Taplejung - Olangchung Gola - Yangma exploration - Lumbasamba - Makalu BC
Wild! We follow the GHT route we pioneered from the Kanchenjunga region to the Makalu region.
This is a trek of variety, from jungle to the alpine, and a real trek achievement. We begin in the sweaty, green middle hills but soon enter wild forest and cooler country as we gain altitude towards the remote and unusual village of Olangchung Gola, which was once a major trading post with Tibet. Rather than continue to the Tibetan border closest to them (as we did on a past trek), we continue north to even more isolated Yangma village, and head up to the border from there, to the top of a now little-used 5746m trading pass. This is a real snow leopard area, so plenty of blue sheep and other wildlife and a series of stunning turquoise lakes, which we have time to explore.
Returning back to Olangchung Gola, we head over the remote Lumbasamba route to the curious virtually Tibetan village of Thudam and more wild country to drop from the alpine country down to the mighty Arun River. Here amid the warmth and fields, the crew restock and then the climb out of that valley begins, and the views open out as a reward.
The trekking route to Makalu Base camp was first researched by Robin Boustead of GHT fame, and Bob and Robin had a rather challenging trek but now, in the right season and with good weather conditions, this is exhilarating trekking to a series of lakes and there will be the chance to trek to the top of a pass that looks into Tibet (no crossing allowed!).
This is a wild area and we cross a river system (not too much descent) then skirt around a high and steep ridge to eventually drop into the Barun Khola and the Makalu Baase Camp area, which in the higher reaches is dry and dusty, hence we make a day trip only from a slighlty more comfortable base. With Makalu nearly 4000m above though, it is spectacular. The quickest way out is the standard route through Tashigaon however if the new Barun Khola route is in good condition, this may be an option.
This is an long distance itinerary for trekkers who have already trekked the main Kanchenjunga region (we skip the north and south base camps). We pioneered the Lumbasamba trek route in 2005 as the first trekkers across there, even our local guide didn't actually know the way, and then were the first commercial trek group to cross the alternative GHT route to Makalu BC, in the footsteps of Robin, so we know and love this region.
2/3 star hotel in Kathmandu, single with breakfast
twin share guesthouses as needed
domestic flights as per the itinerary
group transportation by private vehicle
entrance fees and permits as needed
satellite phone for backup
Kathmandu group dinner
Expedition-style trek includes
all meals, afternoon tea and hot drinks
roomy single tent / large double for couples
thin mat to protect your air mattress
our special comfy dining tent
and more Project Himalaya comforts
very experienced crew
we care for our porters providing:
warm jacket, pants, hat, gloves & sunglasses
warm duvets, mattresses and sleeping tents
Nice touches included
fresh filtered coffee for breakfast
solar charging for cameras, USB devices
filtered drinking water at camp
Our service excludes
insurance, Nepal visa, other meals in Kathmandu
additional hotel nights due to delays
international flights, equipment rental, alcohol, bottled water and soft drinks, laundry,
tipping and other items of a personal nature
Tips & extra cash
allow approx $50 per day for Kathmandu meals
allow more if you are a shopaholic
we suggest 5% of the trip cost per trekker for the crew tips pool
Day 0 - - early arrival
Arrive early to recover from long flights.
Day 1 - arrive Kathmandu 1350m
Arrive by midday or so to aid with the permit process.
2 - fly Bhadrapur, drive Ilam/Phidim
3 - drive Taplejung 1780m (jeep Thiwa?)
4 - jeep Thiwa, trek Sekethum 1660m
5 - trek Ela Danda 2050m
6 - trek Selep Kharka 2525m
7 - trek Olangchung Gola 3200m
We might reach here a day early, then we have a rest-exploration day here.
8 - trek river camp ~3600m
9 - trek Nup ~4000m
10 - trek Yangma 4160m
11 - Yangma 4160m
12 - trek Lake Camp 4740m
13 - explore Lake Camp 4740m
14 - explore Lake Camp 4740m to Ghari La 5746m
15 - trek Yangma 4160m
16 - trek Glacier Camp
17 - trek trek Kharka camp via Nango La top
We will try to have a look at the top of the pass but without crossing it.
18 - trek Olangchung Gola 3200m
19 - trek Tamor Sumdo 3720m
The trail has taken a beating here, hence the short distance.
20 - trek Langmale Kharka 4550m
21 - trek high camp/Lasa 4000m via Lumba Samba La 5160m
22 - trek Thudam 3555m
23 - trek rough kharka 2780m
24 - trek Chyamthang 2200m
25 - rest/trek Chyamthang 2200m
We resupply and from here on, it is dal bhat every second day. Yum!
