Updated Manaslu Circuit Trek 2023–2024
Gaining in popularity by the year and dubbed by many "The New Annapurna" in terms of its overall appeal, the remote Manaslu Circuit Trek remains largely true to its reputation as an outstanding wilderness experience even as tea houses along the trail have made the hike easier in recent years from the perspective of basic food and accommodation needs along the way. Manaslu Circuit Trek remains far less crowded than some of the better-known routes through the Himalayas while offering all the classic aspects of a great trek, from cascading rivers and precipitous trails to stunning views and subtropical forests, glorious mountain scenery, and a gradual ascent to a breath-snatching high pass, and a host of side trips and add-ons that have the scope to turn the experience into an epic journey.
Skirting by the ice-cold waters of the Budhi Gandaki River to its source below Larkya La Pass (5106 meters)—and frequently crossing over the river on a slew of seemingly hair-raising suspension bridges that are sturdy enough for entire mule teams to use—the trek provides fascinating insights into the traditional cultures of the Gurung, Tamang, and Tibetan people living in peaceful coexistence within the valley's confines.
Reigning supreme over the entire region is the majestic Manaslu (8166 meters) and its striking twin peaks, skirted by glacial valleys, pine forests, and the scenic backdrop of the Ganesh Himal range. The trek essentially circles much of the mountain’s circumference until it crests Larke La and drops into the neighboring valley of Marsyangdi, descending from there through the rock-strewn upper slopes and scenic alpine meadows to Dharapani, the modern trailhead for the Annapurna Circuit.
Because the road extension is further than Soti Khola, the Manaslu Circuit Trek commences at Machha Khola after a 9-hour bus ride (150 kilometers) from Kathmandu, rather than staying in Soti Khola and walking on the road the next day. The trek proceeds steadily through densely forested paths and along the banks of the Budhi Gandaki, rarely straying far from the river’s torrid waters. After a few days, the trail veers at Jagat to the north-west and begins a steady climb to higher altitudes, leaving behind the tree line and winding up through picturesque mountain villages such as Namrung, Sama Gaon, and Samdo, with designated rest days at the latter two that allow for exciting excursions to Manaslu Base Camp, Pungen Gompa, and the ancient route to Tibet via Rui La Pass, 4998 meters. Larkya Pass is a mere two days of further hiking from Samdo, after which the trail descends to its conclusion at Dharapani, with the opportunity to pick up the Annapurna route there or visit the incomparable hidden valley of Nar Phu that branches off the trail.
The beauty of the Manaslu Circuit Trek is that, aside from being one of the premium hikes in Nepal, it allows for more rewarding options than just about any other trek. One potential choice is to get even further off the beaten trail by choosing to take the upper Manaslu route, a scenically spectacular and rarely-taken path across the mountain. Another detour is the pathway to the magical Tsum Valley, long locked away from public view and only opened on a restricted basis in recent years. Or you could simply choose to forego the passage up and over Larkya La altogether and focus purely on the delights of Tsum Valley Buddhist culture and its famed monasteries.
The choices are yours, but whichever direction you choose to take, the staff at Nepal Trekking Experts is standing by to give you all the assistance necessary to get you on the path to Manaslu—it’s home territory for most of them, and we take great pride in showing off the area to the best of our abilities.