Manaslu Circuit Trek | Explore The Spirit Of The Mountains | Mountain IQ
gifts for hikers

Manaslu Circuit Trek – Explore The Spirit Of The Mountains

Shares
manaslu-circuit-trek-2

The Manaslu Circuit 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.

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

Get a Manaslu Trek Quote

We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended partner click Get a Quote.

Manaslu Trek

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.

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.

Manaslu 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.

manaslu-circuit-trek-map

Recommended Manaslu 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.

Get a Manaslu Trek Quote

We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended partner click Get a Quote.

Manaslu Trek 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

manaslu-circuit-trek-2

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.

Get a Manaslu Trek Quote

We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended partner click Get a Quote.

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.

Get a Manaslu Trek Quote

We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended partner click Get a Quote.

Other Routes

Did you find this article useful? Please share it...

Related Articles

Leave a Comment:

3 comments
David says February 13, 2019

Hello,

I am planning on traveling to Nepal this mid May to early June with two friends.

I am a Wilderness First Responder and have guided backpacking trips in California and Alaska, so I consider myself quite competent in the backcountry and would be more than happy to carry my own gear for the duration of a trek.

Is there a particular region in Nepal (or Bhutan or India) that lends itself to off-trail travel without a trekking company? I am still open to hiring a local guide because I think it adds a lot to the experience, but I would prefer to be in a region that provides a competent backpacker with more flexibility.

I’d appreciate any input or direction!

Thanks!

Reply
    Mark Whitman says February 14, 2019

    Hi David, in terms of Nepal I would recommend the Annapurna Circuit, Goyko Lakes Trek or the Manaslu Circuit – all offer great backcountry hiking, but are sufficiently well trodden with decent facilities (tea houses) to make one’s experience fun and enjoyable.

    Reply
      David says February 14, 2019

      Thanks so much for the input Mark.

      On the three treks that you mentioned, should we prepare to stay on the common trail the whole trip, or is it feasible/desirable to ever travel off-trail to explore a little more?

      Last question, I promise. Thanks!

      Reply
Add Your Reply