Manaslu Circuit Trek – 18 Days
The Manaslu Circuit trek is getting more and more popular as a new trekking destination but it still sees fewer trekkers compared to the established trekking routes in the Annapurna region. The circuit is a stunning trek with spectacular views of Mount Manaslu (8163 m) and the Ganesh Himal Range, among others. Along the trail, you encounter an interesting mix of authentic Hindu and Tibetan-style Buddhist villages. The trail follows the spectacular Budhi Gandaki River all the way from Arugath to its source just below the Larkya Pass (5125 m). As you start low, at around 700 m, the landscapes are incredibly varied ranging from the green countryside and lush forests to spectacular high altitude landscapes skirting huge glaciers.
Manaslu is the eight highest mountain in the world (8163m). Its name means “mountain of the spirit” which comes from the Sanskrit word manasa, meaning “intellect” or “soul”. Manaslu is located in the Gorkha district, east of Annapurna.
The crossing of the Larkya Pass (5125 m) can be tough when there is snow. However, the stunning landscape with the mighty Himalayas towering straight above you and the spectacular glaciers make it more than worth the effort. The pass links the Budhi Gandaki with the Marsyangdi valley. The descent passes through beautiful alpine meadows at Bhimtang before joining the main Annapurna Circuit route heading to the trailhead at Besisahar. The Manaslu trek is easily accessible from Kathmandu. It originally started in the town of Arughat or Gorkha; however, with roads being built many trekkers start at either Barpak or Soti Khola a bit further up the trail. Hurry up and Book your trip with Nomadic Nepal.
How difficult is the Manaslu Circuit Trekking?
Manaslu Circuit Trek is a moderate trek in the foothills of Mt. Manaslu. The trek starts from Arughat, Gorkha, and extends to the highest pass- the Larkya La Pass. This is a novel trek and was seriously affected by the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. But, the route is well developed with the basic trekking infrastructures.
But the geography is rugged and remote. So, the trails may sometimes turn sloppy, steep, rocky, with numerous boulders. So, you need to be very careful while walking. And, with enough preparation and physical strength you can complete this trek incomplete success
Do train beforehand with lots of walking with a day sack, but don’t overdo it. It’s not a marathon, but there are lots of hills to go up and down! The high pass is quite challenging too. Work on your thigh muscles, calf muscles and shoulders for carrying the bag (it’s only about 5kg but it feels like 10 when you’ve been walking uphill in the sun). The days aren’t too long, the path is fine, and the porters help a lot, but the enjoyment of this trip will be much more if you have worked on your fitness before the holiday.
When Can You Trek The Manaslu Circuit?
You can trek the Manaslu Circuit from March to June, and September to November.
Manaslu Circuit Trek Highlights
- The jaw-dropping natural beauty of forests, rivers, and flora of the Manaslu region.
- Larky La Pass (5167 meters), the highest point on the trek.
- Stunning views of Manaslu, Cheo Himal, Himlung Himal, Nemjung, Gyaji Kang and Kang Guru, and Annapurna II.
- Abundant wildlife including Tahr (Mountain Goat), Agali (Blue Sheep), Pika (Highest living Mammal), Himalayan Marmots and, if you are lucky Snow Leopard.
Manaslu Circuit Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu [1,300m/4,264 ft]
Day 2: Kathmandu: Sightseeing and Trek Preparation
Day 3: Drive from Kathmandu to Sotikhola [710m/2328 ft] 8 – 9 hours
We set off early today for Sotikhola. During the drive, we enjoy views of the Nepalese countryside along with the mountain sceneries. We will be driving on a paved road from Kathmandu to Dhading Bensi, the district headquarter of Dhading (1050m)but the drive from Dhanding Bensi to Arughat will be on a rough road. Upon reaching Arughat, a major town in the region we drive further towards Sotikhola. Overnight in Soti Khola.
Day 4: Soti Khola – Maccha Khola [900m/2952 ft]: 6 – 7 hours
At the crossing of the bridge, we trek through the beautiful Sal forests, then climb onto a ridge above huge rapids on the Budhi Gandaki. We then reach Khursane upon which the rocky trail weaves its way up and down, past two tropical waterfalls on a steep, rocky trail clinging to the side of a cliff. It eventually makes its way down and past a few rice terraces, then up and around to the Gurung village of Labubesi. We further climb behind a rocky outcrop, where the valley opens up and the Budhi Gandaki meanders among wide gravel bars. Dropping to the sandy river bed, we walk along the rounded stones before climbing over a side ridge. We head down again to the river and cross another suspension bridge to reach Machha Khola village. Overnight in Machha Khola.
