Considered as one of the most challenging treks in Nepal, the Manaslu Circuit will reward the adventurous with an unparalleled alpine experience. Opened in 1992, this area offers a combination of rich culture heritage, unsurpassed beauty, and biological diversity.
We hike the Gandaki River valley, which is fed by immeasurable rivers and waterfalls, offering the chance of a plunge into some bathing pools. From here, the strenuous section begins and yaks begin to outnumber people in the rocky landscape. In Samagoan (3390m) we visit the glacial green lake of Birendra, before crossing into mystic Samdo, a mere 15km from the Tibetan border. Here Tibetan monks inhabit sacred monasteries and combined with the views of the Tibetan plateau against stark white Himalayas this is a truly spiritual place. The biggest challenge then awaits - crossing the snow bound Larkya La pass (4930m). Snow-covered peaks over 6500m towers above as we cross. The descent, once off the snow, takes us through alpine then tropical areas, bursting with ferns, bamboo, pine trees, waterfalls and aqua-blue green lakes laced with cotton-white beaches. Finally, Manaslu will disappear as we descend to Besisahar (832m.) This 3 week excursion will leave you with a sense of peace and respect for the people of Nepal and its ecological wonders.
Trek highlights: Views of Tibet and an insight into Tibetan culture through various monasteries, the biggest monastery in Lho Gaon and Tibetan settlements. Unspoilt mountain views, above eight thousand metres. Manaslu (8163m), many more peaks above 6000m, the highest resting place Dharmasala (4460m), Larkya La Pass (4930m) the highest pass, bathing pools, lakes and waterfalls surrounded by alpine and tropical forests.
Trek Region: Manaslu
Trek start: Arughat Bazaar
Duration: 22 days
Walking: (6-7 hrs) each day
Grade: Moderate & strenuous
Accommodation: Lodge or tents
Maximum Height: (4930m)
Minimum Group size: 1 pax
Trek end: Besisahar
Day 01: Arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and a representative of Nepal Adventure Guide will welcome and transfer you to your selected hotel by private vehicle.
Day 02: Sightseeing in Kathmandu valley by private vehicle with an expert tour guide.
- Kathmandu Durbar Square
- Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
- Boudhanath Stupa (Large white Buddhist Stupa)
- Pashupatinath (Hindu Temple)
- Patan Durbar Square (Ancient city)
- Bhaktapur Durbar Square (55-window palace)
Day 03: Kathmandu to Arughat Bazaar (570m) by bus (8 hrs)
Early morning start by bus from Kathmandu to the beautiful town of Arughat Bazaar, an 8 hours drive from Kathmandu. For half the distance the road is tarmac and then it becomes a gravel track. It will be fun, as it is a local bus which many people use and it is vital to the community. Lunch is in Dhading Besi, the headquarters of Dhading District. On the way the scenery is attractive and we follow and cross three big rivers. Before lunch we see the Trisuli River, the biggest of the three. After lunch we see the Ankhu River followed by the Budhi Gandaki River. Arughat Bazaar is situated at the foot of the surrounding hills. It is a really nice place to camp on our first day.
Day 04: Arughat to Soti Khola (730m) walking (6 hrs)
The trek heads northwards following the Budhi Gandaki River in the low country, passing by rice paddies and picturesque hamlets. After a couple of hours we reach Arkhet Bazaar (620m) where they have a high school as well as a clinic. After climbing briefly to Keureni Pani (820m), the path descends once again to the river and our campsite is at the confluence with the tributary of Soti Khola. It is not a long day, and perhaps we will have time for a stimulating swim sometime during the day, as it is hot in the low country.
Day 05: Soti Khola to Machha Khola (930m) walking (6 hrs)
The countryside changes where the broad valley narrows and at times the trail cuts into the steep valley side, which is densely forested. We pass a number of small Gurung villages, who live in this region, until we reach a widening of the valley, opposite the point where a large tributary stream enters the Budhi Gandaki River. The terraced farmland here belongs to the village of Lapubesi (880m). The trek descends once again to the wide, sandy riverbed and follows a path, which runs below the steep, wrinkled valley side. At length, we have to climb up once again to Machha Khola. Stay overnight at lodge or in tents.
Day 06: Machha Khola to Jagat (1370m) walking (7-8 hrs)
First of all, we follow the Machha Khola - Fish Stream - and head upstream to the tiny village of Khorla Bensi (970m) and the natural hot springs at Tatopani (990m). The valley sides steepen until they are impassable and the route then switches to the left bank by way of a suspension bridge. The trail is quite exposed and challenging in places. After a short section of forest path we reach the single tea house at Doban (1070m). Above Doban, the Budhi Gandaki River descends an impressive series of rapids. Beyond this steep section, the river is much more placid meandering across a broad gravel bed. At Lauri, we cross the river again on a suspension bridge and then climb on a high path to the fields of Jagat, where we camp. We encounter the check post for the first time. Without a Manaslu Conservation Area Permit, we will not be able to enter the Manaslu region.
