A Truly Rewarding Journey
The Makalu Barun National Park and Base Camp might be less visited than its next-door neighbour, the Everest Base Camp, but do not underestimate the extraordinary vistas and rich wilderness experience you will get from trekking here.
Sharing his tips and experience of trekking the Makalu Barun Base Camp trek is Mohan Duwal, an avid trekker, and photographer. He has been trekking to this beautiful region in Eastern Nepal since 2000.
Your journey starts with a morning flight from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar. After 30 minutes, you land at Tumlingtar Airport and will need to take a drive from the airport to Khandbari. Once you reach Khandbari, be prepared for an off-road experience all the way to Num. You have the option of driving (due to the recent access of motorable roads) or walking all the way to Num and rest there for the night.
The next morning, start the trek from Num towards Seduwa - the entrance to Makalu Barun National Park. The route starts with a steep descent, and passes through the Barun River, followed by a steep ascent on the other side of the river. You are required to take a permit from the national park authorities. Spend the night at Seduwa.
The next morning, get ready for a trek to Tashigaon, a village with small paddy fields. Unlike the steep route you experienced the day before, the route from Seduwa to Tashigaon is easy. You pass by plantations and farmers. Tashigaon is the last major village you encounter. From here onwards, the trail consists of only tea houses and small settlements. Accommodations are available all the way to the base camp.
The next day, from Tashigaon, make your way to Danda Khara and go all the way to Kahuam and camp there. You will need to take a rest for acclimatization and prepare for a hike through stunning landscapes for the subsequent days.
From Kahuma, the trail leads to Mumbuk. You pass by Thulo Pokhari and Sano Pokhari. Trekking this trail is one of the hardest parts of your entire trek, but it is also the most rewarding. You will ascent Shipton La Pass with the raging Barun River below and you finally reach Thulo Pokhari. This is a magnificent lake, that has religious importance for the locals. It is also a good spot for photography. The comparatively smaller lake, aptly named Sano Pokhari is also a sight to behold. Stop for a rest at Kalo Pokhari Lake before you start your leisure walk through a pine forest to Mumbuk. Take a much-needed rest for the night once you reach Mumbuk.
The next day promises even more stunning views as the trail gets closer to Makalu Base Camp. From Mumbuk, trek towards Nhe Kharka where you spot the Aama Bhujung peak. The name roughly translates to ‘pregnant mother.’ Locals believe that the peak has the power to cure infertility. You will not miss these two distinctive peaks that stand alone as you may your way towards Nhe Kharka. From here, it is a descending trail to Barun Valley where you see the spectacular views of Mt. Tutse and Peak 7. The walk will slowly gain altitude as you pass through Yangle Kharka, situated at the base of the valley. Take a much-needed rest at Nhe Kharka.
The last stretch of the trek can be done in a day or two, according to your pace. From Nhe Kharka, make your way to Sherson. You can rest here, or continue towards Makalu Base Camp. On the way to Sherson, you pass by a waterfall called the Shiva Dara, which is another religious landmark for the locals. Another destination you pass by is Merek, for a rest stop. As the path turns towards a side valley, you get your first glimpse of Mt. Makalu.
Following the east bank of the Barun River from Sherson, you will climb a minor pass to reach Makalu Base Camp. Then, descend a stream towards the base camp on the opposite side of the river, at an elevation of 5000 meters!
Make sure to leave aside one day for excursions at the camp. Enjoy the peaceful isolation of the region as you will not find any villages or cattle grazing at this point. Along with the stunning sunrise, take in the beautiful surrounding of the base camp. You have the option of going towards Advance Base Camp to get a fantastic view of Barun Valley, where you also get stunning views of Everest, Lhoste and Peak 3.
The next day, make your way back to Yangle Kharka, rest for the night and head to Mumbuk. Follow the trail all the way back to Num and Khandbari. Drive back to Tumlingtar and catch a flight back to Kathmandu, carrying with you the memories of your difficult yet rewarding journey to Makalu Base Camp!
Makalu Base Camp Trek Facts
Duration: 17 - 20 days depending on the pace you trek, rest days & days for acclimatization
Highest Altitude: 5000 meters
Trek Grade: Strenuous
Best Time To Visit: September to November
Accommodation: Tea houses and tented camps
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