Trekking in Manaslu Region

Manaslu Region Trek Information
  • Rajesh Neupane
  • Last Updated on May 20, 2024

Known to the world as a Mecca for climbers and a heartland to some of the Himalayas' mightiest peaks, Nepal is also justly proud of its culturally rich and ancient history, the abundant and rare wildlife species that make their home throughout the mountains, and national parks, and the multitude of outdoor activities that justifiably give the country the reputation of being arguably the world's premier destination for those with an adventurous spirit and a thrill-seeker's outlook.

With elevations that range from a mere 60 meters above sea level to the tip of Mt. Everest at over 8800 meters—all within a paltry distance of 150 kilometers—Nepal features an extraordinary range of landscapes. Dramatic mountain scenery like nowhere else on earth. Snow-laden hidden valleys sheltering remote Buddhist monasteries Mysterious highland deserts bordering on mystical Tibet The Serene Lake Lands seem like dreamy extracts from a fantasy novel. Former royal hunting preserves where Bengal tigers roam free And dozens of legendary trails and tracks thread across the country that link up many of these superb areas, including the route many consider the finest — Manaslu.

Table of Contents

Why Trek in the Manaslu region?

There are numerous reasons to choose to trek through the Manaslu region:

  • The area has only been open to trekking since the early 1990s and is still lightly traveled relative to the likes of Annapurna, to which it is often compared.
  • Manaslu and the neighboring Tsum Valley offer a unique and richly rewarding experience of authentic Tibetan culture, one that has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years.
  • Explore a stunning and ever-changing landscape of towering mountains, raging rivers, verdant forests, and serene monasteries perched amidst snow-capped peaks.
  • Take up the option to stay overnight in a monastery or gain firsthand experience of local culture via an insightful homestay.
  • Use one of the rest days en route to visit the Tibetan border.
  • Achieve a personal milestone by making it to the top of the Larkya La Pass.
  • Choose any of the numerous options to trek through the region, from the basic Manaslu trek right through to add-ons that make it one of the finest and most rewarding experiences in all of Nepal.

Manaslu Region:

Manaslu is designated as a restricted region and therefore requires the services of a government-registered agency and a licensed trekking guide to access. The various options make the area one of the most multi-faceted parts of Nepal to trek through in terms of both culture and geography. These include the basic Manaslu Circuit Trek, which in and of itself is one of the finest experiences available. Add to that the option to explore the highly unique Tibetan stronghold of Tsum Valley, and the trek takes on an extraordinary status and significance in terms of the wide variety of cultures on offer.

Mani Wall
Mani Wall in Samaganu

Throw in the alternate start from Upper Manaslu and the ability to link up to the Annapurna Circuit, Nar Phu Valley, and Tilicho Lake, and it soon takes on the makings of an exceptional trek only dwarfed by the likes of the Great Himalayan Trail. Shorter options also exist, of course, such as visiting the magical Tsum Valley on your own. Typically, the trek starts at Soti Khola after a lengthy drive from Kathmandu, though the upper route has a different start point at the scenic town of Barpak. We generally leave it to our clients to determine if they wish to travel by bus or go to the extra expense of hiring a jeep.

Recommended Treks:

Manaslu Circuit Trek:

Way to Dharmasala

Manaslu Circuit Trek Facts:

  • Max Elevation: 5106 meters (16752 feet)
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Duration of the Trek: 17 Days
  • Activity: Trekking/Hiking
  • Trekking Difficulty: Strenuous
  • The best time to visit: March to May and September to November
  • Group Size: 2 to 20
  • Trek Starts: Machhakhola
  • Trek Ends: Besishahar

Visiting Nepal means most people think of Everest Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, or Langtang Valley Trek in Nepal. Despite those popular and advertised treks in Nepal, Nepal Trekking Experts highly recommend exploring the Manaslu Circuit Trek, which starts from Machhakhola and ends up at Besisahar. If you are looking for the raw beauty of stunning nature, unspoiled Tibetan culture, lesser-known regions, diverse landscapes, pristine flora and fauna, witnessing the 8th tallest mountain, Mt. Manaslu, its base camp, and the splendid views of Larkya Pass, then the Manaslu Circuit Treks can be unbeaten.

