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For many years the Annapurna Circuit trek enjoyed the status of the world’s best trek. That changed when a jeep track was built connecting Besi-Sahar to Manang and Muktinath to Beni. Now, local entrepreneurs have begun building lodges along the Manaslu Circuit route and this trek is fast becoming popular and for many it is the new Annapurna Circuit Trek.
The trip takes you to the remote and less-frequented circuit around Manaslu – the world’s seventh highest mountain at 8,156m. The Manaslu region, located along the border of Nepal and Tibet, is both beautiful and fascinating. The trek is fairly long, but the rewards are well worth the commitment. The Manaslu area has been opened for trekking only since 1991. In addition to a Conservation Area fee, a restricted area fee is also required for this region.
This trek is geographically spectacularand culturally fascinating. The inhabitants of the lower Buri Ganadaki 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 descendants of Tibetan immigrants who settled here in the early 1600s. The mani stone 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 (16,700ft) is one of the most dramatic pass-crossing in the Himalaya.
Crystal Mountain Treks operates treks and climbs in Nepal and Tibet. Crystal Mountain Treks has been in business for over two decades and employs only the best guides with a minimum of 15 years experience. We treat our staff with the utmost care and respect. Each staff member is provided high-quality equipment and paid higher-than-average wages. Our clients have commented that our treks provide a better value (we provide more for less) than other companies they researched, comparing services, quality and price. We are happy to provide references of people who have journeyed with us in the past upon request.
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,200ft|
|Day 2||Exploring Kathmandu||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,200ft|
|Day 3||Kathmandu to Arughat. Drive onward to Soti Khola.||Soti Khola||710m/2,350ft|
|Day 4||Soti Khola to Macchi Khola (6 – 7 hours)||Machhi Khola||910m/2,950ft|
|Day 5||Machhi Khola to Jagat (6 – 7 hours)||Jagat||1,410m/4,625ft|
|Day 6||Jagat to Deng (6 – 7 hours)||Deng||1,800m/5,900ft|
|Day 7||Deng to Namrung (6 – 7 hours)||Namrung||2,630m/8,750ft|
|Day 8||Namrung to Lho (5 hours)||Lho||3,200m/10,500ft|
|Day 9||Lho to Samga Gaon (3 hours)||Sama Gaon||3,530m/11,600ft|
|Day 10||Acclimatization day in Sama Gaon||Sama Gaon||3,530m/11,600ft|
|Day 11||Trek to Samdo (3 hours)||Samdo||3,860m/12,700ft|
|Day 12||Samdo acclimatization day||Samdo||3,860m/12,700ft|
|Day 13||Samdo to Larkya Phedi (4 hours)||Larkya Phedi||4,460m/14,700ft|
|Day 14||Cross Larkya pass (16,700ft) to Bimthang||Bimthang||3,720m/12,300ft|
|Day 15||Bimthang to Gho (6 hours)||Gho||2,300m/7,500ft|
|Day 16||Gho to Tal (7 hours)||Tal||1,700m/5,600ft|
|Day 17||Tal to Syange (7 hours)||Syange||1,080m/3,500ft|
|Day 18||Drive to Kathmandu||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,200ft|
|Day 19||Final departure|
Arrive Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport. Transfer to Hotel. Day Free. Enjoy welcome dinner. Briefing during dinner.
Overnight Hotel Tibet.
Visit Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple dedicateed to Shiva, with its two-tiered golden roof and silver door. Here, you’ll probably witness a Hindu cremation along the banks of the Bagmati River. Then drive to Bhaktapur, the city of Devotees, for lunch and a tour of the royal palace square. Bhaktapur is a medieval city inn the Kathmandu valley and is least disturbed by modern life. Here, you can absorb the architectural splendor of the five-storied Nyatapola temple, or the sculptural delight of the Peacock Window.
Overnight Hotel Tibet or similar.
MEALS: B, L
Board a chartered bus to Arughat. We follow the Trishuli river on paved highway for about three hours and then head north on the bumpy jeep track at Dhading Besi. Arughat is a good size settlement by the Budi Gandaki river where your permits will be checked at the police station. Continue for another hour towards Soti Khola. The total drive can take up to 9 hours.
From Soti Khola, walk through the low hills with terraced rice fields through villages inhabited by the Brahmin and Chettri ethnic groups enroute to Machha Khola. As you gain elevation, the fields slowly change to wheat and buckwheat fields near the hot-springs at Tatopani (930m/3,051ft). You are welcome to spend some time soaking in the hot-springs before heading out to Dobhan (1,000m/3,280ft). 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/4,625ft).
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.
Cross the Buri Gandaki again over a long suspension bridge at Ghatta Khola, then follow the route ustream. Climb up a steep incline to reach Philim (1,590m/5,216ft). Philim is a large Gurung village with fields of corn and millet. The hillsides become steeper beyond Philm until Aga.
