Manaslu Circuit Trek

Posted by Andy on Saturday, December 15, 2012

Manaslu, the world’s 8th highest mountain, marks the geographical mid-point of Nepal’s Great Himalaya Trail, and there are few 8000 meter peaks that allow trekkers to get up so close. Its Sanskrit name means “Mountain of the Spirit” and this spirit seems to reflect into the peaceful villages and valleys that encircle it. The journey around Manaslu, known as the Manaslu Circuit Trek is the easiest way to get on the Great Himalaya Trail.

Since 2010 it has been possible to complete the trek in traditional teahouses without the need to camp, and many people now compare it to the Annapurna Circuit Trek. Along the cliffs of the lower Budhi Gandaki river valley the trails are narrow and challenging, and wind through fascinating villages of varied character. Higher up valleys widen and the mountain views are breath-taking. The highest point on the trek, the Larkya La (5135m) commands views over four converging glaciers and the steep walls of the Lamjung and Annapurna ranges. It’s the perfect trek for adventurous trekkers who want an authentic, off the beaten track experience. The end of the trek connects to the beginning section of the Annapurna Circuit so they can be combined into one epic trek crossing two of Nepal’s most spectacular mountain passes.

 Highlights of the trek

Magnificent close-up views of the Annapurnas, Manaslu and nearby Ganesh peaks; trek through quaint villages with diverse ethnic groups of Gurung, Tamang Magyar, Tibetan Buddhist, Larke and Siar. Cross the Larkye La pass; chance sightings of snow leopard, blue sheep, gray wolf, musk deer and Himalayan Tahr.

 Trek dates

Daily feom Late September to early December and late February to early June

Also Scheduled Group Treks

 Check list
Read our helpful check list before booking

Annapurna Circuit views

Detailed Itinerary
Itinerary can be customized according to your needs and length of stay if you are not planning to join a scheduled group trek.

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu (1400 m)

We will meet your arrival flight at the Kathmandu International Airport and transfer you to your hotel. You will have time to rest or enjoy strolling around on your own to see some of the local sights while we complete your trek permits and preparations. 

Day 2: – Sightseeing / Cultural Day in Kathmandu Valley

Half day sightseeing around UNESCO Bhaktapur / Kathmandu where your guide will escort you on a tour of Buddhist and Hindu temples and shrines reflecting ancient local traditions. There is time to explore the city’s many places of interest on your own or take a rest while trekking permits are finalised. In the evening sample a delicious traditional Nepali dinner. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 3: Kathmandu to Arughat (570m)

An early departure from Kathmandu travelling by road via the Prithvi highway After a few hours, before Malekhu we turn north taking the single track road for Dhading Besi and beyond to Arughat- the last hour or so on a dusty section.

Day 4: To Soti Khola (730m)

Most of this stage is easy walking along a flat road while scenery of rice fields, waterfalls and greenery unfolds as you pass through nice villages along the way. Arkhet Bazar (620m) is interesting for its old main bazaar road and the gushing Arkhet Khola where the local children bathe. (3 – 4 hrs)

Day 5: To Machhekhola (930m)

Soon after leaving Soti Khola the  trail goes into a rougher part of the Budhi Gandaki, and goes up and down and with numerous rocky parts. In rainy periods there are several waterfall crossings, and we’ll see larger waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley.

Some parts of the trail are particularly narrow or we must cross landslides requiring extra care, especially when mule supply convoys are around.

After reaching the cliff-side village of Lapubesi about half way to our overnight destination we cross a very long suspension bridge, and then more ups and downs to and from the river bed. Tropical vegetation adds its charm, together with the thrilling suspension bridges that are regular attraction on this trek.

Machekhola (“fish river”) is a pleasant village built on the slopes of the hill where there is a comfortable guest house. (5-6 hrs.)

 Day 6: To Jagat(1340m)

We continue trekking up and down the valley walls along the western side of the Budhi Gandaki until reaching Tatopani, a tiny village of a few houses on the narrow trail between the gushing Budhi Gandaki and a tremendous cliff.

Another hour or so hiking takes us to Dobhan (1070m), a small village with a good teahouse where we can stop for lunch.As we pass Doban and approach Jagat the valley opens up into a broad expanse with plenty of room to walk along the river bed in most seasons.

Jagat is a very picturesque and tidy Gurung village with slate-paved streets. We’ll stop at the Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) Office here to register our trekking permits,, and will be able to learn about MCAP activities in the region. (5 hrs)

 Day 7: To Deng (1860m)

The trail from Jagat descends to the pleasant village of Salleri. It also has a slate paved main street and friendly villagers. Immediately after Salleri you reach Paimo. This village was recently affected by a huge landslide.About 2 and half hours from Jagat you reach Sirdibas (1430m), a compact village with nice stone houses and slate roofs.

We then pass the small village of Ghote Khola before crossing the Budhi Gandaki on one of the longest suspension bridges of this trek, followed by a steep climb to Philim.

