The Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of the best trekking routes in Nepal. It retains the impression of remoteness and of being off the beaten path. This trek takes you around the Manaslu Conservation Area, leading you deep into the Himalayas, where you can explore the breathtaking view of the 8th highest mountain of the world, Manaslu at 8163 meters. Manaslu means “Mountain of the spirit”, derived from Sanskrit word “manasa” meaning intellect or soul.
The Manaslu Circuit Trek features everything you’d want from a classic trek in Nepal: epic scenery, intimate encounters with local people and their ancient culture. The Manaslu circuit takes you from the steamy lowlands with their terraces of rice and millet, through the mighty gorges of the Budi Gandaki with its turquoise waters and amazing waterfalls. Suspension bridges in Manaslu trek are in a league of their own for both length and height. The yearly monsoon often washes minor bridges away leaving trekkers to use semi-submerged rocks.
Drive from Kathmandu to Soti Khola via Arughat.
You start from your hotel by private jeep and drive through the hilltop village of Dhading leading you to Soti Khola via Arughat. You can expect a dusty and bumpy drive as the road passes along beautiful rural communities, small towns, green terrace farms and lush hills.
Trek from Soti Khola to Machha Khola
Starting from Soti Khola, you trek through the countryside past paddy fields and waterfalls, passing through isolated settlements of houses with dark slate roofs. Cross a suspension bridge over the Budi Gandaki River and, following the rocky trail, you head onto the village of Machha Khola.
Trek from Machha Khola to Jagat
Following the narrow trail cross the Thado Khola you reach Khorla Besi. Passing through villages accompanied by the beautiful mountain views you will eventually reach a hot spring “Tatopani” where you can relax for a while. Then climb to bridges to cross Budi Gandaki and head towards Dobhan. Further on you enter the Manaslu Conservation Area and reach the beautiful paved village of Jagat.
Trek from Jagat to Deng
Following the river, you cross and re-cross it via suspension bridges several times along the way, and pass through the settlements of Salleri, Sirdibas and Ghatta Khola. After crossing the river at Eklee Bhatti the route enters a steep, uninhabited gorge and continues through bamboo forests before reaching the Deng Khola. After crossing this river, you reach the tiny village of Deng.
Trek from Deng to Namrung
Today is one of the most important and culturally significant sections of the Manaslu trekking. First, cross the Budhi Gandaki river and climb up to the bridge, where you’ll climb a bit further to join a trail from Bhi. Then head west up the valley passing through lush forests, alpine vegetation, and quaint villages housing ethnic groups of the Manaslu region, with major peaks starting to appear in the distance.
Even though there is another route, you will take the trail through Prok. This village has a beautiful vantage point of the snow-capped Siringi Himal. Take a break here and then continue to cross the Budi Gandaki several times today passing several gompas along the way. The trail then follows the river upstream through a dense forest and leads to a narrow gorge. Keep going until you notice the forest becomes less dense. This rewarding part of the walk is a magnificent way to experience the Manaslu Conservation Area. You’ll eventually make one last steep climb to reach Namrung Village.
Trek from Namrung to Lho Gaon
Continuing your climb along the forest past Budi Gandaki, you have your first stunning glimpse of Manaslu North and Manaslu. The local people here are dressed in Tibetan style clothing and you can visit Ribung Gompa, the Buddhist monastery in this village.
Trek from Lho Gaon to Samagaon
Once again climbing through the forest you are accompanied by beautiful views of the Himalayas, a panoramic spread stretching to the horizon, with up close views of Manaslu. You enter into the Nupri region inhabited by Tibetan immigrants and your trail leads through rhododendron forest and yak pastures. You will be lucky if you are trekking in the spring, as you will be surrounded by red, pink and white rhododendron flowers!
Rest Day in Samagaon
To acclimatize to the higher altitude, you have this day to relax. You can hike to Manaslu Basecamp (4800m), or visit the monastery perched on a little hill near the village. Pungyen Gompa has great views of the glacier, or you can walk to the glacial lake, Birendra Tal.
In Samagaon village you can learn more about Sherpa culture and admire the many mani stones with Buddhist texts and pictures inscribed on them.
Trek from Samagaon to Samdo
Your route descends to the Budi Gandaki River and you follow it to a bridge over a side stream. You’ll then pass several mani walls as the valley begins to widen. The mountain views along this route are amazing and get you close to the Tibetan border.
This is an easy trek on a shelf above the river that passes juniper and birch forests in Kermo Kharka. Drop down and cross the Budhi Gandaki over a wooden bridge, and then climb steeply onto a promontory between two forks of the river. You’ll come to a stone archway and continue walking until you reach the village of Samdo. Here you might see caravans of yaks returning with loads from Tibet. If you’re lucky you can visit some of the local houses and drink chhyang (Tibetan barley beer), or salt butter tea with the locals.
Trek from Samdo to Larkya Phedi (aka Dharamsala)
Crossing a wooden bridge over the Budi Gandaki, you start to hike up to where you can see the Larkya Glacier as you go around the Salka Khola river valley. You will reach a stone guest house (at 4480 m), which is not a lodge but a shelter, called Dharamshala. You walk past the glaciers all the time accompanied by spectacular views and the hike is short, and you have plenty of time for acclimatization and time to relax in the afternoon even if you have paused at some of the many small monasteries along the way.
Trek from Dharmasala to Bimtang via Larkya La Pass
The trail moves up from Larkya Phedi with stunning views of Larkya Peak. Lonely Planet states that “the Larkya La is one of the most dramatic pass crossings in the Himalayas”. This is the highest point of the Manaslu Circuit, the most challenging day. With an early start, you cross glacial moraines in the dark before reaching the highest point of the trek at the Larkya La Pass (5106m), just 8 kilometres from the Tibetan border. The Larkya La Pass is an excellent point to marvel at the surrounding snow peaks.
You have time to take in the unbelievable views before you go down the steep, ankle straining drop to the trail that follows the glacial moraine downwards that brings you to Bimtang, which consists of abandoned homes and Buddhist prayer stones.
Trek from Bimtang to Tilche
After passing through the dense forest, you cross a high pasture “Sangure Kharka” and then cross the Dudh Khola river.
From here, walk through a rhododendron forest and follow a trail along a rocky riverbed and through a narrow valley until you reach Karche, the highest cultivated land of the valley. Pass through lush fields before making a steep climb over a ridge. The trail comes off the ridge in a big, sweeping arc to the riverbank. A short distance beyond is the village of Gho where some trekkers choose to stay the night, but you continue, making a steep climb over a ridge to reach Tilije. Mostly, Manangis and Chettris reside here, thus we get to indulge ourselves with Nepali food and local Tibetan tea.
Trek from Tilche to Chamje
This is the last day of your trek and you descend all the way to Chamje. It is a rapid descent into the Marsyangdi Valley and through the forest until you join the well-trodden trail of the Annapurna Circuit. Finishing at Chamje, you stay here for the night and can celebrate your success as you have completed the Manaslu Circuit!
Drive to Besisahar and back to Kathmandu
After breakfast, you drive by local transport as far as Besisahar. Here your driver and private vehicle will be waiting to take you back to Kathmandu, dropping you at your preferred hotel.