makalu base camp trek difficulty
The 9 reasons what makes Makalu base camp trek difficult.

Makalu Base Camp Trek Difficulty

A less explored trekking trails of Nepal!

Swostika Sapkota
Author | Swostika Sapkota Date Published:
how difficult is makalu base camp trek

The Makalu base camp trek is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for individuals who wish to go deep into the Himalayas themselves. Above them, the climbers see Mount Makalu, which is the world's fifth tallest peak at 8,468 meters. 

The peak of Makalu, which is the highest mountain in Nepal, can be seen from there. Everest, Lhotse, and Baruntse are the other mountains in the view. With a wide range of flora, fauna, and geographic diversity, both Arun and Barun rivers lead to the Makalu base camp. It's impossible to convey the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings in words. Granite precipices with glaciers and beautiful waterfalls may be seen at the top of the route.

The Makalu base camp trek is exciting, thanks to its scenic beauty and breathtaking views. The Makalu base camp is located in the Makalu Barun National Park, which was established in 1992. The trek to the most remote region of Nepal begins at the Makalu base camp.

This is a beautiful trek that goes up to 5200 meters. Despite the fact that this area lacks modern amenities, the natural beauty and variety of the environment are breathtaking. The Makalu base camp trek is a journey full of adventure, discovery, excitement, thrill, and a deep understanding of Nepalese rural life. The walk passes through magnificent rhododendron forests, little-used trails, snowy paths, breathtaking mountain vistas framed by the Himalayas, and dramatic scenery and sights. 

Makalu base camp trek offers you the opportunity to see diverse high passes such as Shipton La, and Keke La, as well as numerous beautiful natural lakes like Barun Pokhari, Kalo Pokhari, and many other beautiful places such as Arun valley and Barun valley falling in sight during the trek.

Moreover, despite the difficulties you may face in order to reach the Makalu base camp, the journey with the magnificent scenery and the result is all worth it. Hence, it is the trek you should not miss and the Makalu base camp trek is the trek you should do once in your lifetime to engulf beautiful nature.

Table Of Content

    Makalu Base Camp Trek Facts

    Trek Name

    Makalu Base Camp Trek

    Trek Duration

    16 days

    Trekking Region

    Makalu region

    Trek Difficulty

    Strenuous

    Trek Starting Point

    Num village

    Trek Ending Point

    Num village

    National Park 

    Makalu - Barun National Park and Conservation Area

    Best time to visit

    Spring (March, April, and May)

    Autumn (September, October, and November)

    Accommodation

    Teahouses

    Required Permits

    Makalu Barun Conservation Area Permit

    Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) Card

    When is the best time to visit the Makalu Base Camp Trek?

    The Makalu base  camp trek is one of the most exciting treks you will encounter in your life. It's one of the magnificent treks you'll experience and explore yourself into the realm of thrill, adventure, and adrenaline.

    You may enjoy the various charms of the Makalu base camp in different seasons. In addition, there are certain times when trekkers like to go further toward the Makalu base camp. The Spring and Autumn seasons are the preferred seasons for most trekkers to journey to the beautiful Makalu base camp trek.

    Spring and Autumn seasons are the most favorable seasons to trek the Makalu Base Camp:

    Spring Season (March, April and May):

    The Spring season is one of the most cheerful times of the year, when everything blossoms and appears to be a beautiful garden in most areas. The Spring season adds to the environment's attractiveness. Along the trails of Makalu base camp trek which will be a new environment for you, you will observe vibrant flowers blooming.

    The spring season is one of the most popular seasons when it comes to trekking and similar activities. You may schedule your dates for the Makalu base camp trek in the spring. During this season, the sky will be clear and there will be little to no rain, which is not something to worry about. You may stroll through the lovely rhododendron forests admiring the clean blue sky and seeing various wonderful and distinctive flora and fauna along the way. 

    The spring season provides you with wonderful views of the Himalayas, including several snow-capped mountains, and you will breathe fresh air on the lap of the Himalayas when you reach the peak of Makalu's base camp.

