Trek to the Manaslu range: Three weeks in the cradle of the Himalayas

6 December, 2020 | Reccy Guide

The Himalayas are world-renowned for their spectacular heights and stunning beauty. Both the Annapurna and Everest base camps see tens of thousands of visitors each year, as people clamber and jostle to see some of these stunning peaks. If you want a secluded, peaceful experience, consider a trek to Manaslu Circuit. This Himalayan peak is the 8th tallest mountain in the world at an astonishing 8,163 meters. The Manaslu Circuit Trek provides opportunities for privacy and calm, as this trek only sees about 2,000 per year, and over half of those visitors come in October.

Manaslu lies in the northeastern region of Nepal, is part of the Himalayan border between Nepal and Tibet. When you’re ready for an epic, 20+ day guided adventure, head to Kathmandu. You are free to secure your own lodging in Kathmandu, but many tour companies will happily arrange a room for you as well. 

Explore trip Itineraries, accommodation, transport, required gear, fitness plan, insurance and more

The trek begins roughly seven or eight hours away from the capital city. You can choose to book a private jeep or ride a public bus to reach Aarughat. The choice you make depends on whether you have an adventurous spirit—a private jeep puts you in control, and you can go safely and at your own leisure through bumpy roads. A public bus lets you sit back and will also deliver you safely, but public transport across this region is notoriously harrowing.

The town of Arughat is your last well-populated stop-over before making your way to Soti Khola, the trailhead. You will lodge here overnight and set out with your guide in the morning. We can hardly do justice to the weeks of travel that follow in a summary. However, it will not be an understatement to say that over the course of the trip, expect some of the most breathtaking sights in the world.

Majestic view during the Manaslu circuit trek

Most companies provide a daily itinerary, which varies depending on the amount of walking scheduled for the trek each day. The walk itself is relatively easy, and you ascend toward the mountain slowly. Some tours account for five or six hours of walking per day, others up to nine. Your first days will see you through local farmland, stone houses, and terraced rice fields. You’ll wind through a narrow canyon bordered by thick pine forest before spilling out onto a sandy riverbed.

In Tatopani, you may enjoy a soak in the natural hot springs before heading onward. After passing over the Buri Gandaki river via suspension bridge, you’ll enter a colorful forest of rhododendrons. Your path will be marked overhead by small, cliff-set Nepalese villages.

View of a Monastery

You will zigzag back and forth across the same river with multiple wooden suspension bridges. The floating villages will be replaced by orchids that reach down over the gorge, until you eventually walk through a bamboo forest and into Ghan. Here you can see traditional Tibetan paintings and visit the prayer stone, or mani wall. 

More brightly colored forests, sprawling meadows, and mani walls will greet you on your path toward Samogon, where many people choose to rest and visit the local Buddhist monastery. From here, the physical challenge begins in earnest. You will pass an old stone archway and ascend to the Larkya La pass, which overlooks the Larkya glacier. You’ll climb to an altitude of 5,100 meters this day, so expect the going to be slow. 

Load ferry over a suspension bridge

Your greatest reward lies at the top of the pass, where there are unobstructed views of the entire Manaslu range, including the namesake itself, as well as Annapurna II, Himlung Hamal, Cleo Hamal, and Kang Guru peaks. The snow-capped summits stretch out in front of you, surrounded only by sky. After reaching this point, you will begin the descent through additional meadows, suspension bridges, and forests until you at last arrive at Besi Sahar. 

After resting and recovering in Besi Sahar village, you will board a bus or book another Jeep to take you back toward Kathmandu, which now lies only five or six hours away. In total, you will have walked 190 kilometers, and climbed roughly 4,000 meters upward.

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