Manaslu Tsum Valley Trek:

Pungen Gompa View
Pungen Gompa

Manaslu Tsum Valley Trek Facts:

  • Max Elevation: 5106 meters (16752 feet)
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Duration of the Trek: 24 Days
  • Activity: Trekking/Hiking
  • Trekking Difficulty: Strenuous
  • The best time to visit: March to May and September to November
  • Group Size: 2 to 20
  • Trek Starts: Machhakhola
  • Trek Ends: Besishahar

The Manaslu Tsum Valley Trek is located in very remote areas of Gorkha, Nepal, which is one of the restricted trekking zones in Nepal. After a long drive from Kathmandu to the northwest, we reach Machhakhola by bus or a private jeep. The Tsum Valley is known as a little Tibet and lets you have a rare experience of spending a few nights in the monastery and nunnery, where you can explore praying, and chanting, learn about Tibetan culture through Lama, and enjoy your meals and drinks, with monks and nuns. Exploring Milerepa Cave, Mu Gompa, Dhephu Doma Nunery, Tibet Border, Rachen Gompa, Gompa Lungdang, Pungen Gompa, Manaslu Base Camp, Birendra Lake, and Larkya Pass are truly highlights of the Manaslu Tsum Valley Trek.

Overall, adding Manaslu Tsum Valley would be the perfect blend of cultural and adventurous experiences. If you have time, you will never regret combining Tsum Valley with the Manaslu Circuit.

Tsum Valley Trek:

Ganesh View
Mt. Ganesh View

Tsum Valley Trekking Facts:

  • Max Elevation: 5093 meters (16709 feet)
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Duration of the Trek: 17 Days
  • Activity: Trekking/Hiking
  • Trekking Difficulty: Moderate
  • The best time to visit: March to May and September to November
  • Group Size: 2 to 20
  • Trek Starts: Machhakhola
  • Trek Ends: Machhakhola

Known as Little Tibet because of its close association with its northern neighbor and the strong influence of Buddhism in the region, Tsum Valley Trek has long fascinated intrepid travelers wishing to journey beyond its mountain barriers to explore the sublime landscapes and centuries-old culture of its peaceful inhabitants. Trekking in the area offers a microcosm of all that the Himalayas have to offer, from verdant forests to glorious vistas. A multitude of rivers and waterfalls add a soothing sound bite to each day's hiking. High passes stretch up to the Tibetan plateau itself, bringing the hiker that much closer to heaven.

Throw in remote monasteries such as Mu Gompa, bedecked in colorful flags, the solemn chanting of resident monks, and the rumble of prayer horns across the valleys, and you'll swear you've crossed into Shangri-La itself. Add the final ingredients—the isolated and otherworldly presence of Gompa Lungdang and the spectacular backdrop of the Ganesh Himal range—and you can truly say that Tsum Valley Trek has offered everything and more for the adventurous traveler willing to seek it out.

Manaslu Circuit Upper Route:

Barpak Village View
Barpak Village Gorkha

Manaslu Circuit Upper Route Trek Facts:

  • Max Elevation: 5106 meters (16752 feet)
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Duration of the Trek: 20 Days
  • Activity: Trekking/Hiking
  • Trekking Difficulty: Strenuous
  • The best time to visit: March to May and September to November
  • Group Size: 2 to 20
  • Trek Starts: Barpak
  • Trek Ends: Besishahar

Are you looking to avoid classic trails and enjoy the off-the-beaten-path route with a physical challenge hike? If yes, go for the Manaslu Circuit Upper Route trail. The Manaslu Circuit Upper Route Treks lead you through the old, typical village of Barpak. Do not be surprised if you do not meet any foreigners for a few days. As much as the trek is a tougher hike, it is even more rewarding. Trekking through the off-route like Barpak, Laprak, Prok, Kal Tal side trek, Pungen Monastery viewpoint, Manaslu Base Camp, Tibet Border (Rui La Pass), and Larkya La Pass will fully compensate your hard-earned money, enormous effort, and time.

