Located just a stone's throw away from the Annapurna region in the west-central part of Nepal, if you’re looking for a route that is far less crowded than the classic Nepal treks, the Manaslu Circuit is one of the best remote adventures you will find on this side of the world. The Manaslu peak is the eighth highest mountain in the world, at 8,163 metres above sea level. The Manaslu Circuit is nowhere near as developed compared to the Annapurna Circuit or the Everest Base Camp trek as it was only just opened to tourists in 1991 and the teahouse accommodation was built only back in 2010.
Thanks to its remote location, the scenery is unspoilt, and the remote villages have not changed for centuries, offering a cultural experience you won’t find elsewhere. The highlight, of course, is the high point of this trek at the crossing of Larkya La 5,213m, a pass that is regarded as one of the most dramatic crossings in the Himalayas.
The Manaslu Circuit trek can be found in the Gorkha District of Nepal, and it is the closest to Kathmandu out of the most popular Nepalese treks. The trailhead starting point is Soti Khola.
The highest point on this trail is the Larkya La pass, which reaches a height of 5,213m.
The Manaslu Circuit can be completed in 13-19 days.
The trail will start by walking along dense forests and terraced farmlands before moving along dramatic suspension bridges and high alpine trails, passing glaciers and impressive scenery along the way.
Manaslu Circuit difficulty rating & trekking requirements
Difficulty rating: CHALLENGING
Previous trekking experience is highly recommended, as the days will feature 6-8 hours hiking with daily ascents of 900m to 1,000m, perhaps with the odd day ascending around 1,100m to 1,200m. Depending on the route, you may be trekking at an altitude of over 3,500m. You need complete confidence in your ability to trek for many days over difficult terrain. Extremes of altitude and weather may be encountered, as may the use of ice axes and crampons. A degree of physical and mental stamina will be essential to complete the hike as the days will be tiring.
The physical requirements for this trail are similar to the Everest Base Camp trek, where there are no climbing skills needed, however it is recommended that you have had experience trekking at a high altitude. While this is not compulsory, the more experience you have trekking the better off you will be on the trail. If you are healthy and in a good physical condition, you should be able to make this trip.
Manaslu Circuit tips
- Stay positive! This is a physical and mentally challenging trek and there will be plenty of moments that will test your mental toughness.
- Pack an iPod or MP3 player and load it with a few of your favourite tunes for the moments when your mind wanders during those high altitude treks.
- The longer you are trekking, the more time you have to acclimate, which will help to reduce the risk of altitude sickness.
- You might be surprised how handy a journal and a pen will be during those moments in the teahouses or while you’re camping to jot down a few thoughts.
- Don’t wear cotton! This particular fabric does not dry at high altitudes.
- Pack a camera to capture your incredible memories along the trail. Or, if you are using your camera phone to make sure you pack a portable charger as the temperature will drain the battery much quicker.
- Diamox is a popular remedy for altitude sickness. However it is a diuretic. Consult your doctor before you travel to ensure that this option is right for you.
Nepalese Himalayas routes
- Poon Hill. Distance: 51 km, average duration: 4-5 days
- Annapurna Base Camp. Distance: 110 km, average duration: 7-10 days
- Everest Base Camp. Distance: 130 km, average duration: 12-16 days
- Manaslu Circuit. Distance: 177 km, average duration: 13-17 days
- Makalu Base Camp. Average duration: 18-22 days
- Upper Mustang Trek. Average duration: 10-12 days
- Langtang Valley. Distance: 120 km, average duration: 7-11 days
- Three Passes Trek. Distance: 166 km, average duration: 18-20 days