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Manaslu Circuit Trek  The Natural Adventure Company

Manaslu Circuit Trek

Overview

The Manaslu Circuit Trek skirts around the eighth-highest mountain in the world, Manaslu (8163 m). Manaslu sits immediately next to the Annapurna Range. While the Manaslu Circuit Trek shares many of the great views and panoramas that you see on the Annapurna Circuit Trek, it is relatively less popular, so it is a lot less crowded than its famous neighbour. And now that roads have spoiled the Annapurna Circuit’s last sections, this is a great off-the-beaten-track alternative, offering a spectacular and isolated trekking experience.

During the Manaslu Circuit Trek, you will marvel at the magnificent views of Mt Manaslu, coupled with a chance to witness the rich local heritage and biological diversity of the region. The highest point of this trek is the Larkya La Pass, arguably one of the most dramatic passes crossing the Himalayas. Most of the trek involves walking on mountain trails and is within the capabilities of people with good fitness.

The trek starts at Soti Khola’s town passing through bamboo forests and Gurung villages in the narrow Buri Gandaki gorge. After Lho village, we enter the Nupri region inhabited by Tibetan communities where you will see colourful prayer flags, mani walls, and numerous monasteries. After Samdo village, we head towards Larkya La Pass. The view from Larkya La offers spectacular panoramas of Himal Chuli, Manaslu, Cheo Himal and Himlung Himal.

All our Nepal and Himalaya treks are private departures, so you are free to choose your date (between September and May), and companions (minimum group size is 2 people) and our trekking support crew will be with you during the entire trek – we provide one of the highest staff to client ratios on the trek: one trekking guide per party, one Sherpa assistant for every four trekkers and one porter for every two trekkers. During the trek, you will need to carry only your daypack. 

On this classic Manaslu Circuit Trek, you will spend 3 nights in a nice hotel in Kathmandu on a twin share basis and 13 nights on a twin share basis in traditional mountain lodges (tea houses).

Highlights

  • Explore vibrant Kathmandu
  • Magnificent off-the-beaten-track circular trek around Manaslu
  • Cross the remote Larkya La Pass, arguably the most dramatic in the Himalayas
  • Rare views of Himal Chuli, Manaslu, Cheo Himal and Himlung Himal
  • Trek through picturesque traditional Tibetan villages, meet locals during tea house stays and soak up the unique local culture

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu

Upon arrival at Kathmandu Airport (you can choose any flight you wish), our representative will meet you and transfer to your hotel in Kathmandu. Relax at your hotel, then explore the streets of Kathmandu.

Day 2: Kathmandu Sightseeing & Trek Preparation

After a lovely breakfast in the morning, we start a guided sightseeing tour to four UNESCO World Heritage sites of Kathmandu that have historical and spiritual values. We will visit Pashupatinath, Temple Swoyambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu Durbar Square and Bouddhanath Stupa.

Day 3: Transfer to Soti Khola | 608 m

We set off on a 7-hour ride from Kathmandu towards the west to Arughat via Dhadingbesi. Beautiful landscapes will catch your eyes when we drive on the dirt road from Dhadingbesi, and we reach Soti Khola on bumpy roads. On the way, we will pass the Arkhet Bazar, Kuerepani, a beautiful waterfall.

Day 4: Soti Khola to Machha Khola | 7 h | 875 m

The first few days of the trek are relatively long in terms of hours walked due to the lower altitudes and decent teahouses’ availability. It can also be scorching, especially in the spring. We start our trek from Soti Khola and walk through a beautiful forest. Climb behind a rocky outcrop, where the valley opens, and the Budhi Gandaki river meanders among gravel bars. After walking alongside some big rounded stones then we climb over a side ridge. Welcome again the river and traverse to Machha Khola village.

  • Walking for the day: 7 hours, final elevation 875 m

Day 5: Machha Kola to Jagat| 7 h | 1340 m

Another quite long day as the trail undulates along the river, passing several small hamlets and farms. After crossing a few streams and rocky ravines, we reach the Khola Besi. We will find a hot spring there. In the afternoon the trail takes us to the eastern bank and crossing a suspension bridge takes us to Dobhan. Trekking from Doban to Philim is a good chance for taking in the amazing views of Shringi Himal (7187 m). Walking on a steeply rising rocky trail, we reach Yara Khola. The trail is quite exposed and challenging in places. We continue and cross another long suspension bridge to reach Jagat.

