Manaslu Circuit

World → AsiaNepal → Manaslu Circuit

High altitude trekking is dangerous – Oct 2014 Nepal snowstorm disaster ☹️

One of the best hikes in the world

Manaslu Circuit

The NEW Annapurna Circuit?

Manaslu mapMany would argue that the Manaslu Circuit trail is the best general trek in the country, with colourful cultures and dramatic valleys against a backdrop of classic Himalayan peaks.

Robin Boustead, author of The Great Himalaya Trail

Gompa

AT A GLANCE

  • Nepalraging rivers, precarious bridges and stunning mountain gorges.
  • Oct – Nov best months
  • Apr – May next best
  • Manaslu was badly damaged by the April 2015 earthquake and at least 2 foreign hikers were killed. But it’s all rebuilt now.
  • 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

  • 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
  • about 8000 trekkers in 2019
  • 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
nepal-dia.de
nepal-dia.de
  • 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.
  • it’s like the Annapurna Circuit decades ago with more modern lodges
  • food is surprisingly good
  • 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.

ImagineTreks_Manaslu_profile

  • 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

Ferris wheel

  • 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
  • mobile phone service access rapidly improving. Get a SIM card from Nepal Telecom Namaste. Data inexpensive. It worked up to Sama village in 2019.
  • new airport will be opening in Pokhara 2021. Easier access.

Considerations

There are plenty of decisions to be made in advance of flying to Nepal. Buy a guidebook months in advance.

  • When to trek?Oct and Nov are the best months, overall
  • tent or lodge?
  • guide?, porters?, … 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? 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.
  • 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 8-9hr 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 on the trail is Larkya Phedi (Dharamsala) which in 2013 offered only 64 beds. Cold, dirty and crowded. In fact, every bed was full when we arrived. We stayed in tents as a back-up. As of 2019 there are two new “lodges” at Dharamsala:  Zambala and the Larkya La (pre-fabricated modules, ten modules each lodge, each module sleeps 4-5 people).
  • permanent snow line is above 5000m so it’s POSSIBLE to do the Circuit year round
  • you MUST bring footwear you love and trust. Almost everyone brings walking shoes as well as guest house shoes for the evening.
  • 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.

sizzler

  • “squater” pit toilets are the norm, normally smelly & unsanitary
  • bring a  warm 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
  • 195m metal path has been built for the 2017 season at Yaru Bagar. A second is planned for Syar Khola on the Tsum side trail.

manaslu-circuit-bridge-2

manaslu-circuit-bridge

Cost

Compare a number of different trekking companies online to get an idea of what’s available. 

Find out in detail what’s covered by the trekking outfitter, and what you will pay for out of pocket. Budget for a tip of 10-15% if you are happy with the service. 

There are permits and restricted area charges for this trek. Your guide will take care of that for you. Cost will be included in what you are charged.

  • 2019 $30 (NPR 3,000)/ person Annapurna Conservation Area Park (ACAP) permit – single entry
  • 2019 $30 (NPR 3,000)/ person Manaslu Conservation Area Park (MCAP) permit – single entry

We believe that no 2019 $20 (NPR 2,000) / person TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) card is required for guided hikers. BUT you might want to get one if you want to continue independently on the Annapurna Circuit when finishing Manaslu.

It’s easiest to purchase TIMS in advance of your hike:

  • Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu
  • Nepal Tourism Board in Pokhara (faster, easier)

In the past you needed to bring passport photos. In 2019 those offices take your photo while there. No cost.

Visa on arrival for most nations at Tribhuvan International, Kathmandu in 2019:

Multiple entry 15 days US$ 30
Multiple entry 30 days US$ 50
Multiple entry 90 days US$ 125

You can pay with credit card or other major currencies. The visa on arrival process is much faster and simpler than in the past. No need to bring passport photos as machines now take your mugshot photo.

If you pay your own expenses while on the trail 2019 you might spend about $30 / day

You might budget $40 / day / person to be on the safe side. And if you drink beer.

