Why trek the Manaslu Circuit Trek?
|Max. elevation||5,106 m / 16,752 ft
(Larkya La pass)
Experts consider the Manaslu Circuit Trek among the best treks in Nepal. Despite its recent rise in popularity, the Manaslu Trek remains remote and off-the-beaten-path compared to the better-known teahouse treks in Nepal. The trek takes you around Manaslu, the world's eighth highest mountain at 8,163 meters (26,781 ft).
Top highlights of this trek include:
- It is far less crowded than its more well-known peers Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit. The word is getting out about Manaslu, but there are still about 10 times fewer trekkers on the Manaslu Trail
- The trek is wild and remote, yet there are teahouses at every day stage, so trekkers don’t need to bring tents and food, making it more accessible and affordable than similar treks.
- The trailhead is reached over land, avoiding the need for domestic flights.
- The first part of the trail follows the Buri Gandaki, a deep, long river gorge, with many suspension bridge crossings
- The scenery provides all Nepal has to offer: you'll trek from the subtropical jungle at lower elevations, through the Himalayan foothills to the high, cold and challenging crossing of the Larkya La above 5,100 meters / 17,000 feet.
Getting to the trailhead
The trailhead of the Manaslu Circuit trek is the closest to Kathmandu of the major Nepalese treks. That said, it's still an adventurous 126 km (80 miles) drive from Kathmandu to Soti Khola, which takes about 6 hours by jeep (recommended) or 8+ hours by public bus. If road conditions are challenging (which is often the case at the tail end of the monsoon in September) you may have to start walking in Arughat, which adds an extra day.
The Manaslu trek is within a restricted region of Nepal, meaning you'll need a trekking permit to access this route. Solo trekkers are also not allowed, where a minimum group size of two people is required.
Accommodation during the Trek
Each night, you'll be staying in local teahouses run by the local communities along the trek. Most teahouses are quite basic but comfortable, with two single beds in each room. There is a common area for meals and relaxing, which is a great place to stay warm around the fire at night. To see what teahouses look like, check out our article on Teahouse Trekking in Nepal.
|Day 1||Drive from Kathmandu to Sotikhola via Arughat||Sotikhola||815m|
|Day 2||Trek from Sotikhola to Maccha Khola||Maccha Khola||800m|
|Day 3||Trek from Maccha Khola to Jagat||Jagat||1370m|
|Day 4||Trek from Jagat to Philim||Philim||1570m|
|Day 5||Trek from Philim to Deng||Deng||1865m|
|Day 6||Trek from Deng to Ghap||Ghap||2165m|
|Day 7||Trek from Ghap to Lho||Lho||3180m|
|Day 8||Trek from Lho to Sama Gaon/Ro||Sama Gaon||3525m|
|Day 9||Acclimatization Day in Sama Gaon||Sama Gaon||3525m|
|Day 10||Trek from Sama Gaon to||Samdo||3850m|
|Day 11||Acclimatization Day in Samdo||Samdo||3850m|
|Day 12||Trek from Samdo to Dharamsala||Dharamsala||4460m|
|Day 13||Trek from Dharamsala to Bimtang via Larkya La (5135m)||Bimtang||3590m|
|Day 14||Trek from Bimtang to Dharapani||Dharapani||1860m|
|Day 15||Drive from Dharapani to Kathmandu||Kathmandu||1340m|
Day 1: Drive to Sotikhola via Arughat by jeep
Our adventure starts with an 8-10-hour drive in a private jeep along spectacular (and bumpy!) roads. You will see the incredible variation of scenery in Nepal and get a glimpse of life in buzzing roadside towns.
Day 2: Trek to Maccha Khola (800m)
The first stage of the trek follows the narrow, deep Buri Gandaki valley, through dense forests and terraced farmland. Expect hot and humid weather at the early stages of the trek.
Day 3: Trek to Jagat (1370m)
Today we experience some of the best aspects of trekking through a deep gorge: suspension bridges, waterfalls and impressive rapids, and we’ll enter the Manaslu Conservation Area in the beautiful paved village of Jagat.
Day 4: Trek to Philim (1570m)
Today we’ll have more steep ups and downs, and suspension bridges, as we get our first views of high, snow-covered mountains. The day is a bit shorter than usual, with only about 3 hours of hiking.
Day 5: Trek to Deng (1865m)
After crossing several bridges and more spectacular waterfalls we will pass the entrance to Tsum Valley before we enter the area where natives are ethnically Tibetan.
