Manaslu Circuit Trek: Everything You Need To Know

By Rintsje Bosch

Find that one special trekking

On the Manaslu Circuit Trek in Nepal, you can forget about the traditional Annapurna Routes and escape the masses. This trekking offers fantastic views of the best the Annapurna area. See snow-capped mountains, high glacier lakes and spot the most stunning flora and fauna. The circuit passes many Nepalese cultural heritage sites, including traditional Tamang and Sherpa settlements.

This is your chance to experience a unique culture. With a height of 8.156m, Mount Manaslu is the highest mountain top in this area and also the eighth highest in the world. Whether you want to go from one teahouse to another or prefer camping, Manaslu is for everyone.

What Makes The Manaslu Circuit Trekking Special?

The Manaslu Circuit is outright special. The trek follows an ancient salt–trading route along the steep-sided Budhi Gandaki river. Ten peaks of more than 6,500 meters (21,300 ft) in height are visible while trekking through the Manaslu region, including peaks of more than 7,000 meters (23,000 ft) high. There are a lot less people on the Manaslu Circuit and this sets the trek apart from its busier brother the Annapurna Circuit.

This area is primarily populated by two ethnic groups; Nubri and Tsum. Chhikur's branching off the river separates these two racial territories. While Nubri was frequently visited following Nepal's 1950 tourism opening, Tsum still retains much of its traditional culture, art, and tradition. Gurungs is the largest ethnic group in the central hills of the region.If you are traveling alone and you want to do the Manaslu Circuit, you better find a friend to join you. As the Manaslu Circuit is a restricted area, you need at least two people to get a permit and a start date. Keep reading to find out which permit you need.

The Manaslu Circuit offers for a longer trek than some other treks in Nepal. The Manaslu can be tackled in 13 to 17 days. Most trekking companies offer 14 or 15-day itineraries as it allows for adequate acclimatization and comfort. The total distance of the Manaslu Circuit is 177 kilometers (110 miles). The distance can, however, differ from itinerary to itinerary. Some trekking companies like to start in Arughat Bazar where others only start at Soti Khola.

What Is The Best Season for The Manaslu Circuit Trekking?

Manaslu and the entire Annapurna Region, along with the rest of Nepal has 4 distinct seasons. Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The months from March to May and from October or November are the most popular for trekking at the Annapurna Massif. What must be said, is that every trekking season offers its own excitement and atmosphere for hikers. You can read more about the most favorable trekking and hiking seasons in Nepal in this blog post.

Why The Manaslu Circuit and not the Annapurna Circuit?

The Annapurna Circuit is fantastic. It gives you everything you are looking for when trekking in the Annapurna Sanctuary of Nepal. However, a lot of people know the Annapurna Circuit Trek is great and you will definitely not be the only one on the trails. After the Everest Base Camp Trek, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is the busiest trek in Nepal. The Manaslu Circuit is everything the Annapurna Circuit is, but it allows for a more genuine trekking experience.

Villages on the Annapurna Circuit always had poor access and modern times require modern infrastructure. As a result, some of the Annapurna Circuit is tarred and this is very uplifting for the local communities. Trekkers, of course, are always looking for the most remote trails and although there are still some on the Annapurna Circuit, you are sure to find them on the Manaslu Circuit.

The Manaslu Circuit is not as quiet anymore as it used to be. Where in the past camping was basically the only possibility to spend the night in this remote part of the world, these days you can find teahouses scattered along the trail.

Is the Manaslu Circuit Trek in Nepal Difficult?

Hiking or trekking in the Annapurna Region can be a challenge. But this doesn’t mean that you can not do it. If you like hiking and make sure you start to get fit well ahead of the start of your trek, you can definitely make it. The average trek in the Annapurna Region is not difficult but hikers and trekkers should still be moderately fit. After all, you are stilling trekking through the Himalayas of Nepal. If you are wondering what it physically takes to go trekking in Nepal and what you can do to become the fittest version of yourself you should keep reading.

How Much Does The Manaslu Circuit Trek Cost?

As most foreign visitors to Nepal land in Kathmandu, they are likely to go trekking in regions other than Annapurna or Manaslu. This is the first hurdle to trekking in the Annapurna Region. One has to actually travel to Pokhara. All the trekking providers by default offer transport from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Some by bus, others by plane.

An itinerary usually includes hotel accommodation in Pokhara and transport from Pokhara to Ghorepani. This is where some of the costs sit. Although you do not need to pay some kind of entrance fee, you still need to pay for permits. Without it is impossible to hike in the Nepal Himalayas. For the Manaslu Circuit you need three kinds of permits:

The permit cost for Manaslu Trek depends on the month and number of days you will spend in this region. To trek in the Manaslu region, you will need three kinds of permits issued by the Government of Nepal.