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/5,905ft). The ‘Nupri’ region starts here at Deng. Nupri translates to “the Western Mountains” and the people of Nupri are direct descendants of Tibetans immigrants who settled here in the 1600s.
Cross the Buri Gandaki again into the north bank and climb to the village of Rana (1,980m/6,496ft). Here, you wil 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/6,922ft). Here you will also walk throiugh 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, hig 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.
Walk through barley fields lined with mani walls and continue 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/8,727ft) through a stone kaani arch.
Beyond Namrung, the trail enters upper Nupri where the residents are of Tibetan origin. 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/9,514ft). Lho 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/9,711ft), 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 who may hassle you for shim shim- i.e. sweets or candy. From Sho onwards, and towards Lho (3,180m/10,433ft), you will also start viewing Manaslu. Manaslu north (7,157m/23,480ft) and Nalike Peak (5,5515m/18,093ft).
Samagaon – 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 Samagaon are Tibetan descendents, and they continue to maintain an active trade with Tibetans across the border. A lay over day is planned at Samagaon during which you can trek towards the Manaslu Base Camp.
Trek to Samdo. Another layover day is planned at Samdo for exploration and acclimatization.
Trek to the base of Larkya la pass. This is a short day of around 3 hours. Retire to bed early to prepare for an early and long pass crossing day. Since rooms are limited, it is possible that you might have to sleep at the semi-permanent tents set up by the lodge owner. Camp is at 4,480m/14,700ft.
Wake up early to begin the crossing of Larkya la (5,100m/16,700ft). The guide will decide the exact time but most groups being at 3 – 4 am. The climb is long but gentle and mostly follows the moraine. Prayer flags and a large sign board mark the top of the pass. The descent begins with a steep descent on loose gravel but slowly becomes more gradual. The valley widens as you cross several meadows ending at a large meadow at Bimthang. This is a long strenuous day and can take anywhere between 7 to 10 hours.
Descend through Rhododendron and oak forests to the Gurung village of Tilje. The trail joins main Annapurna Circuit trail at Dharapani. And we continue our descent through Tal to Jagat where the trek ends.
A chartered 4 x 4 will bring you to Kathmandu. The section from Syange to Besi-Sahar is on jeep track through bumpy winding roads that follow the Marsyangdi River southward. From Besi-Sahar, it is a small paved road until Dumre from where you join the main highway in Kathmandu.
Overnight Hotel Tibet or similar.
Transfer to the airport for final departure.
Per person price (valid until December 31, 2019)
1 participant: US$ 2,900 (includes single supplement)
2-4 participants: US$ 2,320 per person
5 or more participants: US$ 2,175 per person
Single Supplement: US$200
US$ 150 per person discount on September, December, May, June, July and August departures
Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information | Motivated, well-cared-for staff | All airport transfers | 1 full day sightseeing in Kathmandu as in the itinerary and entrance fees to monuments | 3 nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Tibet (3 star) in Kathmandu | Chartered Bus: Kathmandu to Arughat and Besi-Sahar to Kathmandu | Meals as indicated in the itinerary | Lodge trekking as indicated in the itinerary | Three meals a day | Boiled water for your bottles three times a day | Guide and staff wages, equipment and meals | Guide and staff insurance | Annapurna Conservation Area Fee | Manaslu Conservation Area Fee | Manaslu Restricted Area permit | Gamow Bag
Your international airfare, Nepal Visa, Meals not indicated in the itinerary, Tips and gratuities, Personal equipment (a suggested list will be mailed to you), Travel insurance (Required), Other expenses of a personal nature
The 19 day program is our standard program. But, for a party of two, we would be more than happy to organize a faster-paced program and reduce the total days to 17 days.
It is also possible to combine this trek with the Annapurna Circuit trek at Dharapani from where you would ascend to Manang and over the Thorung La pass instead of descending to Jagat. This would add around 6 days to the trip.
There are two preferred seasons for the Manaslu Circuit Trek: Spring (April through May) and Fall (October through November). Since this trek involves crossing a mountain pass, we recommend beginning the trek a little later in the Spring as the snow may still be a factor at the pass. (Note: other Spring treks begin in March). Also, we do not recommend doing this trek in December as storms can dump snow at that time.
The trek begins at low elevations with sub-tropical climates and day time temperatures can reach the 80’s in humid conditions. Once you get a little higher, day time temperatures range in the 50’s and 60’s (10 to 15 Centigrade) while night-time temperatures are in the 30’s and 40’s (0 to 5 Centigrade). Expect night time temperatures of below Freezing past Sama Gaon. And expect some late-afternoon showers in the Spring which is the season for rhododendrons and magnolias. October is historically regarded as the best month to trek with clear skies and better views of the mountains.
The Manaslu Circuit Trek is a challenging trek but anyone who is reasonably fit and can hike 8 miles a day can do this trek with relative ease. Allowing for optimal acclimatization is the key. This is a roller coaster trek with some steep ascents and descents. So the better shape you are in, the more you will enjoy the trek. While this trek does not involve any technical climbing, expect ice on the ascent to and/or descent from the pass. Gaiters and Yaktrax (https://yaktrax.implus.com/products/traction/)
or micro-spikes are a good idea.
