- A once in a lifetime opportunity to go visit the remote wilderness trekking region of Manaslu region.
- Travel through the Budhi Gandaki Valley and cross several suspension bridges.
- Learn about the ancient culture of tradition of the local ethnic communities.
- Escape the crowds of tourists and get more natural & cultural enclosure during the trek.
Manaslu Circuit Trek, an epic walk centered around Mt. Manaslu, a beautiful and 8th highest mountain in the world looming at 8,163m. Manaslu Circuit Trek is a good alternative to the Annapurna Circuit Trek as most part of Annapurna Circuit Trek now has been destroyed due to newly constructed road. Trekking in Manaslu region was allowed for foreigners only from 1991. So, Manaslu circuit trail although being a very beautiful region still sees few trekkers annually which is a good reason to trek there for adventure and nature lovers.
Manaslu is still special hiking trip that takes you close to Nepalese -Tibetan border. Here the village life is much as it has been for hundreds of years. With extensive wilderness in the lower and great mountain views in the higher elevation, it is moderately strenuous trek. It takes you through geographically spectacular and culturally fascinating area with crossing of highest point ‘Larkya La Pass (5,213m)’ which is believed to be one of the most exciting pass through the Himalayas that provides superb view of Himlung Himal (7,125m), Cheo Himal (6,820m), Kang Guru (6,981m) and Annapurna II (7,939m), and Manaslu (8163m).
The walk begins after a long drive to Sotikhola from Kathmandu. We cross several suspension bridges over Budhi Gandaki River, walk through the lush, fertile mid hill villages and forests for about a week. Further while passing through stunning vistas through Budhi Gandaki River gorge, get impression that lower villages are dominated by Hindu faith. But as we head northwards, valley opens up to reveal alpine meadows, barren landscape and the villages clustered at higher altitude beneath Mt. Manaslu’s sweeping north face live with Tibetan-style Buddhist faith. As we we walk higher we follow ancient trade route where yak caravans hauled salt from Tibet since hundred of years. We come across Mani walls and monasteries swathed in prayer flags symbolizing Buddhism faith everywhere in the thin air. Eventually the trail reaches Samagaun, the largest and most important village in the region where. On the acclimatization day in Samagaun, we explore surrounding valleys deeper, visit Pung Gyen Monastery, tucked at the headwaters of a stream with an ancient temple and meditation caves in the rocks above. We head west and cross the Larkya La Pass (5,160 m), a classic and tough route linking the Budhi Gandaki valley with the Marshyangdi valley. The descent passes through beautiful alpine meadows at Bimthang, before joining the main Annapurna Circuit route at Besishahar.
Is Manaslu Circuit Trek for you?
Manaslu Circuit is moderately strenuous trek and is itself challenging even for fit and experienced hikers. Some trekking experience is advantageous to participate in Manaslu Circuit Trek. You should be comfortable walking 6-8 hours per day at higher altitude with a light backpack (walking at higher altitudes makes greater demands on the body than walking in lower elevations). Our well designed itinerary allows the best possible acclimatization but you will need to ensure you are physically prepared for the trek. Best time to trek around Manaslu Circuit is March to May and September to November. Other months of year is not recommend for Manaslu Circuit Trek because Larkya La pass is dangerous during extreme snow conditions.
Manaslu Circuit Trek – 18 days Day to Day Itinerary
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu
Icicles Adventure Treks & Tours representative will meet you at Kathmandu Airport (Tribhuvan International Airport). Finish your custom formalities (visa, etc.) and get to the airport waiting terminal, you will find our representative waiting to greet you. He/she will be holding Icicles Adventure Treks and Tour signboard. You will be then transferred to your respective hotel in our private vehicle. You can either rest in your hotel or shop around Thamel for any gears for your trek. Accommodation: Hotel.
Day 02: Kathmandu (1,338 m/4,390 ft): Sightseeing and Trek Preparation
We start a guided tour to several medieval and spiritual sites in Kathmandu which are also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Kathmandu valley is a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist temples, stupas and statues, and is often the site of festivals and other ceremonies. We visit Pashupatinath, a very sacred temple complex for Hindus all over the world on the banks of the holy Bagmati river. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and saddhus draped orange and saffron sit serenely meditating. We visit historic Durbar Square, a compound of temples, ancient palaces and architecture. Next, we walk the stone steps up to a hilltop where the famous ‘Monkey Temple’ (Swayambhunath) with its whitewashed stupas and its unique fusion of Buddhism and Hinduism exist from centuries. Next, we visit Buddhists shrine (Boudhanath) which is one of the large Stupas in the world. The prominent Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa attract Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world. Later after sightseeing program, we will introduce you with your trekking guide and have a small pre-trip meeting. You can also take an opportunity to hire/buy any last-minute trekking equipment or bargain for your souvenirs at the many stores. You are advised to pack your things and be set up for your Manaslu Circuit Trekking adventure that will begin tomorrow. Accommodation: Hotel, Included Meal: B.
