by site editor Rick McCharles
I returned to Nepal — my 4th visit — to trek the relatively NEW Manaslu Circuit.
That map is linked from Andy Bryant’s excellent 2011 trip report.
Manaslu is the hottest hike in Nepal right now. Check the rapidly increasing number of permits granted as infrastructure has improved over the past few years. For at least 3 seasons it’s been possible to “tea house trek”, sleeping under a roof every night rather than in a tent. The restaurants are now almost as good as Annapurna and Everest.
My main source of information was the Manaslu Circuit Trek independent website.
Permits can only be purchased by a licensed trekking agency.
Through TrekkingPartners.com I met Mike Howarth from the U.K. who was on a year long cycling trip. He wanted to take a break from the bike and hike Manaslu independently . We both wanted to find a way to hike it independently.
A visit to the Tourism Board office in Kathmandu convinced us that was not going to happen. 😦 We’d need to sign on with a trekking agency.
We first checked two top end agencies, one at the Kathmandu Guest House. Both were fairly expensive.
On a whim I thought to ask the owner of a North Farce garment factory in Thamel where I had purchased a Down jacket and Gortex shell for a reference. He called Bharat Prasad Dhakal at a small outfit called Touch Paradise.
To his credit, Bharat understood immediately that we wanted the minimum possible support. He gave us a good price. Called a young guide. We would carry out own packs. No porters. No pack animals.
Mike and I decided to pay for our own food day-to-day. (We could have opted for an all inclusive price, our guide paying for everything.)
In the end, the 11 days (including tips) cost me about $500 total. The highest price we were quoted was about $1000.
We don’t recommend signing on with some guy you’ve not researched in advance. But in this case, it worked.
A straight talker, Bharat explained in no uncertain terms that we could not start for 3 days due to the National holiday called Tihar or Deepawali in Nepal. The government permit offices would be closed.
Frustrated at the time, that delay turned out to be a blessing. If we had departed immediately, we might have been stopped by a freak snow storm at 5106m (16,751ft) Larkya Pass, the crux of the Circuit.
We had plenty of time for last minute research.
I visited (KEEP) Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (and Porters’ Clothing Bank) to check past trip reports.
The day before departure we met back at Touch Paradise to pay the second half of our trip cost. And collect our permits.
For Manaslu we needed 3 permits:
- 2013 $20 / person Manaslu Conservation Area Park (MCAP) permit
- 2013 $20 / person Annapurna Conservation Area Park (ACAP) permit
- 2013 $70 / group Manaslu Restricted Area permit
- 2013 … no TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) card was required
We were good to go!
The delay allowed time for me to celebrate my 57th birthday at Kilroy’s. Mike insisted we splurge on a bottle of Shiraz.
see high resolution photos from this day on flickr