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How Hard is it to Climb Manaslu Circuit Trek? Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of Nepal’s most popular and challenging treks. Trekkers worldwide search for it to determine its difficulty.

Manaslu Circuit Trek For Beginners
How Hard is it to Climb Manaslu Circuit Trek 5

The Manaslu trek in Nepal is a beautiful and picturesque experience, brimming with natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and cultural immersion. It is a lesser-known and often overlooked trek but a hidden gem for enthusiasts.

The Everest Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, and Manaslu Circuit Trek are less popular. However, if you like different types of adventure and want to experience one of the most remote areas in Nepal, this trek is a must.

Introduction to the Challenges Involved

Manaslu Circuit Trek is a paradise for those who dream about off-the-road adventure and trekking in the remote wilderness in the Himalayas. The stunning backdrop of various highest mountains in the world creates a mesmerizing environment for those who want to go on a challenging but fun expedition.

How Hard is it to Climb Manaslu Circuit Trek
How Hard is it to Climb Manaslu Circuit Trek 6

The trek’s difficulty might vary from person to person. Some people are physically trained and have fantastic stamina, so distance or duration may not concern them as much as others. However, if some trekkers have previous problems with altitude sickness, they are likely to get sick in the mountains. Some other factors like rugged terrains, language barriers, remote settlements, and lack of services along the trail also increase the challenges in any trekking destination like the Manaslu circuit.

Understanding How Hard is it to Climb Manaslu Circuit Trek

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is challenging but doable. It requires moderate physical fitness but doesn’t require any prior experience. Depending on your pace, the season, and the trek itinerary, you can complete the trek in 12 days, which can be increased to 14 or even 18 days.

Embark on an unforgettable adventure as you trek from Soti Khola and follow the breathtaking Budhi Gandaki River valley route. As you reach Mount Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain in the world, you’ll pass through Manaslu Circuit Trail through green forests, stepped fields, and small towns. At every step, you’ll enjoy amazing views of snow-capped peaks that will leave you in awe.

The landscape changes as you ascend from subtropical to alpine desert-like regions in the highest trek regions. The highest altitude in the Manaslu Circuit is Larkya La Pass, which is 5,160 meters above sea level. This pass offers breathtaking views of Manaslu, Himlung, and Cheo Himal.

The trek ends in Dharapani Village, from where you can return to Kathmandu or continue your trek to the Annapurna Circuit or Tilicho Lake.

Geographic Location and Significance

Manaslu Circuit Trek is a high-altitude trek where you can reach the world’s eighth-highest mountain, Mt Manaslu. Some experts may consider it to be an easy trek, but due to its geographical location, it poses some challenges to the people.

Location of the Manaslu Circuit

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is a hiking trail in west-central Nepal within a protected region called the Manaslu Conservation Area. The trek starts at Soti Khola, a small town near the Trishuli River Valley, and ends near Besi Sahar, a village near the Marshyangdi River Valley.

How Hard is it to Climb Manaslu Circuit Trek

During the trek, you will pass through several villages and high-altitude passes. The Manaslu Circuit is a loop trail north of the Annapurna range and east of Ganesh Himal.

Key features of the Landscape

The Manaslu Circuit Trek consists of different types of landscapes throughout your treks. You will come across different kinds of landscapes, such as 

  • Dramatic Valleys
  • Soaring Mountains
  • High Passes
  • Richness Biodiversity
  • Varied Terrain
  • Cultural Immersion

Historical and Cultural Context

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is a journey that offers a chance to appreciate the beauty of nature and learn about the rich history and culture of the region. It takes you deep into the stunning Manaslu area.

History of the Manaslu Region

Manaslu region has been a popular and influential place for many people for centuries. It shares historic significance as a trading post between people from Tibet and Nepal.

However, at that time, only a short part of the enormous Manaslu massif was discovered and explored by people. The Manaslu Peak was not climbed until 1956, when some Japanese climbers were successful, leading others to follow their path of climbing the giant peak.

During the unification campaign, King Prithvi Narayan Shah also built a castle on the route towards Manaslu, which local people can still explore today.

Cultural Significance and Local Customs

The Manaslu region is famous for the harmony and love of people of different ethnicities, castes, and traditions living together. In the lower section of the region, you’ll be able to meet friendly Gurungs and Tamang people. Similarly, the upper area is inhabited by Sherpas, Lamas, and Bhotes, who are equally helpful and friendly.

Buddhism is the main religion followed by people inhabiting the region. You’ll find tons of ancient Gumbas and monasteries along your way. They are highly protective and sensitive about their culture, monasteries, and their way of living.

