Makalu Expedition is a lifetime journey that will take you to the top of the world's fifth highest mountain. From lush forests to the shrubs of the subalpine zone, you will get to see a wide range of vegetation. Likewise, the distinct culture and tradition of the villages will add zest of religious value. The stunning landscape and panoramic views of the Himalayan mountains are one more thing to look after. You can see snow-capped mountains like Mt. Makalu (8,481 m), Mt. Everest (8,848 m), Mt. Lhotse (8,516 m), Peak 7 (6,758 m), Peak 6 (6,524 m), Chamlang (7,321 m), and several other mountains.
Makalu Expedition landmark
Reaching the top of Mt. Makalu is the main landmark of this journey. You will pass by Makalu Base Camp from where you will see a superb view of the mountains. Likewise, Makalu Barun National Park is another landmark of the trek. Most of the trail goes through the national park home to unspoiled flora & fauna. And, how can we forget about the fine villages where you will come across a completely different lifestyle, yet more fulfilling than us.
Culture & Ethnic Diversity
During the expedition, you will see ethnic groups like Newar, Limbu, Rai, etc. along the way. The people of this region are either Hindus or Buddhists. They have been practicing and protecting their culture and tradition given by their ancestors. In the higher elevation, you will see the influence of Tibetan Buddhism.
Makalu Expedition trail goes along the Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area established in 1992. The entire area is extremely rich in flora and fauna. You will be in the heaven of herbal plants. As the elevation increases, the national park will present you range of climate and vegetation. Forests of birch, rhododendron, fir can be seen in the lower elevation, whereas as herbs, grasses, and juniper shrubs will be seen in the higher altitude.
There is a large variety of orchid, aromatic plants, oak, primrose, and 19 species of bamboo. Likewise, the national park is home to many endangered animals like musk dees, ghoral, Himalayan Tahr, red pandas, leopards, etc. Ornithologists have identified 400 bird species, at least 16 of which are extremely rare.
Makalu Expedition difficulty
Climbing Mt. Makalu is very difficult. You have to walk on glacial and snowy paths crossing several moraines, crevasses, and snow walls. Plus, the thin air and high altitude will make the journey even more difficult. Previous trekking experience along with strong physical fitness and high endurance is needed to go on this expedition. At, Gor For Nepal Treks & Expedition, you will get the most professional team that will help you to scale Mt. Makalu successfully.
Altitude Sickness and Prevention
Not to mention the Makalu Expedition does include chances of altitude sickness. Also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), it is a common illness that can happen to anyone regardless of their age and fitness. Even though it is a common thing during high altitude journey, but can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is very important to acclimatize the body properly.
Following are the things you can do to reduce the chances of getting AMS:
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid alcoholic drinks
- Include an adequate number of rest days in the itinerary
- Carry general medication of AMS
- Drop down to lower elevation if you find yourself getting AMS
- Inform your guide immediately
- Don't push yourself to complete the journey if your symptoms did not get in control
- Transportation and Bag Pack
Makalu Expedition begins with a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar, and from here, you will drive to Num. Num is the starting point of the expedition and gradually ascends to the top of Mt. Makalu.
Here is the list of things that you should carry during Makalu Expedition:
- Pair of hiking pants and casual pants
- Thermal Wears
- Breathable Underwears
- Trekking shoes/socks
- Rain jacket
- Sun hat
- Sleeping bag
- Trekking Pole
- Ice Ax
- Climbing Boots
- First aid kit
- Toiletries (toilet paper, hand sanitizer, sunblock, towel, soap, shampoo, sanitary napkins, etc)
- Miscellaneous (camera, extra batteries, journal, cards, bars, snacks, water purification tablets, etc)
Food and Accommodation during Makalu Expedition
During the Makalu Expedition, you will be staying overnight in the teahouse at the lowest elevation. The rooms in teahouses are generally small with a common washroom. You will get a bed and a few other furniture in the room. However, the dining area is usually cozy, and you can spend time in there. In the base camp and high camp, you will stay overnight in camp.
The foods will be served as the menu of the teahouse. You can expect to get dishes like curries, rice, bread, momo, noodles, tea, coffee, eggs, etc. As the elevation gets higher the cost of food will get higher and the menu also gets limited to a few items. During your stay in camps, the food will be cooked by porters.
Best Season to go on Makalu Expedition
Spring and Autumn is the best time to go on Makalu Expedition. The stable weather and clear sky make climbing a little easy. Likewise, the views are also prominent. Months from March to May fall under Spring, whereas months from October to November fall under Autumn.