Manaslu Circuit Alternative Trek:

Yak Caravan
Yak Caravan at Tibet Border

Manaslu Circuit Alternative Route Trip Facts:

  • Max Elevation: 5106 meters (16752 feet)
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Duration of the Trek: 20 Days
  • Activity: Trekking/Hiking
  • Trekking Difficulty: Strenuous
  • The best time to visit: March to May and September to November
  • Group Size: 2 to 20
  • Trek Starts: Baseri
  • Trek Ends: Besishahar

Since we are locals from the Lower Manaslu region and specialize in the areas, Nepal Trekking Experts offers the beautiful Manaslu Circuit Alternative Route for you to give a personal experience. The trek starts from Baseri, where most of our teams are. It avoids hiking through the regular route and takes you to higher elevations through the typical villages and local homestays. You will have a great opportunity to interact with the local families, eat together, and enjoy the warm hospitality and pure culture. This is the best way to avoid the heat and busy road for the first few days of the hike. The trek really takes you off the beaten route and you will be greeted by the mesmerizing Himalayas that give you an unforgettable experience.

Trekking into the Manaslu region and Tsum Valley requires special permits and a minimum of two people per party, together with the services of a fully accredited agency and a licensed guide. Nepal Trekking Experts is a perfect choice, not only due to our expertise and long experience in the industry but also because Manaslu and Tsum Valley represent home territory to most of our staff as well as for many of our guides.

Manaslu Annapurna Circuit Trek:

Sunrise at Larkya Peak
Sunrise at the Larkya Peak

Manaslu Annapurna Circuit Trip Fact:

  • Max Elevation: 5416 meters (17769 feet)
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Duration of the Trek: 23 Days
  • Activity: Trekking/Hiking
  • Trekking Difficulty: Strenuous
  • The best time to visit: March to May and September to November
  • Group Size: 2 to 20
  • Trek Starts: Machha Khola
  • Trek Ends: Pokhara

Merging the Manaslu Annapurna Circuit Trek allows you to experience two challenging passes, like Larkya La 5106 meters and Thorong La 5416 meters at the same time. The ever-changing landscapes, greenery, numerous waterfalls, mesmerizing snow-capped mountain vistas, glacial lakes, unspoiled Tibetan culture, monasteries, temples, and pristine flora and fauna are the major highlights of the trek.

Notes on trekking in the Manaslu Region:

What type of permits are necessary to trek in the Manaslu region? Where are they obtained? How long does it take to obtain the permits, and what are the costs? What documents do I need? How long are the permits valid?
The following Nepal Trekking Permits and Fees blog should answer all your queries.

Why is there a need for acclimatization?
Regardless of your levels of fitness or previous experience, each trip to high altitude requires a period of acclimatization in order to allow the body to grow accustomed to the reduced oxygen levels— it's essential to a successful outcome for every trek that ventures over the critical height of 3000 meters. Nepal Trekking Experts strictly adhere to appropriate procedures regarding periods of acclimation relevant to specific height gains, and in practice, inexperienced trekkers should be wary of any agencies that shortcut the process to try to maximize profits over the safety of clients. Other than the basic step of simply resting for a day to help the body adapt, we also suggest using the 'trek higher, rest lower' philosophy of taking a short hike at the end of each day to a higher altitude than your rest stop for the evening, a strategy that helps people sleep a little easier during the night.

Do I need any specialized training to trek through the Manaslu region?
No, though some prior trekking experience is certainly beneficial to handling the challenges you'll come up against, not least the altitude.

What are the fitness requirements for the trek?
Being supremely fit for such an endeavor is not a prerequisite, though we do strongly suggest that you set aside at least a few months before your trek to undertake a basic fitness regimen—the fitter you are, the easier you'll be able to handle the more demanding stretches.

What is the age limit for trekking in the Manaslu region?
There are no age limits for trekking to the area, though common sense factors in regarding how old your children should be to undertake such a long journey.

