If you are seeking to wander in the most enchanting wilderness of nature, then Manaslu Circuit Trek is undeniably the most befitting choice. Travelers, who step on those trails, can easily be blessed with the untouched grace of nature, encounter diverse local culture and witness the ancient marks of history. Manaslu Circuit is identified as a secret paradise in the Himalayan mountains. The secret heaven Beyul refers to these secret lands hidden within the Himalayas. As per the Buddhist beliefs, Guru Padmasambhava had marked the Manaslu region as safe and sacred. One could attain Nirvana here as one of these Beyuls is found in this region.
For the past several years, the Annapurna Circuit Trek had been the most popular trek in Nepal. Trekkers experienced the authentic village lifestyle amid the wilderness. But lately, hiking lovers began bypassing the Annapurna highway. The Manaslu Circuit Trek Itinerary began attracting a majority of the trekkers who admired the Annapurna trails. Despite trekking in Manaslu being open in 1991, the Manaslu Conservation Area has remained uncrushed and intact. Since trekking in Manaslu region falls in the restricted area, there are certain criteria to be met. Special permits are required and traveling solo is not permitted. There are hundreds of registered trekking agencies in Kathmandu that sell trekking packages in Nepal. The Manaslu Circuit Trek cost and itinerary may vary from one company to another. In order to feed your curiosity about Manaslu Circuit Trek in Nepal, we provide you a meticulous list of things to know beforehand
List Of Things To Know Before Manaslu Circuit Trekking
1. Find your way around
A Manaslu Circuit Trek Map could come in handy in many ways. Normally, GPS would work but here, a printed map can be a lifesaver. This place is secluded and located in the mountainous region so an old school approach would not be bad. With it, you can not only have an initial overview of the place but also can use it at the time of emergencies. Moreover, the Manaslu Circuit Trek tour is an adventure in itself so there’s nothing wrong in keeping yourself prepared.
2. Trekking solo is not permitted
The trails of Manaslu Circuit are not open for solo trekkers. One must be in a group of at least two persons accompanied by a registered guide. The restricted region has various provisions so hiring a professional guide or a guide-cum porter through a registered agency is mandatory. If you do not find a partner or wish to trek alone, you need a permit of a ‘ghost’ trekker. This will be taken care of by your agency but again, you will need a guide, no matter what. The guide’s knowledge of the local culture and trails can make the journey more fruitful and safe.
3. The perfect season for Manaslu Circuit Trek
The best season for trekking in Nepal is during autumn and springtime. Based on the weather, visibility and trail conditions the major trekking season in the Manaslu region are between the months of March to May and mid-September to mid-December. October is the busiest season and during this time, the sky is blue and the views of the snow-capped mountains are spectacular. Spring season is a perfect time to see the forests transform into beautiful rhododendron gardens. During the monsoon season, the trail becomes muddy, slippery with high chances of trails getting disrupted due to incessant rains. Trekking during other months, you will encounter only a few trekkers in this route. Trekking in winter is not recommended as there is excessive snowfall and the Larkya Pass remains closed. Trekkers won’t be able to go to the Manaslu Base Camp and the Tibetan border.
4. Permits for Manaslu Circuit Trek
The National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) manages the Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP). Trekking agencies will arrange the necessary permits for the trekkers. The following are the required permits for trekking in Manaslu region along with the costs:
Special Restricted Area Permit for Manaslu (MRAP) – required from Jagat until crossing Sama Gaon, from where you will require another permit (ACAP). The cost of MRAP depends on the number of days spent between Jagat and Dharapani. For the first 7 days (Sep-Nov) it will cost you US$ 100 and an additional US$ 15 per day per person from day 8. For the first 7 days (Dec-August) it will cost you US$ 75 and an additional US$ 10 per day per person from day 8.
Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) – required from Philim, the starting point of the Manaslu Conservation Area. It will cost you US$ 30 throughout the year for an unlimited time period. You will require a printed passport photograph for this permit.
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) – required from Dharapani until you exit the ACAP in Besisahar. It will cost you US$ 30 throughout the year for an unlimited time period. You will require a printed passport photograph for this permit.
Unless you are heading towards the Annapurna Circuit from Dharapani, after doing the Manaslu trek, you don’t need to obtain a TIMS (Trekker’s Information Management System) card. NTNC considers MCAP as restricted that is why it requires an additional permit and the accompaniment of a registered guide. However, this additional hassle is what keeps Manaslu from becoming another Annapurna, dusty and crowded. Well worth the extra fee!
