Makalu: The Fifth tallest Peak in the World

Nepal is a world-renowned country for the beautiful snow-capped mountains. There are total fourteen mountains in world over 8,000 meters height, and eight of them lies in Nepal including the tallest, Mount Everest. In the long list of big and small peaks, Makalu is one of the popular mountain of Nepal and fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,485 meters. Makalu is located in the vicinity of Mount Everest at 19 kilometers southwest in Mahalangur Himalayas on the border between Nepal, Tibet, and China.

Although Makalu is one of the tallest mountains, it is an isolated peak whose shape is like that of a four-sided pyramid. Along with the main peak at 8,485 meters, Makalu also consists two notable subsidiary peaks; Kangchungtse or Makalu II and Chomo Lonzo. Kangchugtse is at an elevation of 7,678 meters and lies about three kilometers north-northwest of main summit, while Chomo Lonzo is at an elevation of 7,804 meters and is connected to Kangchungtse by a narrow 7,200-meter saddle.

About the trek

Makalu Base Camp is a remarkable trek providing stunning contrasts with mesmerizing waterfalls cascading into deep gorges, rugged ridges and rocks, verdet forest and colorful flowers of rhododendron and several other wildflowers blooming so perfectly beneath the smiling white snow-capped peaks. The unique landscape and pristine mountain view are really breathtaking. Along with the natural beauty, there are rare species of animals and plants that flourish in diverse climate and habitat of Makalu rhino which are undisturbed by human settlement.

Makalu base camp trekking is a relatively difficult yet an exceptionally rewarding trek of Nepal. It takes you to remote valley of Nepal, gentle nature walk and an absolute wilderness experience in rugged, uninhabited terrain of Makalu Barun National Park. What makes this trek more adventurous is camping. Camping en route and spend overnight is way more fun and full of exploration. As we Dolma Tours are committed to promoting sustainable tourism, we will help you organize a comfortable and reasonable Makalu Base Camp camping trek.  

First ascent of Makalu

The first expedition of Makalu took place in 1954, and it was called “California Himalayan Expedition to Makalu.” The expedition team attempted the southeast ridge, but at 7,100 meters, they faced a constant barrage of storm and turned back.

Another team including Sir Edmund Hillary was also active during spring, but couldn’t make it to the summit due to injury and illness. Then in fall of 1954, the first ascent to the subsidiary peak of Kangchungtse and Chomo Lonzo by made by a French expedition team.


Then on May 15, 1955, Makalu was first scaled by a French expedition team. The ascent was a significant achievement at that time, to have such a vast majority of expedition members summit on such a difficult peak. Malaku was climbed from north face and northeast ridge via the saddle between Makalu and Makalu II, and since then it is established as the standard route.

Wildlife and Vegetation

Makalu Base Camp trek is a nature walk trek while witnessing the remote Himalayan culture. The trek offers the spectacular view of some of the world’s tallest mountains including Makalu itself, and it also offers an opportunity to observe the rare flora and fauna as the trek lies within Makalu Barun National Park too.

The park is recognized as the home of vast diversity of plant, animals, and people. It consists over 3,000 species of flowering plant which includes 25 species of rhododendron, 47 types of orchids and 56 different species of rare species. There are some plants like swertia barunensis at 4,200 meters, and potentilla makaluensis at 4,000 meters can be found only here in the entire world. Himalayan herbs like yarscha gumba and panch aule, whose fingers indicated the age of plant in a year are also found.

You can also find a great variety of wildlife including endangered clouded leopard, wild boar, musk deer, and red panda. Altogether there are 440 species of birds and 75 species of mammals. The biodiversity of park is really exceptional and is considered to be of global significance and provides a living laboratory for international scientific research.

Permits for Makalu Base Camp trek

Makalu Base Camp trek requires permits like Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) and a National Park Permit. TIMS is required to all the trekkers of Nepal, and National Park permit is when you are trekking within park.

For TIMS, you need fees, passport photocopy, and passport size photographs. You can get the permit card from Tourist Service Center at Bhrikutimandap and Trekking Agencies Association Nepal (TAAN) office in Maligion. There is a TIMS Counter at National Tourism Board in Pokhara from where the card can be obtained. The card can be obtained from a Government registered trekking companies in Kathmandu and Pokhara as well.

For National Park permit, you will need a park entry permit. You can obtain national park trekking permit at Tourist Service Center at Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu by paying a certain amount of fee.

Makalu Base Camp Trek

Trekking to Makalu Base Camp starts from a flight to Tumlingtar from Kathmandu. Tumlingtar is a beautiful valley and is also the deepest of Nepal. The place is known for the popular temple Hindu goddess, Manakamana temple. It is an indigenous valley which depicts ancient culture and tradition. Kumal is the main inhabitant, while Rai, Tamang, Bahun, Chhetri, Magar, and Majhi are other ethnic groups. Despite cultural and ethnic differences, there is racial harmony in Tumlingtar. Pot-making is another ancient and attractive thing about this place. You can take a day to stroll this typical village of Nepal.

Leaving behind this beautiful village, you will take a jeep and move towards Num. After an overnight stay at Num, you will start trekking to a village called Seuda. Trekking towards Seuda, trail descends steeply from Num through the beautiful cornfield of Lumbang. The trails are rocky, you will also get a sight of tiny terraces with corn and barley, and you will climb a tough steep towards Sedua. Here, at Seuda, we will set a camp and stay overnight.

From Sedua, we move towards Tashi Gaun. On this day, we cross mesmerizing green meadows and beautiful small streams on the way and finally climb to Tashi Gain, a quaint Sherpa village and last permanent settlement in valley.  After staying a night at Tashi Gaun, the next day we will move on to Kauma. Now the trail starts getting challenging as we have to climb a really steep trail. Then walking through the sparse forests along ridge over a hillock, we will descent to Kauma. Kauma is at an elevation of 3,470 meters, so it will be best to acclimatize for a day here before moving to any higher altitude region.

From Kauma, we will climb the ascend through steep trail and then through rhododendron forest to the top of the ridge, from where you can have a stunning view of Chamlang, Peak 6 and Peak 7. Then descending through the delightful forest of firs and rhododendron, we will arrive at Mumbuk, where we will stay overnight in a camp.

Moving forward from Mumbuk, we will walk through trails which are rugged, rocky and has sloppy muds in some places as it leads us up to glacial valley from where a spectacular view of Peak 6 can be observed. Then we will arrive at stop of the day, at Neha Kharka.

The trail from Neha Kharka leads us towards westward and leaves the beautiful forest of rhododendron from alpine tundra. Moving further we will arrive at Sherson. Today, the altitude gain gets more than 1,500 as Neha Kahrka is at 3,000 meters and Sherson is at 4,615 meters because there is no place suitable for vamp between this two places. Now, from Sherson, the next day we will reach Makalu Base Camp. Makalu Base Camp is an excellent spot with glittering Himalayas all around. From here complete panorama view of Everest and Lhotse is seen and also spectacular south face of Makalu.

After exploring the base camp, we descend towards Neha Kharka and stay overnight. Descending back further, we trek towards Mumbak and to Kauma. From Kauma, we will get to Tashi Gaon and Pakuwa. Tashi Gaon to Pakuwa is an interesting route with charming farming settlements, spread out village of Rai ethnicity and lush forests.

From Pakuwa, we will trek through forest and some high and exposed narrow tracks which feel like climbing over rocky ridges. Then we will arrive at Bumling, a Chhetri and stay overnight in a camp. Now, we are almost at the end of this amazing and beautiful trek. We will arrive at Tunmlingtar trekking from Bumling from where we will be back to Kathmandu.

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