Manaslu Circuit Trek: A Journey Through The Heart Of Nepal

By Jan Bakker

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Manaslu Circuit Trek: A Journey Through The Heart Of Nepal
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The Manaslu Circuit is a classic trek hidden in plain sight. Wedged between the Annapurnas and the Ganesh Himal, this stunning route is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor Annapurna Circuit. It’s a journey back in time, passing through Tibetan style villages on ancient trails that were once used as a salt-trading route with Tibet. Combine this with towering glaciated peaks that reach over 8000 meters and you’ve got yourself a world class trekking experience.

The Manaslu Circuit is a restricted area and it requires multiple permits to be allowed. Hence this valley is not overrun by hordes of trekkers and has kept its cultural identity. At Bookatrekking.com we help a dozen hikers per year to hike this special, secluded route. Keen to see it for yourself? Get in touch with our Trekking Expert!

What Makes The Manaslu Circuit Trekking Special?

The Manaslu Circuit, located in the Manaslu region of Nepal, stands out as a special trekking route for various reasons. Firstly, it offers a remote and less crowded experience compared to more popular treks, allowing trekkers to immerse themselves in the natural beauty without the hustle and bustle. The cultural diversity along the route is another highlight, with encounters with different ethnic groups like the Nubri and Tsum people. The trek showcases stunning scenery, including panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks, alpine forests, and terraced fields. The region is rich in biodiversity, providing opportunities to spot various flora and fauna, adding to the trek's allure. The challenge of crossing high-altitude mountain passes, especially the Larkya La Pass, contributes to the sense of achievement for trekkers.

Teahouse accommodations along the route enable trekkers to experience local hospitality and indulge in traditional meals. The fact that the Manaslu region is a restricted area requiring special permits helps in preserving its natural and cultural heritage. This trek also offers a more adventurous and authentic experience compared to some commercialized routes, fostering a stronger connection with nature and the local culture.

What Makes The Manaslu Circuit Trekking Special?

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What Is The Best Time To Do The Manaslu Circuit Trek?

The best time to undertake the Manaslu trek is during the pre-monsoon (spring) and post-monsoon (autumn) seasons. The specific months that are considered ideal for the trek are:

1. Spring (March to May): This is one of the most popular times to do the Manaslu Circuit Trek. During spring, the weather is generally stable, and the temperatures are mild. The rhododendron flowers bloom, adding vibrant colors to the landscape. The visibility is excellent, offering clear views of the Himalayan peaks.

2. Autumn (September to November): Another optimal time for the Manaslu Circuit Trek is the autumn season. The weather is stable and dry, and the skies are generally clear. The temperatures are comfortable, and the visibility is excellent, providing stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Autumn is considered the peak trekking season in Nepal.

Both of these seasons offer favorable weather conditions, making trekking more enjoyable and safe. However, it's important to note that the Manaslu region is prone to heavy snowfall during the winter months (December to February), and the monsoon season (June to August) brings heavy rains, making these periods less suitable for trekking.

Before embarking on the trek, it's advisable to check the current weather conditions and be aware of any changes in regulations or trekking permits. Additionally, individual preferences, such as tolerance for colder temperatures or a desire for fewer crowds, may influence the choice of the best time to undertake the Manaslu Circuit Trek.

What Is The Best Time To Do The Manaslu Circuit Trek?

The Manaslu Circuit vs The Annapurna Circuit

Choosing between the Manaslu Circuit and the Annapurna Circuit for trekking in Nepal involves considering various factors that cater to individual preferences and trekking goals.

The Manaslu Circuit stands out for its relatively lower popularity, offering a less crowded and more remote trekking experience. The trail takes you off the beaten path, providing a sense of exploration and adventure. The region is known for its cultural diversity, with encounters with different ethnic groups like the Nubri and Tsum people. The restricted access and special trekking permit add to the trek's appeal, contributing to the preservation of the area's natural and cultural heritage. Additionally, the trek offers stunning views of Mount Manaslu, at 8163 meters the eighth highest mountain in the world. On the other hand, the Annapurna Circuit has its own attractions, including diverse landscapes, ethnic villages, and the iconic Thorong La Pass. It is more developed in terms of infrastructure and facilities, making it a more accessible option for some trekkers.

The decision between the two treks depends on personal preferences for solitude, cultural diversity, and the level of adventure sought. Both the Manaslu Circuit and the Annapurna Circuit offer unique experiences, and the choice ultimately rests on the trekker's individual priorities and interests.

The Manaslu Circuit vs The Annapurna Circuit

How Difficult Is The Manaslu Circuit Trek?

