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Nepal is a significant destination for trekkers from all over the world. It has exceptional trekking destinations, like Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Everest Base Camp, and the Manaslu Trek. Many trekkers know Annapurna and Everest Base Camp Trek are accessible to moderate levels, but how difficult is the Manaslu Trek? Let’s get into it.

Manaslu Circuit Trek is a stunning 12-13-day trek that brings you closer to Mount Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain in the world. The main places to visit during your Manaslu Circuit Trek is the fantastic journey through the wilderness, subtropical forests, and vibrant valleys; finally, you will reach snow-peak mountains. Manaslu Circuit Trek lets you be closer to nature and learn about new cultures and traditions. 

During this fantastic excursion, you can see incredible mountain views, such as Manaslu and Manaslu North, Samdo Peak, Naike Peak, Larke Peak, and Cheo Himal. You will also explore Larkya La Pass and monasteries like Nubri Monastery & Pungyen Monastery. So, let’s look at the trek’s difficulty level.

How Difficult is Manaslu Trek?

The Manaslu Circuit Trek ranges from moderate to challenging difficulty levels. Many factors determine the difficulty level of any trek, so let’s get into it.

Elevation

The one significant difficulty of the Manaslu Trek is the high altitude. During your trek to the Manaslu Circuit, you will be trekking at an altitude of 4,860 m. Due to the high elevation, every trekker risks altitude sickness. As the altitude increases, the air becomes relatively thinner, and the oxygen level decreases. When the body doesn’t become adjusted to the oxygen level, you will suffer from altitude sickness. The trails on Manaslu Mountain affect people differently. Some people have trouble breathing at high altitudes, while others don’t. Going up too high too quickly can make you feel sick. Hence, it is essential to know how to prevent or decrease the incidence of altitude sickness, including climatization.

Manaslu Trek
How Difficult is Manaslu Trek? 4

Duration

The Manaslu Circuit’s long duration is another major factor that is increasing its difficulty. The trek takes at least two weeks to complete. The trails are challenging to scale as you have to pass through many terrains, such as forests, villages, barren landscapes, peaks, valleys, glacial moraines, and snowy mountains. Since the trek is long, you must cover long distances daily, which will take a toll on the body.

Terrain and Distance

The total distance round trip of the Manaslu Circuit Trek is about 177km. If you are trekking for about 13 to 14 days, you have to cover a distance of about 6–7km daily.

As you head toward the trek, expect to start off feeling energized and enthusiastic. However, be prepared for the altitude to rise as the days pass and fatigue gradually sets in. You will feel tired, and breathing at a higher altitude will be more challenging. The trek difficulty increases even more with the rugged, slippery terrain.

Weather and Climate

The weather in the Manaslu region can change unexpectedly, with heavy rain and snow possible at any time of the year. This can make trekking challenging. From December to February, temperatures can plummet to as low as -8°C, making the trek an actual test of endurance, especially at higher elevations. Snowfall during winter can block trails or make them hard to follow, which could cause delays or cancellations of the trek if the weather is severe. It’s crucial to be well-equipped and prepared for these conditions.

Similarly, heavy rain and thunderstorms during the rainy season can cause landslides or make the trails slippery and risky. The best months for the Manaslu Circuit trek are mostly April and October, but other months, such as March, May, September, and November, are also ideal. The weather is good during these months, with mild temperatures, clear skies, and occasional rain and snow.

Accommodation and Food

Food and Accommodation are essential factors that you need to pay attention to during your high-altitude trek in the Manaslu Circuit. In the lower region, you will have many food choices. But as you rise the altitude, you will mostly stay in the teahouse for accommodation, where you will also get your food options, and the menus are limited. You will have two choices of meals: vegetarian and nonvegetarian.

Eating vegetarian food at the tea shops is best when hiking in the Manaslu region. Eating meat at high elevations can make you sick. Also, eat something other than frozen food at the tea houses. Eating local vegetarian food is better to stay healthy during your hikes.

