The Manaslu Circuit Trek, crossing Larkya La pass (16,752 ft. or 5106 m.) to the legendary Annapurna region, is one of Nepal's most spectacular and culturally diverse treks. Its dramatic Himalayan vistas, challenging terrain, mix of Gurung and Tibetan villages, Tibetan Buddhist gompas, birds, and wildlife make it one of Nepal's best camping treks.

Highlights

  • Enjoy awesome views of Manaslu, Ganesh Himal and Annapurna
  • Travel back in time through pristine Nepali and Tibetan villages
  • Explore the beautiful Gurung villages of Laprak and Barpak in Lower Manaslu
  • Cross the Larkya La Pass (16,752 ft. or 5106 m.), the highest point along the trek
  • Visit the historic villages of Gorkha and Bandipur

Overview

Compared with the traditional Manaslu Circuit Trek, this version has five more days of trekking and visits places not on the traditional itinerary, such as Ghorka, Nepal’s historic capital, the Gurung villages in Lower Manaslu, and Bandipur, the Newari village where the trek concludes. It also takes the high route to Korlebesi and spends an extra day on the Annapurna trail hiking to Jagat and one more in Thilje Village, another interesting Gurung village. 

And because you'll be "boutique camping" instead of staying in teahouses, you'll have have the opportunity to spend the night in beautiful locations, such as at Pungyen Gompa (pictured below), which is set in a remote valley behind Manaslu, and at the lovely village of Namrung instead of Ghap, which is better for acclimatizing. When camping isn't possible, you'll be staying at hotels in Gorkha, Bandipur and Kathmandu.

What makes this trek truly special is its unique Kamzang-style: the fantastic, freshly prepared food (French press organic coffee, anyone?) and Central Asian ambiance, which includes a decorated dining tent and library with books & maps. Not to mention it's personally led by Kamzang Journeys creator Kim Bannister and her trekking partner of 15 years, Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa, together with their passionate and experienced crew who are well connected among the locals — so you're bound to have an extraordinary time. And without the risk, as safety is paramount (medical kit, training, proper acclimatization, and guaranteed rescue if anything goes wrong). 

Brief itinerary

Day Route Altitude
Day 1 Arrive in Kathmandu 1340m
Day 2 Kathmandu
 1340m
Day 3 Drive to Gorkha 1510m
Day 4 Drive to Rangrung Phedi & Trek Barpak
 875m & 1915m
Day 5 Trek Laprak 2200m
Day 6 Trek Korlebesi 875m
Day 7 Trek Jagat 1370m
Day 8 Trek Philim 1570m
Day 9 Trek Deng 1865m
Day 10 Trek Namrung 2540m
Day 11 Trek Lho 3180m
Day 12 Trek Pung Gyan Gompa
 3870m
Day 13 Trek Sama Gaon 3525m
Day 14 Trek Samdo via Manaslu Base Camp Lake 3850m
Day 15 Samdo
 - rest day | Optional day hike for Manaslu views 4590m
Day 16 Trek Dharamsala High Camp (Larkya Phedi) 4480m
Day 17 Trek Bimtang | Larkya La + Lodge 5160m
Day 18 Trek Tilje 2300m
Day 19 Trek Jagat 1315m
Day 20 Drive to Bandipur 1030m
Day 21 Drive to Kathmandu 1340m
Day 22 Trip ends  

Detailed overview

Days 1-6: Arrival in Kathmandu + Lower Manaslu

Hiking up to Barpak in Lower Manaslu Credit: Kim Bannister

The trek officially begins in the verdant, lush Lower Manaslu region, where you'll spend the day exploring Gorkha, Nepal's first capital, and its main attraction, the Gorkha Durbar, which overlooks the Trisuli Valley and has exceptional views of the various mountain ranges (don't forget to bring your camera!). From there, you'll trek north along the mountain-capped high route through the rhododendron-covered hilltop Gurung villages of Laprak and Barpak before reaching Kutang in lower Nupri, whose inhabitants speak their own Tibetan-Gurung dialect and live a lifestyle that bridges Nepal and Tibet.

Laprak woman and kids
Laprak woman and kids Credit: Kim Bannister

Days 7-17: Nupri + Upper Manaslu

Tents at Dharamsala Camp
Lunch at Dharamsala High Camp Credit: Kim Bannister

After lower Nupri, you'll trek higher up to Tibetan grazing plateaus and villages in upper Nupri, where you’ll have to make room for yak caravans sharing the trail. Enjoy the incredible mountain panoramas featuring Manaslu (26,759 ft. or 8156 m.), the 8th highest mountain in the world, which is one of this trek's highlights. Don't miss out on the scenic side-trips to Manaslu Base Camp or to the valley above Samdo near the Tibetan border before crossing snow-covered Larkya La pass.

