MANASLU CIRCUIT TREK –

17 Days. Max. Altitude 5,100m
Basic Tea-House/Camping Trekking with guides and porters. NB: see note at itinerary end
Pre-trek Briefing: HE Office (Kathmandu Guest House) 5pm on day prior to Day 1

DAY TO DAY PLAN –

Day 1: Kathmandu to Arughat

(O/nt Altitude570m/ approx 7 hr drive by private transport OR approx 8-9 hr by local bus)
Early departure from Himalayan Encounters’ headquarters at the Kathmandu Guest House. Travelling by road via the Prithvi highway, before Malekhu we turn north taking the single track road for Dhading Besi and beyond to Arughat- the last hr or so on a very dusty section. (D)

Day 2: To Soti Khola

(O/nt Altitude 730m/5-6 hrs approx.)
A well-defined path through verdant paddy fields climbs past Gurung villages. A first view of Shringi Himal is there at Shanti Bazaar from where the torrent that is the clear glacial run-off of the Budhi Gandaki is our uphill companion. It is then across the suspension bridge at Soti Khola and into the land of the famed ‘Honey Hunters’. (B,L,D)

Day 3: To Machha Khola

(O/nt Altitude 930m/6 hrs approx.)
The trail now weaves in and out of forest past the settlements of Liding and Lapubesi. The trekking theme to come is that of following this remote and classic mountain stream in all its glory up towards its source in the snow-melt and glaciers on the utterly isolated north face of Manaslu. And so it is that the trail continues to the night’s stop at Machha khola. (B,L,D)

Day 4: To Doban

(O/nt Altitude 1,070m/ 5 hrs approx.)
The trail is undulating, crosses streams and rocky ravines and reaches Khola Besi. There is a hot spring not badly timed for lunch. In the afternoon a suspension bridge takes us to the eastern bank and thus to our night’s perch at Doban. (B,L,D)

Day 5: To Phillim

(O/nt Altitude 1,570m/6 hrs approx.)
Resuming on a steeply rising rocky trail, we skirt landslips in an increasingly harsh and inhospitable landscape and press on up to Yara Khola. By another long suspension bridge we reach Jagat and cross into the designated Manaslu Conservation Area. The white façade of Shringi Himal (7187m), as if dramatically wedged in the valley’s cleavage, looms ahead. The trail inclines gradually to start off with until we’re over a bridge for the slog up to Phillim. (B,L,D)

Day 6: To Deng

(O/nt Altitude 1,860m/4.5 hrs approx.)
Above Philim the sense of being dwarfed by sheer scale and the feeling of being truly amongst the mighty Himalaya simply has no comparisons. We yet again cross the Budhi Gandaki, the trail hugging the cliff-side, up and over ridge backs then down again to the river where the Shar Khola cascades into the Budhi. The trail flattens out, winds through bamboo forest to Deng Khola and into the non-descript Deng settlement itself. (B,L,D)

Day 7: To Namrung

(O/nt Altitude 2,540m/6.5 hrs approx.)
Leaving Deng we again use the course of the Budhi Gandaki, recrossing the river and following an uphill trail to Rana, before zigzagging past the little monastery (gompa) of Shringi and the religious motifs carved on mani walls by the Shringi Khola suspension bridge, to Ghap – a pleasant lunch stop. Until today our route has been persistently due North but in the course of this morning we, as well as the river, have veered to the West.

Cutting across fields we enter a dense mixed forest of conifers and juniper with birdlife and monkeys. The trail holds its height above the river…another waterfall and another serious climb through woods to finally reach Namrung. (B,L,D)

Day 8: To Lho

(O/night Altitude 3,020m/4.5 hrs approx.)
There is a marked sense of Tibetan influence with closely packed stone houses standing together like apartments and sharing a common flat roof and courtyard. Climbing alongside a mani wall, through fields and past first the village of Barchham then Lihi. We then climb to Sho village - another cluster of stone houses. With altitude, the mountain views become more dramatic - Manaslu, Manaslu North, Himalchuli, Saula Himal and Dwijen Himal rise either side of the trail. After a small ravine we enter Lho, an important village with a monastery and a Lama school with some 80-90 resident scholars inspired by a fabulous view of Manaslu. (B,L,D)