You’ll typically have three meals daily: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The trekking day begins with breakfast in the teahouse, where you will stay overnight. Generally, you will have breakfast between 6 Am and 8 Am before you start your trek. The menu for breakfast is tea, coffee, Tibetan bread, eggs, toast, pancakes, etc. For lunch and dinner, the menus are generally similar as they range from local Dal, Bhat, Vegetable curry, Pizzas, Burgers, Dumplings, Sandwiches, Spaghetti, Macaroni, Steaks, etc. In some remote teahouses of the Manaslu region, the options for lunch and dinner are even fewer and can only be limited to local Nepali produce.

Manaslu Circuit Trek
How Difficult is Manaslu Trek? 5

During your Manaslu circuit trek, accommodation is also limited to higher altitudes. The teahouses are small with expansive rooms and mostly have twin beds, which means each room has two beds with pillows, mattresses, bedsheets, etc., so that you sleep warm and cozy. The rooms are generally clean and hygenic, but if you need more time, you can bring your pillow casings and, even better, your sleeping bags. The restroom or toilets in most teahouses are old Asian type where you have to squat. The restrooms are cleaned every day, and they are well-hygienic.

Cultural Difference

One of the significant difficulties that trekkers face during their trek to the Manaslu region is the difference in culture, tradition, and language barrier. When trekking through remote villages, it’s essential to respect local culture, traditions, and rituals, which may differ from yours. Remember to dress modestly, take off your shoes before entering homes or temples, and be mindful of carrying out trash and waste. Hence, to simplify the difficulty of the culture, it is wise to hire a guide, pay attention to the behavior, and listen to their instructions so that you don’t offend the local people.

Training and Preparation for the Trek

Physical and Mental Preparation 

Physical and Mental preparation is essential for any high-altitude trek like the Manaslu Circuit Trek. Preparing for the Manaslu Circuit Trek requires regular exercise, such as cardio, breathing, and strength training, to build stamina and endurance. You can practice walking uphill or climbing stairs with a backpack to prepare for the trek conditions. Mental preparation is also essential for the physically and mentally demanding journey, as is learning about the trek’s challenges and being ready for altitude sickness.

Acclimatization

Manaslu Circuit Trek ranges from moderate to challenging difficulty levels as you have to trek at an altitude of over 5160m. Hence, one of the significant risks of trekking at that height is the risk of altitude sickness. Acclimatization is one crucial way to prevent altitude sickness, but many beginners or less experienced trekkers are unaware of the concept of acclimatization. There are a few ways of acclimatization: Gradual Ascent, Separate acclimatization days, listening to your body, hiking at your own pace, and keeping yourself hydrated all the time. Furthermore, the golden rule of trekking is to trek high and sleep low. Altitude trekking might still affect you during the early trekking days, so take proper medication.

Take Guide or Porter

If you want to make your trek more accessible and less complicated, then hiring guides and porters during your trek is a wise choice. In recent years, guides have become compulsory, which means you will only get a trekking permit if you have hired a qualified and experienced guide. Guides will help you navigate the routes easily, provide accommodation and food, overcome language barriers, and provide first aid, medication, or even helicopter rescue. On the other hand, porters are not compulsory to hire, but it is wise to hire them as they can carry heavy loads for you.

Trekking in the alpine climate, with steep ascents and tons of luggage, could be more fun. Porters have experience and can carry up to 20kg of bags. Furthermore, they also have their yaks or mules for group services, enabling you to not worry about your baggage and enjoy your trek.

Packing and Gear

One key thing to prepare even before the start of your trek is the packing list for the Manaslu Circuit Trek. We can divide the things and items you can pack into different types, like documents, clothing, equipment, toiletries, etc.

Documents

  • Valid Passport
  • Nepali Visas
  • 4 Passport size photos
  • Airline tickets & Trip blueprint
  • Travel Insurance

Clothing

  • Balaclava
  • Knit Hat 
  • Brimmed Hat or Sun Cap
  • Bandana or Headscarf
  • Buff/Neck Warmer
  • Sunglasses
  • Trekking Sandals
  • Running shoes or trainers
  • Hiking Pants
  • Gaiters 
  • Insulated Jacket 
  • Down Jacket 
  • Lightweight Thermal Tops
  • Trekking Boots
  • Soft Jacket 
  • Underwear
  • Cotton Socks
  • Light thermal trouser
  • Long/Short Polypropylene Sleeve Shirt for trekking at lower altitudes
  • Heavyweight Gloves or Mittens
  • Fleece Pullover or Jacket
  • Hiking shorts for summer-time trekking
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Sports Bra
  • Fleece Pants
  • Lightweight Gloves
  • Hiking Socks