5. Manaslu Circuit Trek Nepal Costs
The trek cost depends on the number of days you will be trekking. Different agencies offer variations in trekking such as Manaslu Circuit Trek 12 days, Manaslu Circuit Trek 16 days or Manaslu Circuit Trek 22 days. There are trekking companies that offer cheap budget Manaslu Circuit Trek, but their services may be limited. The Manaslu Circuit Trek cost also depends on the requirement of the trekkers. Some trekkers only wish to hire a guide while others may purchase a full-inclusive package. Overall, the trekking cost includes permit fees, transportation fees, accommodation fees, food & beverage cost and so on. Due to its remote location, the cost may, however, be on a higher side than other popular routes like Langtang Valley Trek or the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. The following are the tentative costs incurred during the Manaslu Circuit Trek 12 days:
MRAP: US$ 100 (Sep-Nov) & US$ 75 (Dec-Aug)
MCAP: US$ 30
ACAP: US$ 30
Kathmandu to Soti Khola (local bus: U$ 10-15 or private jeep: US$ 200-250)
Dharapani to Besisahar (local jeep: US$ 20-25, private jeep: US$ 200-250)
Besisahar to Kathmandu (local jeep: US$ 10-15, car/jeep/coaster: US$ 100-250)
US$ 25-40 per day (depending on the guide’s experience and skill)
US$ 20-25 per day (this cost can be saved if you are willing to carry your own bags)
Food and Accommodation Cost (on the trek)
3 basic meals and accommodation per day: US$ 25-30
Food and Accommodation Cost (in Kathmandu)
Food: Standard (US$ 8-12/meal), Fancy (US$ 15-20/meal)
Accommodation: Hostels (US$ 5-7), average (US$ 8-12), Standard (US$ 15-25), Deluxe and Starred (US$ 40-200)
Hot showers: US$ 3-5
Phone/Camera charging: US$ 2-4
Wi-Fi charge: US$ 4-6
6. Book before you leave
There is no doubt about the Manaslu Circuit Trek being one of the most fascinating trails in the Nepal Himalayas. One reason, because it lies in the remote corners of the nation’s most inaccessible areas. And another, the trails are never crowded during any season. However, the number of trekkers could increase by a certain degree during the peak seasons. Trekking in Manaslu region during the peak seasons may pose a problem in getting you a place to sleep at night. There are limited numbers of teahouses and lodges in this region as compared to other mainstream trekking routes. Spotting a decent lodge and booking ahead is a wise move to lay your head to rest during the peak time. You can always ask the lodge owner for the contact details of the lodge where you will possibly be staying the following day and make the bookings.
Before reaching the famous Larkya Pass, there is a place called Dharamshala which has only one lodge. It has eight rooms available for pre-booking. If you fail to book your room, then be prepared to spend the night in tents. Being the only lodge here, the owner has the sole authority; hence you will be provided less than ordinary services at an exorbitantly high price. This is a place where you can check your level of endurance!
7. Food & Drinking water on the trek
Eating meals at lodges and restaurants along the way allows a greater amount of money to trickle into the local village economies. Rate fluctuations are directly proportional to the altitude of the lodge, the higher the altitude, higher will be the food costs. Almost every item has to be hauled in by the porters or the mules thereby making the food cost more expensive than at a lower elevation. The cheapest and most filling staple is Dal, Bhaat, Tarkari comprising lentil soup, steamed rice, and seasonal vegetables. Climbing out of the rice territory, potatoes and tsampa become the cheapest fare.
Teahouses on the trail have food menus with wide varieties of food. The price of food is cheaper in the lower section of the trail which gradually increases with remoteness. With the recent upgrade of the Manaslu trek from a camping trek to a teahouse trek, you cannot expect professional cooks to cook your meals like in camping treks. Although the teahouses hire professional cooks during peak seasons, they will be gone during the off-seasons. The availability of food on the menu is limited as you climb higher because there is no facility for cold storage especially for meat and fresh vegetable items. If you plan to purchase snacks along the trek, don’t expect to buy anything more than biscuits, cookies, candy bars or fried ramen noodles (Wai-Wai).
For drinking water, it is not hard to get hot water along the trail. Every teahouse, shop, and restaurant has a thermos of hot boiled water. You can carry along with you, purifying agents like Steripen or chlorine tablets. Another great backup in Nepal is purchasing a bottle of ‘Piyush’, a local chlorine solution used to treat water before drinking.
8. Gears on the trek
Your guide should have the Manaslu Circuit Trek map with him. But, it is commendable to pick one for yourself while you are in Kathmandu. It is not worth carrying a tent with you these days while trekking in Manaslu region. The reason is that there are plenty of tea houses on the route except at Dharamshala. As nights may invite frost, you are recommended to bring a good quality sleeping bag. In some villages, there might not be electricity supply, so bringing flashlights with extra batteries is another prudent decision.