Day 07: Jagat to Philim (1570m) walking (5 hrs)
From Jagat, after descending a long series of stone steps back down to the river, we then climb on wonderful stone steps along a terraced hill-side to the small hamlet of Saguleri and Sirdibas, from where we can see the impressive Shringi Himal (7187m). We pass through the charming, village of Sirdibas. We cross the river again on a long, high suspension bridge at Ghata Khola, the path splits, with the right-hand branch heading off towards the Ganesh Himal. Our route continues upstream, and again we have a steep climb to reach Philim. In the afternoon we can bathe at the Dharapani (tap) across the path from camp and continue to explore the interesting upper village and monastery and visit the High School, built by Japanese INGO, or sit and relax and enjoy the afternoon. Stay overnight at lodge or in tents.
Day 08: Philim to Deng (1860m) walking (6 hrs)
First of all, we head up a slope and it is a little risky because there can be stone falls and care needs to be taken. We cross the river at a narrow section of the gorge on a new suspension bridge, ascend gradually along a wide hillside through an open forest, and then cross the river two more times in the next couple of hours on small wooden bridges. The first bridge sits at the intersection to Tsum valley, a remote valley leading to Tibet. After trekking through dense woods for over an hour, we pass the campsite of Pewa on the river, and after another hour we leave the gorge and climb briefly to the small village of Deng. Deng is the start of the lower Nubri region called Kutang, where the people are ethnically Tibetan, but speak a different dialect than the people of upper Nubri where the people are pure Tibetans. We have views of Lumbo Himal to the rear, as well as Lapuchen and Dwijen Himals. It's worth a visit to one of the local houses, perhaps for a glass of local 'Chang', or Tibetan beer and for a chat around the fireside. Deng is small village, containing only 7-8 houses. Stay overnight at lodge or in tents.
Day 09: Deng to Ghap (2380m) walking (6 hrs)
The start of the trek heads steeply up to the small, poor village of Rana. Before Rana Village (1910m) there is suspension wooden bridge. Then the trail ascends steeply up. After climbing through lovely woods of pine and crossing a small bridge, we reach Bihi Phedi (2130m), where there is a good shop and views of Kutang Himal, and starlit to see mani walls stones (prayers etched onto wayside rocks, particularly mani stones with pictures of gods and goddesses), a sure sign that we are entering another of the tiny Tibetan footholds that mark the high Himalayan places. We have three or four hours of trekking ahead of us, twice crossing the large Budhi Gandaki River and twice over smaller tributary streams, staying mostly high with many ascents and descents as we walk through the gorge, all the time enjoying spectacular views. Eventually we reach Ghap, where we set up camp for the night in a wonderful Tibetan village. Stay overnight at lodge or in tents.
Day 10: Ghap to Lho Gaon (3020m) walking (7 hrs)
This is a wonderful trekking day. After leaving Ghap, we ascend for an hour through a dense, cool forest, crossing the Budhi Gandaki River once on a wooden bridge, climb on smooth, stone steps and eventually arrive at Namrung, at 2540m at the Tibetan-run lodge. As we gain altitude, we reach alpine territory and are treated to increasingly broad mountain views. Namrung village is the start of Nubri, the region of purely Tibetan inhabitants speaking a dialect of western Tibet. A few hours later, we reach the village of Lihi at 2840m, a substantial altitude gain. Lihi village has old Monastery, and is spread along the trail with its billowing fields of barley, guarded by 'bear watches'. We climb gently now and soon we cross a large stream flowing down from the Lidanda Glaciers and reach the charming Tibetan village of Sho at (2880m), where we stop for lunch. After an hour we reach Lho, where we are treated to breath-taking views of Manaslu itself. We set up camp in Lho, The sunset and sunrise from the campsite is wonderful and it is here we see the biggest monastery on trek. Stay overnight at lodge or in tents.