It is advised that anyone with a pre-existing condition consult their doctor before signing up for a trek.
We rate the Manaslu Circuit Trek a 5 on a scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging).
There are two aspects to completing and enjoying a trek: Physical and Mental. The daily mileage covered on a moderately-paced Manaslu Trek isn’t too challenging for anyone in good physical shape as you would only have to walk up to 8 miles per day (slightly longer on the pass day). But on the mental side, it’s a good idea to establish that you like hiking and don’t mind basic conditions, so that you can actually enjoy the experience when you do it.
Meals on the Manaslu Circuit trek are slightly more basic compared to that on the Everest Base Camp Trek. In general, expect porridge (Oatmeal), toast, eggs (any style), muesli, hash browns etc for breakfast. And sandwich, pizzas, momos, noodles (dry and with soup), rolls, fried rice, Indian bread with vegetables etc for lunch and dinner. Nepali dal-bhat (rice-lentils with vegetables and/or meat) is a staple at all the lodges.
Ours is an OPEN menu. Meaning we allow our clients to order anything from the lodge menu besides bottled beverages, specialty coffee and packaged snacks. We also don’t limit the number of items per meal as long as you aren’t wasteful. When choosing your trekking company, ask if meals are fixed or if you are only allowed to order one item from the menu. If this isn’t the case, costs can add up over 15/16 days.
Layering is key. And it’s always recommended to trek with good branded gear. A good pair of hiking boots that’s been broken in is very important. Good top and bottom base layers, a mid layer (fleece or capilene), and an outer layer (Gore-tex or other material). If you tend to get cold quickly, bring a down parka especially for the evening at the lodge. On most days, you’d be hiking in a convertible hiking pant that can be converted into shorts and one or two top layers.
if you’re trekking with Crystal Mountain Treks, we provide a sleeping bag (rated to 0 degree F or -17 degree C), duffel bags, down jacket and Steripen for water purification to our clients for no charge.
It is possible to buy cheap and relatively functional gear in Kathmandu – convertible pants, down jackets, fleece, Gore-tex jackets. But remember, you get what you pay for. Wool gloves, hats, socks are available too.
There are quite a few branded stores too. North Face, Moutain Hardwear, Marmot and Sherpa. If you’re coming from Australia or Europe, items in these shops are probably cheaper than back home. But if you’re coming from the US, it’s better to buy branded gear at home.
Nepali tap water is NOT safe to drink. Even if you see the locals drinking water straight from the tap, never drink water before boiling or sterilizing. Bring water purifying tablets or other water purifiers. At higher elevations during the coldest times of year the water will freeze, so you’ll need to buy boiled water from teahouses. If you plan to use a STERIPEN, bring wide mouth water bottles. You would need at least 2 one-liter water bottles for the trek. Even if you plan to bring a hydration pack, bring 1 one-liter water to sterilize the water before pouring into your hydration pack.
Crystal Mountain Treks will provide you with a Steripen to use on the trek for no charge.
The more physically fit you are, the more you will enjoy the trip. There are three aspects to training for any trek. 1) Cardiovascular Training will make your body more efficient in using oxygen. Running, walking, swimming or biking, or any combination of these are great for cardiovascular conditioning. 2) Strength Training by either using free weights or machines at the gym will build hiking strength. Walking stairs, especially with a pack will simulate the hiking environment. We also recommend practicing squats. Trekkers will encounter low hanging obstacles to duck under, and many toilets are at ground level, which requires a low squat.
3) Endurance Training is where you build endurance in the months leading up to your trek, slowly increase your length of training sessions. By the time you are 2 weeks from the scheduled trek date you should be able to ascend 3,000 ft. in a 3-4 hour period.
In the end, the more your training simulates a trek, the better off you will be. So hiking 4-5 hours outdoors, uphill and downhill, about once or twice a week in addition to other cardio vascular training at the gym or at home will greatly benefit and prepare you for the trek.
Most tea houses have a common toilet. Some tea houses, especially those at the beginning of the trek, have en suite rooms. While squat toilets are more prevalent, newer lodges have Western style toilets.
It is possible to shower in almost all the lodges. And hot shower usually means a bucket of boiled water. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $2-$5 for this service.
Crystal Mountain Treks provided comprehensive pre-trip information. Staff was incredibly well cared for with appropriate gear. We experienced the 7.8 magnitude earthquake after crossing Larke La Pass on the Manaslu Circuit Trek. Many other trekkers were left to figure out logistics on their own, whereas Crystal Mountain staff remained with us. There was little available information following the earthquake, but staff was able to communicate with other Nepalis to figure out our safest plan. We are forever grateful to Crystal Mountain for an incredible adventure and for surviving an intense experience together. Rajbeir, Sune, Khadga, and Padum were constantly professional through our entire trek.