Manaslu Circuit Trek is a truly beautiful, unspoiled, and unique trek of Nepal. Manaslu Circuit trek lies in a remote region in the northern part of Gurkha district bordering Tibet (China) which is cradled between the river Budhi Gandaki on the east and the Marshyangdi River to the west.
Manaslu came from the Sanskrit word "Manasa" which translates “intellect or soul” so, Manaslu means "the mountain of the spirit” which is the 8th highest mountain in the world.
Although mountaineers had access for a long time in the Manaslu region but for trekkers it was officially opened only in 1991. As British Call Mount Everest is their mountain same as the Japanese Call Mount Manaslu theirs as the Japanese attempted every year from 1952 to 1956 until the first ascent was made.
Manaslu Circuit trek is Less trekked than the Annapurna and Everest region however, that doesn't mean this area is dull or not worth the trek to trek! This region is rich in cultural heritage, amazing lakes, breathtaking waterfalls, a great view of Mount Manaslu and other surrounding mountains.
Manaslu Circuit trekking goes through the Manaslu conservation area which was declared as a conservation area in 1998. This trek is listed as a restricted area of Nepal so that the trekkers need special permits as well along with other regular permits to trek in this region.
Trekking around Manaslu is rather becoming an alternative to Everest and Annapurna due to its unique landscape, pristine natural beauty, culture, and traditions which are disappearing from other traditional trekking areas of Nepal.
The trek to the Manaslu circuit begins with a scenic ride to Arughat Bazar (620m) which is the traditional gateway to Manaslu Circuit trekking; however, we can drive onwards to Soti Khola (730m) which goes along the Budhigandaki River.
After Soti Khola our trekking journey goes along the upstream of the Budhi Gandaki River and reaches Machha Khola (930m) on the first day of the trekking journey. Trek gradually goes to Jagat (1410m), Philim (1519m), Deng (1800m), and to Namrung (2660m) for other nights.
Beyond Namrung the trek goes through the upper part of Budhi Gandaki River which is also known as “Nubri valley”. Nubri translates “the western mountains" in Tibetan dialect. It is said that the people who live in the upper region are direct descendants of Tibetan migrants. So, you can find the similarities in language, customs, and traditional way of life to Tibetan people while you trek onward to Nubri.
The trail after Namrung goes to another typical Tibetan village of Lo-Gaun (3180m) and to Samagaun (3530m) for the next day. We take another day at Samagaun for an acclimatization and exploration in which we have choices to explore Birendra Lake, or all day long round trip onwards to Manaslu base camp or Pungyen Gompa.
After Samagaun trail goes onwards to Samdo (3690m) and to Dharamsala (4470m) which is our last night in Budhi Gandaki valley of Gurkha District.
The trek starts off early in the morning for the highest point of the trip, Larkey pass (5100m), and reaches Bhimthang (3720m). Larkey pass is the border landmark between Gurkha district and Manang district.
Leaving Bhimthang the trek then descends to Tilje (2300m and to Dharapani (1860m), where we meet the trail to Annapurna circuit trek. the trek continues down to Chamje (1430m) and to Jagat (1300m) from where we can drive back to Kathmandu.
Our Manaslu Circuit trek itinerary is designed as the best itinerary on which trekkers have ample time to acclimatize before crossing the Larkey La (5106m) along you can enjoy the Manaslu Circuit trek scenery and places of highlights on its full display.
However, if you are a real adventurer, physically fit, and have good experiences of high altitude trekking you can customize the Manaslu Circuit trek itinerary as per your desire to finish it earlier. For more details please inquire us.
How to get to the trailhead of the Manaslu Circuit Trek?
There is not any nearer airport to begin the Manaslu Circuit trek by taking flight. However, you can drive by bus or private vehicle to reach the trailhead. The traditional route to begin the trek is from Arughat Bazaar of Gurkha District. Now you can drive further to Soti Khola which can be reached by Daily bus ride from Kathmandu taking about 7-8 hours.
Manaslu Circuit trek route
Start: Drive to Arughat-Soti Khola-Machha Khola-Jagat-Philim-Deng-Namrung-Lo Gaun-Samagaun- Samdo-Dharamsala-Larkey Pass- Bhimthang-Tilje-Dharapani-Jagat-drive Beshisahar: end.
What is the best time of year to do Manaslu Circuit trekking?
The months of March, April, and May are the best time of year to do the Manaslu Circuit trek. These months are relatively warmer than other months of the year and also provide a clear sky which is good for mountains and scenery sightings. These months also have little chance of snowing. Moreover, this time of year is best for Rhododendron blossoms which becomes colorful and surely adds up extra for the beauty of nature.
The months of September, October, and November are the best times of year to do the trek to the Manaslu circuit. Although the night and morning can be a little cold, as soon as the daylight provides a pleasant temperature to walk in the mountain. Sky also remains clearer at this time of year so you have a blue sky with a clear view of mountains.