    At higher elevations, you may witness occasional snowfall in the spring, and temperatures will be chilly at high altitudes. As a result, it's recommended to pack warm apparel and keep in mind the cold that awaits at the Makalu base camp.

    Autumn Season (September, October and November):

    The Autumn Season is the most popular and pleasant season to go trekking in order to reach the Makalu base camp. The wonderful Makalu base camp trekked during the autumn, which is regarded as the peak season for such activities.

    During the journey, the sky is clear, allowing you to stroll alongside viewing the blue sky, as well as incredible views and breathtaking mountain vistas. While trekking, there isn't enough sunshine to make you weary or stressed.

    During the day, the temperature is comfortably warm and bright, giving you a great opportunity to explore the magnificent beauty of the region around Makalu Base Camp. You'll also see beautiful clothed environments, as well as authentic local lifestyles with their own customs and beliefs.

    Makalu Base Camp Trek - 16 Days Outline Itinerary

    The total duration of the Makalu base camp trek is 16 days. In these 16 days, you will be walking through the beautiful natural settlements of the Makalu region and experience its wonderful remoteness and untouched natural beauties. Walking through the lush rhododendron and oak forests, beautiful terrains, and awe-inspiring landscapes and finally reaching to the top of the Makalu base camp trek and breathing fresh air with a cup of coffee in your hand sitting in the lap of the Himalayas, Makalu base camp trek will be a beautiful memory to reminisce and cherish throughout your lifetime.

    The outline itinerary of 16 days marvelous Makalu base camp trek is as follows:

    Day 1

    Arrival at Kathmandu

    Day 2

    Kathmandu Sightseeing and Trek Preparation

    Day 3

    Fly to Tumlingtar and drive to Num

    Day 4

    Trek to Seduwa

    Day 5

    Trek to Tashi Gaun

    Day 6

    Trek to Kongma Danda

    Day 7

    Trek to Dobato

    Day 8

    Trek to Yangle Kharka

    Day 9

    Trek to Langmale Kharka

    Day 10

    Trek to Makalu Base Camp

    Day 11

    Makalu Base Camp Exploration 

    Day 12

    Trek to Yangle Kharka

    Day 13

    Trek to Dobato

    Day 14

    Trek to Num

    Day 15

    Drive to Tumlingtar and Fly to Kathmandu

    Day 16

    Departure

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    Makalu Base Camp Trek Difficulty

    There are no shortcuts to any place worth going, as stated by Beverly Sills. Mt. Makalu base camp trek is one of the treks you should do at least once in your life, and all the difficulties along the way will be worthwhile when you reach there and discover the breathtaking beauty of nature and surrounding mountains. You'll get to enjoy nature's incredible talents.

    But, as previously said, we must face numerous challenges on our way to the Makalu base camp trek. But when we reach the top of the base camp and are astonished by its beautiful natural setting, everything will be worth it. Even if problems arise, your resolve should never weaken, which will significantly help you continue and reach the Makalu base camp.

    Following are some of the difficulties that you will encounter when trekking toward the Makalu Base Camp. The difficulties are as follows:

    Altitude Sickness:

    Altitude sickness is one of the most common and major difficulties that will occur during the trek to Makalu base camp. It is the condition in which the trekkers feel difficulty due to the decreased air pressure while ascending towards the higher altitude. It is one of the most common problems which occurs when the trekkers ascend to a higher altitude, generally more than 3500 meters elevation above the sea level.

    There are no such specific criteria to whom the altitude sickness persists. Altitude sickness can occur to anyone. It can affect anyone. Mild altitude sickness almost occurs to anyone who ascends to a higher altitude. 

    Many of the trekkers ascending the Makalu base camp suffer from altitude sickness because they have to climb up towards the very high elevations. If the altitude sickness persists to a higher range, then it will be difficult for the trekkers to reach to the top of the Makalu base camp as well as have to return or descend to the lower elevations.

    Mild altitude sickness is a common form of altitude sickness, but if the altitude sickness persists more, then worst cases of altitude sickness occur which are known as HAPE and HACE. 