Above Philim the sheer scale and the feeling of being truly amongst the mighty Himalaya is evident at every turn. We cross the Budhi Gandaki yet again, the trail hugging the cliff-side, up and over ridge backs then down again to the river where the Shar Khola cascades into the Budhi. The trail flattens out, winds through bamboo forest to Deng Khola and into the Deng settlement itself. (5 – 6 hrs)

Day 8: To Namrung (2540)

Leaving Deng we again use the course of the Budhi Gandaki, recrossing the river and following an uphill trail to Rana, before zigzagging past the little monastery (gompa) of Shringi and the religious motifs carved on mani walls by the Shringi Khola suspension bridge, to Ghap – a pleasant lunch stop.
Cutting across fields we start to head west and enter a dense mixed forest of conifers and juniper with birdlife and monkeys. The trail stays high above the rive and includes another waterfall and serious climb through woods to finally reach Namrung. (6- 7 hrs)

Day 9: To Lho (3020m)

 There is a marked sense of Tibetan influence in this area with closely packed stone houses sharing a common flat roof and courtyard. Climbing alongside a mani wall, through fields and past first the village of Barchham then Lihi. We then climb to Sho village – another cluster of stone houses. With altitude, the mountain views become more dramatic – Manaslu, Manaslu North, Himalchuli, Saula Himal and Dwijen Himal rise either side of the trail. After a small ravine we enter Lho, with a fabulous view of Manaslu. (4-5 hrs)

 Day 10: Samagaon/ Sama Gompa (3390m)

 The trek resumes with a steep descent and a crossing of yet another rock-strewn torrent, the Thusang Khola. Manaslu and Himal Chuli dominate the entire landscape. Further on, across the glacier-fed Numla Khola the valley drops away to a moraine while we follow the ancient trans-Himalayan trail now just a very few kilometers from Tibet. We then arrive in Samagaon, one of the region’s classic lama settlements with monastery and mani walls and all things totally Tibetan. (4-5 hrs)

 Day 11: In Samagaon/ Sama Gompa (3390m)

We will take a a rest and acclimatization day here with an optional hike to Pung-gyen Gompa, or the day can be spent immersing oneself in the daily life of Sama Gompa. 

Day 12: To Samdo (3690m)

 Passing by the foot of the great, white slide that is the Manaslu Glacier we pass the trail that branches off to Manaslu Base Camp. Our path enters a woodland where we might see marmots in the birch and juniper bushes, before a final steep ascent brings us to the charming village of Samdo. The village has a well-established Tibetan refugee community –with Tibet being only a morning’s walk away. (3-5 hrs) 

Day 13: To Dharamsala (4460m)

 After an easy first part today we cross the Budhi Gandaki for a final time before the trail gradually rises through juniper and tundra with a viewpoint overlooking the Larkya La glacier. Climbing further we arrive at the Spartan Larkya Rest House. (3-5 hrs) 

Day 14: To Bimtang via (3590m)via  Larkya La (5100m)

An early morning start is needed for what is to be a particularly tough and extended day. A pre-dawn start to avoid gale force wind which usually gains in strength after mid-day at the pass.

After a long gradual climb alongside a moraine we make a short descent to a glacial lake and reach the head of the moraine (4,700m) which we cross to climb to the ridge top. Four frozen lakes lie below and then it is up to the crest of the Larkya La (5,100m).
The reward for these difficult trekking conditions is brilliant westerly views of Himlung Himal, Kangurru and Annapurna II as well as the looming omnipresence of Manaslu.

On the steep descent we drop around 600m in less than an hour. Our trail then levels off onto yak pastures before finally reaching Bimtang, a collection of typical summer kharkas .(8-9 hrs) 

Day 15: To Tilije (2,300m) or Dharapani (Annapurna Circuit trail here) 

We descend on easier terrain through meadows and pine and rhododendron forest, until arriving in Hampuk. Then the path drops further, following the course of the Dudh Khola, crossing the stream fed by the snows of the Kichke Himal and arrive at Karche and then onto the village of Gho – where rice is back on the menu and Nepalese ‘dhal bhat’ is revisited. Keeping to the west bank of the river, the afternoon is one of gradual descent to the Gurung settlement of Tilije which is famous for its apple brandy. (4 – 6 hrs)

 Day 16: To Jagat 1,300m

Leaving Tilije we cross to the eastern side of the Dudh Khola and match the gradient of the river down to Dharapani. Here is Dudh Khola’s confluence with the Marsyangdi and also our meeting with the Annapurna Circuit trail which is ascending towards Manang. From this point down an all-weather road is under construction and this itinerary presumes needing to trek down to Jagat and transport from there. (6 hrs) 

Day 17: To Besisahar (760M)

We can either take a jeep from Jagat to the end of the trek or a long but easy day’s walk. (6-7 hrs) 

Day 18: To Kathmandu (or Pokhara)

We return to Kathmandu or Pokhara by bus or private vehicle and arrive at our hotel before evening. 

Day 19: Departure

After breakfast and depending on the time of your departure flight you can enjoy shopping or sightseeing in Kathmandu before transfer to the international airport.

The trek program is – because of weather or unforeseen events – subject to change.

Manaslu-Circuit-Trek

Click to enlarge (Map Courtesy : Himalayan Map House

Services and costs included in the price

  • International and domestic airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Three nights hotel accommodations with breakfast in Kathmandu
  • Licensed and trained trekking guides
  • Porters for carrying luggage and supplies
  • All accommodations (teahouse lodges) during trek
  • All meals with hot beverages whilst trekking
  • All necessary documents and permits for trekking
  • Trek equipment including sleeping bag and down jacket
  • First aid supplies
  • Insurance equipment for staff
  • Coordination of Rescue service (costs covered by your insurance plan)
  • Guided tour of World Heritage sites in Kathmandu area
  • Traditional Nepali welcome dinner

Services and costs NOT included in price

  • International airfares
  • Travel/trekking insurance
  • Excess baggage charges more than 16kg and hand bag more than 5kg in domestic flights
  • Nepal visa fees
  • Rescue charges
  • Bottled drinks (cold and alcoholic)
  • Expenses of personal nature
  • Lunches and dinners whilst not trekking