Landscape in the Makalu Barun National Park

Makalu Barun National Park is located in the eastern part of Nepal, a hidden gem in the Himalayas. It offers breathtaking views, diverse wildlife, and an immersive cultural experience. Covers an area of 1,500 square kilometers, and is the land of the fifth-highest mountain in the world, Makalu (8,463 meters). As well as other towering peaks, lush forests, and alpine meadows.

Makalu Barun National Park Map

It was previously a conservation area in 1988 and later converted into the National Park. This park is administered and managed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. The Makalu Barun Conservation Area Project (MBNPCA) was officially announced in 1991 under the protection of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and TMI (The Mountain Institute).

The Makalu Barun Conservation Area was transformed into a buffer zone in 1999, with a focus on prioritizing the conservation of forests, wildlife, and cultural resources. The Buffer Zone Management Guidelines outlined a hierarchy of priorities, with the highest importance given to the preservation of these natural and cultural assets. Following that, efforts were directed toward conserving other natural resources and promoting the development of alternative energy sources.

Here are some of the major attractions of the park that you shouldn’t miss:

Makalu Base Camp Trek: 

This 22-day trek takes you through the stunning landscapes of the park, including glaciers, waterfalls, and high-altitude passes, before reaching the base camp of Makalu. You’ll also encounter rare species such as the red panda, snow leopard, and Himalayan black bear.

Sherpani Col Trek: 

This challenging trek is not for the faint-hearted, as it involves crossing a high-altitude pass (6,100 meters) and negotiating steep terrain. However, the rewards are worth it, as you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Makalu and other Himalayan peaks.

Barun Valley Trek: 

This moderate trek takes you through the Barun Valley, which is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including the endangered Himalayan musk deer and the elusive Himalayan tahr. You’ll also visit traditional Sherpa villages and Buddhist monasteries along the way.

Indigenous Culture: 

The park is home to several ethnic communities, including the Sherpas, Rais, and Limbus, who have their own unique cultures, languages, and traditions. You can visit their villages, sample their cuisine, and learn about their way of life.

Makalu Barun Conservation Area: 

The park is part of the larger Makalu Barun Conservation Area, which is a hotspot of biodiversity and a haven for rare and endangered species. The area is also home to several research and conservation projects, aimed at preserving the park’s unique ecosystem.

Mountaineering: For the adventurous, Makalu offers some of the most challenging and rewarding climbs in the Himalayas. The mountain is considered one of the toughest 8,000-meter peaks and requires technical climbing skills and experience.

Makalu Barun National Park
Bms. subash, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Makalu Barun National Park?

To explore Makalu Barun National Park, you can join a guided trekking group or hire a local guide and porter. It has several entry points, including the village of Tumlingtar, which is accessible by road and air from Kathmandu. The best time to visit the park is from March to May and September to November when the weather is dry and clear.

Culture of Makalu Barun Region

This region contains several ethnic communities, including the Sherpa, Rai, and Limbu. They have their own unique cultures, languages, and traditions. The Sherpas are known for their mountaineering skills and have helped several climbers reach the summit of Mount Everest. Rai and Limbu are farmers and traders, they live in the lower valleys and practice animism and Buddhism.

Flora and Fauna of the Park

Makalu Barun National Park is a biodiversity hotspot and is famous for its diverse range of flora and fauna. It has a varied landscape that ranges from subtropical forests to alpine meadows and snow-clad peaks.

Fauna:

Makalu Barun National Park has a variety of endangered and rare species of wildlife. Some of the notable species found in the park include the red panda, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, musk deer, Himalayan Tahr, and serow.

Himalayan thar
The endangered animal Thar is spotted in the Everest Region of Nepal.

It is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 400 species of birds recorded. Some of the notable bird species found in the park include the Himalayan monal, Impeyan Pheasant, blood pheasant, and Tibetan snowcock.

Vegetation

Makalu Barun National Park is a biodiversity hotspot that boasts a diverse range of vegetation due to its varied topography and climate. The park’s vegetation ranges from subtropical forests to alpine meadows, with each zone characterized by its own unique flora.

Subtropical Forests:

The park’s lower elevations are covered with subtropical forests dominated by sal trees, pine, fir, and rhododendrons. Other species of trees found in this zone include oak, maple, and laurel. The undergrowth of the forest is home to a variety of shrubs, ferns, and flowering plants.

Temperate Forests:

As the elevation increases, the subtropical forests give way to temperate forests, which are characterized by broad-leaved trees such as oak, birch, and maple. The forest floor is covered with a thick layer of fallen leaves and other organic matter, which supports a rich undergrowth of ferns, mosses, and lichens.

Sub-alpine and Alpine Zones:

Above the treeline, the vegetation becomes sparse and is dominated by alpine meadows, dwarf Rhododendron, and juniper shrubs. In the sub-alpine and alpine zones, only a few hardy species of plants can survive, such as the Himalayan dwarf juniper, alpine blue poppy, and Himalayan primrose.

Rhododendron arboreum – the floral emblem of Nepal
Rhododendron Arboreum – the floral emblem of Nepal

Frequently asked questions about Makalu Barun National Park:

What is Makalu Barun National Park known for?

Makalu Barun National Park is known for its diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, and cultural heritage. It is home to the fifth-highest mountain in the world, Makalu, as well as several high-altitude lakes, glaciers, and alpine meadows. The park is also home to several ethnic communities, including the Sherpas, Rais, and Limbus, who have their own unique cultures, languages, and traditions.

How do I get to Makalu Barun National Park?

The park has several entry points, including the village of Tumlingtar, which is accessible by road and air from Kathmandu. You can join a guided trekking group or hire a local guide and porter to explore the park.

What is the best time to visit Makalu Barun, National Park?

The best time to visit the park is from March to May and September to November when the weather is dry and clear. However, it is possible to visit the park throughout the year, depending on your preferences and experience.

What are the major attractions of Makalu Barun National Park?

The major attractions of the park include Makalu Base Camp Trek, Sherpani Col Trek, Barun Valley Trek, high-altitude lakes, indigenous culture, Makalu Barun Conservation Area, and mountaineering.

What kind of wildlife can I see in Makalu Barun National Park?

The park is home to various wildlife, including the red panda, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan musk deer, Himalayan tahr, and several species of birds, such as the Himalayan monal and the Tibetan snowcock.

Is it safe to trek in Makalu Barun National Park?

Yes, it is generally safe to trek in the park, provided you follow the guidelines and recommendations of your guide and porter. It is also important to have adequate travel insurance and to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances, such as altitude sickness or adverse weather conditions.

What kind of accommodation is available in Makalu Barun National Park?

The park has several lodges, guesthouses, and campsites along the trekking routes, where you can stay overnight. These accommodations range from basic to comfortable and provide meals and other amenities. It is recommended to book in advance, especially during the peak season.


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Sailendra Bhatta

An adventurer, writer, and Founder of Nepal Travel Vibes.

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