The Ultimate Guide to Manaslu, Nepal

Mani walls in Dharmasala with Manaslu, Naike, and Larke Peak on the backdrop
Mani walls in Dharmasala with Manaslu, Naike, and Larke Peak on the backdrop

A Guide to Manaslu Circuit Trek in Western Nepal

By Raushan

Manaslu is the eighth highest peak in the world. Situated in the Gorkha district in the western part of Nepal, the Manaslu region has been in the shadow for too long.

Owing to the increasing number of trekkers and hikers, the place is gaining popularity in recent days. Manaslu has a lot to offer, from the soaring mountain giants to the diverse wildlife and kind hospitality of the locals. It is a classic trek and considered to be the best of its kind by the experts.

Buddhism prevails in this culturally rich historical region. Gurung people dominate the population in lower regions while Sherpas live in the higher regions.

With less crowded trails and untouched natural beauty, Manaslu is truly a hidden gem. The Manaslu region is also known as the land of ‘Beyul’. The mystifying energy of this place might even bring forth a feeling of epiphany.

So travelers, trekkers, and wanderers, here’s

An ultimate guide to Manaslu Circuit Trek

Mani stones en route to Manaslu Circuit
Mani stones en route to Manaslu Circuit

Major Highlights of Manaslu Circuit Trek

  • Manaslu at 8,156 meters, is the world’s eighth highest mountain. For mountaineers, its distinctive shape makes it feasible for approaching from all directions. Unfortunately, many climbers have lost their lives while attempting this glorious feat. Known as ‘The Killer Mountain’, it is the fourth most dangerous peak after Annapurna, Nanga Parbat, and K2.
  • Manaslu region is also known as the ‘Land of Beyul’. Beyul, according to Tibetan Buddhism, is a mystical land hidden among the Himalayan mountains of Asia. These are the places where physical and spiritual realms overlap. The effectiveness of Tantric practices is high here, with the perception of multiple dimensions. This is where famous Buddhist teachers like Guru Padmasambhava / Rinpoche and Jetsun Milarepa meditated.
  • This region has a huge Tibetan influence, and Buddhism is a major religion here. Serang Gompa on the foothills of Siring Himal is a monastery that you should not miss while trekking the Manaslu circuit. Besides this, there are many other monasteries with fascinating past and historical significance, like Hinang gompa and Pungyen gompa.
  • Manaslu Circuit Trek rewards you with an incredible view of the mountains. Views of Mt.Manaslu, Mt.Himchuli, and Mt. Ganesh. Not just mountains, forests of the Manaslu Conservation Area is famous across the globe for its diversity. Himalayan blue pine and rhododendron dominate the forest with many other aromatic and medicinal plants. Snow leopards and red pandas are some rare species protected here.
  • The highest point of the trek, the Larkya La Pass at 5,135 meters, is a breath-taking spot. You will get spectacular views of mountains and glacial lakes which add the beauty in your trek. Peaks like Himlung Himal, Cheo Himal, Kang Guru, and Annapurna II are close by while many other peaks offer a panoramic view.
  • Manaslu gets a very few numbers of tourists, and it is the best off-beat trekking route. On the contrary, Its close neighbor, the Annapurna Circuit gets filled with trekkers during peak season. If you are looking for an authentic experience, Manaslu Circuit Trek is the best option for you.
  • Manaslu has to be on top when it comes to destinations offering side trips. Manaslu offers abundant and amazing side trips. You could explore Manaslu for a month, and still, you won’t run out of places to see. Birendra Lake, Serang Gompa, Manaslu Base Camp, Kalmachum Lake, Hinang gumba are some popular side trips offering the best of Manaslu.

Best Time For Manaslu Circuit Trek

Lho Village and Mt. Manaslu
Lho Village and Mt. Manaslu

Autumn (September-November)

Autumn is the best time for trekking in Nepal. The same goes for the Manaslu Circuit Trek too. The weather during this time is ideal for the trek, with blue skies and better visibility offering mountains views, unlike any other time.

After the monsoon, the forests seem to be flourishing and appear lusty green. The average temperature during this season is around 7°C. Autumn is also the time for some major festivals like Dashain and Tihar in Nepal.

Winter (December-February)

During winter, it’s cold with temperatures below -20 °C at Larke Pass. The visibility reduces as its foggy most of the time. Even the locals of the higher altitudes migrate to lower regions during winter.

This is definitely not a time to trek in the Himalayas. However, you can still enjoy trekking in the lower regions.

Spring (March-May)

Another trekking season is during Spring in Nepal. Manaslu is also at its best look during spring. With an average temperature of 6 °C, the weather is at its best, offering unobstructed views of mountains.

The days are warm, with chilly nights perfect for a comfortable sleep. Vegetation in this region comes to life during this time, making the view even more colorful.

Monsoon (June-August )

We do not suggest trekking in Manaslu during monsoon.

However, if you are a thrill seeker and decide to trek during monsoon, keep your schedule flexible. Rain and landslide that accompanies monsoon might stretch the number of days required for the trek. Floods and landslides are very common in some parts of this trail.