Respecting their religion and lifestyle is crucial to making your trek experience even more wholesome. Always dress modestly, ask permission for photos, and respect their culture and religion. These are some local customs that you must be mindful of.

Interaction with Local Communities During the Trek

These local people have their own culture and customs and can take significant credit for tourism flourishing in the Manaslu region. Many foreign people who visit Nepal regularly have commended their selfless behavior, friendly nature, and strength in easily scaling the highest peaks of Nepal.

You will have plenty of opportunities to interact with the local community by staying in their homestays, tea houses, and lodges, visiting monasteries, and learning about their histories and traditions.

Trekking Route and Itinerary

Detailed Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Drive to Machha Khola
  • Day 2: Trek to Jagat
  • Day 3: Jagat to Deng
  • Day 4: Trek to Namrung
  • Day 5: Trek to Lho Gaon
  • Day 6: Lho Gaon to Sama Gaon
  • Day 7: Acclimatization Day
  • Day 8: Trek to Samdo
  • Day 9: Samdo to Dharmashala
  • Day 10: Trek to Bimthang
  • Day 11: Bimthang to Dharapani
  • Day 12: Dharapani to Besisahar and Drive to Kathmandu

Short Description of the Starting Point, Key Stops, and Endpoint

The itinerary is for the 12-day trek to Manaslu Circuit Trek. The trek takes you to the amazing view fo of the eighth-highest mountain in the world.

Starting Point: The starting point of the trek is Machha Khola. Maccha Khola is also the entry point of the Manaslu Conservation Area.

Key Stops: Some important stop areas during your treks are small villages like Jagat, Deng, Namrung, Lho, Sama Gaon, and Samdo. There are some high-altitude remote settlements like Dharmasala, Bhimtang, and Dharapani, where you can stop for trekking or stay overnight.

Endpoint: After your trek to Dharapani, you will return to Besisahar, which concludes your trek. The endpoint is the drive from Besisahar to Pokhara and then back to Kathmandu.

Variations in the Trekking Route

The Manaslu Circuit Trek’s trekking route has some variations. The primary route takes you to Jagat, Deng, Lho Gaon, Samdo, Dharmasala, etc.

The second trekking route of this trek is the Tsum Valley Manaslu Circuit Trek. On this trek route, you will head towards Lokpa from Jagat. Moving forward, you will trek toward Chhokangparo and Mu Gompa, after which you will head towards Lho Gaon and continue the Manaslu Circuit Trek.

The third variation of the Manaslu Circuit Trek is via the Larkye Peak Climb, which takes about 20 to 25 days. Hence, there are not many variations in all the trekking routes of the Manaslu Circuit Trek.

Difficulty Analysis

Factors Contributing to the Trek’s Difficulty Level

Some of the factors that raise the Manaslu trek difficulty are listed below:

Altitude

The high altitude is the primary factor that raises the difficulty of any trek. Manaslu Circuit Trek lies at an altitude of over 5,110m, so there is a high chance of altitude sickness. The symptoms of altitude sickness are coughing, nausea, fever, shortness of breath, and joint pain.

The risk of altitude sickness starts at an altitude of over 3000m. Acclimatization and staying hydrated are easy ways to prevent altitude sickness.

Remote Landscapes

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is located among the most remote areas of Nepal. Even in the foothills of the trek, the terrain is challenging, but it gets even more complicated as you start gaining altitude. The terrain keeps changing as you move forward. You’ll come across barren wildlands, rivers, streams, waterfalls, suspension wooden bridges, narrow cliffs, and snow-capped mountains. So, if you plan to trek the Manaslu Circuit Trek, you must be physically fit and have endurance.  Hence, even if you 

Long distance and duration

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of the most extended treks, taking 12 to 22 days, depending on the itinerary. It is a long-duration trek that requires several hours of trekking each day. The minimum distance of the Manaslu circuit trek is over 100km, so you must cover a minimum distance of 6 to 7 hours daily.

The trek is typically 18 to 21 days long and involves challenging terrain. It is important to note that the trek requires physical fitness and mental preparedness. Furthermore, Manaslu Circuit Trek lies in a remote location, which means services like medical care, toiletries, food, and proper accommodation are less available.