Manaslu Restricted Permit

The Manaslu trek permit costs USD 70.00 for first seven days and USD 10.00 each additional day during September to November. Manaslu trek permit costs USD 50.00 for first 7 days and USD 7.00 each extra day from December to August.

Manaslu Conservation Area Permit (MCAP):

The Entry fee for SAARC Nationals is 200 NPR per person and for other Nationals is 2,000 NPR per person.

Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP):

All permits are arranged by your trekking provider. The Manaslu Circuit Trek is because of its average duration and exclusivity a more expensive trek in Nepal. Prices vary between the 1000 USD and 1400 USD or 900 EUR and 1200 EUR per person.

What Is The Best Itinerary for the Manaslu Circuit?

It can be hard to choose a fitting Manaslu Circuit Trek. If you want to do Manaslu right, you try to take as much time for it as possible. As transfers from Kathmandu to Pokhara are usually included, you want to spend some time in Pokhara as well. The town is just too pretty to simply skip it. Besides, you will be traveling quite a bit to get there, so you might as well stretch your leg a little.


Drive to Arughat Bazar

Right after breakfast, we drive via the Kathmandu – Pokhara Highway to Arughat Bazar. The drive will take you through many vibrant villages and you will get to see a lot of the natural highlights this side of rural Nepal has to offer.

Arughat Bazar


Trek to Soti Khola

Duration: 04:00 h
Distance: 11.7 km
Ascent: 180 m
Descent: 90 m
After having had breakfast at our teahouse, we begin our trek following a flat levelled trail that follows the Budhi Gandaki River. Halfway we will grab lunch at Arket Bazaar. This is a great location to relax and energize your limbs for the trail that still lies ahead of us.

Soti Khola


Trek to Machcha Khola

Duration: 05:00 h
Distance: 13.2 km
Ascent: 510 m
Descent: 270 m
Today we will trek for about 7 hours. After crossing the beautiful and famous suspension bridge of Soti Khola, we trek through Sal forests to reach a ridge above the splashing rapids of the Budhi Gandaki River. After reaching Khursane, the trail becomes rocky, passing through waterfalls and cliffs. We make our way past terraced rice fields and up to the Gurung village of Labubesi. We climb behind a rocky cliff where the valley opens up. Walking through a sandy river bed, climbing over stone ridges and then again moving down to the river and crossing the suspension bridges, we reach Machcha Khola village where we will spend the night at a teahouse.

Machha Khola


Trek to Jagat

Duration: 07:45 h
Distance: 17 km
Ascent: 730 m
Descent: 250 m
The next day, from Machhakhola we follow a narrow trail that takes us to Tharo Khola and finally to Khorlabesi. After a few ascents and descents, we reach a popular hot-spring, Tatopani. We will spend some time here and can enjoy the natural sauna in the hot -spring and relieve all our tiredness and stress of the trek. We climb another ridge and cross the Budhi Gandaki via another suspension bridge. After this, we climb a staircase and then cross a landslide and a ridge to reach Doban. After crossing a suspension bridge, we again climb stone staircase then go down to the river and climb some stairs again to reach Thado Bharyang. Then we cross the west bank of Budhi Gandaki, climb over a ridge, walk along the river to reach the village of Jagat where we spend the night.



Trek to Deng

Duration: 08:30 h
Distance: 18.4 km
Ascent: 910 m
Descent: 370 m
Today we will reach Salleri after climbing a rocky ridge and then we continue our way towards Sirdibas. We trek onwards to Ghatta Khola and then walk upstream through a long suspension bridge to reach a Gurung village in Phillim. From the lower points of the village, the trail turns north and through leveled trails amidst maize fields, we reach Ekle Bhatti, where you will have lunch. We then continue our trip from a steep gorge and then descend through grassy slopes to cross the Budhi Gandaki and then cross bridges from west to east bank and back again. As the trail widens, we pass through bamboo forests to reach the Deng Khola. After crossing the river, we reach the tiny Deng village where we shall spend the night.



Trek to Namrung

Duration: 08:45 h
Distance: 16.8 km
Ascent: 1210 m
Descent: 440 m
We take a short hike from Deng and then we cross the Budhi Gandaki and climb to reach Rana. From here we climb for a while and then head west to Budhi Gandaki valley. The trail passes through forests and painted Mani stones and a corner from where we reach Ghap. Then we take the trail through Prok village which allows us to witness the beautiful view of Siring Himal. We follow the river, crossing it at many places and pass through dense forests and Gompas along the way. After crossing the river at a gorge, the trail becomes leveled and after a last steep climb, we reach Namrung where we stay for the night. Namrung is the best viewpoint for Siring and Ganesh Himal as well as Mt. Himal Chuli.



