Manaslu and Ganesh Himal (31 days, 30 nights)
The trip is to the remote and less-frequented circuit around Manaslu, the world's seventh highest peak at 8,156m. The Manaslu area is a beautiful and fascinating region located along the border of Nepal and Tibet. It is a fairly long trek, but the rewards of the trek are well worth the commitment. The Manaslu area was opened for trekking only in 1991. In addition to a Conservation Area fee, there is also a trekking permit that is required for this region, thus relatively fewer tourists visit this region, and you will be sharing the trails with few others.
This trek is geographically spectacular and culturally fascinating. The inhabitants of the lower Buri Gandaki region are Hindus (Brahmin/Chhetris) and Gurungs (Bonpos and Buddhists), while the inhabitants in the upper parts of the Buri Gandaki river are Buddhists and direct descendents of Tibetan immigrants who settled here in the early 1600s. The mani stones around Ghap (6,800ft) are particularly outstanding. A day beyond Ghap, you will enter truly high alpine country with spectacular close-up views of Manaslu at the head of the valley. The high pass of Larkya La (16,700 ft.) is one of the most dramatic pass-crossings in the Himalaya.
This trek is non-technical and suitable for anyone in good shape who likes to hike. This is not a backpacking trip: porters will carry your gear. It is a camping trek: you will be sleeping and eating in campsites in tents along the trail.
Arrive Kathmandu. Met on arrival. Transferred to Hotel. Rest of day free. Trip briefing followed by welcome dinner in Thamel. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (D)
Explore the sights, sounds and pleasant chaos that is Kathmandu: Visit Swayambhunath, the monkey temple, overlooking Kathmandu city. Onwards to Kathmandu Durbar square with its maze of temples and the palace complex. In this complex lives the little girl-goddess – Kumari. Drive to Patan for lunch at Patan Café. After lunch, visit the well-maintained Patan Museum storing ancient Nepali artifacts, followed by a tour of Patan Durbar (palace) Square. Time-permitting, at the end of the day, visit the Tibetan Refugee Centre. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (B,L)
Depart Kathmandu early in the morning and drive on the Pokhara Highway until the turn-off point at Khaireni. It is a few hours of driving from Khaireni to Gorkha, the ancestral home of the Shah Kings of Nepal. (The Shah's ruled Nepal for more than 200 years until 2008). Camp is in a village behind the old palace. Overnight camp. (All meals)
View from Darchey ridge (John Balha)
For the next three days, trek via Ghyampesal through the thick forests of Darchey ridge to Laprak which is a fairly large Gurung settlement. From Darchey superb views of mountains of the Ganesh range and parts of the Annapurna range are possible. The Darchey ridge also has many pastures. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
From Laprak, you begin a long and steady descent to Machha Khola. Then walk through wheat and buckwheat fields to reach hot-springs at Tatopani (930m). Spend some time soaking in the hot-springs, before heading out to Dobhan (1,000m). Above Dobhan, the Buri Gandaki descends in an impressive series of steep rapids. Here, the trail climbs high above the river and then descends through a huge gateway that opens out into a wide valley where the river is calm again. Continue on to the campsite below Jagat (1,410m).
Jagat is a beautiful stone-paved village with a rudimentary trekker's hotel, shops, and a customs office. Jagat is the entrance to Manaslu Conservation Area, an area where the concept of integrated conservation and development is being implemented to achieve conservation and sustainable development objectives. There is also an MCAP (Manaslu Conservation Area Project) office here where your permits will be checked. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Descend a long series of stone steps to the river, then climb a terraced hill to Saguleri (1,440m) from where you can get an impressive view of Sringi Himal (7,187m). Past Saguleri, pass through Sirdibas village (1,430m). Cross the Buri Gandaki again over a long suspension bridge at Ghatta Khola, then follow the route upstream. Climb up a steep incline to reach Philim (1,590m). Philim (1,590 m) is a large Gurung village with fields of corn and millet. The hillsides become steeper beyond Philim until Aga. Follow a level mountain path while looking down into the Budi Gandaki gorge; make your way around to the Shar Khola side arriving at Lokwa. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Trekking through the gorge (Photo: John)
You now leave the Manaslu trail and head toward Ganesh Himal. This area is even more remote than the main Manaslu trail and you will encounter one or two other groups of Westerners at most - sometimes none. Trek on a high winding trail that zig-zags through a forested area. The ascent ends at the village of Sipche. Cross the Dumje Khola and climb up a steep path through a rhododendron forest towards a kharka with some huts.