Dynamic Weather

The weather in the high altitude of the Manaslu region is very unpredictable. It becomes even more dynamic during the monsoon and winter seasons. At one point, you are staring at a summer day, and just a few minutes later, it turns into black clouds that bring rainfall or continuous rainfall. Sometimes, this weather brings in natural disasters like snowstorms, blizzards, and avalanches. Hence, the trek’s difficulty can also be attributed to the weather’s dynamic. To avoid the dynamic weather problem, the trek is the best time for the Manaslu Circuit trek, which is in the spring or autumn.

Comparison with other Treks in Nepal

Physical Fitness

The Manaslu Circuit Trek and Everest Base Camp Trek are more challenging than the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Hence, they require higher fitness levels than the ABC trek.

Highest Elevation

The highest elevation of the Manaslu Circuit Trek is Larkya La Pass, which is 5,106 meters, compared to Kala Patthar of Everest Base Camp, 5,644 meters, and Annapurna Base Camp, 4,130 meters.

Time Constraints

Manaslu Circuit Trek is longer than the Annapurna Base Camp Trek but shorter than the Everest Base Camp Trek.

Budget

Manaslu Circuit Trek is more expensive than the Annapurna Base Camp Trek but is cheaper than the Everest Base Camp Trek if you book all of them as a normal itinerary.

Preparation for the Trek

Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of the most challenging treks in Nepal. It takes you to the higher altitudes of the Himalayas, where there is a high risk of acute mountain sickness, fatigue, and constantly changing weather.

Before heading out for your trek, you must prepare physically and mentally. First, booking the trek in favorable seasons like Spring and Autumn is essential to make your experience even more fun.

Training and physical preparation

Before heading out for your Manaslu Circuit Trek, you must be in a certain condition. Regular training and physical preparation make your Trek easier, more achievable, and more fun.

During your trek to Manaslu Circuit Trek, you will walk long distances daily for over 12 to 14 days. If you are not prepared beforehand, this will take a massive toll on your body.

You’ll carry your gear from the beginning to prepare for the trek. Therefore, it’s essential to train your body by doing strength endurance training, elevation training, and aerobic conditioning. Strength endurance training involves doing more repetitions with less weight than strength training.

It’s important to train specific muscles for the trek. You’ll need to strengthen your legs and core muscles since they’ll do most of the work during the trek and will help you carry your supplies. You must build endurance in these areas and the shoulders and lower back to support your body and gear. Improving your balance is crucial since you’ll be traveling on rough terrain.

To prepare for your trek, you can do various exercises, such as jump squats, hip rolls, step-ups, heel downs, and hip clocks, found on the internet. Taking your time and not rushing through your training is essential, as the mountain will always be there.

Another way to prepare is to train at higher elevations, called elevation training. It can be done at an altitude above 2,400 m/8,000 ft. Some hills around Kathmandu are above this altitude, which you can visit to train. This will also give you a glimpse of the trek.

Enjoy local attractions. Aerobic training helps your body adapt to low-oxygen work. Swim, run, bike, or walk fast for aerobic training. Elevation training doesn’t prevent altitude sickness.

Essential gear and packing list

Apart from preparing for the trek physically and mentally, you also need to prepare for the essential items and gear you need to pack during your trek. Some of the most important items or gears are:

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Trekking Pole
  • Duffel Bag
  • Hiking Boots
  • Hiking Shorts and Vest
  • Fleece and Woolen jacket
  • Rope
  • First Aid Kits
  • Toiletries

You must pack these most common trekking items before heading out for any trekking stops.

Tips for a Successful Trek

Every successful trek gives the trekker a sense of accomplishment. If you follow the basic tips of the trek and avoid some common mistakes, your trek will always be successful unless unforeseen circumstances halt your path.

Let’s get to know some of the most common tips:

  1. Always take acclimatization seriously. Listen to your body and rest when you need it.
  2. Do not skip meals during your trek. Take plenty of food rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.
  3. Only drink boiled water, especially at higher altitudes, and avoid drinking directly from taps or hand pumps.
  4. Do not rush to climb the altitude as it is the most common way to suffer from altitude sickness.
  5. Always listen to your guide, ask questions, and learn about the next day’s plans.
  6. Be prepared for every weather at higher altitudes, as they constantly change.
  7. Respect the people, culture, and traditions of the trekking destination no matter where you visit.

Conclusion

Hence, the Manaslu Circuit Trek is moderately difficult compared to other trekking destinations in Nepal. So, being more sure, diligent, and prepared for the trek beforehand is important.

Learning about the trek, the best time to trek, investing time in physical and mental trekking, etc., makes your trekking experience fun and decreases the difficulty of the Manaslu Circuit trek. Contact Nepal Alternative Treks for more information about trekking and hiking.

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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