summit of Makalu, Nepal

Mighty Makalu, 5th highest peak in the world

The Makalu trek brings not only alpine splendor in a little-traveled region but also a wide-ranging look into Nepal's culture as we hike through villages of the Limbu, Rai, and Newari people of the middle hills and then up to Tibetan Buddhist settlements of the higher elevations.tan Buddhists at the higher elevations. At we will meet the ethnic groups of Limbu, Newar and Rai at the lower elevations and Tibetan Buddhists at the higher elevations. At we will meet the ethnic groups of Limbu, Newar and Rai at the lower elevations and Tibetan Buddhists at the higher elevations. At

Photo by Charles Masters

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Ultimate Makalu

Trek to Makalu Base Camp & the Upper Arun Valley
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 29 days
Arrive: Kathmandu, Nepal
Depart: Kathmandu, Nepal
Lodging: 4 nights hotels, 24 nights camping
Meals: All meals included except 3 lunches and 2 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level: 23-day trek on moderate to steep trails, 4-8 hours a day, altitudes between 3,000-15,975 feet


  • Trek to a new route to Makalu’s spectacular base camp at 15,975 feet
  • Hike the new Great Himalayan Trail from the Arun Gorge to the stupendous Barun Valley
  • Experience the full beauty and diversity of Nepal’s landscapes, from subtropical forests to awe-inspiring alpine cirques
  • Kathmandu and its ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

Join our Himalayan super-leader Gary McCue to trek an exciting new route to the stunning base of Makalu (27,825’), the world’s 5th highest peak. With the advent of the new Great Himalayan Trail across the southern Himalaya, Gary has planned a fantastic new approach to Makalu Base Camp. We begin in eastern Nepal, with a hike through seldom-visited villages in the tremendous gorge of the Arun River, which carves one of the world’s deepest canyons as it flows tens of thousands of feet below the great ramparts of Makalu, with Everest to its northwest. After we pass the last settlement, we join the new Great Himalayan Trail for an adventures hike over a roller coaster of Himalayan ridges, camping at remote yak-herding meadows as we head toward the soaring granite walls of the Barun Valley, then join main route to Makalu Base Camp. Our return route brings us over passes named for Eric Shipton, the intrepid British explorer-mountaineer, and down through the green lowlands to complete our incredible trek through all of Nepal’s beauty and diversity. It’s not often these days that a completely new trek route is offered to one of the world’s highest peaks—come with us for what may become the next “classic” trek of Nepal!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Kathmandu, Nepal

Explore the bustling bazaars and Hindu and Buddhist monuments of this ancient city.

Days 3-8
Tumlingtar / Arun Valley

Fly to Tumlingtar in eastern Nepal, and trek through subtropical terrain along the Arun River, visiting the small villages of the Rai, Chettri, and Limbu people. We climb out of the Arun Canyon on Day 8 to Hongong, the last settlement before we head into alpine terrain.

Days 9-17
Great Himalayan Trail / Barun Valley

Following yak-herding trails, we hike into the Makalu-Barun region, one of the most biodiverse in Nepal, with 25 of Nepal’s 30 species of rhododendron. We continue higher up to an alpine lake near the Tibetan border, then trek for several days over rugged, narrow tracks through the mountains, crossing a 15,000-foot ridge to descend into deep Barun Valley.

Days 18-21
Makalu Base Camp

We hike through lush pine and rhododendron forests to Makalu Base Camp, with two exploration days at base camp for optional hikes to incredible view points.

Days 27-29

Fly back to Kathmandu on Day 27. After a final chance to explore this bustling city, we depart on Day 29.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 6, Very Strenuous. Most hiking is between 5,000 and 15,000 feet, and the maximum elevation reached is 15,975 feet at Makalu Base Camp. Trip members carry only a daypack with camera, jacket, rain gear, water bottle, and other small necessities. For the most part, you can hike at your own speed; the group will spread out along the trail during the day to cover a normal maximum of 6 to 10 miles per day (4-8 hours of hiking). There are a number of days on this trek when the walks are shorter, as well as rest days, allowing ample opportunity for day hikes and for exploring the villages, monasteries, and beautiful surroundings near our campsites. Trail conditions can be primitive, and there is a good bit of up-and-down (often 2,000- to 3,000-foot gain or loss in elevation per day). Extremely cold conditions are normally encountered in the highest altitude areas.

Every participant must understand that this trek is truly challenging—you should be in excellent physical condition. We recommend that you make a special effort to get in top physical shape for the trip. There are also dangers inherent in any expedition traveling to remote wilderness regions, especially when they involve travel to high altitude. These dangers include everything from rock falls to the possibility of a serious fall, accident or sickness without access to the means of rapid evacuation. The availability of medical supplies or the adequacy of medical attention, once provided, cannot be guaranteed and cannot be expected to measure up to western standards. Each trek is an expedition. Although we are accompanied by a support crew staffed by experienced veterans of the Nepal Himalaya, it takes cooperation and flexibility from each participant to ensure a successful trek.

Please also note that individuals vary widely in both their physical response to high altitude and the ability to acclimatize and, since physical fitness does not confer any protection or facilitate acclimatization, it is impossible to predict how you will adapt to the altitude. The greatest protection is avoiding rapid ascents and allowing time for acclimatization. Your body can adapt to altitude if given time. We feel this itinerary specifically provides that option, but you must individually pace yourself to go slowly and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Do not push too hard regardless of how physically fit you may be or feel.

Early symptoms of high altitude sickness include: headache, nausea, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, vomiting, dry cough, irregular breathing, shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of ankles and eyelids. It is not uncommon to experience some of these symptoms when you first arrive at high altitude and then to have them decrease in severity within a few days. It is important that you inform your Trip Leader immediately of any symptoms or discomfort, however minor, so that they can help you monitor the situation. Please be aware that remaining at high altitude in spite of alarm signals from your body may result in serious illness or even death.

Medical conditions that are aggravated or complicated by high altitude include heart diseases, lung diseases, pregnancy, anemia, and sickle cell disease. It is imperative that anyone with any of these conditions consult their physician in detail before attempting this trekking expedition.

Explanation of Trip Levels