Day 03: Drive to Arughat – to Soti Khola
We make an early departure from Kathmandu this morning for a scenic drive from Kathmandu to Arughat. Driving today is adventurous and pleasant as it winds down hugging the mountain side through terraced fields. Following the side of Mahesh River, we come to the Trishuli River. We follow Trishuli River side until we cross a bridge over Trishuli River itself and continue driving towards headquarter of Dhading district, Dhading Besi. We continue our drive through bumpy rough from Dhading Besi to Arughat. Drive from Arughat to Sotikhola is not a pleasant drive. Soti Khola is named after a Hindu goddess temple which exists in the village, Soti Devi Temple. Drive time: 8-9 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 04: Trek to Machha Khola (870 m/2854 ft)
The next few days we trek through lower altitude through Nepal’s green middle hills, trekking up the Budhi Gandaki River valley through villages of mixed ethnicity- Gurung, Magar and Brahmin-Chhetri, etc. From Machhakhola, the trail descends slowly until yo climb again to mountain ridge to Armala. We pass the forest trail to arrive at Lapubesi, a Gurung village. We see few seasonal waterfalls today from our trail. We reach small hamlet of Machha Khola (Fish River), which was wiped out by a flood several years ago and rebuilt. We see beautiful views of Ganesh Himal and Buddha Himal today. Walking time: 5 – 6 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 05: Machha Khola to Jagat (1340m/4395 ft)
We cross the Machha Khola River and head upstream to the tiny village of Khorlabesi. After Khorlabesi, followed by an hour of walking along the river, by tobacco and buckwheat fields, past rocks washed smooth by the river, often climbing up stone steps, to reach the hot springs in the center of the small, terraced village of Tatopani. We have plenty of time to soak our grungy bodies in the voluble hot water streaming out of sculpted stone spouts. A gentle climb through the woods past some spectacular waterfalls and sculpted rocks brings us to a new suspension bridge across the Budhi Gandaki which we cross. We continue along a forested path and soon reach Dobhan. We cross the Dobhan Khola on another suspension bridge above Dobhan village, the Budhi Gandaki descends in an impressive series of steep cataracts. Sharing trail with local sheep and goats we take steep steps along cliff walls to climb as the river descends even more steeply and stratified river rocks decorate our route. Eventually the river valley widens and a good trail leads to Jagat, a village with a beautiful flagstone square. Walking hours: 6 – 7 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 06: Jagat to Deng (1860 m/ 6100 ft)
A long day. We get our trekking permits checked in Jagat and start descending long stone steps to the river and then climb terraced hill to Salleri from where can see beautiful Sringi Himal (7,190m). We pass through village of Sirdibas, where if autumn you will find the local children selling oranges. Soon afterwards we pass the local water-mill (Pani Ghatta), we cross Ghatta Khola over a suspension bridge. We reach Philim where there are the MCAP headquarters, health post, a Japanese-sponsored school and a micro-hydro plant. Leaving Philim along the main, paved trail we hike through some farmlands on a high trail over the Budhi Gandaki and soon pass Ekle Bhatti. Continuing on this spectacular trail, we hike through a narrow, dramatic gorge with towering walls, past a thundering waterfall to the right of the trail and smaller ones along the way. White-faced langurs leap in the trees above and remote villages hang to the opposite side of the gorge. About two hours past Philim we reach the metal bridge which spans the Budhi Gandaki with a trail leading east to the Tsum valley to our right. We descend for a bit to where we left the main trail at the river junction, cross the Budhi Gandaki on a steel Bailey’s bridge, and continue further north. After the bridge and passing the trail to Nyak on the left we ascend gradually along a wide, hillside trail through an open pine forest, and then cross the river two more times on newly built steel suspension bridges trekking through dense forest of rhododendrons, bamboo and wild flowers. As we climb, look back for views of Ganesh Himal IV. After another 45 minutes of relatively easy climbing we leave the narrow gorge, cross the Dyang Khola on a suspension bridge, and climb briefly to the hamlet of Deng. Deng is the start of the lower Nubri region called Kutang, where the people are ethnically Tibetan but speak a different dialect than the people of upper Nubri where the people are purely Tibetan. We have views of the Ganesh Himal to the rear, as well as Lapuchen and Dwijen Himals to the north. Walking hours: 6 – 7 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 07: Deng to Numrung (2630m/ 8626 ft)