Day 11: Lho Gaon to Samagaon (3390m) walking (5 hrs)
it is beautiful day and walking trail heads all the way slope up. Walking through the upper reaches of Lho, with the snowy peaks of Manaslu (8163m) ahead of us in the distance, we pass the new gompa and then ascend through light forests next to a small river to reach the high, tranquil Tibetan settlement of Shayla, where the villagers are often out in the fields Imagination mountain panoramic view from here. Another few hours of trekking through classic alpine scenery leads us past Tibet grazing settlements, the trail to Pung Gyan Gompa off to the left, and eventually past chequered fields of barley and potato to Samagaon. The people of Samagaon settled here from Tibet over 500 years ago. The Tibetan villages in this region of Manaslu have distinctive entrance gates (manes), and they maintain an active trade with their co-religionists in Tibet over several high passes nearby. If the weather is good, you will see the village women weaving wool from Tibet into gowns - which are then traded back to Tibet. Take the afternoon to hike up to the old Gompa settlement above town, and to wander the streets of the fascinating Samagaon village stay overnight at lodge or in tents.
Day 12: Rest day and explore the Gompa and Birendra Kunda
It is a beautiful and a very special day to explore Samagaon, the Gompa and Birendra Kunda (Lake). Birendra Kunda is just another 45 minutes to get there and 30 minutes to return. The Gompa is in the village and we take a shower because after that it won’t be possible. From here we see the sight of Manaslu (8163m) it is spectacular view from this village.
Day 13: Samagaon to Samdo (3700m) walking (4-5 hrs)
It is an another day of incredible mountain views, past wrinkly woods of Himalayan Birch, during the walk up to Samdo, an easy three hours away. En route we pass the long mani walls at Kermo Kharka, after which we see the entrance to the chorten of Samdo high on the track. We descend back to the Bhudi Gandaki and cross a small bridge before another short climb to the 'kane' entrance of Samdo. It is quite a big village and they have Tibetan culture and they speak the Tibetan language. There is a small Gompa in a house mid-village which we can visit and see a puja being performed by several of the reincarnated lamas living in Samdo. We're up high and the wind can be chilling in the evenings, so tuck into the little tea-house next door to our campsite for a cup of salt-butter tea to warm you up! Stay overnight at lodge or in tents.
The once large Buri Gandaki is now merely a stream as we continue to follow its course ever upwards. Everywhere you look the mountains are as spectacular as they get, Manaslu is particularly impressive. After crossing the east bank of the river, above the village, we cross the stream which runs down the Gya La, the pass to Tibet, and there are the ruins of another village here known as Larkya Bazaar. Presumably this village thrived on trade with Tibet over the nearby Gyala village. It will be a great day for an excursion or we can climb a beautiful hill which gives spectacular views of the mountains. We stay at the same place in Samdo.
Day 15: Samdo to Dharamshala (4460m) walking (5 hrs)
We leave Samdo on the old trade route towards Tibet, crossing a bridge, and climb through the ruins of Larkya Bazaar, one of the trade markets that flourished years back. After about three hours of climbing past glaciers, with increasingly awe-inspiring panoramas, we come to the campsite at Dharamsala, the high camp for the Larkya La pass, where we have lunch and take in the views. You will really feel the altitude and the cold here, so enjoy a more leisurely afternoon and keep warm. We'll have an early dinner in preparation for crossing the pass tomorrow. It will be the highest point for sleeping on this trek. They have one lodge that has a large capacity they have a large camping site as well.
Day 16: Dharamshala / cross Larkya La (4930m) to Bhimtang (3590m) walking (8-9 hrs)
The trek commences early morning because it is the highest pass and trekkers should reach the top before it becomes too windy. The wind usually starts from around 10 to 11 o’clock. The trail heads all the way steadily up, and we reach the ablation valley on the north side of the Larkya Glaciers where we have views of Cho Danda and then of Larkya-La (4930m). We continue across the moraines of the glacier, often through the snow, making a gradual ascent, which becomes steeper only in the last section to the pass and it should take us about (4-5 hrs) to reach the top. The views from the top of the pass are wonderful; a mountain panorama of the Himlung Himal, Cheo Himal, Kangguru and the huge Annapurna II, equally stunning from both sides. After hanging our Tibetan prayer flags, get ready for a steep, often slippery drop to a trail following the glacial moraine. We'll lunch below the pass on smooth rocks before continuing the descent, still three hours to go to our campsite. We will also see the beautiful Ponkar Lake (4500m) along the way. A boulder-strewn descent brings us, finally, to Bhimtang. It's all worthwhile now. They have beautiful place and Manaslu north face is seen from there. They have a small lodge and camping site. Stay overnight at lodge or in tents.
Day 17: Bhimtang to Tilje (2300m) walking (6-7 hrs)
A chilly but beautiful morning, as the sun hits the peaks around us long before the campsite. After leaving the grazing fields of Bhimtang, we cross a boulder-strewn river and head down through open forests of brilliantly blooming rhododendron, past the Kharka below Bhimtang. We'll lunch at a small tea-house, and then continue along the rocky river-bed and sliding hill-sides to several small, green villages, a sign that we've reached lower altitudes. Eventually, after a somewhat long but very scenic day, we reach the large village of Tilje village which are a mix of Manangis (of Tibetan descent) and Chettris (Hindus) and Gurung. It has unique architecture and culture and they eat mix foods - Dal Bhat, buckwheat dhindo, tsampa and Tibetan salt-tea. They have a nice school and a small clinic powered by electricity. It is a really beautiful village. Stay overnight at lodge or in tents.