The Manaslu Circuit, from a technical standpoint, is relatively easy. It primarily involves walking, although at higher elevations the trail becomes a little rough in places.The advantage of staying in tea houses each night instead of camping adds to the convenience. This setup allows for a comfortable rest without the hassle of logistics or concerns about getting cold. The real challenge of the Manaslu Circuit, however, often stems from its high altitude. It is, after all, a trek at considerable heights, reaching an elevation of 5106 meters at the Larkya La. The final approach to the pass is covered in snow most of the year.

The length of the Manaslu Circuit trekking route also contributes to the demanding nature of the trek. The route that we do covers a distance of 122 kilometers with plenty of vertical gain. Some days involve hiking more than 15 kilometers. These factors make the trek quite challenging, regardless of whether you're a beginner or an experienced hiker. Over an extended period on the trail, you'll feel your body becoming fatigued. Nevertheless, perhaps it's this very challenge that gives you a genuine sense of accomplishment upon completing the entire route. With proper training for the Manaslu Circuit and the right mindset, most trekkers can successfully undertake this adventure.

How Difficult Is The Manaslu Circuit Trek?

What Permits Do I Need For The Manaslu Circuit Trek?

To trek in the Manaslu region, you will need three kinds of permits issued by the Government of Nepal.

Manaslu Restricted Area Permit (RAP)

-The Manaslu Restricted Area Permit costs USD100 for first seven days and USD15 each additional day during September to November.

- Manaslu trek permit costs USD75 for first 7 days and USD10 each extra day from December to August.

Manaslu Conservation Area Permit (MCAP):

- In addition to the RAP, trekkers need the MCAP for the Manaslu Conservation Area.

- This permit can be obtained in Kathmandu or at the entry points to the Manaslu region.

Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP):

- The Manaslu Circuit Trek often includes parts of the Annapurna region.

- Trekkers might need the ACAP, which can be obtained in Kathmandu or at the entry points to the Annapurna region.

All permits are arranged by our local team in Nepal.

Our 12-day Manaslu trek

The Manaslu Circuit trekking route used to be done on a 15-day trip from Kathmandu. The trailhead and trail end of the Manaslu trek is now deeper in the valley and therefore we have shortened the trek to avoid walking on the road. Below is our 12-day itinerary.

Day
1

Drive from Kathmandu to Machha Khola

On the first day of your 12-day Manaslu Trek, you depart from Kathmandu after breakfast, heading towards Machha Khola. Along the Prithivi Highway, with the Marysyangdi and Trishuli Rivers on your side, enjoy scenic views of valleys, hills, and distant mountains. After reaching Dhading Besi, the route becomes a bit rough as you follow rocky trails along the northwest side of the Budhi Gandaki River. Continuing, you'll pass Soti Khola, the starting point for Manaslu trekking adventures. After traversing a number of Gurung and Magar settlements, you'll reach Machha Khola where you spend the night.

Machha Khola

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Machha Khola
Day
2

Trek to Jagat

Duration: 07:45 h
Distance: 17 km
Ascent: 730 m
Descent: 250 m
The next day, from Machhakhola we follow a narrow trail that takes us to Tharo Khola and finally to Khorlabesi. After a few ascents and descents, we reach a popular hot-spring, Tatopani. We will spend some time here and can enjoy the natural sauna in the hot -spring and relieve all our tiredness and stress of the trek. We climb another ridge and cross the Budhi Gandaki via another suspension bridge. After this, we climb a staircase and then cross a landslide and a ridge to reach Doban. After crossing yet another suspension bridge, we again climb stone staircase then go down to the river and climb some steps again to reach Thado Bharyang. Then we cross the west bank of Budhi Gandaki, climb over a ridge, walk along the river to reach the village of Jagat where we spend the night.

Jagat

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Jagat
Day
3

Trek to Deng

Duration: 08:30 h
Distance: 18.4 km
Ascent: 910 m
Descent: 370 m
Today we will reach Salleri after climbing a rocky ridge and then we continue our way towards Sirdibas. We trek onwards to Ghatta Khola and then walk upstream through a long suspension bridge to reach a Gurung village in Phillim. From the lower points of the village, the trail turns north and through leveled trails amidst maize fields, we reach Ekle Bhatti, where you will have lunch. We then continue our trip from a steep gorge and then descend through grassy slopes to cross the Budhi Gandaki and then cross bridges from west to east bank and back again. As the trail widens, we pass through bamboo forests to reach the Deng Khola. After crossing the river, we reach the tiny Deng village where we shall spend the night.

Deng

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Deng
Day
4

Trek to Namrung

Duration: 08:45 h
Distance: 16.8 km
Ascent: 1210 m
Descent: 440 m
We take a short hike from Deng and then we cross the Budhi Gandaki and climb to reach Rana. From here we climb for a while and then head west to Budhi Gandaki valley. The trail passes through forests and painted Mani stones and a corner from where we reach Ghap. Then we take the trail through Prok village which allows us to witness the beautiful view of Siring Himal. We follow the river, crossing it at many places and pass through dense forests and Gompas along the way. After crossing the river at a gorge, the trail becomes leveled and after a last steep climb, we reach Namrung where we stay for the night. Namrung is the best viewpoint for Siring and Ganesh Himal as well as Mt. Himal Chuli.

Namrung

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Namrung
Day
5

Trek to Lho

Duration: 04:45 h
Distance: 9.63 km
Ascent: 640 m
Descent: 100 m
From Namrung we make a steep climb and passing through forests we reach Lihi, a village well known for its chortens and barley terraces. After crossing the side valley of Simnang, we pass through Sho and then reach Lho where we spend the night. In the late afternoon, after arrival, we can visit the monastery.

Lho

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Lho
Day
6

Trek to Sama Gaon

Duration: 04:00 h
Distance: 7.8 km
Ascent: 480 m
Descent: 120 m
After crossing the Shyala village, we reach Sama village where one gets to witness the amazing views of Mount Manaslu and explore the famous Ribung Gompa. The breathtaking view of the high mountains along with glaciers is the highlight of today. We stay in Sama Gaon for the night.

Sama Gaon

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Sama Gaon
Day
7

Acclimatization at Sama Gaon

We will rest at Sama Gaon for acclimatization reasons and give our weary limbs some respite from the intense days on the trails. This also allows us to rest our lungs so that our respiratory systems will adapt to the constant change in elevation. Surrounded by mountains in a peaceful forest, we take a breather to acclimatize and relax. We can hike to Manaslu Base Camp for excellent views of Samdo, Nagdi chuli, Simnang Himal, Manaslu glacier and Manaslu ice fall.

Sama Gaon

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Sama Gaon
Day
8

Trek to Samdo

Duration: 03:20 h
Distance: 7.63 km
Ascent: 330 m
After having enjoyed breakfast in our lovely surroundings, we trek gently uphill all the way to Samdo through a desert path and windy valley. The Tibetan border is just four kilometers away from Samdo. Visitors are not allowed to cross it. There is a Tibetan refugee village at Samdo. This is an excellent viewpoint for Mount Manaslu, Samdo (Pang phuchuli), Nagdi chuli, Simnang Himal, Manaslu glacier, Manaslu ice fall and several other awesome peaks.

Samdo

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Samdo
Day
9

Trek to Dharamasala

Duration: 03:20 h
Distance: 6.15 km
Ascent: 590 m
We start our day trip crossing a wooden bridge over Budhi Gandaki River and begin ascending. After crossing a few streams and seeing a glimpse of the Larkya glacier, we go round a valley and make our way upwards again to reach a guesthouse called Dharmashala. Today’s trek provides enough time and rest to acclimatize for the rest of our journey.

Dharamasala

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Dharamasala
Day
10

Cross Larkya Pass (5106m) and trek to Bhimtang

Duration: 09:00 h
Distance: 15.6 km
Ascent: 680 m
Descent: 1440 m
Today we make a short climb and reach a valley on the north side of Larkya glacier from where we can enjoy exquisite views of Larkya peak. We ascend the moraines of a glacier which becomes quite steep at the end before reaching the pass. From here we have breathtaking views of Himlung, Cheo, Kanggru and the Annapurna. It is a longer walk than other days and you reach the guesthouse among the low pastures at the dim lights of dusk. When we finally reach Bhimtang, the exquisite view of Mount Manaslu makes every step worth it.

Bimthang

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Bimthang
Day
11

Trek to Dharapani

Duration: 10:00 h
Distance: 23 km
Ascent: 100 m
Descent: 1930 m
After having breakfast at our teahouse, we start our trek by crossing a high pasture. We then descend the valley of the Burdin Khola to an area we can find the Base Camp for the West side of Manaslu. From a ridge at 4150 meters, we have excellent views of Manaslu to the South East and Annapurna II to the South West. Beyond a bridge over the headwaters of the Dudh Khola, we descend into a rhododendron forest and follow a trail through a narrow valley until we reach the highest cultivated land in this valley at Karche. We cross a stream to reach Tilje, where is an apple orchard. It is famous for local wine. Leaving Tilje, we trek about another hour to reach Dharapani.

Dharapani

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Dharapani
Day
12

Drive from Dharapani to Kathmandu

Today is the final day of your 12 days Manaslu Circuit trip. From Dharapani, you will drive to Besisahar. From Besisahar, you will drive on the banks of the Marsyangdi river to reach Kathmandu. The total journey takes 8-11 hours.
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Manaslu Circuit Map

Curious what the Manaslu trek route looks like? Check our Manalsu trek map on Komoot!

What Type of Accommodation Can I Expect While Doing the Manaslu Circuit?