From Deng, we descend for around 20 minutes to the river and steeply climb again for a further 20 minutes to Rana. After more climbing through lovely woods of pine and crossing another bridge, we reach Bihi Phedi, where there is a new lodge and views of Kutang Himal. From here we start to see very artistic mani stones (prayers etched onto wayside rocks, particularly mani stones with pictures of gods and goddesses in this region) a sign that we are entering another Buddhism influenced region of Himalaya. Beyond the village we cross the Serang Khola and climb again on a trail which rises high above the main Budhi Gandaki. The walk through the gorge is breathtaking but hot, with spectacular views. In about two hours past a beautifully painted chorten and after crossing a bridge over the Budhi Gandaki, we reach the outskirts of Ghap. Again, we walk by the side of long mani walls with Buddhas in several asans. Upon reaching Ghap, we see egg-shells strung above the local ‘tea-house’ doors in Ghap prevent the evil spirits from entering the house. The trekking is pleasantly cool now, as we start to gain height and enter the alpine forest of dense, cool forest of fir, rhododendron, bamboo and oaks, giving occasional glimpses of snowy mountains. We realize the valley is now becoming steeper with ravines and water cascades. We cross the river few times on suspension bridges and begin a long climb on steep stone staircases up to the village of Namrung. Walking time: 6 – 7 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 08: Namrung to Lho (3180 m/10430 ft)
Beyond Namrung the valley opens out and there are quite extensive barley fields and pastures as we trek through the village of Banjam. Climbing quite steeply, we reach the picturesque village of Lihi (2920m). Lihi houses two old gompas, and is spread along the trail with billowing fields of barley, guarded by more bear watches. Lihi is known for its unusual architecture – apartment-like units with a common roof. Shortly after Lihi one can see a beautiful mountain like a razor blade. It’s the Simnang Himal (6251m). We cross a large stream flowing down from the Lidanda Glacier, and pass through the Tibetan village of Sho. Just above this village we get a first sight of majestic Manaslu. One more small descent out of Sho, past a fly-blown teahouse and a small stream, and we start to climb up to Lho and in about three hours we reach Lho, a large sprawling village adorned with a lot of prayer flags with a lovely little monastery and numerous chortens, mani walls and an ornate white stupa. Also, a bigger Nyingma Rimjung Gompa is there decorated with colorful prayer flags that houses more than 100 monks. The two peaks of Manaslu now dominate the area but Ganesh I is also visible looking back and to the northeast is a most impressive wall of rock rising to the snowcapped summit of Saula (6,235), part of the Kutang Himal. Walking time: 5 – 6 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 09: Lho to Sama Gauon (3520m/11545 ft)
We wake up early to see the golden sunrise over Manaslu. We pass barley fields, a long mani wall and, old chorten followed by another big chorten from where we see very panoramic views of Mt. Manaslu. We follow the right bank of Budhi Gandaki with views of Ngadi Chuli ahead. Soon climbing through the forest with occasional stream crossings on log bridges brings us to the peaceful summer settlement of Shayla which provides a superb panorama of Phunki, Manaslu and Himal Chuli. We see Hongsanbu Gompa on our way to Shyala. We cross the outflow from the Pung Gyan Glacier and then climb beside the torrent to a ridge.
