokhari is to get closest to Mt Makalu and surrounding mountains.
After this point we start our descend in the same route we climbed to Makalu basecamp.
Day nine – Descend to Dobate
Trekking along the same route we trek down from Makalu basecamp. Normally trek downhill is easier and consumes very less time than uphill. Looking at the weather condition and calculation the remaining days – you can stay longer at basecamp and stay before rachin Dobate – if you like to do so. Trekking guide can help you to decide as per your wish.
Day ten – Trek back to Num
This will be a last day of trekking Makalu basecamp. After reaching Num basic trekking days will be concluded.
Day eleven – Drive to Tumlingtar
Off road ride in a jeep will take us to Nearest airport at Tumlingtar.
Day twelve – Fly to Kathmandu
After almost 2 weeks of trekking in Makalu Himalaya, time has come to get back to Kathamndu in a small plane.
Although there is an option to drive back to Kathamndu; it is recommended to plan drive in fly out itinerary like this one; because trekking for 2 weeks will surely make you fatigue and your body deserves flight back to Kathmandu.
Where is Makalu base camp?
Makalu basecamp is in the eastern Nepal. This is basecamp of fifth highest mountain of world. Mt Makalu stands to be 8463 meters tall.
Makalu basecamp is accessible by helicopter or with almost one week of trekking.
To get to trekking start point there are 2 options. One with short flight to Tumlingtar and another overland. Overland trip takes almost 2 days to get to trekking start point.
How high is Makalu base camp?
Makalu basecamp is at 4870 meters above the sea level. It is 15974 feet above the sea level.
How difficult is Makalu base camp trek?
Trekking to Makalu basecamp is less trekked region. Unlike Annapurna basecamp trek and Everest basecamp trek – Makalu basecamp trek rarely gets trekkers.
Because of off the beaten character of Makalu basecamp trail – some part of trekking route are not properly maintained. Some places has landslide and jungles are dense. River valleys are wild and trail marks might have been removed by weather factors. Apart from less spoiled trek – trekking to Makalu base camp is as difficult as Everest basecamp or Annapurna basecamp trek in other parts of Nepal.
Getting less trekkers does not mean it do not worth trek to Makalu. Makalu basecamp is as beautiful as Everest basecamp trek and more versatile than EBC. But because of many reasons like location, advertisement and social behavior of trekkers – very few people trek to Makalu basecamp.
Recommended things to bring with you for Makalu trek
As the less trekked region of Nepal in eastern Nepal – trekkers can see remote beauty and preserved nature. Along with antiqueness of Makalu basecamp trekking trail – there are certainly less facility in respect to accommodation, food and route management. Thus taking following things might help you in general:-
- Hire a porter and guide
- Solar charger & a power bank would be great to take unlimited pictures
- Satellite device or phone would be a great idea to take with you
- All regular trekking gears is unavoidable
- Taking binoculars will entertain your trekking to Makalu basecamp – either to look at the mountains or watch birds/animals
Accommodation, Toilet & food
Accommodation facility in the teahouse/lodge/hotel and homestays during Makalu basecamp region is very basic. 2 beds in one room and one table will be all you will have in common rooms while trekking towards Makalu basecamp.
Toilets are indoor but will not be attached to your room in normal rooms. You do not need to pee/pop in the nature unless you have to do one while trekking during the day in between the destinations. As toilets are available only in places with overnight stay facility. So what do you do when you have to pee/pop while there is not hotel? Answer is you hide behind the rock and that is all we have been doing either in Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, Kanchenjunga or here in Makalu basecamp trek.
If you have been to any of the trekking in Nepal Himalaya – you must be familiar with similar items in food menu at all most all the restaurants/hotels while trekking. Likewise, Maklau basecamp trail has same practice.
There will be a food menu with food items and you choose to order for your breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can always ask your trekking guide about the food ingredients or how will it look. Trekking guides can also help you choose a food from menu, if requested.
Noodles, rice, vegetables, meat (basically chicken), soups, tea/coffee are common food in the menu.