    HAPE - The full form of HAPE is High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. It is the condition that occurs when there is an excess accumulation of fluid in the lungs. It is one of the life-threatening situations which occurs due to the increase in altitude sickness and can even cause the death of an individual.

    The symptoms of HAPE are as follows:

    • Dry Cough
    • Nose Bleeding
    • Shortness of Breath
    • High fever
    • Chest tightness
    • Rapid heart rates (palpitations)
    • Congestion
    • Swelling
    • Fainting

    HACE - The full form of HACE is High Altitude Cerebral Edema. It is the condition that occurs when there is an excess accumulation of fluid in the brain. It is another major consequence of altitude sickness when there is the occurrence of many serious symptoms and can even lead to serious circumstances such as death.

    The symptoms of HACE are as follows:

    • Hallucinations
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Fever and fatigue
    • Photophobia
    • Hypertension
    • Confusion
    • Coma
    • Shortness of breath
    • Inability to walk

    Altitude sickness is a situation that should not be neglected because if serious circumstances occur, then it may lead to different worst-case scenarios leading to permanent damage of some systems in the body or can even lead to death. Hence, proper precautions should be carefully taken in order to normally tackle the altitude sickness if it occurred. 

    Following are some of the measures which should be taken in order to prevent and lower altitude sickness if it persists:

    • If altitude sickness persists, the trekkers should descend towards the lower altitude.

    • One of the vital measures is to acclimatize yourself. A proper acclimatizing place should be selected and a day for acclimatizing should be selected where you will get familiar with the native climate and the chances of altitude sickness will be less.

    • You should not ascend at a very fast pace. You should ascend slowly and steadily at a slower pace so that it will be easy for you to reach your desired destination.

    • Water is the most important constituent needed in order to hydrate oneself. It is very important to hydrate yourself to maintain energy in your body and energize yourself throughout your trek.

    • Smoking and drinking alcohol are strictly advised not to be taken during the trek as it increases the risks of altitude sickness.

    • Medicines to prevent and reduce altitude sickness should be taken which are - Acetazolamide and Dexamethasone with proper prescription by the medical professionals.

    Remoteness of the Makalu area and limited services:

    Remoteness is another difficult factor that is felt when trekking towards the Makalu base camp. Makalu base camp trek falls under one of the remotest regions of Nepal. It is one of the less discovered and isolated places in Nepal where you cannot expect immense luxury in any of the places within the Makalu region.

    Compared to the other treks such as the Annapurna circuit trek and Everest base camp trek, the Makalu base camp trek cannot offer you the luxury that these treks afford such as varieties in menus such as continental breakfast, Italian or Mexican menus. It is because the Makalu area is an isolated and less discovered area.  The area serves the basic fooding and lodging facilities only which only consists of a simple meal that will satisfy your hunger. But, you will get the taste of the local flavors of the food.

    The trail is also not that much developed and there are fewer markings on the trail which will make it difficult for the trekkers sometimes to identify the path towards the higher altitudes.

    Because of its remoteness, you may discover that the path is less developed than usual.

    Inclement Climatic Conditions:

    Unfavorable climatic conditions are known as inclement weather. The phrase "unfavorable climatic condition" is used to describe hazardous or undesirable weather situations for outdoor activities. 

    Apart from the many types of weather that can occur, there are several ways in which they may be observed. Because of the numerous variations in stable climate, an inclement weather situation disrupts a pleasant and exciting journey. The climatic environment is always changing, and it will never be the same.

    The Makalu Base Camp trek might be difficult to reach the higher altitudes of the trail during times of bad weather, such as continual snowfall for many days.

    It's not unusual in the Makalu base camp trek to have continuous rain, making the pathways hazardous to walk on since they'll be slick and damp. Trekking should only be done when the weather is good because it may result in serious consequences and put people's lives at risk if done when the weather isn't right.

    Because of the dark, windy condition, it is tough to discern the tracks when the area is subjected to bad weather. Hailstorms, snow storms, and avalanches can all occur as a result of adverse climatic situations that are extremely hazardous. Illness can happen as a result of the wet and chilly conditions.