  • Walking for the day: 7 hours, final elevation 1340 m

Day 6: Jagat to Deng| 7-8 h | 1860 m

After some walking, we reach the Manaslu Conservation Area then descend to Philim. We climb a terraced hill to Saguleri, from where we can see Singri Himal, 7187 m. Our route continues upstream, through a gorge section with towering walls. We cross the Budhi Gandaki then walk down to Shar Khola river. Pass through several villages like Mani village, Barchham, and Lihi village. We walk for a while and then we enter Lho village. Lho has a beautiful monastery and Lama school. After passing through a forest we get to Deng village.

  • Walking for the day: 7-8 hours, final elevation 1860 m

Day 7: Deng to Namrung| 7 h | 2630 m

Starting the trek from Deng, we again meet the Budhi Gandaki river. We pass the village of Lama and start to see Mani stones, a sign that we are entering the Buddhist region. After about four hours we reach the village of Ghap in the Tibetan area where we have lunch. As we gain altitude, we move into alpine territory with great mountain views. There are more Mani stone walls and three more crossings of the Buri Gandaki on our route to Namrung.

  • Walking for the day: 7 hours, final elevation 2630 m

Day 8: Namrung to Lho | 4-5 h| 3180 m

A short descent followed by another climb brings us to Barchham and then to Lihi. We will be passing through Tibetan villages, and we start to enjoy the magnificent mountain views all around. From Lho we get our first glimpses of Manaslu, Naike and Larkya Peak.

  • Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, final elevation 3180 m

Day 9: Lho to Samagaon| 4-5 h | 3520 m

The trail climbs out of Lho to the monastery. We then follow the valley enjoying great views of Manaslu ahead. The trail then climbs to Shyaula village, from where we are surrounded by amazing panoramas of Manaslu, Himalchuli, Peak 29, Maike and Larkya. Soon we reach Samagaon.

  • Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, final elevation 3520 m

Day 10: Samagaon Acclimatisation Day | 3520 m

Explore the village and take an optional hike to Pung-gyen Gompa which backdrops Mt Manaslu.

Day 11: Samagaon to Samdo via Manaslu Base Camp| 6-7 h | 3875 m

Today we continue to follow the Budhi Gandaki surrounded by spectacular mountains on all sides. We will make a detour off the main path to visit Manaslu Base Camp. From here we rejoin the main route and descend to Samdo for the night. Samdo is a Tibetan community and the last permanent settlement in the valley. It is only a day’s walk from the Tibetan border.

  • Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, final elevation 3875 m

Day 12: Samdo to Dharamsala | 5 h |4460 m

We cross the Budhi Gandaki for the last time and follow the trail that leads us to Larkya La glacier’s viewpoint. Climbing further, we arrive at Dharamshala, a few seasonal tea houses offering basic meals and accommodation. There are three-person prefab huts and two-person tents. Mattresses are provided in the huts and tents, and there are a basic dining room and basic toilets).

  • Walking for the day: 5 hours, final elevation 4460 m

Day 13: Dharamsala to Bimthang via Larkya La Pass| 8-9 h |3590 m

An early start (usually in the dark) to avoid the wind which is usually of gale force after midday. Today is a long day, and if there is any snow, it can take us even longer to cross the pass, especially the descent. We climb steadily to the Larkya La Pass (5160 m), from where there are stunning views of Cho Danda, Annapurna II and Larkya Peak. Then we follow the long stretch of downhill trail that leads to Bimtang.

  • Walking for the day: 8-9 hours, final elevation 3590 m

Day 14: Bimthang to Chyamche | 6 h | 1430 m

Leaving behind the Bimthang village, we now cross to the eastern side of Dudh Khola river. After crossing the Dudh Khola, we join the main Annapurna Circuit trail. Then we follow the trail along the Marshyangdi river and reach Chyamche.

  • Walking for the day: 6 hours, final elevation 1630 m

Day 15: Chyamche to Nadi Bazaar| 6-7 h | 930 m

From Chyamche we continue walking down towards Nadi Bazaar, through the forest and past waterfalls alongside the beautiful Holy Marsyandi river.

  • Walking for the day: 6-7 hours, final elevation 930 m

Day 16: Transfer Nadi Bazaar – Besisahar – Kathmandu & Overnight

We take a jeep and drive on the rough road to reach Besisahar (2 h). After reaching Besisahar, we get in our minibus and drive back to Kathmandu (6 h).

Day 17: Departure

Private transfer to Kathmandu Airport or optional extension.

Optional Chitwan Jungle Safari Extension (2 nights)

Experience the other side of Nepal in the jungle of the Chitwan National Park. Once home to a royal hunting reserve, Chitwan is now widely recognised as one of Asia’s best national parks. The park offers protection to numerous species including the one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tiger, leopard, sloth bear, wild elephant, striped hyena, Gangetic dolphin, crocodile and wild bison.