Leeches won’t spare you if you trek without preparation. Carry some salt for protecting yourself from them. You need proper rain protection, and so does your backpack.

Difficulty Level

You don’t have to be a mountaineer or an athlete to complete the Manaslu Circuit Trek. With a little preparation beforehand, one can easily complete the circuit trek. That being said, it is not a walk in the park too.

It’s advised to do some physical preparations, walking on irregular surfaces. For high altitude trekking, a certain level of fitness helps a lot. Thus, walking or hiking for a short time before the start of the trek can be useful.

Hiking could be great preparation for a high altitude trek. But, you need to be clear about the difference between hiking vs trekking. Simply, a trek involves “multi-day” hiking. Thus, hiking at regular intervals helps your body adapt easily during the trek.

Manaslu trek starts from the height of 700 meters, reaching up to 5,135 meters. You will walk for 5-6 hours a day, gradually gaining elevation. Proper acclimatization helps to avoid altitude sickness.

Choosing the time for the trek also determines the difficulty of the trek. While in the lower regions, check if the temperature is high. It might be difficult walking uphill on a hot sunny day. For higher regions like Larke Pass, make sure there’s no rain or snow or a blizzard.

Accommodations

Manaslu Circuit Trek used to be a camping trek not so long ago. But with increasing popularity, there has been significant growth in the number of hotels and teahouses.

It is easy to find accommodation in lower regions. As you go up, the number of teahouses becomes less. So, the accommodation also depends on the time of your trek. Dharamsala, which is the last stop before Larke Pass, has two tea-houses with basic facilities of food and lodging.

All in all, you won’t have problems finding a place to stay in the Manaslu Circuit Trek. But, pre-booking is a must during peak seasons.

Packing List

While trekking in Nepal, make sure you carry all the essentials. You will mostly trek in remote areas.  So you might not find the things you need on the go.

Here’s a list of essential things you need to carry while trekking in Manaslu region.

Clothing

  • Trekking boots and socks
  • Flip-flops or trainers
  • 7-8 pairs of innerwear
  • 4-5 pairs of base layer clothes
  • Few t-shirts and trousers
  • Waterproof outer-layers (Jackets, trousers, and gloves)
  • Woolen caps, scarf, and gloves
  • Rain-clothes/ raincoats

Trekking Essentials

  • Hiking poles
  • UV protection sunglasses
  • Sun-hat
  • Sleeping bags
  • High-capacity power bank and batteries
  • Reusable water bottles and purifiers
  • First aid and medicines
  • Insurance (Medical, travel or emergency)

Daily Essentials

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen and lip balm (Essential)
  • Napkins, tissues or toilet papers
  • Other personal necessary stuff

Tips

Trekking in the Manaslu region is an experience of a lifetime. To enhance this experience, you need to understand the place better and prepare accordingly.

Here are a few tips that might help you have a better experience.

  • First and foremost, be mentally prepared. Be open to new experiences as life here is different in so many ways and might not be a comfortable one for you.
  • Physical exercise and workout are necessary. Short hikes will help you a lot for high altitude trekking. Cardiovascular exercise is also important.
  • Manaslu is a restricted region. It is mandatory to have a guide while trekking in this region. So, consult a travel agency. They will arrange porters and guide for your trek.
  • Manage your cash properly. You will not have facilities of ATM or banks while on the trek. Hence, carry your cash and manage it properly.
  • Carry your documents safely. You might get in trouble if you lose your documents while on the trek.
  • Check your packing list twice. Since Manaslu is a remote trekking trail you might not get what you need while on the trail. Prepare beforehand.

These are some major tips while trekking in Manaslu. You can also check out detailed tips about what to wear, local food, weather, travel safety and so on about backpacking in Nepal here.

Cost and Permits

Costs
Permits For Nepali Citizens For SAARC citizens For Non-SAARC citizens
Special Restricted Area Permit(RAP) 0 USD 70 for the first week and an additional USD 10 per day after that(September-November)

USD 50 for the first week and an additional USD 7 per day after that(December-August)

USD 70 for the first week and an additional USD 10 per day after that(September-November)

USD 50 for the first week and an additional USD 7 per day after that(December-August)

Manaslu Area Conservation Project(MCAP) 0 USD 30 USD 30
Tsum Valley 0 USD 35 for the first 8 days(September-November)

USD 25 for the first 8 days(December-August)

USD 35 for the first 8 days(September-November)

USD 25 for the first 8 days(December-August)

Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of the best off-beat treks comprising of stunning views of mountains, humble and hospitable people, rich culture and historic places with religious and spiritual centers.

Trekking during autumn and spring enhance your experience of trekking in the Himalayas. But, these seasons also bring a comparatively high number of trekkers than any other season. So, pre-book for a comfortable and hassle-free trek.

Pack properly and get your permits. Enjoy the best trek in this remote part of Nepal where nature remains untouched. Happy trekking!

 

Raushan is a trekker from Nepal. He has trekked to several trekking regions in Nepal and his favorite treks are Manaslu Circuit Trek and Everest Base Camp Trek, both of which are considered by many amazing treks in the world. Apart from trekking, Raushan loves adventure sports and reading.

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