Very frugal hikers might average $20 / day.

Costs for bed and food tend to increase the further you hike from a road.

Carry more cash than you need for your planned trip in case of emergency. Bring Nepalese rupees. It’s a cash economy in the mountains.

In 2019 the most we could take out of a bank machine at one time in Pokhara was 35000 NPR (about $300). We used Nabil Bank machines withdrawing directly from our bank cards, not credit card, to reduce the transaction fee cost and avoid interest.

Evacuation by helicopter is expensive. Payment must be guaranteed in advance. Bring your credit card, just in case.

Consider purchasing good insurance coverage for this trip. World Nomads, for example, offers policies covering hikers up to 3000m, 4500m or 6000m.

In 2019 we bought 30 day visas for Nepal. And World Nomads insurance for those same 30 days.

Cheap on this adventure is $40-50 / day. Expensive is over $100 / day. One site quotes $1600-$4000.

2019 UPDATE – NEST Adventure – Manaslu Trek Costs

Routes

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.

2019 UPDATE – NEST Adventure – MANASLU TREK ITINERARY

On signing up your group must decide whether to add the Tsum Valley to the itinerary. It’s still recommended in 2019. But China is developing a road. This could be a dusty construction zone soon.

Tsum Valley road 2019

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)

Manaslu-Circuit-Trek-II-location-map

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

Manaslu

Trekking Guides

The only one we’ve used was a small outfit called Touch Paradise. Great prices. Straight answers. And they delivered on everything promised.

Logistics

Most international hikers arrive via Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathamandu. It’s not very good.

Let your trekking company and guide take care of the rest of your arrangements.

Though you can book from home, it’s fairly easy to organize a Manasulu trek once having arrived in Kathmandu or Pokhara if you have 2 people or more. It will take a few days from your guide to organize your permits.

Local Information

P1240551

Best Trekking Guidebooks

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.

Best Maps / Apps

Navigation is not difficult in this region. And you have a guide. We use the free Maps.me app which might be useful if you do some day hikes while acclimatizing.

  • Around Manaslu (1:155,000) $2 in Kathmandu

It’s easy to buy maps in Nepal. Inexpensive and widely available.

Online

Best Web Pages

Best Trip Reports

Before you check some of those below, read a quite unhappy trip report from Oct 2017.

Movies

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 the 2019 NEST Adventure promotion on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch the longer 2019 NEST promo video on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch climbaddict on YouTube.

Stephen Slater – Exodus organized Manaslu Circuit: 6th – 26th April 2012 VIDEO (33min)

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page. Our editors will reply.

23 Replies to “Manaslu Circuit”

  1. Super awesome website with incredibly useful information! Thank you.

    Trying to decide between Manaslu and Everest 3 Pass hike for mid-April 2015. Which would be your preference?
    Also, I’m sure it’s preferable to have waterproof shoes, but do you think it’s necessary this time of year? I’ve been traveling for awhile and chucked my hiking boots awhile back to minimize my pack.

    1. Without question I’d say go Manaslu now. Before it gets too crowded.

      The downside is that Manaslu requires a Guide, while Everest can be done independently or guided.

      Time is another factor. You could do Manaslu easily in 2 weeks while you’d want at least 3 weeks for Everest.

      Whichever you choose, it will be fantastic.

  2. Sanjib picked us up from the airport when our flight arrived 12.4.2015. He took us to our hostel, and visited us again the next morning, taking us to various places to get final provisions prior to our trek. His office is very nice and he served us tea.

    He picked us up the morning of our flight to Lukla. Upon arrival in Lukla, we met our porter and we had breakfast. The cost of our trek was extraordinarily competitive and everything was included. The only thing I had to pay for was if I wanted something like a candy bar while trekking–and then only if it weren’t a scheduled meal or break. I honestly feel we had the best deal available for this trek in Nepal.