Trekking Equipments

  • Thermosets for sleeping bags
  • Navigation equipment (optional)
  • Head torch with extra batteries
  • Water Bottle
  • Trekking backpack
  • Book/Diary/Games
  • Face Mask
  • Garbage Bag
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Trekking poles
  • Sleeping Bag*
  • Daypack cover (optional)
  • Crampons (optional)
  • Sleeping bag liner (optional)
  • Raincoat
  • Duffel Bag

Best Time for Manaslu Trek

Trekking in Manaslu is fun and challenging, but trekking at the best time is even more fun and less demanding. The best time for the Manaslu Circuit Trek can be categorized into peak and off-seasons. The peak seasons are ideal trekking seasons, like Spring and Autumn, whereas the off-seasons are Winter and Monsoon. Let’s look at the best time for the Manaslu trek according to season.

Spring

In spring, the Manaslu region is beautiful, with many flowers and good weather for trekking. March is the start of spring there. It starts getting warmer, but mornings and nights are still cold. It’s even more excellent in April with mild temperatures and longer days. The views of mountains and skies are more apparent in April, and the blooming flower trails will melt your heart. May is still good, but it might rain sometimes. It gets warmer, and some lakes melt and look nice.

Autumn

Autumn’s weather is ideal because it’s not too hot, and the days are nice and long. Fall is also the best time to go over Larke La Pass (5,165m) because no rain or snow makes it hard. October is the best month for the trek. It’s a bit chilly, especially in the higher parts. October is a busy time for the trek, and it’s a good time to go over Larke La Peak because there’s less snow.

Winter 

The winter season is less ideal for trekking due to less favorable trekking conditions. Some people like to travel when it’s cold so there are fewer crowds. In Nepal, winter is in December, January, and February. The Manaslu Circuit Trek is famous during this time. The views of the hills and mountains are stunning. The weather is good for trekking because it doesn’t rain. You can visit ancient villages and see snowy mountains, big valleys, and clear rivers.

Summer/ Monsoon

The least ideal season among other seasons is summer or monsoon. Due to relentless rainfall, the trekking trails get wet and slippery. The forests are filled with insects and leeches, and there is also a high chance of natural disasters like floods, landslides, and avalanches in higher altitudes. You might want to trek in other seasons, but avoiding the rainy season is wise.

Conclusion

Hence, if you were wondering how difficult the Manaslu Trek is, we hope our blog gave you the answer you sought. The Manaslu Circuit Trek is moderate to challenging mainly because of its high altitude, remoteness, rugged terrain, and dynamic weather conditions.

However, you can minmize that difficulty by trekking in ideal trekking conditions like Spring and Autumn. Also, preparing your physical and mental endurance before the trek and hiring guides and porters ease the burden on the trek.

FAQs

What is the highest elevation of the Manaslu Circuit Trek?

The highest elevation of the Manaslu Circuit Trek is about 5,106 m in Larkya La Pass.

How challenging is the Manaslu Circuit trek?

The Manaslu Circuit trek is challenging, no doubt. Preparing for it involves regular physical activities like running and exercises to build strength and energy. The trek includes walking for a long time, going up and down steep hills, and being at very high places, so it’s essential to be prepared.

How long does it take to trek Manaslu Trek?

Manaslu Circuit Trek takes about 13 to 15 days, but the itinerary can also be curated by adding and removing activities.

Which is the best month to trek Manaslu?

Although many trekkers prefer April, the best month to trek Manaslu is October, especially during the autumn season, because of the majestic views of the mountains and peaks.

What is the death rate of the Manaslu circuit?

Manaslu Circuit Trek’s death rate is nine deaths for 1000 triumphant deaths.

Tej Bahadur Gurung

With an experience of almost two decades, founder Mr. Tej Bahadur Gurung has established Nepal Alternative Treks as a widely recognized and reliable tourism operator. His degree in Tourism Studies and devotion to the sector has given him in-depth knowledge about trekking, climbing, cultural, and geological aspects of the country. He is a pioneer in introducing the concept of ‘off-beaten tracks’ and ‘alternative routes’ as well as treks and tour packages surrounding it.

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