    Hence, inclement climatic conditions are also one of the factors to cause difficulty during the Makalu base camp trek.

    Difficulties in trekking:

    The difficulties connected with trekking are one of the next major challenges that people may face while exploring the Makalu base camp. Because the Makalu base camp trek is a challenging journey, beginning climbers will encounter many issues as they ascend to higher altitudes of the Makalu base camp. The trekkers may encounter several difficulties on the trek, such as the speed of walking, the sort of routes you're taking, acclimatization problems, altitude sickness, and so forth.

    There are various sections of the trails on the Makalu base camp trek where you will have to walk significantly further. Slippery paths may develop where if you slip and fall, you could suffer serious injuries. If you're trekking in the winter, the pathways might get entirely buried in snow, making access difficult.

    Furthermore, in order to overcome these various sorts of trekking difficulties, you must carefully plan, walk the paths with care, and take medications to avoid altitude sickness. You may take Acetazolamide and Dexamethasone as directed by your doctor.

    Trail Conditions:

    There are a number of causes for an unfavorable trekking trail. Natural consequences such as avalanches and rock falls can sometimes happen as a result of severe weather, such as pounding rain and snowfall.

    The condition of the path is essential to determining how difficult, moderate, or simple the journey to the Makalu base camp will be. The trek to Makalu base camp is likely to be difficult since it lies in one of Nepal's remotest locations and because the trails are not well developed.

    But, beyond all of these difficulties, the ultimate objective of the trek, specifically the Makalu base camp, is breathtaking and magnificent. Despite the trail's hazards, if you walk slowly and steadily you will undoubtedly arrive at the beautiful Makalu base camp.

    Altitude sickness is another major concern, which may be avoided by obtaining enough physical exercise and extending the time spent acclimatizing before leaving.

    Hypothermia:

    Hypothermia is an emergency medical condition in which your body loses heat faster than it can generate it, resulting in a dangerously low temperature. Your body's residual energy is depleted after lengthy exposures, causing your temperature to drop. 

    The symptoms and effects of hypothermia are as follows:

    • Shivering
    • Exhaustion
    • Confusion
    • Fumbling hands
    • Slurred Speech
    • Memory loss
    • Drowsiness
    • Very low energy in the body.

    There might be very serious consequences caused by this medical emergency - hypothermia. Hence, it is best advised to keep yourself warm in the higher altitudes. You can have warm food and wear warm clothes so that hypothermia can be prevented.

    Physical fitness and health issues:

    The next difficulty that arises on the Makalu base camp trek is physical fitness and health concerns. Because the Makalu base camp trek is a difficult one, it necessitates a physically fit and healthy trekker to ascend the base camp. If the trekker does not have a good health condition, then it is best to avoid the trek because later on, serious consequences might occur in the trek as we are all aware of the fact that  “Prevention is better than cure.” 

    If a person is not in good health, it will be difficult for him to complete the journey because this trek demands a lot of fitness, excellent health, patience, and perseverance.

    Problems that arise due to either insufficient or excess gears:

    Gears should also be selected intelligently and effectively enough to make the trek as simple and hassle-free as possible. It is advised not to bring too many things, but it is necessary to obligatorily transport elements that are required so that the trip does not become a dull experience.

    A trekking pole is must-have equipment to carry and use. If these gears are not present during the monsoon season while ascending the Makalu base camp, then it is going to be full of many difficulties including numerous slips on the slippery trails, and can also lead to some of the major accidents.

    Insufficient as well as excess gears both cause difficulties in the trek to Makalu base camp or any other places. If there are insufficient gears, then in the time of need, there would be no appropriate gears due to which difficulty persists.

    On the other hand, if you carry the excess gear on the trek, then your backpack will be very heavy which will create a burden for you to carry along with you during the trek. Your backs will hurt, sometimes unbearably which will create a lot of difficulties for you to reach Makalu base camp.

