Manaslu Circuit trek and 5 must do things !!

view of manaslu and hiuchuli seen from lho village on manaslu circuit trek
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Introduction of Manaslu circuit trek destination

One of the most beautiful but lesser known trails in Nepal Manaslu Circuit trekking trail is established in 1998 and located in the north-eastern part of Nepal. Manaslu Circuit trekking trail exists inside a conservation area.

Manaslu circuit trekking trail was opened to the public in 1992, although the trail is still restricted trekking trail and a stunning remote trekking in Nepal. Special trekking permit are required to enter Manalsu region for Manaslu circuit trek or Tsum valley trek.

Manaslu Circuit trekking is famous for the following reasons:

  • Beautiful mountain Mt Manaslu, the 8thhighest peak in the world at 8163 meters or 26775 feet and nicknamed the “killer mountain” by mountaineers. The views here are breathtaking and suitable for trekkers who want to avoid the crowds on the Everest & Annapurna Base Camp trek and like to travel off the beaten path.
  • Manaslu circuit trekking trail is close by Tibetan boarder and as a remote trekking destination in Nepal; you can still see the Himalayan people in Tibetan influenced culture and tradition.
  • Visit to Pungen monastery at Shyala village shows a wider angle of Buddhism in the remote trail of Manaslu circuit trek route.
  • Manaslu circuit trekking trail has world’s longest trekking pass; “Larkey la” or also called larkey pass or Manaslu pass, standing at an altitude of 5106 meter or 16748 feet.
  • Tsum valley Manaslu circuit trek is considered as a complete Manaslu region trek where Tsum valley is a famous hidden valley with pristine beauty of lively Himalayan Buddhism inside many of the Local monasteries
  • Experiences Glacial walk, Glacial lake, Ice fall, jungle trekking, village tour, remote destination exploration, high pass trek, trekking on top of snow and snow, multiple monasteries etc. in Manaslu circuit trek.
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Picture: Scenery of Mt Manaslu 8163 meters or 26775 feet seen from New Pungen Monastery (Pngen Gumba)

Manaslu circuit trekking trail is literally on the other side of the famous Annapurna Circuit trekking. Being closer to APC trek Manaslu circuit trek is chosen by experienced trekkers and local companies as an alternative to the Annapurna Circuit.

Anyone surely suggest you to trek Manaslu circuit over Annapurna circuit.  Since the construction of a road that significantly shortened what was once considered one of the best trails in Nepal.

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Picture: Entrance of Samagaun Village at 3500 meters altitude
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Picture: Cottage of local lodge at Bhimtang. Bhimtamg is a destination right after the Larkey Pass trekking trail

The Manaslu Circuit trek does not reach the same altitude as the famous Annapurna Circuit but offers a sense of wilderness that is unique to this region of Nepal. It used to be a camping and trekking destination till 2009. During those times, there were no local lodges or homestays but slowly by 2009 tea houses opened with help from local villagers and the Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP).
Most of the natural wonders of this region are untouched, unindustrialized, remote and secluded, with fewer houses on the side of the trekking trail, primitive living conditions, and basic facilities.
For this reason, Manaslu circuit trek trail is not recommended for trekkers who like to travel in their comfort. But the trade-off of a few days using basic facilities is worth it for the jaw-dropping views.

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Picture: Trekking towards the top of Larkey pass (glacier walk)

Five things to consider on your Manaslu Circuit trek:

[#1 Go Manaslu circuit trek the sooner the better]

Due to the wild nature of the Manaslu circuit trekking trail, it is easy for solo trekkers and those unfamiliar with the region to get lost. Therefore, it is required that you take a guide and must have at least 2 (preferably more) people on the trek, along with a special permit given by the immigration office located in Kathmandu.

Manaslu circuit trekking trail cannot be trekked without a local trekking guide, anyway.

Along the trail, there are numerous check points where Nepali police will mark your presence as you pass to ensure that tourists travelling in this region remain safe and accounted for.

Since this region is still in its infancy of building tea houses and commercialization, you will still encounter find many aspects of location culture and traditions practiced by families living in the region.