  • Take a boat along the Rapti river, which shelters about a quarter of the world’s remaining gharial population
  • Jump on a jeep safari and spot a range of wild animals
  • Spend some time in a local village, visiting the wildlife display centre and learning about local life
  • Accommodation on twin share basis in a comfortable local hotel
  • Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners (excl. beverages)

Important: You will see other tour operators offering elephant riding activities and many tourists taking part in them during your time in Chitwan. However, we have an elephant welfare policy, and as such, we discourage travellers from riding elephants in Nepal or anywhere in the world. See the Responsible Travel section for more information.

Day 1: Kathmandu – Chitwan National Park

We walk off to the tourist bus stand, which is around 15 min walk from your hotel. Take the tourist bus and ride past river valleys, terrace fields, and highway settlements to southern lowlands (5 h). Upon getting off the bus, meet the staff, who will drive you to the resort. After having checked in, enjoy the lunch and make yourself comfortable amidst the beautiful garden. The manager will brief you about the activities schedule. In the afternoon, drive to the nearby river where alligators, birds, and rhinos can be spotted along with the mesmerizing sunset view. Overnight.

Day 2: Chitwan Activities

Early in the morning, we drive to the river and start canoeing through the jungle to spot alligators and various species of birds. After canoeing, we walk through the forest and take the jeep back to the resort. After lunch enjoy a jeep drive into the national park where we can spot more wild animals, and if lucky, Royal Bengal tigers. After we drive back to the resort, enjoy the dinner, and walk to the community hall to view the cultural show. Overnight.

Day 3: Chitwan – Kathmandu

After breakfast, the staff will drive you to the bus station and you will board the tourist bus. You can get back to Kathmandu or opt for Pokhara.

What to Expect

Accommodation

On this classic Manaslu Circuit Trek, you will spend 3 nights in a nice hotel in Kathmandu on a twin share basis and 13 nights on a twin share basis in traditional mountain lodges (tea houses). Lodges are comfortable except for a few nights at higher elevations when they are fairly basic. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Tea houses are mountain lodges that are located along many of the trekking routes in Nepal that provide meals and accommodation. They are similar to mountain huts in the Alps except that in Nepal you primarily get private rooms and a wide choice of food. The tea houses, in general, offer simple but adequate accommodation; please be realistic about what to expect in the high mountains and in remote areas. Most tea houses are built specifically for trekkers, but some, in the more remote regions of Nepal, may double as the family’s home.

The teahouse’s centre is the heated eating hall (some lodges charge a fee to switch the heater on). The bedrooms are almost all twin-share (note that you may still be asked to share with 2 or 3 during peak season on very rare occasions). Bedrooms are not heated, and you will need to bring or hire a sleeping bag.

Most tea houses have only one or two basic toilets, and sometimes these are located outside the main building. Toilet paper is not provided so you should bring your own or buy it from the tea house. If there is not a flush handle, there should be a container of water to use.

The owners make most of their income from the meals and beverages. For this reason, you are expected to eat all your meals at the teahouse at which you’re staying. Most teahouses sell snacks, soft drinks, tea, coffee and other essentials such as soap and toilet paper. Almost all tea houses have electricity, but power outages are quite frequent. Electricity is available to charge your cameras and other electronic devices for a small fee at the dining rooms of most tea houses. A few of the lodges on this trek have WiFi which varies in quality of signal. Some lodges now have hot showers (you will be charged a small fee for using them). Note that sometimes this is simply a bucket of hot water and not a proper shower head.

Click to view our default hotels for this trip

Click to view our optional upgraded hotels for this trip

Meals

Several years ago, tea houses’ choices were limited and pre-booking the lodge fixed menu was often the only option. Since then, as the lodges have improved in quality, so has food choice, with most tea houses now offering an extensive menu. To give our customers choice, we now operate our trek on a lodge only basis (welcome dinner and breakfasts in the Kathmandu and Pokhara hotels are included). You will need to plan £25-30 per day in total for all meals.

  • For breakfast, you can have toast, tea, eggs, and porridge. It gets served at around 7-8 am which is ideal for the early morning trek.
  • Dal Bhat which consists of rice, dal (pulses), lentils, spinach, gundruk, optional meat, and others is a typical meal offered for lunch, or you can opt for a noodle soup.
  • For dinner (normally, it’ll be served around 7:30 pm to 8:00 pm), where once there was a choice of 2-3 different rice or lentil-based meals at the lodge, most now offer a menu of 20 or more choices from the basic (such as dal bhat) through western-style (pizza, spaghetti) to more sophisticated (yak steak with blue cheese sauce).