Makalu Expedition cost
Makalu Expedition cost depends on the itinerary and facilities you are willing to have during the climbing. The more facilities you will add, the more cost will get higher. Remember, you will be trekking in a completely isolated part of the world with no human trace. Therefore, lots of preparation and amenities needed to be carried to the base camp and high camp. All of this drastically increases the price. However, the experience you will get and the view you will see ais more than the worth you will pay to summit the Mountain. Makalu.
Here is the list of things that you have to carry during the expedition:
- Passport & Visa
- Travel Insurance
- Extra Photos
- Cash (as per need)
What is done in Base camp?
At the base camp, your guide will teach you basic uses of climbing gear. He will teach you how to properly use gears like harness, rope, ice-ax, etc. Likewise, he will brief you about the route and the issues you might have to face. You will go on a short hike or climb nearby small peaks to acclimate your body and increase your confidence level.
Training and Climbing Strategy (Makalu South East Ridge)
Makalu Advanced Base Camp (5,600 m/18,372 ft):
Located on a rocky moraine, Makalu Advance Base Camp is the place where you will spend most of the time for preparation before climbing. The tents will be set with a walking distance between the groups. With us, you will get a personal tent, shower tent, toilet tent, and dining tent. Everything will be arranged for you before your arrival. At the base camp, you will meet with your other crew member along with climbing Sherpa.
Makalu Camp 1 (6,400 m/21,000 ft); 3-4hrs:
You will moved towards Camp I at 6,400 meters. Walking on grassy slopes, rock slabs, and moraine, you will reach the first glacier section. From here, you will cross a few crevasses and 200 m blue ice. After an hour climb on the morine, you reach the mouth of the glacier. Another couple hours of walk and you will pass the glacier portin. Camp I is divided into two sections, Lower Camp I and Upper Camp I. The distance between the two is 100 m/328f t. So, Camp 1 is fixed between 6,400 m to 6,500 m.
Makalu Camp II (6,800 m/22,310 ft); 2½hrs:
The route to Camp II is known as moderate technical. You will come across the heart of ice and snow. After an hour long walk on snow, you will face several step sections of ice. There is also a small ice fall that do no require ladder to cross. You can cross these ice fall with the support of fixed rope, some steep snow climbing, and a few big steps. This part of the climb can be tough for some people. Just above the snowy terrace, you will see tents.
Makalu Camp III (7,450 m/24,445 ft); 4hrs:
Distance from Camp II to Camp III is the longest part of the route. It extends upto 600m/1,968ft. You will not need any ladder crossings, however you will come across small crevasses that can be cross with jump. Sherp guide will fix the main rope. The route may seem easy to you but do not feel at ease because you will be exposed to harsh cold and wind. This is the camp that 40% of climbers plan to do their summit push from. As per the situation, this will be your last camp before summit or there will be one more camp.
Makalu Camp IV (7,900 m/25,918f t):
Camp IV is nearby the Camp III, however you are now close to the death zone. The oxygen level is very low at this altitude so any effort might feel arduous. You will climb for around three hours on a steep snow that is on a 50º-55º slope. This part can be dangerous during the autumn season. You will cross Seignior Wall. Camp IV will be set up just above Makalu La.
Makalu Summit (8,485 m/27,838 ft); 16-17 hrs:
You will begin climbing around 11:00 pm to 12:00 am, so that you can reach summit between 7 to 10 am. Below the main summit is a false summit, the main summit is reached via an exposed ridge. After the summit, you will walk for around five hours to walk back to Camp IV and another couple hours walk will take you to Camp III. The climbing is not technical. You will ascend through several basins with short snow headwalls. Our Sherpa guides will put every effort to take you to the top of the world's fifth highest mountain and bring you back safely.
Extra Personal Expenditure
The package cost does not include your expenditure. It can be anything from taking a hot shower to having some food. As the elevation will get higher you have to pay for little basic services as well as to charge your appliances. Therefore, make sure to carry enough cash with yourself so that you can use it whenever you need it. Also, there are no ATM machines available on the trail, and none of the teahouses accepts the card for payment.
Safety & Precaution in Expedition
Expedition is not something to be taken lightly. It is a journey, where your life's on the risk if anything goes wrong. There are so many things that need to be taken care of before and during the expedition. From preparing of the gears to setting the ropes, everything should be perfect because the Himalayas do not accept any mistakes.
Here is the list of things that you can take into consideration for safety & precaution during the expedition:
- Make sure to take out insurance that includes emergency air evacuations
- Make sure to check your gears properly before the beginning of the journey
- Follow the lead of your guide
- Don’t rush, walk slowly & safely
- In case of any problem inform your guide imitatively
- Collect enough information on the weather and temperatureDrink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated
- Take plenty of rest and acclimate your body on the trail