Manaslu Circuit Trek - A trekker's paradise in Western Nepal

  • Jan 19, 2023
  • Suresh Gurung
  • 2376

The  Manaslu Circuit Trek lies in the Gorkha district of western Nepal. Most of the parts fall within the boundary of the Manaslu Conservation Area. Even though it was opened to foreigners nearly 30 years before, in 1992, it was not well-known to most trekkers, unlike its popular neighbor Annapurna region. It’s been a couple of years since the flow of tourists has increased, but it’s still quite low compared to the Annapurna and Everest region. Thus providing visitors more freedom to explore and experience. 

After the rapid construction of roadways and the huge number of tourists throughout the classic Annapurna Circuit route in recent years, the Manaslu Circuit Trek is becoming popular as its alternative. So, if you are one of those people looking for a high-altitude trekking experience like the Annapurna Circuit, we recommend you do the Manaslu Circuit Trek which you will not regret doing.

The trek encircles the 8th highest peak in the world, Mt. Manaslu (8163 M) via the traverse of the Larke Pass (5160 M). The trail follows the ancient salt trading route alongside the Budhi Gandaki River all the way north to Larke La Pass near the Tibetan Border. After crossing the pass, you will be in the Manang district and finally meet the Annapurna Circuit Trek route at Dharapani, which is also the ending point of the Manaslu Circuit Trek. This diverse trek begins from the sub-tropical lowlands to the high-altitude alpine regions, along with diverse vegetation and wildlife, unique cultures, waterfalls, thrilling suspension bridges, Buddhist monasteries, Chortens, Mani walls, beautiful villages, and astounding mountain sceneries. The views of various mountains like Manaslu, Annapurna II, Himlung, Kangguru, Cheo Himal, Lamjung Himal, Ganesh Himal, etc. during the trek are simply outstanding.

Another important feature of this trek is the rich culture and traditions that have stayed unchanged and unaffected by modernization. You can get to experience their lifestyle closely by interacting with the local people.

The lower part of this trek or simply the lower Manaslu region (1000 M - 3000 M), is mostly inhabited by the Gurung people. They practice the Bon religion (Pre-Buddhists) mixed with Shamanism and their villages are quite big. Beautiful terraced fields of millet, maize, potato, rice, etc. are found around the villages. This region was the epicenter of the 2015 earthquake and was heavily affected, changing the face of the region.

The higher regions are inhabited by people called the Nubri who have close cultural ties to the Tibetan people. The people around here practice Tibetan Buddhism. Prayer flags, ancient Buddhist monasteries, Mani walls, and Chortens are commonly found in these regions.

Some of the key places of this trek are Gupsi Danda, Tatopani, Serang Gompa, Pyugen Gompa, Pyugen Glacier, Ribung Gompa, Naike View Point, Larke Pass, Birendra Tal, Manaslu Base Camp, etc. even though every part of this trek is amazing.

If you would like to extend your trek and make it more adventurous, you can add the Tsum Valley Trek or the Rupina La Pass Trek.

Table of Contents

Manaslu Circuit Trek Itinerary

Our Manaslu Circuit Trek Itinerary is of two types based on the starting points. The first one starts from Machhakhola (869 M) and another one from Barpak (1915 M). The trek ends at Tilje. We recommend you to do the trek from Barpak, which is two to three days longer but offers amazing mountain scenery with beautiful villages. Later these two routes finally adjoin at Machha Khola and follow the main trail of the Manaslu Circuit. 

Note: The roadway has reached a hill across Philim village. From Machhakhola to Dobhan and from Jagat to Ghattekhola, you'll need to walk on the jeep track. And after the pass, you'll need to walk again on the jeep track from Goa to Tilje.  

Manaslu Circuit Trek Itinerary from Machhakhola                                    

Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu (1350 M) and transfer to the hotel
Day 02: Trek preparation and Kathmandu valley sightseeing
Day 03: Drive to Machhakhola (869 M)
Day 04: Trek to Jagat (1340 M)
Day 05: Trek to Dang (1860 M)
Day 06: Trek to Namrung (2630 M)
Day 07: Trek to Shyala (3500 M)
Day 08: Trek to Sama (3520 M)
Day 09: Acclimatization day
Day 10: Trek to Samdo (3875 M)
Day 11: Trek to Dharmasala (4450 M)
Day 12: Trek to Bimtang (3590 M) via Larke La Pass (5160 M)
Day 13: Trek to Tilje (2300 M)
Day 14: Drive to Kathmandu (1350 M) via Besi Sahar (760 M)
Day 15: Final departure


Manaslu Circuit Trek Itinerary from Barpak

Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu (1350 M) and transfer to the hotel
Day 02: Kathmandu valley sightseeing and trek preparation
Day 03: Drive to Barpak (1915 M)
Day 04: Trek to Laprak (2100 M) via Gupsi Dada (2937 M)
Day 05: Trek to Gumda (2000 M)
Day 06: Trek to Machhakhola (869 M)
Day 07: Trek to Jagat (1340 M)
Day 08: Trek to Dang (1860 M)
Day 09: Trek to Namrung (2630 M)
Day 10: Trek to Shyala (3500 M)
Day 11: Trek to Sama (3520 M)
Day 12: Acclimatization Day and explore Birendra lake
Day 13: Trek to Samdo (3875 M)
Day 14: Trek to Dharmasala (4450 M)
Day 15: Trek to Bimtang (3590 M) via Larke La Pass (5160 M)
Day 16: Trek to Tilje (2300 M)
Day 17: Drive to Kathmandu (1350 M) via Besi Sahar (760 M)
Day 18: Final departure

Transportation for the Manaslu Circuit Trek

There are two places from where the trek can be started, i.e.Machhakhola and Barpak. It takes around 7-8 hours of Jeep drive to reach Barpak and 8-9 hours to reach Machhakhola from Kathmandu. Local buses may take an hour or two longer. The ride is scenic and at the end a little bit bumpy as the road is unpaved.