Day 6: Trek to Ghap (2165m)
We enter deeper into Tibetan influenced territory, with the first mani stones (prayers etched onto wayside rocks) making their appearance along the trail, while enjoying spectacular views.
Day 7: Trek to Lho (3180m)
The landscape turns increasingly Alpine as we continue to gain altitude, and we get our first views of Manaslu itself! The village of Lho is lively and has a small gompa (shrine) that’s worth a visit.
Day 8: Trek to Sama Gaon/Ro (3525m)
More mani walls and gompas line the trail today, as we continue to see the snowy peak of Manaslu in the distance ahead of us.
Day 9: Acclimatization Day in Sama Gaon
We’ll have our first rest day here, to give our body’s time to adjust to the altitude. Explore the village or take a day hike to PungGyen Gompa.
Day 10: Trek from Sama Gaon to Samdo
Another day of incredible mountain views during the walk up to Samdo, just three hours away to limit our elevation gain.
Day 11: Acclimatization Day in Samdo
Today is our second rest day which will give you the opportunity to visit the border with Tibet. If we’re lucky we can visit and see inside some of the local houses for chang (Tibetan barley beer), salt butter tea and perhaps a few carpets to buy!
Day 12: Trek from Samdo to Dharamsala
We get closer and closer to the high mountains today, as we climb past glaciers while enjoying spectacular views. You’ll likely feel the altitude, so take it slow today and save your energy for the big day tomorrow.
Day 13: Trek from Dharamsala to Bimtang via Larkya La (5135m)
Today we get up very early and cross glacier moraines in the dark before we reach the highest point of the trek: The Larkya La Pass. After enjoying the truly unbelievable views, get ready for a steep, ankle straining drop to a trail following the glacial moraine. It’s a long spectacular day and one that you likely will remember forever!
Day 14: Trek Bimtang to Dharapani (1860m)
From here we continue our descent into the land of apple pie, cold beers and hot showers - the Annapurna Circuit trail and almost the end of our trail. We continue through the bamboo forest and the last stop of our trek, Dharapani.
Day 15: Drive to Kathmandu
In the morning we say our goodbyes to the crew, load up the jeep and start the drive back to Kathmandu, giving you a chance to reflect on the impressive experiences of the past 2 weeks.
The Tsum Valley Extension (19 days)
|Day 1||Kathmandu - Soti Khola (by jeep)||775m|
|Day 2||Soti Khola - Machhakhola||900m|
|Day 3||Macchakhola - Jagat||1300m|
|Day 4||Jagat - Phillim||1590m|
|Day 5||Phillim - Chumling||2360m|
|Day 6||Chumling to Chhokangparo||3010m|
|Day 7||Chhokangparo to Nile||3361m|
|Day 8||Nile to Mu Gompa (3700m) and Chhokangparo||3361m|
|Day 9||Gumba Lungdang to Lokpa||2240m|
|Day 10||Lokpa to Ghap||2160m|
|Day 11||Ghap to Lho||3180m|
|Day 12||Lho to Samagaon||3580m|
|Day 13||Day trip to Manaslu Base Camp||4400m|
|Day 14||Samagaon to Samdo||3875m|
|Day 15||Climb Samdo Ri or take a day trip to Tibet border||3875m|
|Day 16||Samdo to Dharamsala||4460m|
|Day 17||Dharamsala to Bimtang (via Larke Pass 5160m)||3590m|
|Day 18||Bimtang to Dharapani||1963m|
|Day 19||Dharapani - Kathmandu (by jeep)||1400m|
If you have the time, we highly recommend extending your trek for another week by adding the side trip to Tsum Valley to your itinerary. Tsum Valley is even more remote than the main Manaslu trail, and has amazing views, including the famous viewpoint above Mu Gompa pictured below.
Manaslu Boutique-Style Camping Trek
While most trekkers stay in teahouses, some choose to camp. The advantages of camping include more flexibility to select camping spots that are further away from the villages where most trekkers congregate, and higher quality and more varied food since your crew will be carrying in supplies. Kimkim local specialist Kim Bannister runs an annual boutique Manaslu camping trek in her unique "Kamzang style". While pricier than the standard Manaslu teahouse trek, this option is great for trekkers seeking a "higher touch" experience. More info and dates & pricing can be found here.
Group Departures and Private Treks
Kimkim local specialists are running small group fixed departures in 2018 and 2019. The treks include guide, porter, lodging, transport, and permits, but exclude food. See the full list of group departure dates.
Request a Custom Itinerary
Do you have any questions about this trek or would you like to see how it can be customized to your needs? Our partners also run private treks just for you and your travel partners. To start organizing a private trek, get in touch here.