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The Manaslu Circuit is renowned for its length and elevation, spanning approximately 177 kilometers (110 miles) around the majestic Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain in the world. Trekkers traverse diverse altitudes, from lush lowland areas to the challenging Larkya La Pass, 5,160 meters (16,930 feet). This altitude variation ensures an unforgettable journey through subtropical forests, terraced fields, and alpine landscapes.
This trek stands out as a premier trek, guiding you through a panorama of mind-blowing vistas and immersing you in the rich cultural heritage. As interesting as it may sound it’s not an easy adventure and is not suitable for everybody. It's a demanding trek that requires physical fitness, mental resilience, and acclimatization to high altitudes. The challenging terrain, coupled with unpredictable weather conditions, adds an element of difficulty, making it essential for trekkers to be well-prepared.
In this article, we discuss the challenges and difficulties you’ll face during your Manaslu Circuit Trek along with some important tips that you can follow to make your trek easier and hassle-free.
In terms of difficulty, the Manaslu Circuit Trek is considered moderately challenging. Trekkers encounter rugged and remote terrains that demand endurance and stamina. The trek's duration is notably lengthy, which requires sustained effort over an extended period.
Fitness plays a pivotal role, The ascent to the challenging Larkya La Pass, reaching an altitude of 5,160 meters (16,930 feet), adds an additional layer of difficulty, necessitating acclimatization to high altitudes.
For first-time trekkers, the Manaslu Circuit can pose a formidable challenge. Factors such as acute mountain sickness, prolonged walks, and varying accommodation facilities contribute to the overall difficulty level.
We don’t advise the Manaslu trek for people under the age of 10 and higher than 75 years. As this is a high-altitude trek, they may have a hard time completing this trek, however, it may not be applicable to everybody and mostly depends upon the individual physical fitness.
Our Manaslu Circuit expedition begins with a picturesque bus ride from Kathmandu to Machha Khola (900 m), offering a serene prelude to the adventure ahead. The initial stretch proves to be a gentle introduction but brace yourself for an exhilarating and bumpy ride after crossing the Netrawoti River, which may leave a lingering sense of fatigue.
As we stride into the second day, the path becomes a test for the trekking novice. The ascent to Thulo Dhunga is a straightforward introduction, but the terrain transforms into a moderately challenging route as we approach Jagat (1,340 m).
Day three unveils a moderate-level hike from Jagat to Deng (2,095 m). Accomplished trekkers may find this leg a mere stroll, while those new to the trail may feel a gentle push beyond their comfort zone.
The fourth day signals a shift in intensity, as we ascend from Deng to find reprieve in Namrung (2,660 m). The challenges escalate, setting the stage for the days ahead.
On the fifth and sixth days, the trek mellows, allowing us to saunter from Namrung to Lho (3,180 m) and onward to Samagaon (3,520 m). The trails during this phase unfold with ease, granting trekkers a moment to savor the journey.
A strategic pause on the seventh day in Samagaon facilitates acclimatization. However, the difficulty spikes as we venture towards the Manaslu Base Camp, navigating challenging terrains that demand our utmost resilience.
Days eight and nine mark an uphill climb, leading us to Samdo (3,875 m) along the Budhi Gandaki River. The proximity to the Tibetan border adds an element of risk, with some facing the potential of altitude sickness. The day culminates at Dharamsala (4,450 m), an elevation that underscores the challenges overcome.
The tenth day brings the pinnacle of difficulty with the traverse of Larkya La Pass (5,160 m). Following the pass, the descent to Bhimtang (3,590 m) provides a welcomed relief, though not without its own share of exertion, spanning a substantial 8-10 hours.
As we descend on the eleventh day, the journey unfolds gracefully, leading us through Tillije (2,300 m) via Goa. The path gradually eases, inviting reflection on the trek thus far.
Our journey culminates on the final day with a leisurely hike to Dharapani (1,963 m).
Until now we must have known that the Manaslu Circuit is not an easy trek. Various factors influence the trek's difficulty. Most of them can be prevented by us whereas some are out of our control.
The Manaslu trek is a high-altitude trek that that ranges from 600m and reaches up to 5106m (Larkya La Pass). Trekkers must be prepared for the physical strain of ascending and descending at varying altitudes.
Since the trek involves significant altitude changes too quickly, impacting oxygen levels and posing challenges for acclimatization resulting in a high chance of getting Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS).
Altitude sickness typically occurs above 8,000 feet (2,438 m). Symptoms of AMS can vary from person to person, they usually occur within 6 to 24 hours upon reaching a high elevation. Some of the common symptoms of altitude sickness are headache, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, insomnia, loss of appetite, and difficulty in breathing.
In severe cases, altitude sickness can progress to more serious conditions such as high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) or high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), which can be life-threatening. Symptoms of HACE include confusion, hallucinations, and difficulty with balance and coordination. HAPE involves symptoms such as a persistent cough, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing even at rest.
If you start to see symptoms then it's better to fall back at lower elevations or contact the travel agency for rescue.
Manaslu's unpredictable weather is one of the primary factors that affects the trek's difficulty. Extreme cold, heavy rainfall, or unexpected snowfall may present obstacles, emphasizing the need for adaptable preparation.
You'll see constant snow on the higher altitudes of the trail. once you cross 5,000 meters and head for the Larkya La Pass it will be a challenge for trekkers. Sometimes the pass cannot be crossed due to heavy snowfall in such cases we need to wait for the pass to be accessible and stay at the tea houses for extra days.
