This is the highest and most challenging section of the Great Himalaya Trail! On this section you cross three high passes, two of them over 6000m, traversing the mountain range between Makalu and Everest.
Makalu is a rarely visited gem. Sandwiched between the more famous Everest and Kanchenjunga massifs, Makalu (8463m) is considered one of the toughest 8000m peaks to climb – even the great Edmund Hillary failed twice. But the wilderness around it is just waiting to be explored by the intrepid trekker prepared to forgo the comforts of teahouse treks. For the more experienced trekker, the pristine river valleys of the Arun and Barun below the ‘Great Black One’, with views up to Everest and Lhotse, offer hard-won rewards. The trail to Makalu Base Camp from the south is considered one of the tougher routes in Nepal, and you’re more likely to have the company of birds than fellow hikers.
This is even more the case on the Great Himalaya Trail from Makalu to Everest: be prepared for a combination of cross-country and mountaineering to cross over the high passes of the grueling ‘Three Cols’ – Sherpani Col, West Col and Amphu Labsta – which take you to almost 6200m.
The rewards are generous. The lush Makalu Barun region is one of the largest protected areas in Nepal. It shelters 3000 species of flowering plants including countless varieties of Himalayan Orchids, 440 species of birds and 75 species of mammals. Rare species such as the musk deer, the clouded leopard and the Asian golden cat testify to the incredible biodiversity visitors will encounter in the verdant valleys. The towering granite cliffs capped with immense glaciers in the upper reaches of the Barun Valley have been compared to those of Yosemite – on a bigger scale!
As you walk up the river valleys, immense mountain vistas will unfold before you, including the massifs of Makalu, Everest and Lhotse. You may well wonder why you have the views all to yourself – something to ask the indigenous groups of Rai, Limbu, Sherpa and Lhomi people you will encounter lower down.
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