One of the best hikes in the world
The NEW Annapurna Circuit. 🙂
– Robin Boustead, author of The Great Himalaya Trail
AT A GLANCE
- raging rivers, precarious bridges and stunning mountain gorges.
- Oct – Nov best months
- Apr – May next best
- CHSchmaltz tracked their Circuit with GPS: 252km (156.8 mi), 12/13 days, 12,585m of ascent, 11,279m descent. (map)
- the shortest Circuit might be closer to 177km (110mi). It depends on your exact route, where you start and stop. And sidetrips. Andy Bryant’s GPS counted 212km.
- cross 5106m (16,751ft) Larkya Pass quite safely
- guided trekkers stay in lodges, or sprawling tent encampments
- officially opened to foreigners in 1991
- rapidly gaining popularity since 2010 when it became possible to stay in teahouse lodges around the entire circuit
- many new lodges are under construction, anticipating increased numbers of trekkers in the future
Why We Like This Hike
- circumambulate Mt Manaslu 8156m (26,759 ft), 8th highest peak in the world
- 10 peaks of over 6500m (21,300 ft) are visible
- Manaslu is very close, very visible, for large sections of the Circuit
- Manaslu Conservation Area covers 6 climatic zones!
- see blue sheep
- anyone of reasonable fitness can do Manaslu. It’s no longer an extreme trek. And it’s getting easier every year.
- 3 or 4 of the villages offered internet access in 2013
- it’s like the Annapurna Circuit decades ago
- you can Camp or sleep under a roof every night in a “teahouse”
- food is surprisingly good. And inexpensive.
- electricity for recharging batteries is available at most lodges. And it’s often free.
- the altitude profile for this trek is excellent. You have enough time to acclimatize.
- you walk from lush sub-tropic to the highest mountains in the world
- surreal light in the arid Trans-Himalayan high pastures
- wonderful cultural experiences with the Tibetan and mountain people
- Buddhist temples, architecture and tradition
- wonderful photographic opportunities
- very little gear is needed. You can easily get pack weight down to 10kg (22lbs).
- no need to speak Nepali, only English
There are plenty of decisions to be made in advance of flying to Nepal. Buy a guidebook months in advance.
- tent or teahouse?
- porters, pack animals … or carry your own pack?
- how many days? … altitude sickness is the most important consideration
- do ONLY the Manaslu Circuit? … Or add the Annapurna Circuit and/or Tsum Valley?
- add extra days for sidetrips? Ganesh Himal Base Camp? Or Manaslu Base Camp?
- pay for food as part of your all inclusive payment to the trekking agency? … Or pay as you go?
- Manaslu is not inexpensive, but it’s more expensive than in the past. Many hikers run out of money. There is no ATM anywhere en route.
- you must hire a guide to trek the Manaslu Circuit. If you want to hike independently, go to Everest, Annapurna or Langtang
- your guide or trekking agency will organize your permits. You need to provide at least 4 passport photographs.
- your “group” must have a minimum of 2 hikers. (We met one Spanish hiker alone with his guide. He had purchased a permit for a “ghost trekker”, providing a second passport and passport photos.)
- the worst and most dangerous aspect is the 6-9hr bus ride from Kathmandu to Arughat Bazar. It’s easier from Pokhara. Alternatively, a 4WD jeep (6h) may get you there from Kathmandu more quickly but costs around $US150-220 for 4-6 people.
- the worst stop is Larkya Phedi (Dharamsala) which in 2013 offers 64 beds. It’s cold, dirty and crowded. In fact, every bed was full when we arrived. We stayed in tents as a back-up.
- permanent snow line is above 5000m so it’s POSSIBLE to do the Circuit year round
- footwear is critical on long hikes where you have no chance for replacement
- Waterborne diseases are a big concern. Treat everything. Don’t trust that water used in cooking is safe. If worried, order a “sizzler”. Your meal arrives very hot, sometimes in flame. Order veg. Meat cannot be stored safely before cooking.
- “squater” pit toilets are the norm, normally smelly & unsanitary
- bring a war, sleeping bag as the bedding in some guesthouses is unsanitary. We had bedbugs in one. Mice in several others. An inflatable mattress is a good idea too as mattresses are thin.
- be clear — you might have to QUIT if by bad luck or rushed ascent you suffer altitude sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS). We saw many hikers backtracking to the start in Nov 2013 — the Pass was closed due to snow for at least 2 days.
- we were disappointed not to see more of the indigenous wildlife. Of many species we watched for, we only saw Blue Sheep and Black Lipped Pika
- 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
In the end, for our 2013 trip, the 11 days (including tips) cost us about $500 total for each hiker. The highest price we were quoted was about $1000.
Cheap on this adventure is $40-50 / day. Expensive is over $100 / day. One site quotes $1600-$4000.
2016 UPDATE – NEST Adventure – Manaslu Trek Cost
Visa on arrival at Tribhuvan International, Kathmandu in 2013:
Multiple entry 15 days US$ 25
Multiple entry 30 days US$ 40
Multiple entry 90 days US$ 100
Starting 2014 you can pay with credit card or other major currencies.
Traditionally, it’s considered to start in Arughat Bazaar, end in Besisahar. By 2013, however, some shorten that by catching a motor vehicle at the start. Or at the end. If you don’t want to walk on a road out of Arghat, consider a wilder trail via Lapu.