What are the major highlights of the Manaslu Circuit Trek?
The top highlight of the Manaslu Circuit trek is the view of Mount Manaslu sighting all the way, which is the 7th tallest mountain in Nepal and 8th tallest in the world. Manaslu, of which "Manasa" came from the Sanskrit word and it literally translates "soul or intellect" Means Mountain of souls. So, Manaslu is supposed to be sacred for locals. Manaslu peak was first surveyed by the Japanese in 1952 then, they made their first attempt in 1953 which was unsuccessful.
Another Japanese group came to attempt the summit in 1954 but the locals didn't allow it as the first group was blamed for an avalanche accident that destroyed ancient Pungyen Gompa and killed 18 people saying climbing Mount Manaslu made their god angry who resides in the mountain. However, after all the circumstances, the Manaslu was finally ascended in 1956 by the Japanese.
Manaslu is known as the killer mountain in Nepal. It comes as one of the fourth dangerous and technical mountains to summit in the world's dangerous mountains list after K2, Annapurna I, and Nanga Parbat.
Statistically, on this mountain, there is a higher death rate on Mount Manaslu(around 9-10%) than on Mount Everest (4%) on this mountain. The Manaslu base camp approach is through the remote region of Nepal and the route to the summit goes through an avalanche risky area thus (as there is not any direct traditional route to the summit) makes it one of the most dangerous mountains in the world.
How difficult is it to climb Mount Manaslu?
Although Manaslu is moderately technical, however, the proximity to Manaslu base camp is remote, after base camp, there is a tortuous route (there is not any direct route to the summit) to the top where usually snow-accumulation is high so it contributes to high risk of avalanche. So it all makes it very hard to climb Mount Manaslu.
Side trip Pungyen Gompa
As the Japanese call it Honsanso Gompa, Pungyen Gompa (4070m) is one of the attractions of the Manaslu Circuit trek which is one of the oldest and sacred monasteries in the region.
The trail to Pungyen Gompa follows back to the halfway between Shyala and Samagaun then splits splitting off from the main trail and climbing up to the south ridge to reach Pungyen Gompa which is hidden behind the ridge. Pungyen Gompa provides a breathtaking view of Mount Manaslu along with a 360-degree view of surrounding mountains.
After the first unsuccessful climbing attempt took place on Manaslu in 1953, during the winter, an avalanche destroyed Pungyen Gompa which killed 18 people and most of them were nuns. Locals believed that the god residing on Manaslu destroyed the Gompa showing his anger to trespassers, so the locals didn't allow the climber on Manaslu in 1954.
Flora and fauna in the Manaslu circuit trekking.
For the flora, there are approximately 2,000 species of plant, 11 types of forest, and over 100 species of useful plants are recorded in the Manaslu conservation area.
The region harbors mosaics of 33 species of mammal habitats such as musk deer, Grey Wolf, Lynx, Assamese Monkey, Himalayan Thar, Blue Sheep, and including the elusive snow leopard. This conservation area is also home to 11 species of butterfly and 3 species of reptile.
Birendra Lake is situated at the altitude of 3635meter above sea level, to the northwest of Samagaun which takes about 30-40 minutes easy walk from the village. This amazing turquoise color lake is fed by fresh water from the Manaslu glacier. The name "Birendra" lake was named after the Late king "Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev".
Ethnicity and culture in Manaslu Circuit trek
The journey to the Manaslu circuit is an opportunity to experience the culture of Gurung and Karki ethnic groups in the lower region and Bhotia also known as the Lama ethnic group in the higher region of Nubri, those are believed to be direct descendants of Tibetan migrants. Along the way, you can see and visit Kani with beautiful paintings and carving, chortens, Mani-walls, and ancient Monasteries which reflects their vibrant culture and beliefs towards Buddhism.
How difficult is the Manaslu Circuit Trek?
Compared to other treks, the Manaslu Circuit trek can be categorized as a mix of both, moderate and difficult. The trek consists of several easy terrain walks and also involves some steep uphill climbs and downhill descents. Although you have to reach as high as Larkey La pass (5106m) with a proper itinerary providing plenty of rest and acclimatization, this trek is not considered a difficult trek in Nepal.
Which is best, Manaslu or Annapurna circuit trek?
Although both common attractions of the Manaslu and Annapurna circuit trek have high mountains, there are distinct features and factors of attraction of the Manaslu and Annapurna trek.
Manaslu Circuit trekking is listed as a restricted area and is the home of the 8th highest mountain on earth Mount Manaslu (8163m). The main features of the trek are pristine nature and wilderness, full of beautiful forests, lakes and rivers, and high mountains along with the distinct people and culture that are similar to the culture and tradition of Tibet.
