Slowly taking on the status of the perfect alternative to the considerably better-known Annapurna trail, the standard Manaslu Circuit offers an impressive array of features that place it at the very forefront of all discussions regarding Nepal’s finest trekking experiences. The Manaslu Circuit Upper Route Trek offers an even more interesting alternative that takes a rugged and much less traveled trail higher on the mountain’s slopes. If you’re looking for a real adventure in a manner that makes you feel like you have the Manaslu region to yourself then the higher passage provides the answer.
Unlike the traditional path of staying at tea houses, the upper route requires the occasional homestay, and there’s no better way to immerse you in the local and friendly culture than by accepting the warm hospitality of the local people while staying as a guest in their humble homes.
The Manaslu Circuit Upper Route Trek begins at Barpak, a town of sublime beauty perched high on a slope amidst picture-perfect views and exquisite grass-green terraced fields, with the Buddha Himal range as the perfect backdrop. Barpak was at the epicenter of the 2015 earthquake and was decimated by the tremors, yet the resilience and spirit of the people have seen them largely restore the town to something resembling its former appearance.
From Barpak the trail ascends markedly to Mamche at 2800m and further stunning views, then wanders down through green meadows and meandering streams towards the pretty Gurung village of Laprak and a homestay at Khorlabensi, the final stop on the unique trail before joining the standard Manaslu route at Jagat. It’s at this point that the trek enters the restricted region for Manaslu, requiring registration at the nearby National Park office.
At Deng, our trek deviates again from the classic route and heads back to higher ground, on and up through rugged terrain and a deep gorge to the stunning setting for the village of Prok. Prok offers up one of Manaslu’s many amazing detours, a visit to Kal Tal (Black Lake) which is so off the beaten trail that we typically have to hire the services of a local guide to find our way there for the full-day hike.
The following day provides arguably the most stunning hike of the trip, leading to the village of Lho and the most panoramic and intimate views of Manaslu one is likely to find in the valley – short of actually climbing the mountain! A side excursion to Ribung Gompa adds even further to the exhilarating experience, and if that isn’t enough the unique Tibetan settlement of Shyala offers even more startling views before the trail rejoins the standard route again at Samagaun.
From Samagaun onward the Manaslu Circuit Upper Route offers standard and delightful side excursions during the necessary rest days for acclimation, including day hikes to Manaslu Base camp, Birendra Lake, Pungen Gompa, and the Tibet border Rui La. From Samagaun and Samdo it’s soon on to the ultimate goal of Larkya La (5106 m/16572 ft.) before completing the trek at Dharapani and returning by road to Kathmandu.
We have a particular affinity for the Manaslu region because many of our staff grew up in the area, so we know the valley and all its nuances better than anyone else. The Manaslu Upper Route Trek is one of our specialties because we know the trail and the people so when it comes to homestays and lodging we know who to call on. Drop us a note by email and see what we can do to arrange the details for you, or you can run your thoughts by us to see what we can arrange.