Authored by Yen Nguyen
Nepal is a heaven for trekkers with a smorgasbord of trails ranging from world-famous to lesser-known ones. Among those, the Manaslu Circuit Trek has been gaining popularity as one of the best treks in Nepal in recent years.
This 2-week tea-house trek is considered a great alternative to the well-trodden Annapurna Circuit, largely thanks to its beauty and the fact that it does not allow solo trekkers.
If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful region in Northern Central of Nepal, you’re in the right post!
Read This Before Trekking The Manaslu Circuit Nepal – 10 Essentials Things To Know
➤ Trek takes 12 – 14 days through the Eastern Himalayan range in Nepal
➤ The highest mountain you’ll see is Mount Manaslu at 8156 m / 26758 ft
➤ Highest elevation you’ll walk at is 5106 m / 16751 ft at Larkya Pass
➤ Highest elevation you’ll sleep at is 4400 m / 14435 ft at Dharmashala
➤ The longest walking day is the day from Dharmashala to Bimthang via Larkya Pass, which takes around 8-10 hours
Best Trek Time
The best times to trek the Manaslu Circuit are autumn and spring in Nepal, which are September – November and March – May respectively.
Avid trekkers might not mind doing it during monsoon season but it is not recommendable due to potential risks of landslides. Trekking during winter is not advised either.
You will find most of the tea-houses on the upper part of the trek closed during winter, and the pass can be too snowy and dangerous to cross.
Anti Clockwise Circuit Itinerary Is Better
As suggested by its name, this is a circuit trek. It’s best to walk in an anti clockwise loop starting at Arughat or Soti Khola and ending at Dharapani.
While this route is followed by the majority of trekkers, doing the trek the opposite direction is also feasible, though more strenuous due to the fast altitude gain, and therefore not recommended.
The traditional anti clockwise itinerary will include 2 rest days before crossing the pass to allow your body to acclimatize. Check out this 13 days Manaslu Trek Itinerary for a better idea of your day to day experience.
Independent & Solo Trek Is Not Allowed
Manaslu is listed as a restricted area due to its close proximity to Tibet from Samdo village, so trekking in this region requires a special permit.
You must to book your trek through a local agency and have a local guide accompanying you throughout the trek. Also, you must meet the requirement of a minimum 2-trekker group in order to obtain the permits.
There are certain pros and cons of going with a trekking agency. On the one hand, you’ll get all the logistics taken care of. A local guide will be helpful enlightening you about local culture and history.
You can also opt to have a porter carrying your luggage, a way of freeing yourself of the burden and supporting local economy at the same time. However, the downside is limited flexibility if you are in a joined trip with other trekkers.
With a myriad of trekking agencies to choose from, here are some tips on how to find the best trekking agency in Nepal.
You Need To Be Fit
You don’t necessarily have to be athlete-fit for this trek but a certain level of fitness is advisable. So make sure to build up your stamina and endurance at least a month before your trip.
You can try a variety of exercises including daily long walks or stair climbing. Then by following a well-planned trekking itinerary, your body will get to slowly acclimatize with the increasing altitude.
Remember that the higher up you go, the more toll it will take on your body. At that moment, even a short distance walk will consume a lot of energy.
The average number of walking hours each day are between 5 to 7 so it is super important to make sure your trekking boots are properly worn in in advance.
Permits For Manaslu Circuit Trek
There are 3 types of permits needed for this trek:
➤ You will need a Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) entry permit as the majority of the trek is walking through Manaslu conservation area.
➤ You will also need a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) since the area from Jagat to Bimthang is within the restricted area.
➤ The last section of the trek from Dharapani to Beshi Sahar belongs to Annapurna conservation area so a permit for Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) is compulsory as well.
You shouldn’t be worried about obtaining these permits as your trekking agency should be responsible for that. All you need to prepare is 2 passport sized photos, they’ll do the rest.
Given that this is a less well-known trail, lodging facilities here cannot be compared to those on well-established treks such as Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Base Camp.
So in most of the local teahouses, expect very basic rooms with shared bathrooms/toilets and a limited menu selection. Hot water is available through solar power in some places.
Having said that, you can still have a fancy experience while on the mountains by visiting Four Season Resort while in Namrung village. You can treat yourself to a nice sauna or quench your craving for sweets by trying their yummy pastries.
The harshest night of the trek is in Dharmashala, which is a relatively new establishment, having only bare necessities, where you might have to share sleeping spaces with other trekkers.
While telephone facilities are found in most of the villages, internet is only available in few places. Charging facility is limited too, you might need to pay extra for this at some teahouses.
Manaslu offers a perfect blend of nature and culture. There is no doubt its natural beauty is a huge draw for trekkers all around the world.
You will be trekking scenic trails with endless mountain views, walking through bamboo forests, spectacular waterfalls, and even get to visit a glacial lake.
On the cultural side, the harmony of various ethnic groups will be reflected as you traverse the villages on the trekking route. You will also find countless mani walls and chortens along the trail.
And make sure you pay a visit to the monastery and monastic school in Lho. They are one of the cultural highlights of the trek.
Trekking Difficulty Level
Manaslu Circuit is a two-week teahouse trek and a relatively strenuous one. It starts from Soti Khola at an elevation of 700m.
The first few days will be relatively easy, walking through lowland steamy terrain, and gaining 300-400m daily on average. The real challenge starts after this as you gain higher altitude and temperature drops.
There will be 1-2 acclimatization days depending your custom itinerary, one in Samar and the other Samdo village. Listen to your body carefully to decide whether you need an extra rest day as altitudes above 3500m can be tough.
The day you cross the pass would be the most difficult as you need to start as early as 3-4am and walk under freezing cold. Once reaching the lass, it will be a long, steep descent till Bimthang village and within the next hiking day you will be reaching the lowland area again.
With tour bookings through a local agency being mandatory and a Restricted Area Permit required, Manaslu Circuit Trek is among the pricey treks in Nepal.
An all-inclusive package starts around USD 1,000 person on a twin sharing basis. However, with a unique beautiful non-crowded trekking experience, you will find it worth the price.
Your quoted package will be excluded of any tips. And although there is no tipping culture in Nepal, guides and porters do expect and rely on tips for a living due to the seasonal nature of their jobs.
There is not a standard percentage for tipping so it totally depends on how satisfied and generous you are. On average, a guide and a porter may receive USD 150-200 and USD 100-150 respectively for a 14-day trek. But again, it’s up to you.
It’s always advisable to have some buffer cash with you during the trek as card payment is not a thing in the mountains and there is no ATM there either.
There are plenty of money exchange shops in Thamel to convert your money before the trek. Don’t do it in the airport, the rate is much better in the city.
Even though it is not compulsory for the trek, do purchase your travel insurance. You never know what will happen in the mountains, and you’re better safe than sorry. Worst case scenario may include an airlift back to Kathmandu, and then to your home country.
Last but not least, do your homework before the trek and make sure to communicate effectively and clearly with your chosen trekking agency. You will have an amazing experience in the Himalayas.
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