During the rainy season the trails will be even worse because of the steep terrains there's a high chance of landslides. We recommend you avoid the Manaslu Circuit Trekking during the Monsoon seasons.
The best time to visit Nepal for the Manaslu trek is during Autumn and Spring.
The 177 km long Manaslu Circuit Trail consists of lots of technical and challenging paths, navigating these diverse terrains, including rocky paths and steep ascents, demands physical endurance and proper guidance.
Once you cross Deng, the difficulty level of the trek starts to rise until you reach Bhimtang. To make your navigation along the trail easy we assign you one skilled English-speaking trekking guide.
You'll cross lots of rivers, bridges, and hills during the trek. you'll even make an encounter with waterfalls and monasteries. Being in good shape is a huge advantage during the trek.
Although there weren’t proper tea houses and lodges on the Manaslu trail, nowadays basic teahouse accommodations can be seen along the trail. However, they aren’t as advanced as the Annapurna and Everest regions. You'll get a single or a double bedroom, some offer attached bathrooms as well depending on the price.
As of 2024, still there aren't enough tea houses on the trail and as the Manaslu Tek is getting popular day by day it may be a hassle to get a room in teahouses during the peak trekking season. Limited facilities along the route can add to the trek's difficulty. In places like (Dharamshala, Samdo, and Deng) you may not get proper wifi facilities, and even hot water showers are pretty rare. Trekkers should be ready for a minimalist lifestyle and be mentally prepared for rustic living conditions.
As the Manaslu Circut Trek lies in a restricted area in the Manaslu region of Nepal, You require a lot of permits to complete the trek. Understanding and obtaining the necessary permits is crucial during the Manaslu Circuit Trek. Trekkers must navigate through bureaucratic processes and adhere to regulations, for a smooth process and hassle-free experience you need to contact a registered travel agency in Nepal so that all your necessary documents will be prepared by them.
You require an extra day in Kathmandu to make the permits as the permits are only given after you arrive in Nepal.
Adequate physical fitness is essential for a successful Manaslu Circuit trek. We recommend trekkers to engage in pre-trek training to build stamina, strength, and cardiovascular endurance, ensuring they can withstand the trek's physical demands.
Walking for 10-12 days is not an easy thing to do and one must stay in perfect shape before the trekking.
Although it doesn't look as much, mental resilience is as important as physical fitness. Trekkers should prepare for the psychological challenges of isolation, uncertainty, and the occasional discomfort associated with trekking in remote areas.
There are few instances where trekkers give up mid-way through the trek so to keep your mind game strong mental preparation is highly important.
Equipping oneself with the right gear is paramount for trekking. From sturdy trekking boots to weather-appropriate clothing and sleeping bags, trekkers need to invest in high-quality equipment to navigate the trek comfortably.
Proper gear makes the journey easy for you and enhances the trek experience for an individual.
Check our detailed packing list for the Manaslu Circuit Trek
A day-by-day analysis provides trekkers with insights into the varying difficulty levels throughout the journey. So that they can understand what to expect each day which aids in mental preparation and pacing.
The trek's high altitudes require careful acclimatization. Trekkers should plan for rest days, allowing their bodies to adjust gradually to the changing altitudes and reducing the risk of altitude sickness.
A registered trekking agency helps you to prepare a proper trekking itinerary with acclamation days in between depending upon your physical fitness.
Selecting a reputable trekking company ensures a well-organized and supported journey. Professional guides and a reliable support system contribute significantly to overcoming difficulties.
Make sure you check their legal documents, reviews, and website before booking a trek in Nepal.
Proper hydration and nutrition are vital for sustaining energy levels during the trek. Trekkers should prioritize staying well-hydrated and consuming balanced meals to fuel their bodies adequately.
We recommend you drink at least 4 liters of water daily during the trek.
Also, check our detailed article on Food and accommodations on the Manaslu Circuit Trek
In summary, the Manaslu Circuit Trek presents a formidable yet rewarding adventure for those seeking a unique trekking experience. Understanding and preparing for the trek's difficulties are essential for a safe and enjoyable journey. By addressing physical and mental aspects, embracing necessary gear, and adopting effective strategies, trekkers can navigate the challenges successfully.
What is the best time to undertake the Manaslu Circuit Trek?
The best time for the Manaslu Circuit Trek is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons when the weather is relatively stable, and the views are stunning.
Are there any age restrictions for the Manaslu Circuit trek?
While there are no strict age restrictions, trekkers should be in good health and physical condition. We advise trekkers to consult with a healthcare professional before undertaking the trek, especially for older individuals.
We don’t advise this trek for people under the age of 10 and higher than 75 years.
How do I obtain the required permits?
Trekkers need various permits, including the Manaslu Restricted Area Permit and the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit. These can be obtained through authorized trekking agencies in Nepal.
Hikingbees arranges the required permits for their clients.
What are the emergency protocols during the trek?
Manaslu Circuit Trekking is a restricted area trek where trekkers need to complete various processes and get permission from the authority.
In case of emergency, you can contact the travel agency where you booked the trek from and they'll send the rescue helicopter as soon as possible. It's crucial to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuation services.
Can solo trekkers join organized groups?
Yes, solo trekkers can join organized groups led by experienced guides. Joining a group enhances safety and provides a supportive environment, especially in challenging situations.
Additionally, you cannot trek solo in the Manaslu Circuit Trek.
Senior Travel Consultant at Hiking Bees
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