Manaslu circuit trekking starts from 700 meters altitude in warm temperatures and takes you through river valleys and remote villages from the very beginning. You will enjoy the bus ride from Kathmandu to the starting point of the trek and every day of trekking is beautiful.

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Picture: Bus from Kathmandu to SotiKhola (trek starting point is SotiKhola)

Trekking is always along the riverside until you get to the top of Larkey pass (5106 meter or 16748 feet), which is where the river along your side originates from (the Larkey glacier).

Deep river valley, lush green jungle, cliff top villages, charming people, glaciers, glacial lakes, yak & sheep sheds, Thakali village, 110 bird species, 2000 flower species, blue sheep, musk deer, Himalayan Thar, mountain goats and snow leopards for lucky eyes might make this your greatest trek, a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Like Annapurna circuit trekking, they are constructing a road on this route as well, so visit Manaslu before it gets spoiled. This trail is connected with Tibet and government is hoping to open another border with China through this region, so if anyone is interested in seeing Manaslu pre-modernization, go! The sooner the better.

For the first six nights, trekkers will enjoy lush green forest and charming people being below 3800 meters. Easy walking, a trail along the riverside, pine trees, rhododendron forest, rain forest and other trekkers passing by all make the journey interesting. Although it seems easy in the beginning do not push yourself – it gets harder.

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Picture: River valley on the second day’s hike

[#2 Slow & steady trekker find Manaslu circuit trek itinerary easier]

You must save your energy and stamina for the larkey pass as it is your aim and Larkey pass is stunning attraction of Manaslu circuit trek.

Basic food and accommodation might be frustrating, but kids welcoming you with Namaste (Nepali greeting to elder ones), and nature welcoming you with birds chirping, infinite sound of waterfalls, and amazing mountains seen in distance will revive your satisfaction.

There are no airports for the trekkers, so your options are to take a public bus or hire a private jeep. Hiring jeep costs a lot more than public buses.

Buses in Nepal are really basic and the bus to the starting point of Manaslu trekking is even worse. It will be a story to tell but I doubt you’ll enjoy the journey.

At the beginning of the Manaslu circuit trek, walking in this low altitude is humid, so one can walk with shorts, T-shirt and proper hiking boots. A light back pack is advisable as walking with big rucksack for 6-8 hours per day is hard on your back – you will feel it when you get to the destination and take your bag off.

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Picture: Kids greeting a trekker “Namaste”

Normally 15 days is enough for this trek with an average fitness level. 15 days also includes a rest day at the altitude of 4000 meters and gives you the chance to visit a yak shed, a glacial lake or Manaslu Base Camp.

As you are trekking over the pass above five thousand meters, I don’t recommend going for the base camp hike, which is tiring and far from your destination.

Save energy for the pass, so you will enjoy the rest of your trek in good shape.

In brief, you will start your trek from the end of the road by a village named SotiKhola, then walk along the riverside for 6 days below 4000 meters which takes you through beautiful river valley, pine trees and rain-forest.

You might see locals, working on their field for corn or potato farming; see people chasing yaks and cows in the jungle or in fields. Houses are small and they keep livestock in the basement and live on the higher floors. Sanitation is basic, but generally they do not get infected from diseases.

If they do get one, they don’t have a proper hospital, so the patient needs to be carried all the way down to starting point of the trek. But those people who can afford a helicopter get an air ambulance and are treated in a good hospital in Kathmandu. But do not worry, you will live more comfortably than the locals, in the guest houses during the trek, but be prepared to share your room with strangers and use shared washrooms.

People here are looking more Tibetan and the kids have red cheeks; they are very cute when they smile at you. At this altitude you will feel cold, even during the trek you need to wear long pants and full sleeves.

 [#3 be prepared with proper trekking gear and follow your guides instruction]

As this is longest pass in the world and you will literally walk over the glacier, be prepared with proper trekking gear for this trekking pass of Manaslu circuit trek; warm clothes, sunglasses and a pair of gloves is mandatory. Start early on pass day; so that you can catch sunrise from the top or near the top, which is magnificent.