26 - trek tree-spring Kharka / forest camp
27 - trek Molu Pokhari
28 - trek Tin Pokhari via Papti La daytrip
29 - trek overhanging rock
30 - trek high kharka via Kalo Pokhari
31 - trek Yangri (Yangle) Kharka 3650m
32 - Yangri Kharka 3650m
A rest or contingency day.
33 - trek Langmale Kharka / Shershong
That is a different Langmale from day 21!
34 - Shershong 4630m
Explore to Makalu Base Camp and higher.
35 - Shersong 4630m
A contingency day
36 - trek Debotay
37 - trek Khongma 3500m via Shipton La
38 - trek Tashigaon 2100m
39 - trek roadhead near Num
40 - drive Tumlingtar 400m via Khandbari ~1050m
41 - fly Kathmandu
Day 42 - depart
The Makalu region - Jamie
To see the detailed itinerary and more photos use a laptop/desktop browser or tablet in landscape (and hit refresh).
This 42 day itinerary definitely has more than enough time for trek, if conditions are OK, and indeed has three or four days that are partial rest or contingency days for some hiccups. These are more days than we usually have, and so if conditions are good then the trek itinerary will be slighlty modified by Bali in discussion with the team.
More photos to come sometime.
Dawa drinks a tungba, the local millet beer around here - Jamie
The green middle hills - Jamie
We love exploring, truly exploring and have many firsts to our credit and major achievements that we haven't previously
publicized, but as importantly, they have been amazingly successful, fun treks too. From 1998-2006 we explored the greater Kanchenjunga region with 7x 42 days treks (!!) then since 2008 have been opening routes of the the Nepal Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) and assisting with the GHT maps and guidebooks.
Most trek pages below have links to photo galleries, or see our Nepal Photos Inspiration. We are also exploring in Ladakh, India...
2017 'Kanchen Gola' - As well as returning to the the remote Ghari/Kang La, we discovered two passes near there unmarked on maps, and Jamie and Esther also solved cairn riddles to the top of the other Khang La, an alternative GHT start on the border with Sikkim.
2016 Upper Dolpo & Mu La - getting to Bhijer wasn't as hard as we expected, and we finished our Mu La exploration from 2014, crossing this last somewhat enigmatic pass in front the Dhaulagiris.
2012 GHT Wild West exploration - we broke trail to be the first trekkers ever to trek Darchula
to Simikot between Api and Saipal, staying completely in Nepal ... !
2011 GHT Dolpo Wild exploration - we were the first commercial trek team across the Lakyap/Kekyap passes (thanks, Paulo Grobel), rerouted the GHT near Bhijer saving a 5368m pass crossing and crossed the tough high route between Dolpo and Mugu without
2010 GHT Mustang & Saribung Wild - we traversed from Upper Mustang to Nar-Phu and climbed Saribung 6328m with 100% team success, then traversed around Manaslu
2009 GHT Makalu Wild - we were the first trekkers to cross Chyangtang to
Makalu Base Camp the direct way.
2008 Limi-Saipal - Jamie discovered the crucial pass near Saipal for the
2012 trek after guiding James Vlahos writing for Nat Geo; thanks Nepal Trust.
2007 Manaslu Wild - we explored the Tsum Valley to the Tibet border, and also explored the peaks and passes above Samdo.
2005 Kanchen Gola Wild - first trekkers to cross the Lumba Samba,
ie Kanchenjunga to the Makalu region, crucial for the GHT.
2004 Nangpa La exploratory - trekking to the Tibet border in the Everest region for the guide book Trekking in the Everest Region.
2003 Kanchen Gola Wild - first trekkers to the top of Olangchung Gola's Tipta La after Joseph Hooker in 1848, and in 2017, we found out no other trekkers ever went there; now there is a road across it.
2002 Kanchen Gola Wild - first trekkers to Yangma's 5746m Ghari La
2001 Kanchenjunga Wild - first trekkers to the Chabuk La, virgin peak ascent, a climb of Tengkoma peak and saw snow leopards, see Wanda's diary.
2000 Manaslu High - we explored Manaslu's Tsum valley prior to Tsum being opened (!) and climbed Chulu Far East.
1999 Kanchenjunga-Makalu - 42/75 day trek (!) and when we couldn't cross Sherpani-West Col, we returned to Tumlingtar in plastic boots.
1998 Wild Kanchenjunga - the trek that started the Kanchenjunga exploration series; we didn't meet any other trekkers.
1998 Churen Surprise - a trek to Churen Himal base camp above Gurjagoan, a trek that still few people have ever heard of.