Makalu Barun

  • Makalu Barun

Makalu is a rarely visited gem. It’s considered one of the toughest 8000m peaks to climb – even the great Edmund Hillary failed twice. But the wilderness around it is just waiting to be explored by the intrepid trekker prepared to forgo the comforts of teahouse treks. The camping trail to Makalu Base Camp from the south is considered one of the tougher routes in Nepal, and you’re more likely to have the company of birds than fellow hikers. This is even more the case if you intend to trek the Great Himalaya Trail from Kanchenjunga over to Everest: be prepared for a combination of cross-country and mountaineering to cross into the upper Barun Valley and then over the high passes of the gruelling Three Cols, which take you to almost 6200m.

The rewards are generous. Makalu shelters 3000 species of flowering plants, 440 species of birds and 75 species of mammals. The towering granite cliffs capped with glaciers in the upper reaches of the Barun Valley have been likened to those of Yosemite – on a bigger scale! As you walk up the river valleys, immense mountain vistas will unfold before you, including the massifs of Makalu, Everest and Lhotse. You may well wonder why you have the views all to yourself – something to ask the indigenous groups of Rai, Limbu, Sherpa and Lhomi people you will encounter lower down.

The Makalu region is known for its heavy rains and snow, so hiking is best done in the autumn months of October and November. But don’t wait too long – with a major hydropower project in the works, trek Makalu now before it changes forever.

Photos of Makalu Barun

  • © Jamie McGuiness ©, Samir Jung Thapa © Jamie McGuiness ©, Samir Jung Thapa
  • © Jamie McGuiness © Jamie McGuiness ©, Samir Jung Thapa © Jamie McGuiness
  • ©, Samir Jung Thapa © Jamie McGuiness
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GHT trek for a good cause

55-year old German Gerda Pauler embarked on an epic journey on the Upper Great Himalaya Trail to raise awareness and funds for the Nepalese NGO Autism Care Nepal, an active organisation supporting parents of autistic children in Nepal.


Makalu and the Sherpani Col

The route up to Sherpani Col does not strictly require ropes, but they are commonly fixed near the top section as it does get just a little bit steep. Descending the other side is an abseil / rappel...

Fast Facts

  • The region is named after Mt Makalu, which at 8463m is the world’s 5th highest mountain
  • It’s home to more than 3000 species of flowering plants, including 25 species of rhododendron and hundreds of varieties of orchids
  • You need to be prepared for some serious mountaineering to cross the high passes of Sherpani Col, West Col and the Amphu Labsta into the Everest region
  • Remote valleys little visited by foreign travellers
  • Lots of rain and stunning, immense glaciers