Nepal's Far East

Far eastern Nepal is a hidden gem on the verge of discovery by the international trekking community.

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The region is home to the third and the fifth tallest mountains in the world, Kanchenjunga (8586m) and Makalu (8463m), the summit that beat Edmund Hilary twice.

Nepal’s only registered nature reserve, the Makalu Barun National Park, sits in far eastern Nepal. It stretches from 1,000 to 8,000 metres, ranging from the lush, tropical lower foothills to the frostier, more temperamental higher mountain plateaus.

A highlight is the view from Makalu Base Camp (often referred to as the “throne of the Gods”). It surveys the monstrous peaks of Chhamlang (7319m), Jalijale Himal (7319m), Lhotse Sar (8,383m), Lhotse (8,516m) and of course Everest (8,848m).

Explore Nepal’s far east your own way with our range of handcrafted itineraries through the best local hosts.

Mera Peak

The 6,476 metre-tall Mera peak is an ideal conquest for ambitious, yet less experienced mountaineers. Although it is considered a ‘trekking peak’ (and requires less expensive permits as a result), an ascent up Mera peak does require the use of ice axes and crampons.

Much like the rest of Nepal’s far east, Mera Peak and the connecting Hinku Valley receives much less tourism than the rest of the country. As a result, Mera peak has much less trekking infrastructure meaning you’ll stay in tents on the way up. The lack of infrastructure makes thorough planning and highly qualified guides all the more critical.

Although it’s a tough trek, the reward is an astonishing view of the saw-tooth skyline created by the beastly summits of Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu.

Ilam

Bordering the Indian region of Darjeeling, the tea-covered foothills of Ilam remain pleasantly cool throughout the year. The town is made up of rustic, wooden buildings with balconies overlooking the rich tea plantations. There’s plenty of quaint, affordable homestays but the region is by no means dependant on the tourist trade.

Ilam is a spiritual centre for both Hindus and Buddhists, who make pilgrimages to the wetlands of Mai Pokhari every year.

Another highlight is the view from Shree Antu (2,382m). It’s considered one of the best sunrise vantage points in Nepal. Expect tropical, green forests in the foreground juxtaposed with the harsh, pristine white of Mt Kanchenjunga looming behind.

You can get to Ilam by getting a bus all the way Kathmandu, or by flying into Bhadrapur and getting a bus from there.

Arun Valley

Straddling Everest and Makalu is Arun Valley, the deepest valley in the world. It is home to over 650 species of birds, 800 species of butterfly and is shelter to the rare and infamously chaste Panda.

Trekking in the Arun valley requires a short flight to Tumlingtar from Kathmandu. You’ll start at a comparatively low 422 metres, so be extra sensitive to how your body acclimatizes to altitude. The trail follows the Arun river and slowly ascends through the riverbank’s farming villages before reaching the literal and metaphorical high point of the trek, the holy Salpa Lake (3414m), where annual Hindu festivals are held.

Although there is still decent hiking infrastructure on this trek, fewer crowds mean this is the wilder way to reach the beckoning Everest Base Camp.

Kanchenjunga

Mt. Kanchenjunga in eastern Nepal is the third highest mountain in the world, at 8,586 metres. It borders the Sikkim state in northeastern India, and the mountain is of religious importance to the Sikkim people.

The massif is a big cross, with ridges extending north, south, east and west. The mountain has a reputation for being notoriously tricky to summit but the hiking opportunities are unparalleled.

Tourism has only started to trickle into Kanchenjunga in recent years, meaning that simple lodges and teahouses are starting to crop up. Saying that, camping on the trek is still necessary. The typical route around Kanchenjunga will take you to both the northern and southern base camps and can take anywhere between 17 to 24 days.

Makalu

At 8,485 metres, Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world. A trek to its base camp will take you from Tumlingtar at 400 metres to the south-east ridge of Makalu, at 5,500 metres. You’ll hike through the various vegetation zones of the Makalu Barun National Park, the only protected national park in Nepal.

High rainfall means the lower regions are made up fertile farming land and chirping rainforests. However, the glacier-capped granite cliffs of the upper reaches of the Barun Valley are more akin to Yosemite.

The Makalu trek is tough, and the summit itself beat the famous Edmund Hilary twice. This is an ideal trek for those with a Himalayan hike under their belts already and are willing to forgo the comfort of teahouse trekking for a more immersive mountain experience.