Extending your guide’s time might not be hard but make sure you have enough days of trekking permission in the restricted region of Manaslu circuit trekking trail.

Once you get above 4000 meters you will see different scenery – snow-capped mountains rather than green hills and small villages. Villages above 4000 meters have thatched houses; monasteries and a few reinforced buildings are the tallest structures up here.

It is colder during the night and peak mornings are horrible sometimes, there is no heating system in room, just a fire wood stove in the dining room. This stove will have a routine time to start and stop the fire, but you always can request some extra time if you pay.

The temperature might go below -15 degrees Celsius during the night while a sunny day can reach 20 degrees Celsius. But the temperature during the winter goes down to -30 degrees Celsius on the pass.

[#4 leave early for the larkey pass of Manaslu circuit trek]

If you leave early for the pass and get to the top for sunrise, you will dodge the wind on your descent to Bhimtang, the other side of the pass. If it is windy while walking downhill, after larkey pass top, on sandy ground, it is difficult as air will blow sand up in your face.

Apart from avoiding the deadly wind you will catch breathtaking views on the other side of Larkey pass top, if you get to the top before cloud. It takes about 8 hours to get to the top of Larkey pass, at a normal pace.

If you don’t follow your guide, losing the trail during ascent to the pass is a big danger; you cannot find the trail if it is snowing and there are no houses or people to ask in case you get lost.

Having a guide not only makes a good Nepali friend but also help in booking accommodation, getting your food in time, tracing your trail and taking care when you get sick.

Once you are done with the longest pass in the world, walking for 8-14 hours that day, you will get literally to other side of Manaslu. Manaslu won’t look like a fishtail anymore and you’ll feel very small at the base of the massive mountain range in front of you. This is the north face of Mt Manaslu.

Manaslu circuit trek gives a complete prospective view of Mt Manaslu.

 [#5 Stay at Bhimtang Village after crossing larkey pass in your Manaslu circuit trek]

Just to recover your sore body and make your ending easier, I recommend that you stay at Bhimtang; some people go to Goa village for the night after Larkey pass, but it’s a foolish idea to walk even more after hours of walking over the pass on the glacier.

The other side of the pass Bhimtang village is below 4000 meters so you will forget the pain after getting at low altitude of Bhimtang, even though you will forget the pain during the pass, but you will remember the beauty from the top of the Larkey pass, while scrolling through your photos with a sip of cold beer in that chilling temperature. Bhimtang is a real beauty of Manaslu circuit trek after larkey pass.

Also, Bhimtang has a beautiful sunrise beneath the face of Manaslu and a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains. This is right after the larkey pass and you still need to walk for 1 and half days but still everyone feels accomplished at this point.

People also trek to Bhimtang village.

This is the time to celebrate, most of the trekkers will be enjoying the end of the Manaslu circuit trekking trip with beers, and some of them will buy drinks for their guides and porters.

After dinner time most of the tea houses at Bhimtang look like party houses, as some of the group will be singing and dancing; mostly guides and porters dance if you buy enough drink for them to get drunk, it adds another joy in the trek.

Dancing in Nepali folk song in the cold with hot rum is always nice feeling; some trekkers distribute tips at the same time, thank their guides and porters, hug warmly and talk closer.

Last but not the least; you might be interested in this short option of manaslu circuit trekking 12 days.

You might like to read other articles about Manaslu circuit trek:

  1. Manaslu circuit trek information
  2. Remote treks in Nepal includes Manaslu circuit trek with multiple itinerary
  3. Comparative analysis between Manaslu circuit trek, Everest and Annapurna trekking in Nepal
  4. Manaslu Tsum valley trek package

About Author

I grew up in the mountains & got university education in Kathmandu to become an engineer. But with homely environment of mountains interest me to become a trekking & tour guide, by passion. I have been 6574 meter to the highest & fortunately got chance to explore most of Nepal and bit of abroad.

Eventually, passion converted to profession and here i am on behalf of Nepalgram - a Trekking agency in Nepal.

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