The Manaslu Circuit is getting more and more popular as a new trekking destination but it still sees fewer trekkers compared to the established trekking routes in the Annapurna region. The circuit is a stunning trek with spectacular views of Mount Manaslu (8163 m) and the Ganesh Himal Range, among others. Along the trail you encounter an interesting mix of authentic Hindu and Tibetan-style Buddhist villages. The trail follows the spectacular Budhi Gandaki River all the way from Arugath to its source just below the Larkya Pass (5125 m). As you start low, at around 700 m, the landscapes are incredibly varied ranging from green countryside and lush forests to spectacular high altitude landscapes skirting huge glaciers.
The crossing of the Larkya Pass (5125 m) can be tough when there is snow. However, the stunning landscape with the mighty Himalayas towering straight above you and the spectacular glaciers make it more than worth the effort. The pass links the Budhi Gandaki with the Marsyangdi valley. The descent passes through beautiful alpine meadows at Bhimtang before joining the main Annapurna Circuit route heading to the trailhead at Besisahar. The Manaslu trek is easily accessible from Kathmandu. It originally started in the town of Arughat or Gorkha; however, with roads being built many trekkers start at either Barpak or Soti Khola a bit further up the trail.
The trek described here starts in Soti Khola and ends in Chyamche. It’s also possible to finish the walk in Besisahar which is also the starting point for the Annapurna circuit. The itinerary below is one of the many possibilities. The trek can be made longer or shorter depending on the length of your walking days and starting point. There are basic guesthouses all along the trail so you can choose if you want to camp or stay at the teahouses/guesthouses. You can combine the Manaslu Circuit with the Tsum Valley, a beautiful, secluded valley where century old Tibetan traditions prevail.
The 2015 earthquake had a big impact in the Manaslu region and destroyed several lodges along the trail. Reconstruction work for lodges and infrastructure (see our blog article about the new cantilever pathway) is moving forward rapidly and so finding accommodation shouldn’t be a problem as of autumn 2016. Camping is not necessary for this trek but may be an alternative for those traveling in big groups.
March, April, May, September, October, November
Camping, Teahouse/Lodge, Homestay
Level of Difficulty
Restricted Area Trekking Permit to Manaslu, MCAP, ACAP, TIMS all issued by the Immigration Office in Kathmandu (www.immi.gov.np)
- Day 1 Kathmandu - Arugath Bazar (550 m) 6-7 hrs bus/jeep; and 2 hrs jeep ride to Soti Khola (700 m)
- Day 2 Soti Khola (700 m) - Machha Khola (930 m) 6 hrs
- Day 3 Machha Khola (930 m) - Jagat (1340 m) 7 hrs
- Day 4 Jagat (1340 m) - Deng (1860 m) 7 hrs
- Day 5 Deng (1860 m) - Namrung (2630 m) 7-8 hrs
- Day 6 Namrung (2630 m) - Samagaon (3530 m) 7 hrs
- Day 7 Rest day Samagaon (3530 m); visit Pungyen Gompa and glacial lake Birendra Tal (6 hrs roundtrip) or acclimatization walk to Manaslu Base Camp (4400 m) 7-8 hrs roundtrip
- Day 8 Samagaon (3530 m) - Samdo (3865 m) 4 hrs
- Day 9 Samdo (3865 m) - Dharmasala/Larkya Phedi (4460 m) 4 hrs
- Day 10 Dharmasala/Larkya Phedi (4460 m) - Bhimtang (3590 m) via Larkya La pass (5125 m) 8-10 hrs depending on physical shape, weather and trail conditions
- Day 11 Bimtang (3590 m) - Gho (2515 m) or Tiliche (2300 m) 6 or 7 hrs
- Day 12 Gho (2515 m) or Tiliche (2300 m) - Chyamche (1430 m) 7 or 8 hrs
- Day 13 Drive to Besisahar by local bus/jeep on gravel road (3 hrs) and on to Kathmandu on blacktop road (6 hrs)