Tea houses in Nepal, particularly in popular trekking regions like Annapurna and Everest, serve as essential accommodations for trekkers. These establishments provide a communal and cozy atmosphere, offering basic sleeping arrangements, communal dining areas, and local cuisine. The hosts are known for their warm hospitality, creating a social environment where trekkers from diverse backgrounds can interact.

Tea houses often serve simple yet hearty Nepali dishes such as dal bhat and noodles. Facilities can vary, with some places providing hot showers and electricity, but trekkers should be prepared for basic living conditions, especially at higher altitudes. The scenic locations of tea houses, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and mountain views, enhance the overall trekking experience. As trekkers ascend to more remote and challenging terrains, the facilities may become more basic, with accommodation sometimes taking the form of simple lodges or guesthouses. Trekkers may need to book in advance, particularly during peak trekking seasons when tea houses can fill up quickly.

One of the unique aspects of staying in tea houses is the cultural experience they offer. Trekkers have the opportunity to interact with local communities, learn about their traditions, and gain insights into the rural way of life in the Himalayan regions of Nepal. Despite the basic amenities, tea houses contribute significantly to the charm and authenticity of the trekking adventure, making them an integral part of the overall journey.

What Type of Accommodation Can I Expect While Doing the Manaslu Circuit?

Packing List for the Manaslu Circuit Trek

Trekking in Nepal requires decent gear. Especially the basics like an 80-90 L backpack and quality trekking socks. Read an extensive blog here about what to bring with you.
  • Documents

  • Sleep

  • Footwear

  • Clothing

  • Accessories

How To Identify and Prevent AMS On The Manaslu Circuit Trek?

It's essential to understand that altitude sickness can affect anyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or previous high-altitude experience. These days there are several tools to monitor your health at altitude. A widely-used (analog) method is the Lake Louise score card. It ticks the altitude symptoms while keeping the severity in mind. It’s a common tool used by guides. Nowadays, most trekking and mountain guides bring a blood oxygen saturation meter, which also measures the heart rate. These are key indicators whether a person adapts to altitude well or not. AMS can occur when trekking the Manaslu Circuit Trek. Below you can find everything you need to know about altitude sickness.

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

    Altitude sickness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a health condition that occurs when someone is exposed to low levels of oxygen at higher altitudes. AMS is a serious condition and as the name suggests acute. It needs to be dealt with immediately, as it is potentially life-threatening. Most people will experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness. It’s important to be aware of these symptoms and act before symptoms become more severe. Below we break down the different forms of AMS and how you can reduce the risk of getting it.

    AMS symptoms

    It is key to know how to identify altitude illness. You may experience the following symptoms due to the jump in altitude: headache, lack of appetite, breathing difficulties, insomnia, nausea and vomiting. The intensity and severity of these symptoms may increase with altitude and an overall feeling of fatigue will take all your joy away. This may further deteriorate to one of these life-threatening conditions.

    High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE): HAPE is a condition in which fluid accumulates in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, chest tightness, and an increased heart rate. It can be a life-threatening condition and requires immediate descent to lower altitudes and, in severe cases, medical treatment.

    High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE): HACE is a more serious condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain. Symptoms may include severe headaches, confusion, loss of coordination, and altered mental status. HACE is also a medical emergency and requires immediate descent and medical attention. Below 7 ways of minimizing the risk of AMS:

    • 1. Gradual Ascent

      One of the most effective ways to prevent AMS is to ascend gradually. When traveling to high altitudes, try to take several days to acclimatize before going higher. This allows your body to adapt to the reduced oxygen levels. All our treks in Nepal keep sufficient acclimatization into account.

    • 2. Stay Hydrated

      Dehydration can increase the risk of AMS, so drink plenty of fluids. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration.

    • 3. Diet

      Consume a balanced diet with adequate carbohydrates and avoid heavy, fatty meals. Carbohydrates can help your body utilize oxygen more efficiently at high altitudes.

    • 4. Medication

      Some individuals may consider taking medication, such as acetazolamide (Diamox), to help prevent AMS. Consult with a healthcare professional before using any medication, and be aware of potential side effects.

    • 5. Rest

      Ensure you get enough sleep and rest during your ascent. Fatigue can increase the risk of AMS.

    • 6. Avoid Overexertion

      Pace yourself and avoid overexertion. Listen to your body, and if you experience symptoms of AMS, rest or descend to a lower altitude.

    • 7. Descend if Symptoms Persist

      If you experience symptoms of AMS, such as headache, nausea, dizziness, or difficulty breathing, it's crucial to descend to a lower altitude. Symptoms should not be ignored or dismissed.

Manaslu Circuit Trek 6461

Where Can I Book the Manaslu Circuit Trek?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book this trek and many others. Our guided options come with experts on the ground, and offer you a convenient, stress-free, safe, and educational way to explore the outdoors. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is this not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our blog posts:

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