Can I store my unnecessary gear in Kathmandu?
Yes, you can store your gear either with your agency or by arrangement with your hotel.

Do I need a guide and porter?
Guides are mandatory for trekking in the Manaslu region. Porters are optional, though we can't urge using their services highly enough as they can make all the difference on a challenging route where every extra ounce you're carrying starts to feel like a pound of dead weight as you progress over rough terrain and at high altitudes. Apart from the additional and cheery companionship they can offer along the trail, they are also very familiar with the region and can provide invaluable insights into local culture, religion, wildlife, and scenery that add an entirely different dimension to your experiences.

Do I need insurance?
Yes, high-altitude coverage is essential, and it's also recommended that you pay close attention to the details to ensure that trekking is covered by the policy, as well as hospitalization and medical evacuation.

Can I buy or rent trekking gear in Kathmandu?
Everything and anything you might need is available, either through name-brand stores or the many stores that offer locally-made products.

What kind of water should I drink?
While some trekkers take their chances with mountain water and get by without any ill effects, it's recommended to drink bottled water en route or take appropriate sterilization equipment on your journey, either in the form of basic tablets or through ultraviolet devices such as Steripens. We strongly suggest to all our clients that they drink at least 3 liters of water per day, particularly at high altitudes, as dehydration can contribute to AMS.

Do I need a sleeping bag for the trek?
We recommend -20-degree sleeping bags to handle all the conditions you might come across during the trek.

Can I get electricity during the trek to keep the batteries charged?
Electricity is available, though at a fee. The typical costs range from 300 to 500 rupees for a full charge. Dual round-pin or flat-pin adapters are required.

What currency should I take along during the trek?
Nepalese rupees are the currency of choice. Foreign currencies should be reserved for use in major towns and cities.

Are ATMs available during the trek?
No, not during the trek. You must take enough Nepalese currency with you to meet all your financial needs during the trek.

What are the permit requirements?
Trekkers are required to provide two passport-sized photos and must provide a passport with a visa appropriate to the length of the trek. Our agency typically requires a full working day to obtain the permits at the following cost:

For more details take a look at Trekking Permits and Fees in Nepal

How long does it take to complete the Manaslu Circuit?
On average, the Manaslu Circuit Trek takes about 15 to 16 days to complete, starting and finishing in Kathmandu.

How long does the trek take if I include Tsum Valley?
Adding Tsum Valley Trek to the journey through the Manaslu region typically takes the total length of the trek out to 20 to 22 days.

What is the best time of year to trek in the Manaslu region and Tsum Valley?
There are two optimal periods during the year to trek in the area: the spring season, which runs from March through May, and the autumn period, which runs from September through November.

What can I expect from the trek as far as accommodation and food?
Manaslu and Tsum Valley are tea house treks, which means that both accommodation and food are readily available, though we do suggest taking some snacks along each day to top up and keep up your energy reserves.

Is wifi available on the trek?
Though it’s not guaranteed throughout the trek, wifi is available at a number of the villages en route, and with each passing year, the connectivity is increasing.

What sorts of trekking gear should you have for Manaslu?
The requirements vary according to the time of year, though most of the basics remain the same. For a comprehensive list, please refer to the following link: Trekking Gear Checklist.

Rajesh Neupane

Rajesh Neupane

Rajesh, known as Raj, is the founder and owner of Nepal Trekking Experts, as well as the company's main guide. He was born and raised in the mountain region of Manaslu and has a deep and abiding connection with the culture and nature of the Himalayan mountains. With more than 20 years in the trekking industry, from working as a porter and guide right through to his present role as the head of the company, Raj has the knowledge base and wealth of experience to customize and organize treks that fulfill each and every requirement for a successful journey,  including permits, equipment, clothing, medical supplies, and safety, as well as a familiarity with the fitness levels and experience required for each of the treks on offer in our portfolio. Having traveled most of the trails available in Nepal he has a deep affinity and connection to the broad spectrum of people and their cultures, as well as a deep appreciation for the various religions, history, flora and fauna of the mountain regions and their scattered valleys. 

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