Day 18: Tilje to Jagat (1300m) walking (6-7 hrs)
It's an easy trekking day following the Dudh Khola through bamboo forests down to Dharapani, an atmospheric Tibetan village with prayer flags fluttering in the wind, stopping en route at the Gompa in Thongje on the old Annapurna trail. Trekking south on the main Annapurna Circuit trail, we soon arrive at a long suspension bridge over which we cross the Marsyangdi River to arrive at Dharapani (1860m) where the (ACAP) Annapurna Conservation Area Project permit check post is and where we are required to show our permits. The trail then heads all the way down and through the small village of Karte, We continue along a high, winding, stunning cliff-side trail passing several small teahouses at Khorte, and then switch back down the steep trail before crossing the Marsyangdi River yet again. Before us, we see the wide plain and waterfall at scenic Tal. Tal is a neat and beautiful village and we will be taking lunch here. The trail heads down one and half hours and we cross the suspension bridge to arrive at Chamje village. After Chamje we arrive in Jagat after about an hour. Jagat village is a Gurung village where we will be able to see the Gurung culture. Stay overnight at lodge or in tent camp.
Day 19: Jagat to Bhulbule (840m) walking (7 hrs)
Today will be a beautiful day as the trail heads downwards with a few small climbs. We reach Syange (1150m) in an hour and a half hour and then cross the long, suspension bridge and ascend for 20 minutes and arrive at the beautiful village of Ghermuphant where from can see a lovely water fall. The trail then heads gradually uphill for couple of hours to Bahundanda (1310m) and then the trail then heads down to Ngadi taking about an hour and a half. Ngadi village is a beautiful place located near the Marsyangdi River. After 40 minutes we arrive in Bhulbule, which will be our last night of camping. Tomorrow morning we will catch the bus to Kathmandu.
Day 20: Drive back to Kathmandu (7 hrs)
We will catch an early morning bus, which runs every half an hour. It takes 7 hours including lunch to reach Kathmandu. After an hour we arrive in Besisahar and if we were not able to get the direct bus to Kathmandu from Bhulbule, we can catch another bus, which also runs every half an hour. The road from here is good and we can see beautiful scenery on the route to Kathmandu. Stay at your selected hotel.
Day 21: Souvenir and sightseeing in Kathmandu.
Day 22: A representative of Nepal Adventure Guide will drop you off at Tribhuvan International Airport by private vehicle.
- Airport pick-up and drop off by private vehicle.
- Four nights in your selected Kathmandu hotel with breakfast.
- A full day’s sightseeing in Kathmandu by private vehicle.
- All meals during the trek (lunch, dinner, breakfast and tea or coffee).
- Accommodation in simple lodges or camping in twin shared tents with mattress.
- All necessary equipment for camping
- One English speaking government trained license holder and well informed trekking guide.
- One porter for two people to carry luggage.
- Dependent on group size, cook, kitchen boy and extra porters.
- All expenses for guide and porters - meals, accommodation, salary, equipment, insurance, transportation (bus/flights) etc.
- First Aid kit bag.
- Government and local area taxes where applicable.
- TIMS card fees (Trekking Information Management System).
- Return transportation from Kathmandu to Arughat Bazaar and Besisahar to Kathmandu by tourist bus.
- Syange to Besisahar by private vehicle.
- Manaslu entry permit fees (See the ‘Trekking Permits’ link under ‘Trekking Info’ for current fees)
- Nepalese entry visa fee. (See the ‘Visa Information’ link under ‘Trekking Info’ for current fees)
- Travel insurance.
- Soft and alcoholic drinks (mineral water, hot water, coke, fanta, beer, spirits, etc).
- Snacks (Chocolate, biscuits etc).
- Hot water, hot shower, heater charge, battery charge, phone calls and laundry service.
- Donation, tips and personal expenses.
- Emergency evacuation and medical equipment.
- Hire equipment and other personal items (sleeping bag, down jacket, hiking boots camera, toilet rolls etc).
- In case of natural calamities i.e. political unrest, cancellation of flight due to weather, landslides, etc, the extra charge will be borne by themselves.
- Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu.
I met Jaya in April 2007, who guided me on the Gokyo - Cho La pass - Everest Base Camp
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Jaya Gurung (Tour Operator)
Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal