How difficult is Makalu Base Camp Trek?
Makalu Base Camp Trek is considered a strenuous trek in terms of difficulty levels. It is said to be a more challenging trek in the Himalayas due to the incline and rugged nature of the trails. You will be walking anywhere up to 6 hours a day, which of course, requires good physical condition.
The recommended elevation gain per day should not be more than 500 meters, which our Makalu base camp trek itinerary maintains. Other factors that contribute to the difficulty of the Makalu Base Camp trek are weather conditions, altitude sickness, and remoteness.
But with proper guidance, anyone can trek to Makalu Base Camp successfully. With the assistance of our experienced trek leaders, guides, and porters, we can help you accomplish your trek to Makalu Base Camp safely.
Makalu base camp trek distance
The total distance covered during the Makalu Base Camp trek, including the return trip is approx. 150 kilometers. This can take you anywhere between 15 days to 24 days to cover the whole trail depending upon your itinerary.
The highest point in the Makalu Base Camp Trek is 4,870 meters, which gives an open invitation to altitude sickness. It is caused by decreased oxygen levels, which make it hard for trekkers to handle the lower air pressure at a high elevation. The moment our body reaches an elevation above 4,000 meters, we are more likely to face altitude sickness.
Anyone can get altitude sickness, from experienced trekkers to naive, depending on their physical condition. Hence it is not avoidable. Some of the symptoms of altitude sickness are persistent headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, loss of appetite, dehydration, fatigue, and lack of sleeplessness. However, this can be taken care of by following some guidelines such:
- Stay hydrated throughout the trek
- Pay attention to the itinerary to see if you are getting enough time for acclimatization
- Do not consume alcoholic beverages
- Listen to your body and walk at a slower pace
- Carry one pulse oximeter to measure oxygen in your blood
- Ensure that you climb high and sleep at a lower elevation
- Remember to carry medications for headaches and body aches
Training for the Makalu Base Camp Trekking
This 16-day adventurous journey to the Makalu Base Camp Trek requires a decent amount of physical stamina since you will be walking around 5-6 hours per day. It is extremely significant to maintain your physical endurance, for which you need to perform some cardiovascular activities such as running, jogging, swimming, walking on an inclined treadmill, and working on an elliptical machine.
Some of the other activities for building good stamina that you should try are strength endurance and hiking-specific activities, such as trail running, stair stepping, or short hikes. You just need to dedicate 20-30 minutes every day a month before your trek to get all set for your trekking journey.
Last Minute Booking for Makalu Base Camp Trek
The last-minute booking for Makalu base camp trekking may not be possible until you are not opting for a camping-style trek. The accommodation facility along the Makalu base camp trail is very limited and can get packed if not booked in advance in the peak trekking seasons, which makes it tough for us to accept last-minute Makalu base camp trek bookings.
Booking a last-minute trek requires full payment of the package cost along with your basic information & valid passport.
What permits do I need for the Makalu Base Camp Trek?
Almost every other trek in Nepal requires some kind of permit which acts as entry permission. In order to set foot on the Makalu Base Camp trek, you need to avail yourself of two permits. The first one is Makalu Barun Conservation Area Permit which is necessary for entering the Makalu Base Camp.
The other permit that you must have is a Makalu Rural Municipality Permit. While getting these permits, you will pay some entrance fees too. Although getting a permit can be a tiring task. If you are booking a trekking agency, they can arrange it without you having any worries.
Makalu Barun Conservation Area Permit for Nepalese citizen - NPR 100 per person
Makalu Barun Conservation Area Permit for SAARC citizen - NPR 1500 per person
Makalu Barun Conservation Area Permit for other citizen - NPR 3000 per person
Makalu Rural Municipality Permit - NPR 2000 per person
Makalu Base Camp Trek best time
The best time to go trekking for the Makalu Base Camp Trek is from March to April (spring) and October to November (autumn). The autumn has stable weather with clear skies & no intense sunshine, making it an ideal season for trekking. The spring season brings an exotic range of flora and fauna, with the trails blossoming with colorful rhododendrons. Snowfalls can be seen at higher elevations with a stable temperature during day time.
It is advised to avoid trekking in the winter and rainy seasons. During the winter, which lasts from December to February, the region gets extremely cold and has a lot of snow cover in the higher parts of the trail, resulting in the shutdown of many guesthouses. However, it is still possible for avid trekkers to do the Makalu Base Camp Trek in late February to early March, and it will be quite beautiful with snow cover.
As the Makalu Base Camp trek is located in a remote area, accessing facilities similar to the Everest Base Camp trek and Annapurna Circuit trek routes is not possible. Trekkers should have to refrain from some luxurious services as they are not available on the trail. But the basic requirements of food and accommodation can be easily met.
During your trek, you will be staying at tea houses that have all the basic comfort you may need. Although it won’t be grand, you will still get a comfortable bed to sleep in.
These teahouses offer a basic twin-sharing or dorm-style accommodation that can easily hold 2 to 12 people at once. Depending upon the size of your group, you can accommodate. Also, if you visit in peak season, it is advised that you bring additional camping equipment in case of lodging unavailability.
Talking of the food, the menu does not have a lot to offer given the remoteness of the region. While trailing, you will have delicious traditional Nepali dishes such as Dal Bhat, lentils, roti, curry, momos, and noodles. It is always a good idea to carry extra food that you can easily consume in no time. Food such as instant soups, dry fruits, instant noodles, juice, nuts, herbal tea, and coffee can be a choice of food to carry.
Makalu base camp trek cost
Makalu Base Camp Trek can cost trekkers anywhere from $1500 to $5000 depending upon the factors such as trek duration, accommodation, and transportation facilities. Although most of the cost is included in the package, there are a few miscellaneous costs that you need to take care of by yourself.
This cost excludes your International airfare, Nepal Entry Visa Fees, food and hotel in Kathmandu, hot shower, WiFi, phone call, charging stations, extra accommodation, travel insurance, tips for guides and porters, and other personal expenses such as snacks, shopping, beverages, mineral water, souvenirs, etc.
Travel insurance is very important to join the Makalu base camp trek for 16 days. Makalu region is very far and untouched by major trekking routes in the Himalayas. The trail is far more isolated and lacks basic health services. So, in case of any medical emergency that cannot be taken care of by first-aid, it needs to be air evacuated. Therefore, we need well-covered travel insurance that has an emergency airlift.
Travel Tips (electricity, internet, ATM, luggage, tipping, personal expenses)
Charging - You can get a charging facility by paying a little extra money in the teahouses. If you think you'll constantly need to charge your device, we highly recommend getting a solar charger or a power bank.
Internet - To use the internet while trekking, we can help you get a Nepali Sim with data. This is the cheapest option. As the region is quite remote, you may not get a stable connection all the time and can face complete blackouts in some areas.
Luggage - The trekkers can carry a backpack up to 5 kg in weight to store their essentials. Pack all the heavy trekking clothes in the duffel bag provided by the company in case you take a porter.
ATM - There is no ATM on Makalu base camp trekking route. So, withdraw enough money in Kathmandu to use while trekking.
Tip - The tip for guides, porters, and drivers is not covered in the package cost. We let our guests tip our on-field crew members as much as they wish.