Manaslu Circuit Trek – Explore The Spirit Of The Mountains

The Manaslu Circuit trek runs through a restricted area and, while growing ever more popular, is nowhere near as developed as the Khumbu (i.e. Everest) and Annapurna regions.

Manaslu Trek Details

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.


Recommended Manaslu Map

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

In terms of a good map, we recommend: 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.

Manaslu Trek - Typical 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

Recommended Guidebook

A Trekking Guide to Manaslu and Tsum Valley: Lower Manaslu & Ganesh Himal

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.

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 about Manaslu Trek


When is the best time to trek Manaslu?

The best time is October or November, with April and May being the next best.


How much does the Manaslu trek cost?

Prices can vary widely, from $2,000 pp at the bottom end to $4,000 pp at the top end.


Are permits required for Manaslu Curcuit trek?

You need a Restricted Area Permit costing $50 a week, a Manaslu Conservation Area Project permit costing $30 and an Annapurna Conservation Area Project permit costing $30. Four passport-sized photographs will be needed.


How difficult is the Manaslu trek?

Manaslu Circuit Trek is considered quite challenging, but still a possibility for first time trekkers. Altitude is often over 10,000 feet and there may be sections with snow. A good level of fitness is required as the trek is quite long and often steep.


Is altitude sickness a risk?

The Manaslu Circuit trek ascends to some high altitude points. At its highest point, Larkya La , you will reach an altitude of 5,213 meters (17,100 feet). There are steep section on this trek where you will ascend very rapidly.

Therefore, it is important to have a solid understanding of the risks associated with high altitude trekking and how the body acclimatises to high altitude. We recommend you read our detailed article on Altitude Sickness and Acclimatisation.


What gear do I need for Manaslu Circuit?

Trekking the Manaslu Circuit trek requires a number of essential pieces of trekking gear. The Manaslu Circuit is long and moderately difficult. It exposes you to a range of altitudes where temperatures fluctuate dramatically between night and day.

A lot of your gear can be rented or bought in Kathmandu, but we strongly suggest bringing the most important pieces of gear and equipment with you.

To help you plan and prepare for your trek we recommend reading our gear section.

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