If you plan to do the hike up to the Manaslu Base Camp or the Tibetan border, then we recommend trekking poles for you. Exposed skin may fry, so a reliable sunscreen is a necessity because you will be hiking on snow with very less atmosphere at some point in time. Wear sunglasses until the sun doesn’t lay down to protect your eyes. Pack as light as possible. If you cannot endure the weight of your gear and other belongings, it is possible to hire a porter at an extra cost.
9. The 2015 earthquake effect in Manaslu region
The devastating earthquake of 2015 caused havoc in Nepal. It dealt a huge blow in the Manaslu region and demolished several lodges along the trekking trail. Most of the knocked down lodges have completed reconstruction works and many new lodges have mushroomed in the trail as of spring 2019. Camping is generally not necessary in this region nowadays. But, it could be an alternative for those trekking in Manaslu region in huge groups, especially during peak seasons.
One specific reason why the Nepal government does not allow solo trekking in Manaslu region is because of its perilous trails. The aftermath of the 2015 earthquake has made the area more prone to landslides and falling rocks. Although after the destructive calamity, the trekking routes have come back to normal, the danger zones are still there. Trekkers need to take extra care while traversing trails from Khorla Besi to Tatopani on the second-day trekking from Machha Khola to Jagat. Other treacherous routes lie in the route to Yaru the same day, and another one after crossing the Larkya Pass on the ninth trekking day.
10. Manaslu Circuit Trek is best for experienced trekkers
Although Manaslu Circuit Trek is best suited for experienced trekkers, some novice trekkers too, have accomplished the feat. Trekking in Manaslu region is graded as a strenuous trek on the difficulty level. It means that a trekker needs to walk at least 5 to 6 hours for 10 days on a Manaslu Circuit Trek 13-day itinerary. The trek is demanding and equally challenging, so be prepared mentally as well as physically. You will be walking on uneven and rocky trail and stone stairs. Each day, you will gain a height of 300 to 500 meters.
The most difficult part of the trek, as considered by most trekkers, is crossing the Larkya La Pass. It is the highest point of your Manaslu Circuit Trek at an altitude of 5106 meters above sea level. The infamous pass is one of the longest passes of Nepal and is knowingly treacherous. Descending from the pass to the village of Bimthang requires technical skills as well. It is a long vertical descent over the moraine through loose gravel on a leveled path enclosed with grass. While preparing for your Manaslu Circuit Trek, it is very helpful if you add various cardiovascular exercises and short one-day hikes too. A previous hiking experience at a higher altitude will help you to know what you can expect on this terrain.
11. What to carry on the Manaslu Circuit Trek
Packing is a very important aspect whether it is your Everest Base Camp Trek, Nar Phu Valley Trek or your Manaslu Circuit Trek. And it is not an easy task picking the right things to pack for a particular trip. In this trek, you will hike through different terrains and different weather conditions at different elevations. Starting the trek at Soti Khola at 800 meters and reaching up to 5106 meters at Larkye Pass requires a perfect packing plan. If you do not plan wisely, you will most likely leave behind the important items and carry unwanted things with you.
Before presenting an ideal packing list, there are few things a trekker needs to know. The first is, you can always buy or rent necessary items in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Rental items include cheap items to branded ones, depending on your budget. If you buy an item, you can sell it at a lower price after completing your trek if you don’t want to carry back that item back home with you. Second, while trekking in Nepal, we always recommend our fellow trekkers to pack light. If you have unwanted things that you do not wish to carry with you, those things can be left behind at the hotel managed by your agency. Here we are presenting to you, a complete packing list for trekking in Manaslu region:
Sunglasses – for sun protection
Sunhat – to protect your face, neck, and your scalp
Sunscreen – to avoid severe sunburn because of snow’s reflection
Warm hat – to beat the cold at night time
Buff – to use as a headband, a cap, a mask, a neck gaiter, or a balaclava
Underwear – quick-drying, moisture-wicking underwear to chafe your skin or retain moisture after a long day’s walk.
