GHT Makalu Barun Section, Lower Trail
This is quite a special section of the GHT, as you are walking at relatively low altitudes up till around 400 m. This gives this section a subtropical touch, with villages reminding to Southeast Asia. You have beautiful views of the Kanchenjunga Range and Makalu Barun. It is yet completely unexplored by tourism, partly due to the far distance from Kathmandu. This makes this section a beautiful encounter with authentic Nepali village life.
Teahouse/Camping (taking a tent is recommended)
- Day 1: Kathmandu-Dobhan (658m) The quickest way to Dohan is flying to Suketar. You have to take a flight to Biratnagar in South East Nepal, and from there fly to Suketar. From Suketar it is about 1 hour drive or 3 hour walk to Dobhan. However, at present there is only one flight per week (on Sunday with Nepal Airlines). Another possibility is to fly to Bhadrapur in South East Nepal, followed by a 9 hour jeep ride.The road is passing through beautiful landscapes with tea plantations in Ilam, Nepal’s famous tea district. From Bhadrapur it takes 3 ½ hours to Ilam, and from there another 1 hour and 45 min to Phidim. In both places are guesthouses to stay overnight. From Phidim it takes 3 ½ hours to Dhoban, of which the last hour or so goes over a dirt road, a 4 wheel drive jeep is necessary here.Dohan is a charming small bazaar town. There are a couple of simple guesthouses and 2 campsites (1 a bit up-market, with a cozy lounge restaurant and a few big standing tents with beds inside).
- Day 2 Dobhan (658 m)- Gorcha (2013m) 4 ½ hrs The trail starts climbing right away, which it does until it reaches Deurali Banjyang the next day. Till Gorcha you mainly walk through country side and you find yourself surrounded by rice paddies and fields with mustard seed. The landscape changes gradually, and you encounter small fields of cardamom and some pine tree forests. 4 ½ hours after leaving Dobhan, you arrive in the village of Gorcha (2013 m). Gorcha has an interesting mix of Limbu, Tamang and Sherpa people. At the top of the village is a Limbu shrine; the field in front could be used as a campsite.
- Day 3 Gorcha (2013 m)-Deurali Banjyang (2800 m) 4 hrs You keep on climbing, and while doing so, the landscape changes continuously. After Gorcha you walk in rhododendron forests, which are especially beautiful in spring when they are in full bloom.Deurali Banjyang is a small open plot in the forest with a teashop where you can camp. With good weather you have a splendid view of the Kanchenjunga range.
- Day 4 Deurali Banjyang (2800 m)-Nundhaki (1540 m) 6 hrs You climb gradually to a small pass (2922 m), which your reach in 1 to 1 ½ hour. During the ascent you get even better views of the Kanchenjunga range and also the Makalu comes in view. After the pass the trail goes down steeply in the beginning, but is flattening out soon, going high on a slope. Below you are grasslands where yaks tend to graze. The trail goes down to Gupha Bazar (2 hours from Deurali Banjyang). To the left is a beautiful lake which is worth a visit (close to the lake are some local guesthouses).To continue the GHT, take the trail to the right/northwest, and after 20 meter take the small trail to the left/west. After a while you find yourself high on the slope again, with views on rice fields, and grasslands for yaks, with once and a while a tiny settlement. Gradually the trail keeps on descending. After the village of Singring (2 hr 45 min from Gupha Bazar), the trail goes down steeply, till you reach the small village of Nundhaki (½ hr). In Nundaki there are a few small local guesthouses, which up till now only cater for Nepali. Some have a field where you can camp as well.
- Day 5 Nundhaki (1540 m)-Bhanjyang Pucha (824 m) 5 hrs It’s about 18 km to Banjang Pucha, but as the trail is pretty level most of the time, it’s quite easy to cover the distance. A big part of the trail goes over a dirt road, but all you normally encounter are a few motorbikes.You walk through the countryside and cardamom fields, passing small villages like Buddhabari and Chitlang (1419 m). Shorltly after Chitlang, you encounter a beautiful waterfall. Pokhari Bazar (1485 m) is a bigger village and is a good place for lunch. Soon you find yourself walking again amidst cardamom fields. You pass through the lovely village of Chainpur (1233 m), with well kept walking lanes and beautiful houses and shops (there is a school with a big field which can provide camping space).After Chainpur you descend to Bjanjang Kharka (1010 m), which has a small guesthouse. You go down on a very small trail, walking amidst the rice paddies. The trail brings you to a small bamboo teashop where you can camp in the middle of the rice fields with beautiful views on the surrounding hills (when there is no rice planted).
- Day 6 Bhanjyang Pucha (824 m)-Khadbari (1041 m) 6 hrs The day starts with a steep descend in the forest to Hewa Khola, a crystal clear river. After crossing the wooden suspension bridge (600 m), the trail continues through rice terraces, and leads back into the forest, where it climbs to a dirt road (still not used by motorized transport) It’s easy, almost flat walking. You pass the village Ghamare (790 m), which makes a nice tea stop. The walk goes along rice terraces and forests. More or less an hour from Ghomare, you arrive at Lingling (940 m), a somewhat bigger village, with a few restaurants, where you can stop for lunch.You descend gradually and some times steeply, going through countryside and forest, with terraced hills at the horizon. The trail arrives at a small settlement with bamboo houses, Dobantar (400 m). A beautiful trail through rice fields leads to a small river, which you have to cross stone hopping (363 m). Soon after this, the trail climbs again, following the river Lankhuwa Khola. After crossing a suspension bridge, the trail climbs to the small settlement of Barani (400 m). Shortly after Barani the steep and long climb to Khadbari (1041 m) begins. The climb goes through forest, small villages and countryside. After about 2 hrs, you arrive at Khadbari, a small town, where you see jeeps and buses again!Khadbari is the district headquarters of Sankuasawa District. It has a big bazaar, where you can even find walking sticks. There is one bank (Nabil bank) with an ATM that accepts international cards. Internet cafe’s are there as well. There are a few restaurants and seven (simple) hotels.
- Day 7 drive to Tumlingtar, flight to Kathmandu For those who want to end their trek, it is about an hour drive to Tumlingtar, which has an airport with direct flights to Kathmandu (Yeti and Buddha Air).