We take a side trip to get to Pung Gyan Gompa that sits at 3870 meters and do a stunning walk up an often icy and slippery trail along the Numla Khola and the Pung Gyan glacier past Tibetan ‘kharkas’ or seasonal herding settlements. There are superb views of Manaslu near the Gompa. The Gompa was mostly destroyed by an avalanche in 1953, and recently rebuilt. The complex includes a cave gompa as well, which affords even better views of the valley. Descending the main trail, we now have the luxury of downhill trekking for a while but soon we reach the fields of Samagaun and in a further 20 minutes we arrive at impressive Sama Gompa (Monastery). There are breathtaking views from here of the granite pyramid of Manaslu. Walking time: 5 – 6 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 10: Rest and acclimatization day at Sama Gauon
It is day eleven and as scheduled, we are now going to spend a day at Samagaun for acclimatization purposes. To begin, Samagaun is a very interesting village which can be a worthwhile place to explore for the day being. Likewise, the alluring monastery of Kargyu Chholing Gompa and the heart-warming Birendra Lake are some of the fascinating places to visit during your free day at Samagaun. If you are more interested in learning more about the culture of this region, then you can simply wander off and start observing the local indigenous community of the village. Then after, you can have a taste of some locally prepared cuisines which are bound to enhance your trekking experience over all. Stay overnight at Samagaun. Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 11: Trek to Samdo (3875m/12710 ft)
Half an hour after leaving Samagaun, we cross the small bridge, hike through the gate of the grazing wall and head west towards Manaslu Base Camp and Birendra Lake along the grassy lateral moraine. As we hike up through the woods on a dirt trail, past birch, juniper and rhododendron, the lake opens up below us and we get closer to the impressive icefall of the Manaslu Glacier.
We’ll hike up to a cave at just over 4000 meters before calling it a day and returning back to the valley, crossing the small stream and heading north again. We trek past rough woods of Himalayan birch during the walk up to Samdo. We pass by the left side of the long Mani walls at Kyonggma Kharka and afterwards spot the entrance chorten of Samdo. We descend back to the Budhi Gandaki and cross a small bridge leading to a short climb to Samdo. The villagers of Samdo came across the border from the village of Riu in Tibet after 1959 and built their new village here, at their old herding settlement. Samdo inhabitants are Tibetan, and were ceded the land by the king of Jumla over 500 years ago. Take a walk around the village where the inhabitants live an essentially Tibetan lifestyle, herding their yaks, sheep and goats, training their horses and planting barley. There is a small gompa mid-village. Walking hours: 5 – 6 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 12: Trek to Dharamsala High Camp (Larkya Phedi) (4480 m/14694 ft)
Today is also a short day. We leave Samdo on the old trade route towards Tibet (Sherpas from the Khumbu region used to bring their yaks into Tibet and then across the Larkya La down into Nubri on their extensive trade-circuit in years past), cross a small bridge, and climb westwards above the ruins of Larkya Bazaar. The bazaar was one of the trade markets, a seasonal tented camp, that flourished years ago, before the closing of the Tibetan border. Ascending through grazing lands, open, grassy plateaus filled with dwarf juniper bushes, rhododendron, and lichened stones. The landscape becomes increasingly awe-inspiring. We see the views of Syacha Glacier on the other side of the valley which tumbles down from Manaslu and Manaslu North peaks. Finally, we come to Dharamsala, the high camp for the Larkya La pass. You’ll feel the altitude and the cold here, so perhaps enjoy a relaxed afternoon and keep warm. We can find blue sheep in this territory, so keep an eye out for herds of them grazing nearby on the barren slopes. If you’ve still got energy to spare hike up either of the ridges that form the boundary of our valley, or hike up alongside the small spring-fed stream in back of camp and enjoy the birds, marmots and blue sheep. Either way you’ll have good views of Naike Peak to the south and the tip of Manaslu in front. We’ll have an early dinner in preparation for our pass crossing tomorrow. Walking hours: 3 – 4 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 13: Cross Larkya La (5160m/16924 ft) to Bimthang (3590m/11775 ft)
We get ready early in the morning and head off on our long day trek over the Larkya La to Bimthang. After a short climb, we hike along the right side of the lateral moraine, soon following the narrow bottom of this valley. Look for blue sheep, pika, marmot and Tibetan snow-cock tracks in the snow and if lucky you can also see snow leopard paw prints. We soon reach the ablation valley on the north side of the Larkya Glacier where we will have views of Cho Danda and Ganesh Himal I to the east and then of Larkya Peak (6250m) to the west. We continue across the often snowy, undulating moraine of the glacier, past the many snow markers, and in about two hours reach a small hut, mostly unused, at 4920 meters. From here we have to push another two hours to reach the pass.