Besides this, the region is not well developed, so you won’t find good amenities like in popular trekking areas. Moreover, you need to acquire a special permit issued by a trekking company to do this trek and need to be accompanied by a licensed guide.
As for the Annapurna circuit trek, it is also the home of the 10th highest mountain on earth, Mount Annapurna I (8091m). The Annapurna circuit trek features multicultural, multi-ethnic groups with their own religions. The trek is filled with diverse landscapes and goes through the tropical zone, Alpine to sub-alpine along with the rain shadow area.
The trek is also filled with beautiful lakes, rivers, and glaciers; however, this trek is well developed and most of the places are accessed by road. You also find better accommodation and food facilities in this trek compared to the Manaslu Circuit trek.
Useful information for Manaslu Circuit Trek.
High altitude sickness and safety in Manaslu Circuit trekking.
- After reaching above 3000 meters above anybody is vulnerable to altitude illness. So, if you gain elevation rapidly in a short period of time you are at risk of High Altitude Sickness.
- Statistically fewer trekkers have suffered during the trek to the Manaslu circuit compared to the Everest region trek. The main reason could be during this trek you gain the elevation gradually every day EnRoute to Larkey-La (5100m).
- Dehydration and overexertion is a key reason that leads to altitude illness. So, you are advised to drink plenty of water (minimum of 3 liters a day) and walk at a slow pace while trekking.
- You also need to recognize the common symptoms of altitude sickness which are Headache, Nausea, Vomiting, Dizziness, No appetite, Shortness of breath.
- While trekking on the trail you might pass donkeys anytime and many times, so be alert and stay to the corner (not on the Cliffside or riverside).
- The trail is full of rocks and rough so wear proper trekking shoes with good grips.
- During the trekking to Manaslu there are no hospitals or medical services available so, please carry a comprehensive medical kit during the trek.
- Watch out for landslide and rockfall areas while crossing, do not stop and rest in places like that.
- Manaslu Circuit trek is in the high Himalayan region and the temperature can get very cold anytime, the path can be icy, snowy so, be prepared accordingly.
- Be careful going down if the pass is snowbound, it’s really risky and has chances of falling off the ridge.
- Always walk with a guide or with your friend, they can help or bring help if you are facing trekking-related issues.
- While trek carries proper trekking and health insurance which can be helpful in emergency evacuation in need.
What are the required Manaslu Circuit trekking Permits and their fees?
- the First one is the "Manaslu Conservation Area" entrance fee which costs 2000 Nepali Rupees and for the SAARC Country citizen costs 200 Nepali rupees per head.
- The second one is the Annapurna conservation area " entrance fee which costs 2000 Nepali Rupees and 200 Nepali Rupees for SAARC Country per head.
- Third is, as the higher part of the Manaslu region is declared as a restricted area, to trek onwards to Jagat you need a " special trekking permit".
- special permits to Manaslu during Autumn (September to November), cost $70 USD for the first week then you will be charged $10 USD per day. And the rest of the other seasons (December to August) cost $50 USD per week and $7 USD per day.
Manaslu Circuit trekking rule and regulation.
- Trekking should be organized through the trekking agency of Nepal as well as you need to travel with a guide with a minimum of 2 people.
- Buying endangered animal products, plants, and antiques are illegal in the Manaslu Circuit trek.
- Flying drones for videos is illegal without obtaining permission in the Manaslu Circuit trek.
- For filming and documentaries, you need special permits in this region.
- Respect the local tradition, culture, and religious monuments.
Accommodation and food in Manaslu Circuit trek.
As for the Accommodation in Manaslu Circuit trekking, there is traditional tea-house accommodation (mountain lodge) available along the trail which is similar to other parts of popular trekking areas.
Tea-house accommodation is, each room have two beds with beddings but for the toilet, it is communal to use. Besides it has a common dining Hall which is normally heated in the center with firewood or yak-dung depending on altitude.
As for the food, this trek provides extensive choices of the menu but they are done in more basic ways than in other parts of Nepal. You can find Noodles, fried rice, curry with rice, potatoes, pizza, pasta, and soups for lunch and dinner. And cereals, pancakes, local bread, and eggs are available for breakfast. You also can find hot drinks like tea and coffee and coke, Fanta, sprites as for cold drinks.
Is there mobile connectivity in the Manaslu Circuit Trek?
Although mobile connectivity along the trail to Manaslu Circuit trek is not as good as other regions of Nepal. However, you can find cell service provided by Government-owned company NTC (Nepal Telecommunication Service) every now and then. They have installed Mini Base Transceiver Station (BTS) towers in a few villages like Philim and Samagaun. As well as there are CDMA (code division multiple access) phones running through the signal of satellite available in most of the villages which you can use as an alternative for an emergency.