Trek to Sama Gaon

Duration: 08:30 h
Distance: 17.4 km
Ascent: 1120 m
Descent: 220 m
Today, we trek over a winding trail which moves through the inner Himalayan range and on the way, we will enjoy the views of Rupinala pass, Mt. Manaslu, Gorkha Himal, Dwijen Himal, Saula Himal, Lajing peak, and many other silver grey mountains and peaks. As we ascend the vegetation decreases due to the increase in altitude. In the afternoon, this part becomes quite windy and chilly. While hiking, we come across mani walls, chortens, prayer flags and monasteries. Before we reach Lho Gaon, we pass a Tibetan village and Lihi Gaon and after having lunch at Lhogaun, we continue trekking to Sama Gaon. We follow the right bank of the river, with views of Peak 29 ahead of us. As we continue on the main trail, we soon reach the fields of Sama Gaon.

Sama Gaon


Acclimatisation at Sama Gaon

We will rest at Sama Gaon for acclimatisation reasons and give our weary limbs some respite from the intense days on the trails. This also allows us to rest our lungs so that our respiratory systems will adapt to the constant change in elevation. Surrounded by mountains in a peaceful forest, we take a breather to acclimatise and relax. We can hike to Manaslu Base Camp for excellent views of Samdo, Nagdi chuli, Simnang Himal, Manaslu glacier and Manaslu ice fall.

Sama Gaon


Trek to Samdo

Duration: 03:20 h
Distance: 7.63 km
Ascent: 330 m
After having enjoyed breakfast in our lovely surroundings, we trek gently uphill all the way to Samdo through a desert path and windy valley. The Tibetan border is just four kilometers away from Samdo. Visitors are not allowed to cross it. There is a Tibetan refugee village at Samdo. This is an excellent viewpoint for Mount Manaslu, Samdo (Pang phuchuli), Nagdi chuli, Simnang Himal, Manaslu glacier, Manaslu ice fall and several other awesome peaks.



Trek to Larkya La Phedi / Dharamasala

Duration: 03:20 h
Distance: 6.15 km
Ascent: 590 m
Today the trail is rocky and zigzags all the way to our destination for today. Before we reach Larkya La Phedi, there is a market called Larkya Bazaar where seasonal fairs are held for the locals and people bring goods from Tibet to sell them here.

Larkya La Phedi


Trek to Bimthang via Larkya La Pass

Duration: 09:00 h
Distance: 15.6 km
Ascent: 680 m
Descent: 1440 m
Today will be a tough day.. Early in the morning we begin to trek a steep trail until we reach Larkya La pass. We carry a packed lunch because in this area it will be difficult to set up our dining camps. From the top, we will enjoy the views of Larkya peak, sunrise, Mount Manaslu, Ratna chuli, Cheo Himal and many other snow capped mountains and peaks. Crossing this pass, we descend a steep trail. On the way, we will encounter many icy lakes that make you feel chilly. Bimthang is a broad and level ablation valley with a number of Mani walls and deserted houses.



Trek to Dharapani

Duration: 10:00 h
Distance: 23 km
Ascent: 100 m
Descent: 1930 m
After having breakfast at our teahouse, we start our trek by crossing a high pasture. We then descend the valley of the Burdin Khola to an area we can find the Base Camp for the West side of Manaslu. From a ridge at 4150 meters, we have excellent views of Manaslu to the South East and Annapurna II to the South West. Beyond a bridge over the headwaters of the Dudh Khola, we descend into a rhododendron forest and follow a trail through a narrow valley until we reach the highest cultivated land in this valley at Karche. We cross a stream to reach Tilje, where is an apple orchard. It is famous for local wine. Leaving Tilje, we trek about another hour to reach Dharapani.



Trek to Jagat

Duration: 06:00 h
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 270 m
Descent: 910 m
After breakfast, we start our trek following the classic trail of the Annapurna circuit and today, we trek all the way over a descended path along the bank of Dudh Khola (river) and Marshyangdi River. On the way, we walk through pleasant villages such as Tal which has a pretty waterfall. Eventually, we come across Jagat which is a stone village situated on a shelf, that juts into the precipitous Marshyangdi valley.



Trek to Bhulbhule

Duration: 06:30 h
Distance: 18 km
Ascent: 430 m
Descent: 840 m
Today is the last day of our trek. We will make our way to Bhulbhule as we say our goodbye to the beautiful giant mountains that have been accompanying us in the last two weeks. Make this last day yours.



Drive back to Kathmandu

After having early breakfast at the lodge, we catch a bus to Kathmandu. Expect a picturesque drive along the banks of the Marshyangdi and Trishuli rivers with splendid views of green hills, mountains, farming terraces and colorful villages.
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Packing List for the Manaslu Circuit Trek

Trekking in Nepal requires decent gear. Especially the basics like an 80-90 L backpack and quality trekking socks. We highly recommend that you read our suggestted packing list to hike in Nepal.