Some take a longer route, starting from Gorkha Bazaar which is quicker to reach from Kathmandu on a smoother road.
There are many options.
- Manaslu Trek Itinerary – 18 days
- Manaslu Trek Itinerary – 14 days
- 22-day Manaslu Trek with Tsum Valley
- Manaslu and Tsum Valley Trek – 20 day itinerary
2016 UPDATE – NEST Adventure – MANASLU TREK ITINERARY
Site editor Rick McCharles crossed Larkya La in only 11 days (the minimum we’d recommend) then continued from Dharapani on the Annapurna Circuit. A great option. (minimum 15 days)
Shawn Lichter on The Great Himalaya Trail:
If you were going to recommend a part of the trek for somebody with a shorter time available, which bit would it be?
I felt like the link up of the Annapurna Circuit and Manaslu Trek had the perfect balance of Nepali culture and mountain scenery while also being logistically easy to get to and from the trail. There are plenty of trekker accommodations and if you are heading east-west, both the climbs over the Larkya La and Thorong La are gradual enough to allow for plenty of time to acclimatize. I felt this area was also a huge transition zone in regards to the landscape. The Nepal you see in Jagat on the Manaslu Circuit will be vastly different from the Nepal you will see in Jomsom on the completion of the Annapurna Circuit .… read more
- NEST Adventure
- Berg Horizonte.de
- World Expeditions ($3060 for 22 days)
- Visit Himalaya Treks
- Himalayan Encounters
- Himalayan Quests
- Lost Earth Adventures
- Project Himalaya
The only one we’ve used was a small outfit called Touch Paradise. Great prices. Straight answers. And they delivered on everything promised.
Most trekkers fly in to Tribhuvan International in Kathmandu. The visa on arrival process is much faster and simpler than in the past. Bring visa photos with you, if possible, and you can apply with pen and paper. Alternatively, there are now machines for online application – the machine takes a mugshot photo.
Let your trekking company and guide take care of the rest of your arrangements.
- Tourism Board office in Kathmandu
- (KEEP) Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (Porters’ Clothing Bank)
- International Porter Protection Group
Best Trekking Guidebooks
- A Trekking Guide to Manaslu and Tsum Valley: Lower Manaslu & Ganesh Himal (2013) by Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons
- Trailblazer Nepal Trekking & the Great Himalaya Trail (2011) by Robin Boustead
Best Travel Guidebooks
Other Recommended Books
Get your guidebooks in advance. Most of these other books are easily found in Nepal. The best bookshops in Asia are in Kathmandu.
- The Ascent of Manaslu: Climbing the world’s eighth highest mountain by Mark Horrell
- A Beard In Nepal (2012) – Fiona Roberts
- Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal (2011) – Conor Grennan
- A Nepalese Journey: The Essence of the Annapurna Circuit (2002) – Andrew Stevenson
- The Snow Leopard – Peter Matthiessen
- Travelers’ Tales Nepal – Rajendra S. Khadka
- Nepal Trek – A Woman Alone (2006) – Kay Petterson Shaw
- Annapurna Circuit – Himalayan Journey (1998) -Andrew Stevenson
- Annapurna – Maurice Herzog, 1950 first ascent, climbing classic
- True Summit: What Really Happened on the Legendary Ascent of Annapurna (2002) – David Roberts, 2002
- Conquistadors of the Useless: From the Alps to Annapurna – Lionel Terray, climbing classic
- Annapurna South Face – Bonington & Willis, climbing classic
- Annapurna: 50 Years of Expeditions in the Death Zone – Reinhold Messner, 2000
- Annapurna: A Woman’s Place – Arlene Blum, 1998
- East of Lo Monthang – Peter Matthiessen, 1995
- The Ascent of Rum Doodle – W.E. Bowman
- Around Manaslu (1:155,000) $2 in Kathmandu
It’s now easy to buy maps in Nepal. Inexpensive and widely available.
Best Web Pages
- Manaslu Trek information, everything you need to know
- KimKim – Manaslu Circuit Trek
- NEST Adventure – Planning for the Manaslu
- Manaslu Circuit Trek
- Manaslu Circuit Trek on Facebook
- Matador – All you need to know to trek the Manaslu Circuit in Nepal
- Manaslu Mountain Trail Race
- Manaslu Trek with a purpose (volunteer en route)
- The Great Himalaya Trail on Manaslu
- Manaslu trek by mountain bike?
- Val Pitkethly – Manaslu trek guides bring light to Nubri and Tsum
- wikipedia – Manaslu
- TrekkingPartners.com (find others to hike with you)
Best Trip Reports
- Andy Bryant (2011)
- BestHike editor Rick McCharles (Nov. 2013)
- Leisa Tyler – The Age – Higher Calling (2012)
- Guy Shachar – Manaslu Circuit Trek (2011)
- Eyal Ofer – photos of Nepal & Manaslu (2013)
- Kapil Bisht – Manaslu trekking in the monsoon season
- Andrées de Ruiter (2005)
- Oleg Bartunov photos
- Great Himalayan Trail marketing pics
This 5min edit gives a very accurate overview of what you’ll see on this adventure. Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.
Click PLAY or watch Andre’s mountains highlights on YouTube.
Click PLAY or watch climbaddict on YouTube.
Stephen Slater – Exodus organized Manaslu Circuit: 6th – 26th April 2012 VIDEO (33min)