Makalu Circuit Trek has to be on the top of their lists for adventure junkies looking for something challenging and exciting. Located at the height of 8485 meters, Mount Makalu’s beauty often leaves its visitors speechless.
Makalu Circuit Trek is a mesmerizing journey filled with wildlife, floras and faunas, cultural diversity, and stunning views of the Himalayas along the way.
This remote route, according to many, is one of the most challenging adventure routes in Nepal. To reach there, you have to cross through three significant passes: Sherpani Col 6110m, West Col 6190m, Amphu Lapcha Pass 5850m.
You will come across some majestic ranges like the world’s highest peak Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Lhotse, and many more.
Since Makalu Circuit Trek is considered challenging and sometimes fatal, it is suggested not to go on this trek as a solo traveler. Many Sherpas are up for hire to assist you on this trek. You can hire porters to carry your luggage and make your travel a lot more comfortable.
Many Tibetan people live up in the mountains so that you can find shelter at regular intervals. The tea houses built in the area are run by the locals providing the best hospitality. That is until you start elevating towards the higher altitude.
Once you start ascending, the weather and temperatures can go haywire. Be prepared for the harshest of weather conditions and cold nights.
Carrying the right gears and supplies is extremely important in this one of a kind trekking adventure.
Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal
Welcome to the beautiful yet chaotic capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. Our team will come to Tribhuvan International Airport to receive you.
Then you will be escorted to your designated hotel, where you will rest for the big adventure ahead.
Today we will spend our entire day strolling around the fantastic city of temples and home to millions of Nepali people, Kathmandu. This city is full of exciting places to see.
Many of the tourist sites in Kathmandu are preserved by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
We will visit places like Pashupatinath temple, Boudhanath, Swoyambhu, Kathmandu Durbar Square.
You will need to meet your trek guides and agents to gather all the required information about Makalu Circuit Trek.
After having our breakfast today, we will head to the airport for a 40 minutes long flight to Tumlingtar. As soon as we reach there, we will be united with all our trekking members, leaders, and guides.
From here, we will hop on a vehicle and drive for 4 hours to finally reach Num. We will spend the night here in a lodge.
We will start our trek journey today. After early morning breakfast, we will begin our hike and cross the Arun River. We will soon begin hiking a steep trail that will lead us to our stop Hedagna Gadhi, a small Rai village.
We will eat our lunch here and again start trekking up to Seduwa. Here we will spend our night in a lodge.
Today we will go on a hike from Seduwa to Tashigaon, which will be around 6 hours long. We will take breaks along the way for food and enjoy the view around. The trails go through lush green forests and pristine streams and waterfalls.
We will hike through some small villages like Murmidanda and Navagaon. Soon we will be at our destination, Tashigaon, where we will spend the night at a lodge.
Today’s trek is an uphill journey. We will have a filling breakfast and start hiking up towards a ridge. After a short hike, we will reach a viewpoint called Unsisha at 3100 meters. We will enjoy the fantastic view from the lovely trail and continue hiking.
Soon we will be at Kaumadanda, a beautiful province filled with lush rhododendron forests and wildlife. We will stay here overnight at a lodge.
Our today’s hike will take us up to Keke La at the height of 4170 meters. At such a height, we might feel tired, so remember to take it slow and steady.
Hiking our way through pretty rhododendron forests and a small lake called Kalo Pokhari at 3930 meters, we will cross a few passes like Shipton pass at 4125 meters.
From here, we will start descending towards our stop for the night, Dobate.
We will start hiking from Dobate and head downhill through trails above the beautiful Barun river. The land here is very vast and filled with pasturelands where you will see castles grazing in peace.
After 6 to 7 hours of hiking, we will reach our stop for the day, Yangla Kharka, where we will stay overnight.
Today we will hike through some beautiful moraine routes while enjoying the stunning views of peaks like Peak 7, Peak 5, Honku Chuli, and the mighty Mt Makalu.
On our way, we will pass through some vast Kharka like Yak Kharka, Merak Kharka, and many more. We will trek for about 6 hours and finally reach Langmale Kharka, where we will stay overnight.
Enjoy your filling breakfast early in the morning. Today, we will set off towards Makalu Base Camp while enjoying beautiful views of stunning mountains and icy glaciers along the way.
We will hike for about 7 hours and reach Makalu Base Camp, filled with breathtaking views of the mighty Makalu mountain. Here we will stay overnight at a mountain lodge.
Now that we are at an altitude close to 5000 meters, some of us may feel less oxygen in the air. Remember to keep track of your breathing conditions. In case you feel too sick and uneasy because of altitude sickness, make sure to inform your trek leaders immediately as quick medical treatment may be required.
Today we will spend our day acclimatizing and adjusting to the high altitude of the base camp. We can also do a brief excursion to the spectacular Peak 3 danda. Here we will get to see the origin of the pristine Barun river too.
Now that we are adequately rested and acclimatized, we are all set to move forward to the Swiss Base Camp at 5150 meters. With the stunning view of Mt Makalu right in front of us, we will start hiking through some rough moraines.
Soon we will reach our stop, Swiss Base Camp, where we will set a lovely camp and stay overnight.
Today we will trek to Sherpani Col Camp, a camping site at the height of 5688 meters. We will start with a gut filling breakfast and hike along the Barun glacier. We continue hiking while enjoying the scenic view of stunning peaks like Mt Makalu, Se Peak, Peak 5, and several other peaks.
Upon reaching our stop Sherpani Col Camp, we will enjoy a warm meal and stay overnight in a tented camp.
With a calorie-filled breakfast early in the morning, we begin our day hiking the Sherpani Col upwards at 6180 meters. You will see some of the world’s highest peaks like Mt Everest, Mt Makalu, Island Peak, Chago Peak, Kali Himal, and many more from this height.
The view from up here is so surreal and mind-blowing that you will need to take a moment and appreciate the beauty. After enjoying the stunning views, we will cross Sherpani Col and West Col at 6143 meters.
We will descend towards Baruntse Base Camp and set up our tents here and call it a day.
Today we’ll eat our breakfast and start hiking downhill towards the south. Enjoying the mesmerizing mountain views, we will reach Amphu Labtsa Base Camp, set up our tented camps, enjoy our meals, and call it a day.
By now, we all are already fond of the views and the sheer serenity of this beautiful place. Today we will spend the entire day appreciating this place’s beauty and resting our tired bodies for the journey ahead.
Let’s try and make ourselves more familiar with the Himalayas’ surreal environment and take in all the positivity that oozes from this magical land.
Today’s trek is going to include some exciting rope climbing. Your trek guides and sherpas will fix up the ropes for you to cross the sharp passes. We will then start hiking while enjoying the breathtaking views of mountains and glaciers.
On our way, we will also see the Imja lake formed by the melting of glaciers. After a long 8 hours of trekking, we will reach Chhukung, rest for the night, and stay in a tented camp.
On today’s trekking, we will go to another pass called Khangma La Pass at an altitude of 5535 meters. The rocky and cold trails will take us through some difficult passes. Enjoy the views of the stunning Mt Everest and Mt Makalu along the way.
After a few ascends, we will start descending downwards to the Khumbu glacier and finally reach Khangma La Pass. We will stay overnight in a tented camp.
We will enjoy our warm breakfasts in the morning and head towards the trail that goes through the edges above the Khumbu glacier. The trails here are rocky, so you better be careful of not tripping and falling.
On your way, you will frequently get to see the jaw-dropping views of mountains like Mt Pumori 7165m, Lingtren 6749m, Khumbutse 6665m, Mt Everest 8848m, Nuptse 7861m, Nirekha peak 6159m, and many more. We will hike for a few hours and reach our destination Gorakshep.
Here, we will stay overnight at a mountain lodge.
Now our journey comes to mostly descending the trails. Since we have been mostly ascending for the past few days, our bodies will surely ache a little, so it is essential to take it slow and steady. But before descending, we will first visit the famous Kala Patthar at the height of 5545 meters.
This spot is renowned for its panoramic view of the magnificent Everest and a few other peaks. After enjoying the sight for a while, we will start trekking down towards Pheriche via Gorakshep.
Here you will get a good view of Mount Ama Dablam. After about 7 to 8 hours of hiking, we will reach our stop Phortse, where we will be staying overnight.
Today we will be trekking to Namche, a small Sherpa town. We will start with a delicious breakfast at Phortse and then begin our hike through villages like Pangboche, Lausasa, and many more.
There are plenty of monasteries along the way where you will get to have a closer look at the local people’s lives, lifestyles, culture, and traditions.
Tengboche monastery is one of the famous monasteries in this region. We will be allowed just to visit the premises of this site. From here, we will hike downhill for a while and then ascend a little towards Sanasa. From Sanasa, it’s a few hours of trekking on a straight trail till we reach Namche.
We will spend the night in a lodge.
Today is the day our time in the laps of nature finally comes to an end. It is going to be our last trekking. We will start with a good breakfast and then hike through the lush rhododendron forests and bushes.
Crossing the Hillary bridge, we will follow the trail alongside the beautiful Dudhkoshi river and head towards Phakding. From here, it is a few hours of walk to Lukla.
Upon reaching Lukla, we will enjoy the end of our fantastic journey and spend the night at a lodge.
Our time away from the chaos of urbanization finally ends today. After bidding farewell to the beautiful Himalayan land, we will take a thrilling flight from Lukla to Kathmandu. Within 30 to 40 minutes, our flight will come to an end.
You will be received at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
You have completed the challenging journey of Makalu Circuit Trek. We hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did. Today you will be dropped off at the airport for your flight to your own country.
We hope you will come back to Nepal in the future.
Mount Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world, standing at the height of 8481 meters. The area remains under-explored compared to other circuit trek routes because of the extremely challenging geographical features.
An experienced trekker can complete the challenging trek without many difficulties. Annually, many trekkers come to the region to conquer the Makalu Circuit Trek. Unfortunately, many do not have physical fitness or the right mindset to complete the circuit.
It is why being mentally and physically healthy plays a vital role in accomplishing the Makalu expedition.
The 20- 24 days long expedition, depending on your physical build and mental mindset, starts with a sightseeing tour of the Kathmandu valley. Taking an hour-long flight to Tumlingtar, a beautiful city in eastern Nepal, you will have to ride to the exact trekking point, Khandbari.
Khandbari is the district capital of Sankhuwasabha and one of the fastest-growing cities in Nepal’s hilly region. You will pass through lush green forest and terraced hills for the first few days of trekking, building to one of the most beautiful eastern Nepal scenes.
After ascending, the trail gets more challenging and the view more astounding. Upon trekking for more than a week, you will reach the Makalu Base Camp at 4800m. After a magical night at the base camp, the thought of returning without attempting the Sherpani Col pass at 6180 meters would be meritless.
The trek becomes more challenging as we pass the West Col at 6190m and Amphu Lapcha Pass at 5850 meters.
From there, we descend through the classic trail of Everest, passing through Chukkung, Tengboche, Namche Bazaar, and then finally taking a flight from Lukla to Kathmandu.
Weather is the most crucial aspect that you should think about before jumping on any trekking journey.
Trekking up in the Himalayan regions in harsh winter is near to impossible. From December to February, the weather in high altitude regions is freezing and snowy. The trials are covered with snow and the nights are too cold to bear.
Similarly, hiking in the pouring monsoon or hot summer can also be challenging.
For Makalu Circuit Trek, the best season or months to travel is considered from March to May and September to November. These are the seasons when the weather is just right, and the views are unobscured.
The temperature is also very favorable for hours-long hiking. You will get to enjoy the best of the wildlife during these periods. Some of the local festivities may overlap during this time, making your journey even more exciting.
To get a travel visa for Nepal, you should apply for it at the Nepalese Embassy or consulate with a travel agency. You can get a visa on arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Another option to gain access is by applying online. A single entry visa valid for 15 to 30 days will cost around USD30 to USD50. Citizens of SAARC nations get a free 30-day visa on arrival.
Tourist Visa Fee Details
New Visa Fee (July 2019 onwards)
15 Days (Multiple Entry)
30 Days (Multiple Entry)
90 Days (Multiple Entry)
Visa Extension (Within Valid Visa Period)
USD 3 per day
Visa Extension (With Multiple Entry)
Additional USD 25
Visa Extension (After Visa Expiration)
Late fee USD 5 per day
The permits required for Makalu Circuit Trek is the Makalu Barun National Park Conservation Area Permit. This permit costs around $30 per person. If your trek requires you to enter restricted villages, you should get another permit issued by local agencies.
For kids under the age of 10, all the necessary documents and permits are mandatory. The only different thing for kids is that it’s all free of cost.
To apply for the necessary permits, you should meet the government requirements, which are:
To collect the permits, you should visit the department of Nepal Immigration Office at Maitighar, Kathmandu. The Nepal Tourism Board releases your other necessary documents. Another option is to collect the permit from the entry point of Makalu Barun National Park.
Many Nepali Trek routes require tourists to have a TIMS card, which stands for Trekkers Information Management System Card. But for Makalu Circuit Trek, you do not need a TIMS card.
Makalu Circuit Trek is easily one of the most challenging trek routes in Nepal. It is best suited for experienced trekkers and mountaineers.
Makalu Circuit Trek is exceptionally physically demanding, which is why beginners with less to no trekking experience are likely to find it extremely challenging. This journey requires you to be fit and healthy. But above it all, you must be determined and dauntless.
You will be hiking for 5 to 7 hours per day on this trek, which can honestly get pretty exhausting even for experienced hikers.
For beginners, it is recommended to try a shorter hike before jumping on this one. It is necessary to build strong stamina and endurance level, workout on your core before this trek. For a busy person who has no time to prepare for the expedition, a couple of hours of long walks every day before the tour can also help.
Another difficult challenge you will face during this trek is altitude sickness.
Be prepared to feel a little uneasy as you start ascending towards higher altitudes. Even highly experienced hikers get altitude sickness, and it is entirely normal. However, it is necessary to take the required medical treatments if you get severe symptoms of the illness.
Remember to stay hydrated and drink lots of water along the way. Always provide your health update to your trek guides as they are trained to help you out in any situation.
Food is an essential part of the trekking experience. You will have to keep your energy level up because a tremendous amount of energy gets burnt while trekking. Do eat a fair amount of carbs, as carbs and other sugar forms such as fructose and lactose make for a good energy source.
Instead of carrying numerous junk foods, which pollutes the landscape, it is suggested to eat home-cooked food at different homestays along the way.
Compared to those who have a hectic lifestyle in the cities, Gurung and Tamang people living up in the mountains have a traditional farming lifestyle. The food they take as a staple diet is called ‘Dal (lentils), that (rice) and Tarkari (vegetables)’ which means rice, pulses soup and locally grown vegetables, along with some hot chutneys, the feast of the mountain people surely satisfies your hunger.
There is an option of western breakfast if long for home and miss your daily diet, including eggs, pancakes, muesli, and porridge.
Lunch around this area is usually dal bhat, with locally grown vegetables so that the menu may change daily.
Compared to those modern diet plans, where people intake different foods for different nutrition sources, this diet consists of balanced nutritional food.
A full plate of dal bhat gives you the balanced nourishment of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin e, vitamin c, calcium, and so much more. This highly nutritious food diet of the mountain people keeps the locals highly active and gives them the energy to live their rigid lifestyle.
Bottled water is up for sale in Nepal, but it is not recommended to use plastic bottles, resulting in land pollution. Instead of purchasing water bottles, visitors are suggested to carry a Nalgene water bottle of their own as there are countless freshwater sources along the trek.
Much of this water from the pristine water sources are drinkable.
Many people trekking in this region pollute the area with unnecessary littering, resulting in degradation of biodiversity. Carrying a garbage bag for your waste can immensely help with this problem.
There are numerous choices for accommodation in the Makalu circuit area. However, compared to the warm and comfortable lodges found in the lower elevations, the lodging gets basic as you advance further and gain more height.
The beds are furnished with a mattress and pillow; extra blankets are provided if asked. Compared to lodges found in the city areas, lodges here are a little different. You will get a bedroom with beds and a mattress, but the living room is where you can relax and socialize.
The living room is also used as a dining area with a centered fireplace, where a pot boil stove is always heating up for the constant supply of much needed hot water for the guests. This centralized pot heating system ultimately heats the whole room, making the stay much cozy and comfortable.
Many lodges are solar-powered, so on a cloudy day, be prepared for the worst. Carry extra supplies such as a power bank with you. You can charge your phone on an hourly chargeable basis, except that it may be a little expensive.
Wi-Fi is available in most of the lodges, but these services get thinner as you elevate higher.
Compared to the modern western-style toilets found on the lower elevations, long drop toilets are usually found in the higher altitudes. Be sure to carry toilet paper with you for the whole journey.
Makalu Circuit Trek is a long trekking journey that lasts for 20 to 28 days generally. You will be trekking in very high altitudes and spending nights in tented camps too. So make sure you carry the right gears and clothes.
Keeping yourself warm on cold nights is extremely important.
Some of the mandatory stuff to pack are as follows: jackets, warm socks, scarfs, thick sweaters, waterproof jackets, track shoes, sunhat, sunglasses, thermal wear, gloves, sandals, boots, and sleeping bags. You should also pack other essential items like toothbrushes, toiletries, personal hygiene items, a first aid kit, prescribed medical supplements, etc.
Make sure you carry a backpack that is sturdy and reliable. You will be hiring porters for your heavy bags. However, you will need to have important papers and permits, money and your passport with you at all times, which is why we suggest you carry a smaller bag.
For water, you will be drinking water from local tea houses and sometimes even from natural streams. So remember to carry good water purifying tablets and a good bottle.
It is great to have all the necessary items with you during such treks, but make sure you don’t overpack.
You will need a sim card to use the internet service. To buy a sim card, you will have to spend around $1 to 2. The Internet can cost up to $2 per hour.
As you ascend towards higher altitude, the services get more costly. Charging your gadgets at high altitudes can cost from $5 to 10.
Nepal is a country that highly depends on tourism for its economy. You can easily exchange your currency into Nepali money as there are money exchange services available all around the cities.
Many atm booths also accept international cards.