Difficulty & terrain

Although you are not expected to hike more than 6-7 hours per day except for the Larkya La Pass crossing on Day 13, this holiday is graded moderate to strenuous, due to the extended length of time spent trekking at high altitudes. You should be in good physical shape and have some experience in multi-day trekking before undertaking the Manaslu Circuit Trek (read more about difficulty grades).

Acute mountain sickness

AMS is a significant concern when trekking above 3500 m. Although you will spend only a couple of days above 3500 m and our itinerary is designed to minimise the chances of you suffering from AMS by providing enough acclimatisation days and ensuring a gradual increase in altitude, each individual is affected differently by height. If you have any pre-existing health conditions that you think may make you more susceptible to AMS, we recommend that you consult your doctor before booking this trip.

When to go

The main trekking season in Nepal is from September to May when daytime temperatures at most altitudes are generally comfortable for walking; the sky is clear much of the time and rain and snow are occasional occurrences. Different seasons offer different advantages for the Manaslu Circuit Trek. The best times are in spring ‘pre-monsoon’ (March, April and May), and in autumn ‘post-monsoon’ (September, October and November). The summer months are very wet as it is the monsoon season and winter is extremely cold. Please note that the Thorung-La Pass is occasionally closed in winter months due to heavy snowfall; alternative arrangements will be made by your group leader if this occurs.

  • Post Monsoon: September to November. This is the main trekking season in Nepal. Skies are usually clear and days on trek are sunny and mild with clear mountain views. Nights will be colder with temperatures dropping as low as to minus 10ºC at the highest altitudes.
  • Winter: December to February. Despite the cooler conditions, this is a good time to trek in Nepal. Skies are usually very clear especially in December and the mountain views are at their best. Nights will be very cold with temperatures down to minus 15ºC to minus 20ºC at the highest altitudes but days are pleasant and sunny. The trails are also much less busy at this time of year. If you want to trek during the winter months you need lots of warm clothes.
  • Pre-monsoon: March to May. Both day and night temperatures will be warmer in general but often a haze will build up in the afternoons. Flowers bloom in this season and this is one of the reasons many people chose to trek in spring.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Tipping

It is customary in Asia to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the quality of service. All our staff in Nepal (guides, assistant guides and porters) are fully insured and paid a fair wage; however tips are not a substitute for wages. The amount is purely a personal matter but we would suggest a tip per day of 15-20 USD for your guide, 8-10 USD for your porter and 5-6 USD per day for assistants and other staff. These apply to the whole party, not per person. Obviously this is very much a rough guide and you are completely free to give whatever you feel is appropriate.

Inclusions

Included

  • All ground transfers as listed in the itinerary (one arrival and one departure airport transfer per party)
  • 3 nights quality accommodation on a twin share basis in Kathmandu 
  • 13 nights twin share accommodation in the mountains
  • Full day sightseeing tour of Kathmandu including entrance fees 
  • Welcome dinner in Kathmandu
  • 3 breakfasts in Kathmandu
  • All national park fees and trekking permits 
  • 1 English-speaking tour guide in the lowlands
  • 1 English-speaking trekking guide in the mountains
  • 1 Sherpa assistant for every 4 trekkers
  • 1 porter for every 2 trekkers 
  • Detailed pre-departure information pack including guide book, city maps and trekking maps 

Excluded

  • International flights and international airport departure fee
  • Visa fee
  • Lunches and dinners in Kathmandu (except for the welcome dinner) and all meals in the mountains (plan £25-30 per day in total for all meals)
  • Hot shower, water, WiFi, charging mobiles and cameras etc during trekking (if you plan on using the internet and showering every day, then you should budget around £8-10 per day)
  • Drinking water (beverages)
  • Extra expenses due to unforeseen events such as natural disaster, roadblocks or health conditions of a fellow traveller
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses and tips
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Single room supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room (Kathmandu only – ask our experts for a quote); in the tea houses you may ask the owner if there are single rooms available and you can pay locally for them
  • Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate solo travellers on the Manaslu Circuit Trek
  • Kathmandu upgrade to a superior 4 or 5-star hotel
  • Breakfasts in the mountains (add 13 breakfasts)
  • Full board in the mountains (add 13 breakfasts, 14 lunches and 13 dinners)
  • Extra nights in Kathmandu
  • Optional Chitwan Jungle Safari Extension

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