Trek towards the Toro Gompa Glacier to your campsite at 3,880m. Climb up the lateral moraine for a view of the mountains: Ganesh I (7,429m), Ganesh II (Lapsang Karbo 7,111m), III (7,110m), and IV (Pabil 7,052m). From the Ganesh Himal Base Camp, retrace your steps to a river camp. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Trek through a narrow, dramatic gorge with towering walls, and past a thundering waterfall. Cross the river on locally-built bridges and then leave the gorge to climb to the small village of Deng (1,800m). The "Nupri" region starts here at Deng. Nupri translates to "the western mountains" and the people of Nupri are direct descendants of Tibetan immigrants who settled here in the early 1600s. Deng constitutes lower Nupri and is known locally as Kutang. It is inhabited primarily by Gurungs who practice Buddhism and speak a different dialect than the people in upper Nupri. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Cross the Buri Gandaki again into the north bank and climb to the village of Rana (1,980m). Here, you will start observing mani walls (stones carved with prayers on their surface and stacked to form a wall) – a sign of Tibetan Buddhism being practiced in the area. The trail is level, then climbs and drops and climbs again to the village of Ghap (2,110m). Here, you will also walk through a kaani – an archway over the trail decorated with paintings or carvings on the inside. The mani wall in Ghap has elegant carvings said to have been made by a family of stone carvers from Bhi, high on the hillside above the village. Many of the carvings depict the Buddha in various meditative poses, and others are of Milarepa – the Tibetan hermit who traveled and meditated in this valley. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Manaslu from Namrung
Walk through barley fields lined with mani walls and continue on towards a fir forest, where you might catch sight of the danphe –impeyan pheasant which is also Nepal's colorful national bird. Continue climbing into a dense, rhododendron-fir forest and enter Namrung (2,660m) through a stone kaani arch.
Beyond Namrung, the trail enters upper Nupri where the residents are more Tibetans than in lower Nupri. Climb past a mani wall and the many fields and houses of Barsam, then up through a fir-rhododendron-oak forest to a promontory. The trail passes through another stone kaani and enters Lihi (2,900m). Lihi is a closely-packed village with unusual architecture: the stone houses are grouped together into units of five or six that share a common roof and courtyard. Most roofs are made of heavy wood shingles.
Head towards Sho (2,960m), whose closely-paced houses you can see on the ridge ahead. From Sho, the views of Ngadi Chuli are spectacular. From here onwards, you will also encounter children who will hassle you for shim shim – i.e. sweets or candy. From Sho onwards and towards Lho (3,180m), you will also start viewing Manaslu, Manaslu North (7,157m) and Naike Peak (5,515m). Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Sama Gaon – or Ro, as the locals call it – sits in a bowl at the foot of the pastures leading to high peaks. There are two gompas (monasteries) here with unique architecture. The residents of Sama Gaon are Tibetan descendents, and they continue to maintain an active trade with Tibetans across the border. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
On the trail to Samdo, you can see the trail that leads to Manaslu Base Camp. Continue on the Larkya La trail to Samdo, a village nestled behind a ridge at 3,860m. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Continue on the old salt trade route to Tibet and climb through the seasonal herders' camp of Larkya. This camp was functioned as a trade market that flourished years ago. Sherpas from Namche Bazaar would also bring their yaks on a long trip via Tibet, then into Nupri, to trade here. Continue climbing to the rest house at Larkya Phedi. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
At Larkya La
After a short climb above the rest house, reach the ablation valley on the north side of the Larkya Glaciers. There are views of Cho Danda and then of Larkya Peak. Finally, walk across the moraines of the glacier, making a gradual ascent which becomes steeper only in the last section to the pass of Larkya La at 5,100m. From the pass, there are outstanding views of Himlung Himal, Cheo Himal, Kangguru, and the massive Annapurna II. If there is fresh snow on the ground, look out for snow leopard pug marks, as well. From the pass, it is a steep joint-straining drop to a trail following the glacial moraine. If you want to admire the view, then please STOP to take in the view. Don't try and do both together!! It is a long day to Bimtang, but descending to a "warmer" clime is all its worth at the end of the day. Bimtang means "plain of sand" in Tibetan and is a huge valley surrounded by high peaks. It was a prominent trading post earlier. Tilman reports that during the 1950 season, more than 3000 animal loads of goods were traded in Bimtang. Bimtang was also a Khampa guerilla staging area during the 1970s. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Descend into a beautiful pine and rhododendron forest to Hompuk (3,430m). Continue descending to Karache (2,700m), the climb steeply over a ridge decorated with prayer flags, while the Dudh Khola river loops around in an S-shape down below. The trail descend to the river bank at 2,580m near a few houses and fields on the opposite side. A short distance beyond is the village of Gho (2,560m). Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Trek from Gho to Bhulbhule via Dharapani, Jagat (1,330m) and Bahundanda (1,300m).