Day 9: Samagaon/ Sama Gompa

(O/night Altitude 3,390m/4 hrs approx.)
Resume the trek with a steep descent and a crossing of yet another rock-strewn torrent, the Thusang Khola. Manaslu and Himal Chuli dominate the entire landscape. Further on, across the glacier-fed Numla Khola the valley drops away to a moraine while we follow the ancient trans-Himalayan trail now just a very few kilometers from Tibet. We then arrive in one of the region’s classic lama settlements with monastery and mani walls and all things totally Tibetan. This is Samagaon. (B,L,D)

Day 10: In Samagaon/ Sama Gompa

(Altitude 3,390m)
Rest and acclimatisation day. An optional hike to Pung-gyen Gompa can be made or the day can be spent immersing oneself in the daily life of Sama Gompa. (B,L,D)

Day 11: To Samdo

(O/nt Altitude 3,690m/3 hrs approx.)
Passing by the foot of the great, white slide that is the Manaslu Glacier we pass the trail that branches off to Manaslu Base Camp. Our path enters a woodland replete with birch, juniper and rhododendron, heavy with moss and lichen, before a final upwards push brings us to Samdo. The village has a well-established Tibetan refugee community – no wonder with Tibet being a mere morning’s walk away. (B,L,D)

Day 12:To Dharamsala

(O/nt Altitude 4,460m/3.5 hrs approx.)
The day’s walk starts easily enough. We cross the Budhi Gandaki for a final time and pause at the old stone wall of mani inscriptions bidding us well for progress over the pass. The trail gradually rises through juniper and tundra with a viewpoint overlooking the Larkya La glacier. Climbing further we arrive at the memorably Spartan Larkya Rest House. (B,L,D)
* No local lodges around in Dharamshala. Either camping arrangement would be made OR continue to Bimtang, which makes for a very long and challenging trek day (approx 11 hrs). If you would like to throw down the gauntlet taking the latter option, 2 nts would be scheduled in at Bimtang to allow for a day for much-needed rest & recovery.

Day 13: To Bimtang

(O/nt Altitude 3,590m/8- 9 hrs approx.)
An early morning start is needed for what is to be a particularly tough and extended day. Approx 4 a.m. start to avoid gale force wind which usually gains in strength after mid-day at the pass.

After a long gradual climb alongside a moraine we make a short descent to a glacial lake and reach the head of the moraine (4,700m) which we cross to climb to the ridge top. Four frozen lakes lie below and then it is up to the crest of the Larkya La (5,100m).

The reward for these difficult trekking conditions is brilliant westerly views of Himlung Himal, Kangurru and Annapurna II as well as the looming omnipresence of Manaslu.

The descent is hardly any easier; we drop around 650m in less than an hour. Our trail then levels off onto yak pastures before finally reaching Bimtang, a collection of typical summer kharkas. (B,L,D)

Day 14: To Tilije

(O/nt Altitude 2,300m/6.5 hrs approx.)
The toughest days on the trail are behind us. We descend through meadows and through pine and rhododendron forest, we arrive in Hampuk and then the path drops further, following the course of the Dudh Khola, crossing the stream fed by the snows of the Kichke Himal and arrive at Karche and then onto the village of Gho – where rice is back on the menu and Nepalese ‘dhal bhat’ is revisited. Keeping to the west bank of the river, the afternoon is one of gradual descent to the Gurung settlement of Tilije which has a certain notoriety for apple brandy.
* Local lodges in Tilije can be seasonally closed - if that is the case, continue to Dharapani, further 1 hr’s walk. (B,L,D)

Day 15: To Jagat

(O/nt Altitude 1,300m/6 hrs approx.)
Leaving Tilije we cross to the eastern side of the Dudh Khola and match the gradient of the river down to Dharapani. Here is Dudh Khola’s confluence with the Marsyangdi and also our meeting with the Annapurna Circuit trail which is ascending towards Manang.From this point down an all-weather road is under construction and this itinerary presumes needing to trek down to Jagat and transport from there. (B,L,D)

Day 16: To Besisahar

(O/nt Altitude 760m/7 hrs approx.)
Chances are the road construction will currently allow for jeeps. If not then it is a long but easy day’s walk. (B,L,D)

Day 17: To Kathmandu (or Pokhara)

(6 hrs/ 5 hrs drive)
We join our conventional transport for the return journey to Himalayan Encounters headquarters at the Kathmandu Guest House and a celebratory end of trek dinner. End of Expedition. (B)


MEAL CODES: (B=breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
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