Manaslu Circuit Trek – Explore The Spirit Of The Mountains - Mountain IQ

Manaslu Circuit Trek – Explore The Spirit Of The Mountains

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On this page you will find a comprehensive and impartial guide to the Manaslu Circuit Trek.

As this is a very long and detailed article on the Manaslu Circuit, we recommend using the quicklinks below to navigate to the sections that interest you most. Alternatively, bookmark this page for future reference.

Route Overview

Manaslu, the Mountain of the Spirit, is the eighth-highest mountain on Earth (26,781 feet). The Manaslu Circuit takes in nine other peaks of more than 21,300 feet. This is a 110-mile path that is a great alternative to the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit Treks.

Indeed, it resembles the Annapurna Circuit Trek of decades past. The area covers six climatic zones. Internet access is available at several villages. Robin Boustead, author of Nepal Trekking & the Great Himalaya Trail: A route and planning guide, pronounced, “Many would argue that the Manaslu Circuit trail is the best general trek in the country.”

The trek usually takes between 14 and 17 days. There are some who do it in 12.

This trek takes place in a restricted area and, while growing ever-more popular, is nowhere near as developed as the Khumbu (ie Everest) and Annapurna regions. As the area is less developed, you will not encounter vendors selling trinkets.

Generally, there is snow on the ground, but it is not very steep and usually crampons are not required. This trek is suited to first time trekkers. The scenery is similar to that of the Annapurna Circuit and the level of difficulty is similar. Altitude will often be above 10,000 feet, which is more demanding, but acclimatisation is easy, with the trek starting at just under 2,000 feet and taking a week to reach 10,000 feet. The views of Manaslu are astounding.

Slightly more than 2,000 people undertake this trek each year, much less than Annapurna or Everest Base Camp, with over half coming in October. You will see more yaks and donkeys than trekkers. The first reason for this is that camping used to be inescapable because there were few tea houses and none below the Larkya La. This has since been resolved, and even more tea houses are under construction.

What tea houses now exist are basic compared to those found on the Annapurna Circuit, but most are comfortable and have electricity, which is often free. A sleeping bag should be taken as the bedding in some tea houses can be uncomfortable. Tea houses are more environmentally-friendly than camping, whose practitioners frequently bury their waste, polluting the ground. Tea houses use fresh, homegrown products and staying in one contributes to the local economy.

The second reason for the Manaslu Circuit Trek’s lesser popularity is that the area is restricted and so requires a permit, at least two people in the party and a registered guide. It is possible to perform this trek alone by inventing a “ghost trekker” who exists only as a passport and some photographs (we don’t recommend this though).

Please Note:

The highest point, both physically and in terms of entertainment, is Larkya La (5,213m), which is widely-regarded as one of the most dramatic pass crossings in the Himalayas. Sitting as it does in the near-permanent shadow of Manaslu’s north face, snow conditions can be severe. It takes five or six hours to trek to the top.

Regional Map

The trek is in western Nepal, a few miles from Tibet and 62 miles from Kathmandu. Having opened for trekking only in 1992, the landscape is far more untouched than that of Annapurna or Everest.

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Recommended Map

annapurna-circuit-map-1

In terms of a good map, we recommed:

Manaslu and Ganesh Himals Region: 1:125,000 Trekking Map (The Great Himalaya Trail Series Maps) (NP106)

In terms of a single detailed map we recommend the Himalayan MapHouse’s, New Annapurna Trekking Trails Map, which can be bought in Kathmandu, Pokhara or on Amazon UK here (unfortunately it is not on Amazon US yet).

We have also provided links and recommendations to new guides below.

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Get a quote from our recommended Nepal trek operator

Pop your details in the form below and you will receive a price competitive quote from our trusted on-the-ground Nepal operator. Used by over 10,000 trekkers!

Itinerary

Because of the spacing of tea houses at higher altitudes, this trek is best done anti-clockwise. It is possible to stay in nothing but tea houses, but in the itinerary set out below there is some camping. 

There are several Manaslu Circuit itineraries that can be done. Below we have laid out the most popular version – 19 days, leaving from Kathmandu.

Click each day to read more...

Day 1-2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11​​​​

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

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Video Overview

A beautiful video overview of the Manaslu Circuit Trek by climbaddict. Although fairly long, the video gives a real in depth feeling as to what to expect on the Manaslu Circuit Trek. 

It’s 11:33 long.

Recommended Guidebook

A Trekking Guide to Manaslu and Tsum Valley: Lower Manaslu & Ganesh Himal (Himalayan Travel Guides)

There are two guidebooks dedicated to the Manaslu Circuit Trek that we recommend.

First and our favourite is A Trekking Guide to Manaslu and Tsum Valley: Lower Manaslu & Ganesh Himal by Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons and as a great alternative we recommend   A Trekking Guide to the Nepal Himalaya.

The trek is also mentioned in 16 other English books such as Lonely Planet Trekking in Nepal our recommended general travel guidebook for Nepal.

There is also a collector's book available online: Manaslu: A Trekker’s Guide by Kev Reynolds published in 1829. 

You are also welcome to have a look at our recommended list of Nepal books and guidebooks Library for more options.

A Trekking Guide to the Nepal Himalaya


Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the trek cost?

Are permits required for this trek?

When is the best time to trek?

Is altitude sickness a risk?

How difficult is the trek?

What gear do I need?

What travel insurance do I need?


Insurance Information

Trekking insurance is vital for Manaslu Circuit Trek. If an accident or incident should occur that requires immediate medical assistance and evacuation you will most definitely want adequate trekking insurance that can cover the costs of air ambulance and treatment.

Make sure you have insurance that covers you for any travel related risks, like lost, stolen, damaged or delayed baggage; interruptions and flight delays and tour operators default.

Please read our article on travel and trekking insurance in Nepal. The article provides great information on what type of insurance you'd need.

Other Routes

everest-base-camp-trek-difficulty-3

Everest Base Camp Trek

The Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the most popular and iconic treks in Nepal. Trekkers get to retrace the early footsteps taken by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their historic Everest expedition in 1953. Discover the Everest Base Camp Trek.

Langtang-Valley-Trek-routes

Langtang Valley Trek

The Langtang Valley Trek is a relatively easy trek and is often far less busy than other popular treks in the Everest and Annapurna region. The trek can be done in seven days, however, it usually takes 10 to 12 days. Discover the Langtang Valley Trek.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

One of the most iconic treks in the world, the Annapurna Circuit trek follows a counter-clockwise route, passing through the Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi regions. Perfect for trekkers with lots of spare time on their hands.

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