Sports bra (for females) – for ease of movement and to avoid spillovers and awkward situations
A base layer – warm and comfortable enough to retain your body heat
Trekking shirt – made of moisture-wicking material that allows you to stay dry
Fleece jacket –insulation to provide you the ultimate warmth
Outer jacket – down jackets can be used as outers to stop the wind chills
Rain jacket – if trekking during monsoon season, it protects you from rain
Trekking trousers and shorts – shorts for hiking at lower altitudes and trousers for hiking at higher elevations
Inner gloves – a base layer under the insulating globe to retain heat
Outer gloves – protects you from cold, wind and snow
Hiking socks – to keep your feet warm
Thermal socks – to keep your feet warm while sleeping at teahouses
Hiking boots – a good quality, waterproof hiking boot with ankle support for comfortable walking without blisters
Trainers or trekking sandals – to walk around the area after the day’s trek
Gaiters – required especially if you are hiking during the monsoons to avoid your boots from getting wet, prevent mud, stones or leeches
Duffle Bag – when you have a porter with you, it is easier to pack your items in the duffle bag
Backpack – required if you are trekking solo
Daypack – required to carry your essentials like water bottle, camera, phones, chargers, face towels, passports, wallets, etc
Sleeping bag – good compact down sleeping bag to provide you warmth at night
Sleeping bag liner – for extra warmth and protect the sleeping bag from getting dirty
Trekking poles – to take off the burden from your knees while hiking, especially during descents
Headlamp – for a night walk or when you have to start the day very early
Crampons – required only during winters when there is excess snow on the trail
Water bottle – to hydrate yourself regularly
Camera – to snap the beauty of your trip
Portable charger – to charge your electronic devices
Passport/money – you may need to show your passport or purchase some candy bars on the way
Quick-drying towels – to wipe your sweat away
Water purification tablets – to purify your drinking water
Wet wipes and tissues – to avoid the runny nose and wipe your body parts
Lip Balm – protect your lips from the sun
Hand sanitizers – to disinfect your hands
12. Know the route connections
The Manaslu Circuit Trek ends in Besisahar, which happens to be the trailhead for the Annapurna Circuit Trek. It is always easy to link these treks into one. After crossing the Larkya Pass, the trail descends into the Manang district in the Annapurna region. If you wish, you can go on with the Annapurna Circuit from here. The paths will congregate in Dharapani village, which lies between Tilije and Jagat. From here onwards, you can make a golden handshake with your guide and part ways. While your guide returns to Besisahar, Pokhara or Kathmandu, you can prolong your trek into the Annapurna region.
13. Where to hang around in the Manaslu region
Samagaon is perched at the lap of Mt. Manaslu – a 6-day trek from the nearest road in Nepal, but surprisingly less than a day’s walk from the Tibetan border. Although there has been a comparative rise in the tourists visiting this region, the village remains largely frenzied with subsistence. Local people have lived here for a thousand years in the houses built with stones and animal enclosures underneath their homes. They maintain their lives by growing barley and potatoes for some months in summer and trade-off with Tibet and other lower villages at other times. During the acclimatization day at Samagaon, visiting Pungyen Monastery is worthwhile. This age-old monastery is tucked at the headwaters of a stream with an antique temple and meditation caves in the rocks above.
Birendra Lake is another option to hang around on the acclimatization day. It is a couple of hours excursion to the pool at the base of a beautiful glacier amongst so many of them. One more option to spend the acclimatization day is to climb up to Manaslu Base Camp where mountaineers brace themselves for the summit. And if you wish not to hike at all, then wander among the grazing paths and help the local children gather their grazing yaks before dusk.
When you spend the acclimatization day at Samdo, you can climb and stand on the edge of Tibet over the high pass. The trail to the pass is usually covered with snow. It is better to set out on this hike with plenty of warm clothes, a thermos of hot tea, lots of water, and of course, food.
14. Manaslu Cultural Notes
You will encounter countless Mani walls and chortens along the trekking trail in the Manaslu region. Always walk to the left to show your respect towards the sacredness of the prehistoric structures and the people who tend them. Likewise, when you see a spin prayer wheel and wish to spin it, do it in a clockwise direction. If you wish to enter a temple, do not forget to remove your shoes and leave your bags at the entrance. Photography may be prohibited in many places, so always ask before taking pictures. If you wish to make a donation to a monk, offer the cash cradled in both hands as a sign of respect.
The Manaslu Circuit Trek has been finding a place at the top shelf as one of the best treks in Nepal. It is because the trek has been identified as a great alternative to the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The wonderful blend of the natural splendor and the cultural diversity of this trekking destination in Nepal has been creating stories amongst hiking enthusiasts worldwide. It features everything that a trekker wants from a classic trek in Nepal. The trekking region still sees a few visitors as compared to other mainstream trekking destinations in Nepal. Not all trekkers love to trek to the hot-and-happening, luxury-filled trekking destinations. While some may enjoy crowds, many love to spend time in solitude and walk along the path without hearing human voices.
We, at Royal Holidays, have time and again researched all the facts and figures of trekking in Manaslu region. Accordingly, we have sensibly designed a standard itinerary that is almost perfect for all trekkers. We are here to provide our customers with the best of what we have. Our guides will take them to the less trodden trails that offer a secluded spotlight to the unscathed beauty of the Manaslu region.