Climb through terraced fields to the Karche La, where you can see ahead a green and heavily forested valley, dropping down to the distant Marsyangdi Khola. At Thonje village (1,950m) is the final restricted area checkpost. Here, cross the Marsyangdi river and join the main Annapurna Circuit trail, as well as the mass of trekkers generally traveling up to Manang and the Thorung La. Continue descent to Bahundanda. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Celebrating with the staff (photo: John Balha)
This is the last day of the trek. If it is possible for your vehicle to pick you up at Bhulbhule, we will whisk you away from here to Kathmandu. Otherwise, descend to Khudi or Besi Shahar, wherever the vehicle can come up to, and drive to Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel in Kathmandu. Shower, rest, relax, and then we'll have a pleasant dinner where you can reminisce about the trek. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (All meals)
This is a contingency day in case of any delays during the trek. Otherwise another free day in Kathmandu.
Farewell dinner in a Nepali cultural restaurant in the evening. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (B,D)
Transfer to airport for final departure. (B)
A completed reservation form must be either faxed to us or scanned and emailed as an attachment.
Fax: 977 – 1- 4412647
You must also send us a non-refundable deposit of $500 per person. The deposit must be wired to us. Details will be provided. We will refund up to $30 to cover your wire expenses. Wire details will be provided.
The balance of the amount must be paid on arrival, either in traveler’s checks or cash.
If you cancel at anytime prior to the beginning of the trip, you forfeit your deposit. No refunds will be made for unused services on the trip.
This trek is rated challenging but is moderately paced. The trek involves daily hiking of between 5-8 hours but the entire trek involves lots of up and down. Highest altitude reached is near 17,000 ft. While the trek requires good physical fitness and involves walking through rocky terrain and landslides, no technical climbing experience is required nor do you have to be a very experienced hiker. While the trek does not involve hiking at extremely high altitudes, this is a long trek (27 days) to a remote region with minimum or no amenities and hence requires good mental and physical fitness.
This trek does involve sleeping and hiking at high altitude. We will, as we do for all high-altitude treks, provide a GAMOW bag for this trip. A GAMOW bag is a portable hyperbaric chamber that looks like an inflatable extra-large sleeping bag. The effective altitude inside the inflated GAMOW bag is about 5000 feet lower than the altitude you are at; it has been very effective in the past in relieving headaches and other symptoms of altitude sickness.
Please ask us for references from clients who have previously trekked with us. Depending on their convenience and availability we will also be able to put you in touch with our Manaslu Trek 2008 participants who will be able to talk to you about their experience.
Additionally, we plan and organize journeys for hundreds of travelers each year. Feel free to ask us for references.
Photos from previous trek: Manaslu and Ganesh Himal 2008
Arriving early or leaving late? Nepal (and the region) has a lot to offer besides your main trip to Manaslu. Depending on the extra days you have and your budget, we would be glad to match you up with one of the following activities:
Contact us for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Land Line: + 977 1 4416813
Mobile: + 977 98410-00724