 The view from the hike above Samdo, Manaslu
The view from the hike above Samdo, Manaslu Credit: Kim Bannister

Days 18-22: Annapurnas, Bandipur + Kathmandu

Looking back towards the Manaslu range from Bimtang
Looking back towards the Manaslu range from Bimtang Credit: Kim Bannister

After crossing Larkya La — the highest point of the trek — descending through the pastures of Bimtang, you'll traverse fragrant forests of rhododendrons in bloom, and juniper, birch and spruce trees. Keep your eyes peeled for fluttering butterflies and hummingbirds and a variety of flora, like white strawberry flowers and azalea bushes, as you follow the intersecting glacial rivers before reaching the village of Tilje, where you'll spend an extra day.

Tilje's inhabitants are a mix of Manangis, Ghale Gurung and Chettris (Hindus) who are known for their unique architecture, culture, and food. The deep gorge past Tilje marks the start of the Annapurna Circuit

Woman from Annapurna
Woman from Annapurna Credit: Kim Bannister

The next day, you'll be trekking along both the old Annapurna trail and main Annapurna Circuit Trail, a high and winding cliff-side route until reaching river level. From there, you'll be able to see the waterfall at Tal, the last village of the lower Manang region.

The trek finishes in Bandipur: a charming, historic Newari village away from the main road, with plenty to discover! For your last night, you'll stay at the cute and cozy Old Inn before driving back to Kathmandu: a perfect ending to the perfect trek. 

Accommodations

Mountain Views from Kamzang Journey's Unique Dining Tent
Lunch inside dining tent at the picturesque Pungyen Gompa campsite Credit: Kim Bannister

This is primarily a boutique camping trek, with a few nights in lodges in Lower Manaslu and after the Larkya La pass in the Annapurna region, and two nights in historic Gorkha and Bandipur in hotels, as well as overnight(s) at the wonderful Kathmandu Guest House in Kathmandu.

Best time of year

Spring and Autumn are the best seasons to do this trek. From April to May, you'll be able to enjoy the rhododendrons and other flowering plants in bloom. The monsoon season lasts from late May to early September, in which trail conditions are less ideal. October, otherwise, is the best month in the fall. 

Level of difficulty

Moderately challenging. It's not overly long and only has one pass: Larkya La at 16,752 ft. (5106 m.).

Permits 

This trek requires three permits: Manaslu Conservation Area Permit, Manaslu National Park Permit & Annapurna Conservation Area Permit.

Group Departures and Private Treks

Kimkim Nepal Specialist Kim Bannister leads one small group (max. 12 pax) each year. 

The group departure price includes a number of Kamzang-style trekking perks* (see below), transportation (airport pick-ups & drop-offs; group transportation by private vehicle), guides, porters, lodging (hotels in Kathmandu [Kathmandu Guest House], Gorkha and Bandipur; trek lodges; and tents), permits, numerous safety & health precautions (Thuraya satellite phone; InReach satellite messaging system; updated route published on InReach site; oxygen saturation monitoring system; portable oxygen chamber; and full medical kit & stretcher; & Kayadyn filtered water)

The price excludes personal insurance (travel & medical), your Nepal visa, helicopter rescue service, helicopter shuttle service, international flights to/from Nepal, oxygen (it's available but your insurance will need to cover the costs), equipment rental, alcohol & soft drinks plus meals in Kathmandu (budget about $250 for this), laundry, tipping (about $200 per trekker) and other items of a personal nature.

*Kamzang-style trekking perks: Marmot or Big Agnes tents (2x, or 3x for couples), delicious & copious 'gourmet' food with seasonal, fresh produce, French-press coffee, chai, Kashmiri & herbal teas, Katadyn filtered drinking water, warm washing water, library, 'lounge' with dhurri rugs, Crazy Creek camp chairs, blankets & the occasional music at night, horses, yaks or porters, Western, Sherpa & local guides (when needed), 5-star staff & the signature yellow 'Kamzang Dining Tent', as well as NO single supplement for single tents.

Alternatively, this trek can be run privately, customized to your exact needs. 

Map

Map of Manaslu Circuit Boutique Camping Trek - 22 Days
Map of Manaslu Circuit Boutique Camping Trek - 22 Days