Day 5: Maccha Khola -Jagat [1410m/ 4625 ft]: 6 – 7 hrs
The narrow trail makes some minor ups and downs and eventually crosses the Tharo Khola and reaching Khorlabesi. After a few more ascends and descends we come across a small Hotspring in Tatopani. From the hot spring, we climb over another ridge, then cross the Budhi Gandaki on a suspension bridge. At this juncture, we climb on a wide, well-crafted staircase, then across a landslide and over a ridge to Dobhan. Upon crossing a suspension bridge over the Yaru Khola, we climb the stone stairs and then drop to the river and again climb more stone stairs to Tharo Bharyang. Crossing the west bank of the Budhi Gandaki, we climb over a ridge, trek along the river and then climb towards the village of Jagat. Overnight in Jagat.
Day 6: Jagat – Deng [1,804m/5917 ft]: 6 – 7 hrs
We begin today’s trek by climbing over a rocky ridge to Salleri and then descend to Sirdibas. The valley widens a bit as the trail continues up to Ghatta Khola. We further continue walking upstream to a long suspension bridge in Philim, a large Gurung village. The trail turns north just above the lowest house in the village and stays on a fairly level trail as it crosses millet fields to Ekle Bhatti. The route now enters a steep, uninhabited gorge. At this point, we descend to the grassy land slopes, cross the Budhi Gandaki, then trek along the west bank for a while, then cross to the east bank and then back again. As we continue through the trail the valley widens and we pass through bamboo forests to the Deng Khola. Upon crossing the Khola, we reach the tiny village of Deng. Overnight in Deng.
Day 7: Deng – Namrung [2630m/8626ft]: 6 – 7 hrs
After a brief walk beyond Deng, we cross the Budhi Gandaki and climb to Rana at 1910m. From the bridge, we climb a bit to join a trail from Bhi, then head west up the Budhi Gandaki valley. The trail also passes through forests and mani where we turn towards a corner that contours to Ghap. Even though there is another route, we take the route through Prok village. Prok village has a viewpoint for a beautiful sight of Siringi Himal. We further cross the Budi Gandaki several times today and come across several gompas en route. The trail follows the river upstream through a dense forest. After crossing the river at an impressive spot where it thunders down a narrow gorge, the forest becomes less dense and the trail is fine again. The pleasant walk continues and after a last steep climb, we reach Namrung. Overnight in Namrung.
Day 8: Namrung – Samagaon [3530m/11,578 ft]: 6-7 hours
Namrung village is a good viewpoint for Siring and Ganesh Himal and from the village, one can also see Mt. Himal Chuli in the south. We climb steadily and pass through forests and reach Lihi, a fine village with many chortens and barley terraces. The trail drops and crosses the side valley of Simnang Himal with Ganesh Himal always close by. We further pass through Sho, Lho and Shyala villages before reaching Sama Village. We enjoy the extraordinary views of Mt. Manaslu from Lho village and also explore the famous Ribung Gompa. In Shyala village we will be surrounded by high mountains like Himal Chuli and Peak 29 (Ngadi Chuli) to the left, Manaslu and large glaciers straight ahead, and other snow summits to the right, and at the far end stands Ganesh Himal. Today’s journey ends in Samagaon where we spend the night.
Day 9: Samagaon – Pungyen gompa – Samagaon: 6 – 7 hours exploration
We spend the day at Samagaon both for rest and acclimatization. Today, we get acquainted with the rich Sherpa culture. We enjoy the sight of thousands of mani stones with Buddhist texts and pictures and the Sherpa women clad in traditional clothes and ornaments. On a little hill near the Sama village is an old Gompa (Pungyen Gompa), a monastery with great views of the glacier. It is named after Manaslu, Pungyen means bracelet, a good description of the two peaks. It was destroyed a year after the first unsuccessful Japanese attempt to climb Manaslu. The locals believed that the climb angered the gods, and when the Japanese came back a year later they met with a lot of resistance that they had to give up their attempt. They were finally successful in 1959. Overnight in Samagaon.
Day 10: Samagaon – Samdo [3860m/12,660 ft]: 4 – 5 hours
Today, we descend to the Budhi Gandaki River, which has turned north and follow it to a bridge over a side stream. The trail to the left leads to the Manaslu Base camp. The Larkya la Trail passes several mani walls as the valley begins to widen. It is an easy trail on a shelf above the river passing the juniper and birch forests of Kermo Kharka. We drop off the shelf, cross the Budhi Gandaki on a wooden bridge and climb steeply onto a promontory between two forks of the river. From a stone arch, we can view a large white Kani. Finally passing through the kani we find Samdo. Overnight in Samdo.