And for the end of the trek, you will drive from Tilje to Beshisahar on a private Bolero Jeep which is mostly off-road. From there, you will take a private vehicle to Kathmandu. It takes around 9-10 hours in total.

Transportation Cost

Kathmandu to Machhakhola Private Jeep Cost-250USD
Kathmandu to Machhakhola Local Bus Cost-9USD
Kathmandu to Barpak Private Jeep Cost-210USD
Kathmandu to Barpak Local Bus Cost-8USD
Tilje to Besisahar Private Jeep Cost-130USD
Besisahar to Kathmandu Private Jeep Cost-170USD
Besisahar to Kathmandu Private Bus Cost- 250USD
Besisahar to Kathmandu Local Bus Cost- 6-7USD

Manaslu Circuit Trek Guide and Porter Cost

English Guide-20 to 40USD
French Guide-30 to 60USD
Porter Cost-15 to 18USD

Permits and paperwork for the Manaslu Circuit Trek

The Manaslu Circuit Trek lies in a restricted area. A restricted area permit from the Department of Immigration is needed. To get the permit, there must be at least two-person and a government-certified trekking agency. You will also need the MCAP (Manaslu Conservation Area Project) and ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) permits. The trekking agency that is providing the service to you will do all the permits and papers works.

Permits Cost

Manaslu Restricted Area Permit Cost-100 USD per week. Then 15 USD per additional day.
Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP)- 30 USD
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP)- 30 USD

Food and Accommodation in the Manaslu Circuit Trek

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is now a full-on teahouse trek. Teahouses, Lodges, Hotels, and Homestays are available along the route, providing all the food and accommodation services. There are well-equipped hotels and lodges in some places. However, it's still not quite like in the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp Trek. In Dharmasala, 4–5 people will need to share a single room in the high season(October, November, April, and May) because of limited accommodation facilities. 

Drinking water is available in plastic bottles and can be easily bought in hotels, teahouses, and lodges. Tap water and other natural sources are also available along the routes. If you are comfortable, you can use tap water, but we would recommend you use a water purifier.

Toilets are mostly squat-down types located indoors and shared, but are located outside as well in many places. Hotels and lodges in some places have western-style toilets or sitting toilets as well.

Electricity, Telephone, and Wi-Fi in the Manaslu Circuit Trek

Recently, electricity has reached most places except Dharmasala and Bimtang. You will need to pay for charging your camera or smartphone in these places. So bringing a solar charger along with you will be very useful. 

The same goes for the telephone network as well. Before the Larke Pass, the phone network works till Samagaun. It works in Samdo as well but you'll need to walk to the edge of the village facing Samagaun to get the network reception. After the pass, the phone network starts to work from Surkikhola which is 3-4 hours of walk from Bimtang.  We recommend you use an NTC sim, as it has better coverage in most of the rural areas of Nepal. 

And as for Wi-Fi services, the lodges and teahouses in most places have started pay-per-service except in Dharmasala. But you can expect frequent problems, mostly in the higher parts of the route.

Manaslu Circuit Trek Difficulty

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is difficult and physically demanding as the altitude exceeds 5000 meters in altitude. The top of the pass is at an altitude of 5160 meters and roughly 7 kilometers from Dharmasala. There is a possibility of getting high-altitude sickness at an altitude like this. If you have already done treks like Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit, or any other high-altitude treks, then it will not be a problem. 

For people with no previous experience of trekking, taking cardio exercises like cycling, running, swimming, hiking, etc, for at least a month before the trek is highly recommended.

While on the trek, you will do the acclimatization process where you will learn to acclimatize to the increasing altitudes.

Know everything about altitude sickness

Best time to do the Manaslu Circuit Trek

The ideal time to do the trek is in Autumn(Late September to Late November) and Spring ( Late March to May).In Autumn the skies are clear, providing beautiful mountain sceneries. The weather is not cold nor too hot. The number of trekkers is also high during this time, as it is the peak season for trekking.

In Spring, you will be welcomed by trails with colorful rhododendrons. It will start to get a little hot by mid-May. The skies may be blocked by clouds as rainfall is expected sometimes. The number of trekkers is a little bit less than in Autumn.

If you would like to avoid the crowd, trekking during the winter and monsoon will be better. In the monsoon time, the trails look lively with lots of greenery everywhere. But trails and roadways in the lower regions could be affected by heavy rainfall. Mountains are not visible most of the time due to clouds. And beware of the Leeches as well.

In winter, the skies are crystal clear with amazing mountain scenery. Be ready to face the extreme cold in the higher regions. And in most of the winter, tea houses in Dharamsala are closed. So you may have to trek directly to Bhimtang from Samdo via the traverse of Larke Pass. You may even need to return or wait a few days if there is heavy snowfall.

Have any more questions about the Manaslu Circuit Trek? Please let us know. We will be very happy to answer all of your questions.

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