We continue to ascend on small ridges and past a lovely frozen lake, often through the snow, making a gradual ascent which becomes steeper only in the last section to the pass. The views from the top of the Larkya La are breathtaking, mountain views equally amazing from both sides. From the east, the direction we just hiked up, we’ll look down on Samdo Peak and the peaks bordering Tibet, and Larkya Peak to the southeast. To the west towards the Annapurna region rise Kang Guru (ridge only), Himlung Himal, Cheo Himal and a bit further down the pass the views open up to include Gyagi Kung and Annapurna II. After hanging our Tibetan prayer flags (if we have brought) we take a steep climb down a razor-edge ridge and then a descent, often slippery and icy and slightly steep, to a trail following the left side of the Salpudanda glacier moraine. We lunch at a flat area with smooth rocks if there’s no snow. We continue to traverse downhill with another steep section ahead, soon reaching a flatter valley full of primulas and azalea bushes. We still have a good 2-3 hours to reach Bimthang. A circular descent through boulder-strewn trail lead us, finally, to Bimthang, which means ‘sandy plain’, the region where the Samdo people keep their yaks and horses in the summer and winter months. Walking hours: 7 – 8 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 14: Bimthang to Tilje (1965m/6445 ft)
We leave the grazing fields of Bimthang after breakfast. We climb to a ridge over the moraine, soon afterwards crossing a boulder-strewn river on a wooden bridge. We ascend and then head down through open forests of rhododendron, juniper, birches and spruce past the meadows below Bimthang. With the back side of Manaslu opening up impressively in front of us, we follow the intersecting glacial rivers, increasingly large as we drop, and eventually cross a steel Bailey’s bridge and reach the small hamlet of Karche. We continue along the rocky river-bed, often on trails which traverse sliding hillsides, to several small, green villages, a sign that we have reached lower altitudes. We reach the large village of Tilje. Tilje village is a mixed village with its residents being Manangis, Ghale Gurung and Chettris (Hindus, we can see cultural fusion with unique architecture and culture. Walking hours: 5 – 6 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 15: Tilje to Tal (1700m/5576 ft)
We follow Dudh Khola through bamboo forests down to Dharapani, an impressive Tibetan village with prayer flags fluttering in the wind, stopping en route at the Gompa in Thongje on the old Annapurna trail. Trekking south on the main Annapurna Circuit trail, we soon arrive at a long suspension bridge over which we cross the Marshyangdi River to reach the small village of Khorte, re-crossing it soon afterwards. We continue along a high, winding, stunning cliff-side trail past several small teahouses at Khorte, and then switch backing down the steep trail before crossing the Marshyangdi River yet again. Before us to the left we drop to river level and spot the wide plain and waterfall at scenic Tal, the last village of the Lower Manang region. Tal means lake, and the area here was formed when the valley was blocked by a landslide and a dam formed behind. The lake has long gone and now the village of Tal sits on the river flats. Walking hours: 6 – 7 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 16: Tal to Syange (1100m/3608 ft
Continuing along the left bank of the riverside, we have a quick ascent to the mani walls out of Tal, and after cresting the small hump, we descend steeply on stone steps past the small teahouses at Sattale, loosing even more altitude as we continue down on an undulating trail through the lush forest to the river and cross another suspension bridge leading to Chamje. Chamje is an atmospheric, ‘wild west’ village of traditional-style teahouses, often packed with saddled local horses. From here the road-building is full-on, so we’ll continue as far as we can get, and hop in our jeeps. But before then we have one more hour-long descent along the new dirt road, looking across the river to large waterfalls, to reach the (once) lovely cobbled village of Jagat, situated on a shelf which extend into the precipitous Marshyangdi valley. We continue down to Syange through rhododendron and pine forests. Walking hours: 6 – 7 hours, Accommodation: Local lodge, Included Meal: B, L, D.
Day 17: Drive Syange to Kathmandu
We drive back to Kathmandu today. Try to get left pane of your vehicle to enjoy the greeneries, mountains, river gorges, villages and terraces during the drive. In the evening, we will have a farewell dinner in a traditional Nepalese restaurant with cultural performances. Driving Time: 8-9 hours, Accommodation: Hotel, Included Meal: Breakfast.
Note: You have the option to extend your trip with an extra day at Pokhara (Pokhara is a beautiful city to relax after a long trek), Chitwan jungle safari, rafting adventure, Bungee Jumping, Kayaking, Canoeing, Kathmandu valley shopping tour, Bhaktapur and Patan sightseeing, scenic Everest flight, mountain biking and other activities.
Day 18: Depart Kathmandu-Airport drop
Your Manaslu Circuit Trek concludes today. Our airport representative will drop you at the international airport in Kathmandu for your departure flight from Nepal. We hope beautiful Nepal, the magnificent Himalayan sceneries, and unique cultural experience you got along your Annapurna Circuit Trek will stay in your memory lifelong and you will go back home with a sense of achievement. Included Meal: Breakfast.