    Sanjib commands a certain amount of respect from the Nepalese and other guides. He is very tall and in excellent shape. He seems known by everyone on the trail, from the teahouse owners to the other guides to airport personnel. It seemed as if he arranged everything in advance, getting us excellent lodgings in teahouses. Each of our dinners came with pomegranate seeds and tangerines–but no one else in the dining area had these. To this day, I don’t know where Sanjib found this stuff.

    My travel partner and I are 57 and 53 years old respectively. Sanjib did not push us to make our miles in any amount of time. It was a leisurely pace, although still very difficult. He explained many of the sites and cultures. He knew everything it seemed. His English was good enough where we had absolutely no problems with communication.

    Sanjib has an excellent sense of humor, and even with the extreme difficulty, I found something to laugh about daily. On the day from Tengboche to Lobuche, I ended up very ill. I couldn’t even carry my pack. I would say this is one of the sickest I’ve ever been. When we reached Lobuche, I immediately laid down under two sleeping bags and two huge wool blankets. I could not get warm. I had no appetite.

    Shortly after, Sanjib appeared with a bowl of porridge and cup of tea. He very calmly but sternly explained that it was necessary I choke this down if I had to. He left. I choked it down, and within 1/2 an hour, my strength began returning and I started tow arm up. The next day I woke up about 80% of my usual strength, able to continue on to Gorekshep. It wasn’t until later I found out we were headed out in a helicopter the next morning if I woke up in the same condition.

    On our descent, while in Namche, the earthquake struck. This isn’t a review of the earthquake, so I’ll say no more about that event. Sanjib decided, along with my travel partner (I was overruled) to head out the next morning to Phak Ding. The trek to Phak Ding was treacherous, with earth clearly waiting to slide off the mountain. We reached a landslide area that destroyed the trail, so we had a vertical climb up and around this landslide.

    The ground we had to climb was very loose and I was fearful it would not hold our weight. Sanjib made steps with his feet, after taking my pack, and assisted me with getting to the top. I was fearful, knowing I left a kid back at home.

    A half hour after we got off the trail, a 6.9 aftershock occurred. Sanjib had insisted we be off the trail by noon because of “tales” of another earthquake. I told him that was superstition and he should not worry. He said ok, but we need to hurry up and get off the trail. The 6.9 aftershock occurred 12:30.

    Upon arrival in Lukla, so many people were waiting to get out of the airport and back to Kathmandu. Our flight was cancelled, so we were now at the end of the line of hundreds of trekkers trying to get out. We were looking at that time at a good one week delay. Somehow, and he has not told me how this happened, he got us on the first flight out on the day after we were scheduled to leave.

    People who trekked the same time as us were stranded for up to two weeks. We were delayed one day. You tell me what kind of pull Sanjib had, to get us out of Lukla only one day later.

    When we arrived in Kathmandu, our hostel was closed because of damage. Sanjib found us a very good high rise hotel at a very reasonable cost who took us in. He visited us everyday until we left.

    I owe this guide my sincere thanks for the best trek we’ve ever taken–and we are world trekkers–and for in all likelihood, saving our lives.

    I cannot wait to again visit Nepal and visit Sanjib Adhikari.

  3. I was surprised not to see to many tourist in such a haven place with nature. And I realised probably it’s because lake of enough information specially after the earthquake. I made manaslu sometime Last year in November and the situation was still very bad. Again after almost 1 from earthquake I explore Manaslu with number of tourist, we were 40 of us on top of the larke pass. details on this page. http://www.nestadventure.com/blog/72/manaslu-trek-after-the-earthquake-recent-updates.html

  4. Hey, this website is really great with many useful links. It helped me greatly for my research before I went on my Manaslu Trip last year in Sept-October 2017!

    I wrote a detailed write-up about my trip here :
    http://www.yonderingsoles.com/…/manaslucircuittrekitinerary/

    It might contain some more updates about the circuit in 2017.

    Additionally, I wrote a detailed guide about the information on Manaslu which might be useful as the information is updated as of 2017.
    http://www.yonderingsoles.com/2018/02/03/manaslucircuittrek/

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