Day 11: Rest Day in Samdo
This is another day set aside for proper acclimatization. There are two options for us today. The option that we highly recommend is a hike, up the valley directly at the back of the Samdo village. This hike will take us to one of the trade passes to Tibet for excellent views of Mt. Manaslu along with other Himalayan ranges including Simrang, Hiunchuli, Ngadi, Larkye Peak, Cheo and possibly Kang Guru behind the pass. En route to these viewpoints, we pass many seasonal herding settlements called doksas and sight some beautiful mountain birds like the Lophophorus (the national bird of Nepal), Lammergeyer, and Himalayan Griffin soaring high above us. Another option for today could be a trip to the Gya La (‘large pass’) to the north of Samdo, a more frequently used trading route to Tibet. But, this is a rather longer hike (whole day) and hence could be a little tiring. Overnight in Samdo.
Day 12: Samdo – Dharamsala/Larkya B. C. [4460m/14, 628 ft]: 4 – 5 hours
Even today, we continue our walk down the edge, cross the wooden bridge over Budi Gandaki, and begin walking upward. Upon crossing two streams and witnessing the Larkya Glacier we go around the valley of the Salka Khola and climb up again to the stone guest house (4450 m), which is not a lodge but a kind of shelter called Dharmshala, also known as Larke Phedi. The short walk today also leaves plenty of time for acclimatization and relaxing in the afternoon. Overnight in Dharmashala.
Day 13: Dharamsala – Larkya la [5160m/16, 924 ft] – Bimthang [3720m/12, 201 ft]: 8 – 9 hours
After a short climb, we reach a valley on the north side of the Larkya Glaciers from where we can enjoy great views of Cho Danda and Larkya Peak. Finally, we walk across moraines of the glacier, making a gradual ascent which becomes steeper only in the last section of the pass. From the pass, there are outstanding views of Himlung Himal, Cheo Himal, Kangguru and the huge Annapurna II. It is a longer day than usual to Bimtang, but to walk into these low pastures with the evening mist coming in with Mt. Manaslu looming close by is an overwhelming experience. Overnight in Bimthang.
Day 14: Bimthang – Tilije [2300m/7544ft]: 5 – 6 hours
From a ridge at Bimthang, we can enjoy great views of Mt. Manaslu, Lamjung Himal, Himlung Himal, and Cheo Himal. We descend further and cross a high pasture (Sangure Kharka) followed by a bridge over Dudh Khola. We walk through the rhododendron forest and follow a trail through a narrow valley until we reach the highest cultivated land of the valley at Karche, 2785 meters. We pass across fields before making a steep climb over a ridge. The trail comes off the ridge in a big, sweeping arc to the river bank at 2580m. A short distance beyond is the village of Gho. Due to yesterday’s tiredness, we might take an overnight rest at Gho but better lodges are available at Tilije, so Himalayan Glacier recommends we stay at Tilije. Overnight in Tilije Village.
Day 15: Tilije – Tal [1700m/5576 ft]: 5 – 6 hours(1700)
We climb over a small ridge and enjoy the stone-paved trail as it passes through a beautiful village. We then cross the bridge over Dudh Khola and climb up through a chorten-shaped arch, pass a mani wall, and reach the Thonje village. At the village, we go through a police checkpoint and continue to Dharapani. We have entered the Annapurna circuit section from Dharapani. Further down, we come across Karte village, and after quite a bit of walking, we cross a bridge over Marshyangdi Khola. We also come across some mani walls before reaching the village of Tal, situated at the foot of a large waterfall. Overnight in Tal.
Day 16: Tal – Syange [1080m/3542 ft]: 6 – 7 hours
We follow the trail to Chyamje village crossing the Marshyangdi Khola once again. The Marsyandi valley opens with its terrace fields and villages clung very high to the hillsides. The trail then descends through rhododendron and pine forests to Syange. Overnight in Syange.
Day 17: Syange – Kathmandu: 8-9 hours
The drive from Syange to Kathmandu via Besi Sahar offers one an opportunity to enjoy both hill and mountain landscapes. The drive is often along the banks of the Marsyangdi and Trishuli rivers. We also drive by some beautiful villages with farming terraces on both sides of the road. In Kathmandu, we will be escorted to our hotel. The day in Kathmandu can either be spent in leisure or perhaps we catch up with some last-minute shopping. To celebrate the successful completion of our Manaslu Circuit Trek, we will have a farewell dinner in the evening. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 18: Final departure