    Acclimatization:

    The acclimatization problem is the next common difficulty that occurs when you are unable to adjust yourself according to the native climate.  It is the condition that occurs when a proper acclimatization day is not given or if the body is not adjusted according to the native climate. In this situation, if the body is not acclimated properly, then it will be difficult to ascend to the higher altitude because difficulty in breathing occurs as well as altitude sickness also persists. 

    Hence, having an acclimatization day is very necessary and is one of the most vital aspects to keep yourself ready and fully energized for the remaining days throughout your trek and to reach towards your desired destination.

    Insurance:

    Insurance is another factor that might raise the difficulty for you during your trek if you face any serious circumstances related to your health and other unavoidable weather circumstances.  If you do not have  your insurance before coming to the trek, then if these circumstances occur, then you have to pay extra for emergency services such as helicopter charter and other services. If you have insurance, then the insurance will cover all these services for you. 

    Moreover, insurance is the major factor that you should keep in mind and it is best advised to do your insurance before doing the trek.

    How to prevent the difficulties during the Makalu Base Camp Trek?

    The Makalu Base Camp trek is an unforgettable experience that you must do at least once in your life because it will be a gorgeous memory to recall for a lifetime. The Makalu base camp trek takes you through a variety of natural wonders and breathtaking views, as well as magnificent snow-capped peaks and awe-inspiring beauties along the way.

    There are several challenges and obstacles that must be overcome during this lovely Makalu base camp trek since the finest view can only be obtained after the most difficult climb.

    Furthermore, in order to reach the stunning Makalu base camp, you must have a strong will, dedication, perseverance, and self-assurance. It is not advisable to have a pre-stress because it will influence how you view the difficulty of the Makalu base camp trek.

    The following are some of the methods that may be used to prevent and alleviate difficulties and make the Makalu base camp trek less hectic and strenuous:

    • The Makalu base camp trek is a difficult journey that requires excellent physical fitness and health. As a result, you should trek only if you are in good health and can endure the trip's weather, circumstances, and intensity. If you go when you are sick, it will be extremely tough for you; furthermore, because the region is remote, you may find yourself in serious situations.

    • You are advised to properly acclimate yourself because acclimatization is one of the major factors to make the Makalu base camp trek less strenuous and hectic. It is very important for you to be familiar with the local climate for a day or two before rushing to higher altitudes.

    • It is easy for you to ascend to higher altitudes if your body is properly acclimatized to the local climate and weather of the Makalu region. If you do not properly acclimate yourself, then the risk of altitude sickness along with HAPE and HACE are prevalent and can result in serious circumstances.

    • You should make sure to carry all the necessary gears and types of equipment needed for the trek. If you carry all these necessary things, then it will help you throughout your trek and make your trek very easier.

    • Carrying excessive items in the backpack is the most foolish thing to do while trekking the Makalu base camp. It will add more burden to you by increasing the load of your backpack and it will be very difficult to walk efficiently throughout your trek. It may also lead to different problems.

    • Smoking and consuming alcohol should be prevented throughout the trek as they will increase respiration problems and also make you dehydrated which will drain the energy out of your body and you will also feel very restless which will make it difficult to complete the trek efficiently.

    • You can engage in light physical exercise during the morning so that it will stretch your body and it will be easy for you during the trek. Also, remember to have healthy foods and a well-balanced diet on the trek because it is also one important factor to take in mind.

    • You should carry a portable medical emergency kit and carry it in your backpack because it will be of great use in case of any emergencies.

    • You should keep yourself sufficiently hydrated in order to maintain your energy throughout the trek because water is the most important constituent of all and it is very vital to our human body, especially during the time of such strenuous trekking towards the Makalu base camp.

    • You can carry light snacks and chocolate bars throughout the trek because they will provide you energy to walk efficiently.

    • One of the most important things to remember during the trek is not to take stress too much and lightly carry oneself during the trek. If you become stressed from the beginning, then you will not enjoy the beauty of the trek, instead, you will keep on stressing yourself. Hence, be free from excessive stress and enjoy the magnificent Makalu base camp trek and make it a wonderful memory for your lifetime.

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