  • Documents

  • Sleep

  • Footwear

  • Clothing

  • Accessories

How Do I Get Fit For The Manaslu Circuit Trek in Nepal?

If you live anywhere else other than the Himalayas, it will be hard to get your legs ready for higher altitudes. After all, it doesn’t get much higher than Nepal. This is why we have to be clear upfront: Unless you have hiked at a higher altitude before, it will be difficult to get a 100% ready for your adventure. If that sounds bad to you, then comfort yourself with the fact that there is absolutely no need to be 100% ready.

You are not climbing K2 or Mount Everest and not running a mountain race. This is trekking. In fact, you are actually supposed to take it easy. Taking it easy is a rule of thumb when you want to prevent altitude sickness while out in Nepal. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, once you are out there on the trails, you have to stick to your own pace. But of course, the fitter you are, the more you can enjoy your days. Get fit!

Should I Hike More?

One solid approach to get the hang of what you do is to rehearse. The best practice for climbing is climbing. Seeing that you are keen on a multi-day trekking experience, we accept that you enjoy walking. Awesome, do it more. If you are fortunate to be encompassed by some hills or even mountains, the time has come to see them all the more frequently. When? In the event that you are new to this, we recommend beginning a half year the start of your trek, essentially going for 60 minutes (or two) climb seven days. When you get the hang of it, after around three weeks, you will have an ideal opportunity to reinforce your power. Convey a pack of 10 to 15kg and include a more drawn out climb of three hours to your week. On the off chance that this way of life is different to you, you will before long receive the rewards of this moderate exercise.

What Are The Health Benefits of doing the Manaslu Circuit?

Some of thehealth benefits of trekking and hikinginclude a lower risk of heart disease, improved blood pressure and sugar levels and of course it helps to control your weight. Once you are ready for the hills, it only gets better. According to Gregory Miller, president of the American Hiking Society, ”a 5% to 10% incline equals a 30% to 40% increase in calorie burn.” Our personal health benefits are a clearer mind and an elevated mood. Trekking keeps us sane. After a good few months of solid hiking, it is time to put your endurance to the test. Do back to back long hikes. You can simulate a few days of constant trekking by going hiking for a few days. Easy at that. Plan a smaller trekking holiday or keep it simple by hiking your favorite route on repeat. If you are comfortable hiking for 4 hours a day, 3 days in a row while carrying a 10kg to 15kg backpack, you will be fine.

There is more you can do to get ready for your Manaslu Circuit but the above basics will definitely help you on your way. You can focus on strength exercise, you can simulate altitude with altitude masks. There's a lot you can do. Check this blog post if you want to read more about getting fit for your Manaslu Circuit experience..

What About Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) on the Manaslu Circuit?

Symptoms of AMS start to show within a few hours after arrival at high altitude and include nausea, shortness of breath, headache and inability to exercise. An overall feeling of fatigue will take all the joy away that you were experiencing until things got bad. You may struggle to fall asleep, experience dizziness and you could be suffering from a severe headache. You may also lose your sense of coordination, have trouble walking and have a tight chest. If things progress to HAPE or HACE, you might get confused, have a shortness of breath at rest and you will likely be unable to walk at all.

The higher the altitude, the more severe your symptoms can be. If you have watched Everest the movie, you know what we are talking about. But those guys were climbing and you are, fortunately, only trekking. There is a number of scoring systems for determining altitude sickness. Guides are trained in these systems and are experienced in immediate treatment. Although many people will experience some symptoms of altitude sickness, it doesn’t have to escalate. When aware of the symptoms, you can do a lot to make sure you stay healthy at high altitude. Read more about the prevention of AMS here.

What Type of Accommodation Can I Expect While Doing the Manaslu Circuit?

When you are planning to go trekking or hiking in the Manaslu Region, you can expect to stay in a decent hotel in Pokhara and you are likely to stay in teahouses along the trek. Regardless of where you stay in Nepal, do not expect a luxury show. Accommodation is relatively basic but is perfect for those who are resting their legs from hiking and trekking. Down below you can read more about staying in teahouses.

Tea houses are small hotels known as Bhatti. Them being small hotels, you can expect a certain level of comfort. Yes, you can, but just know that comfort is a relative concept. They are comfortable to the extent that you have a place to sleep and that you can enjoy home-cooked meals. That’s right, tea houses are run by local families who have opened their houses to trekkers passing by. On Manaslu Circuit you can find a lot of teahouses. These can be a bit smaller and more basic than on the Annapurna Circuit as they are harder to supply.Read more about staying in teahouses here.

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