Makalu Region- Travel Guide
Makalu, a region close to virgin wilderness lies in northwestern corner of Sankhuwasabha district and Solukhumbu district. To its west is Everest region, to the north Tibet border, to the east Arun River and to the south Sabha River. In the year 1992, Makalu Barun National Park and Buffer zone (previously conservation area) was established within this pristine Barun valley, which offers a combination of rich culture heritage, unsurpassed beauty and biological diversity.
Makalu-Barun valley is a place of spectacular scenery, a rugged landscape of towering mountain peaks, deep river gorges where high waterfalls cascade into deep gorges, rich natural paradise, pristine forest, craggy rocks rise from lush green forests, colorful flowers bloom beneath white snow peaks and simple and warm hearted local people with rich culture and varied customs. The valley has treasured some of the last remaining pristine forests and alpine meadows of Nepal.
The total Makalu- Barun valley covers an area of 2,330 square kilometers. Due to its wide range of altitudes and climatic variation, the Makalu-Barun area contains some of the richest and most diverse pockets of flora and fauna, elsewhere lost due to spreading human habitation.
Mt Makalu (8463m), world’s fifth highest peak, Mt. Chamlang (7319 m) and Mt. Baruntse (7129m) are the major snowcapped jewels of this area. Within 40 kms, these high peaks descend to the Arun River.
Climate, Flora and Fauna
Makalu-Barun valley is subject to eastern Himalayan climatic regime that sweeps up from the Bay of Bengal, bringing heavy rainfall. Here monsoon starts early June and stays longer until late September. Pre-monsoon rain is common during the month of April and May. Due to extreme difference in altitude and slope, great variation in temperature and precipitation can be expected and no reliable records of climatic data represent this entire area. colorful flowers bloom beneath white snow peaks and simple and warm hearted local people with rich culture and varied customs. The valley has treasured some of the last remaining pristine forests and alpine meadows of Nepal.Makalu-Barun National Park and Buffer zone, covering total area of 2330 sq, km. is the only protected area with an elevation of 8,000m with a strict nature reserve, actively involved in protecting the forests and natural resources, and in conserving the rich cultural heritage of the ethnic inhabitants. The vegetation zones starting with tropical Schima-Castanopsis forest (1000-2000m), fir/birch/rhododendron forests in the sub-alpine (3000-4000 m); and herbs, grasses and rhododendron/juniper shrubs in the alpine pastures (4000-5000 m). There are more than 3000 species of flowering plants, 47 varieties of orchids, 67 species of economically valuable medicinal and aromatic plants, 25 varieties of rhododendron splash the hillsides with color, 19 species of bamboo, 15 oaks including Arkhoulo, 86 species of fodder trees and 48 species of primrose. The forests shelter abundant wildlife, including the endangered red panda and musk deer as well as the ghoral, Himalayan tahr, langur, wild boar, barking deer, Himalayan marmot and weasel, serow and leopard. Ornithologists have identified 400 bird species, including two species of warbler never before seen, at least 16 of which are extremely rare. The Park has some of the richest and unique pockets of flora and fauna. The Arun River system contains 84 varieties of fishes. Over 32,000 ethnically diverse backgrounds people inhabit the conservation area.
Mt. Makalu ,the world’s fifth highest peak is located 22 km east of Mount Everest, high in the heart of the eastern Himalaya. Mt. Makalu is one of the hardest and most difficult mountains in the world to climb. The mountain is known for its notorious steep pitches and knife-edged ridge. An American team led by W. Siri in the spring of 1954 made the first attempt on Makalu. Lione Terray and Jean Couzy of a French expedition led by Jean Franco first reached the summit on May 15, 1955.
People and Places
Makalu region is different in many ways even it is very close to the Everest region. Some 32,000 people of ethnically diverse background live in this region. Sherpa people, originally from Tibet, live at higher elevations and follows Buddhist traditions. Rais, follow and practice an ancient religion, which reinforces them to live in harmony with nature. In lower elevations live a handful of other hill tribes including Tamang, Magar, Gurung, Newar, Brahmins, and Chhetris.This region is culturally rich but economically poor and isolated. People are heavily depend upon forest resources for animal fodder, fuel, food, housing materials, fertilizers, medicine and other creative uses.
Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area
The Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area was established in 1992 and first declared buffer zone and only National park surrounded by conservation area with 830 sq. km. This national park lies in the wilderness at the eastern border of Mount Everest National Park. This park also borders with another park on the Tibetan side called Qomolangma Nature reserve. The conservation area forms a peripheral zone to the national park along its southern and eastern sides, distinguishing between the northern wilderness and southern inhabited zones. The area receives the highest rainfall in the country (over 4, 000 mm). Its altitude ranges from 1,000 m to more than 8,000 m. This park includes four of the five highest mountains in the world. Most of the northern part includes valleys of the Barun River, dense forests, great waterfalls and deep gorges. This park is ideal area from the botanical viewpoint for people who love natural wilderness, its most amazing and prolific area contains more than 3,000 flowering plants. Also about 67 species of medicinal plants and aromatic plants are to be found here. This park is inhabitants by more than 50 species of animals and 400 species of birds. Red panda, musk deer, Himalayan thar, barking deer black bear, wild boar are some of the species found here.
This is an outstanding trek in the eastern region of Nepal which offers a combination of rich culture heritage, unsurpassed beauty and biological diversity. The trail takes you from the steamy lowlands of Tumlingtar on the Arun River, through one of the least frequented areas of Nepal, to the base camp of Makalu [8475m]. The trail follows the beautiful Barun river valley in the Makalu Barun National Park, crossing Shipton pass at 4127 meter before arriving at Makalu Base Camp [5000m], from here views of the south face of Makalu, as well as Everest and Lhotse are truly spectacular. The Arun valley is also a home of rare species of various Birds which are now only found in Nepal.
Anyone in good shape and has previous experience of trekking can make this fairly challenging trek anytime in March to May and September to early December.
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