The Manaslu Circuit trek is the ultimate off-the-beaten-path trek that takes you around the world’s 8th highest mountain, Mt. Manaslu ( 8,163m). Mount Manaslu is a beautiful double peak mountain in the Nepalese Himalaya
This exhilarating trek takes you from 700m at Arughat up to 5,160m at the Larkey La ( pass). However, many worry about the difficulty level. Is Manaslu Circuit trek really that difficult?
Manaslu circuit trek is no longer a difficult trek, but compared to Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Circuit, it is still far less crowded. There are now new trails put in place that cut down on most of the strenuous climbing involved or exposure to risk.A few years ago there were trails that were basically cracks in the rock with narrow planks resting on branches. The trails are now wider and better. There are a lot of ups and downs, but nothing unusually extreme to consider it a tougher trek than the rest.There are obvious difficulties of trekking at high altitude but that can be taken care with proper acclimatization and pre-planning. Many even consider the Larke La ( pass) at 5,160m to be easier to cross than Thorong La at 5,416m.
October, November and December are considered to be the best time for Manaslu Trek. March, April and May in spring are your second best choice. Yes, you can trek the Manaslu circuit in winter as well, however, a good and experienced team as well as gears like crampons and tents, and cooking arrangement need to be managed.
Here’s a monthly chart of weather and difficulty level in Manaslu Trek:
It is icy cold at night and in the morning with clear skies during the day. Very few people on the trail. Infrequent winter storms sweep through the Larkey Pass in January and February. So, crampons are needed in order to descend the pass ( especially the five icy sections which are each about 10m long. Lodges at Larkya Phedi and Bimtang remain closed, so bringing your own tent is necessary. Porters and guides also highly recommended.
Cold and icy at night and in the mornings. It gets relatively warmer as temperatures start to slowly rise at the end of the month. Bring crampons and tents. Porters and guides also recommended. Rhododendrons begin to bloom towards the end of the month.
Near perfect weather-not too cold high up and not too warm down in the Budi Gandaki valley. Most lodges are open. The trail is fairly dry. Rhododendron show from Deng to Shayala.
A little warmer in the lower Budi Gandaki valley. Moderate cold at higher altitude. Beautiful Rhododendrons from Deng to Shayala. Most lodges are open. The trail is fairly dry and vacant. Only a few trekkers during this time of the year.
It’s hot and sweaty below 3,000m. Relatively more pleasant at higher altitudes. Last Rhododendron blooms can be seen. Slight drizzle possible. Trail is mostly dry with only a few trekkers. You can still enjoy clear views. Licensed guide recommended.
Monsoon Rains bring cooler weather.Frequent rainfall with onset of monsoon. No trekkers around. Clear views at the start of the month.Ideal time to trek to enjoy the lush vegetation. Only a few lodges are open. Licensed guide recommended.
Monsoon=heavy rainfall: Amazing cloud formations, heavy rainfall and clear views after rains. Time for wildflowers and lush greenery. Caution required when trekking. Only a few lodges open.
Frequent rainfall, but lesser than in July. Trekking possible with a licensed guide and pre-planning. Only a few lodges open.
End of monsoon, more sunshine
Haze and rains in the first two weeks of the month. Monsoon ends with the third week bringing more sunshine, clearer views and more pleasant weather. Lodges start to open.
Perfect weather. Best time to trek., Busiest month of the year. Not as crowded as Everest or Annapurna region. All lodges are open, pre-booking necessary. Clear and magnificent views.
Amazing weather, cooling down
One of the best months to trek the manaslu circuit. It starts to get colder at high altitude while is pleasant below 3,000m. Manaslu Trail Race falls around this time every year. It starts on 10th November this year.
Getting coldand November. When you buy a full board package, you do not have to worry about your accommod Crystal clear views. Temperatures fall below freezing at higher altitude. Expect snowfall and closed lodges as locals pack-up and head to Pokhara, Kathmandu, India or other warm places around mid-December.
Note: a full board package includes airport pick-up, sightseeing, accomodation and food along with a guide and a porter.
The Manaslu circuit trek has become more established in recent years-easier trail and more teahouses. So, you can trek only with a guide and a porter instead of taking a full board package.Instead of buying a full board package you can hire a guide and a porter and pay for the meals and accomodation as you go. There could be a few downsides though. Because there are only a few lodges available in the Manaslu Circuit, they can be full during peak months like October ation being unavailable. However, your guide will help you gather information about availability of accommodation even if you do not buy a full board package.
Food on Manaslu Circuit Trek
Manaslu circuit trek has recently transitioned from a camping trek to a teahouse trek. So, the menu here is not exactly as advanced as in the Annapurna or Everest region. And that means so much local food on the menu! You can find porridge, tsampa, roti, Dal Bhat ( rice and lentils), eggs, noodles and chapatis as staple food in most places. The tea houses have simple but clean kitchens. There are a few small shops along the way that provide a limited stock of biscuits, noodles, candies, bottled water, soap, toilet paper and beer.
Most teahouses hire someone experienced to cook during the peak season which October and November. Rest of the months it is usually the teahouse owner or somebody from the family cooking your meals.Prices of food goes up with the altitude as everything needs to be carried manually. Food is more expensive than in Annapurna region but not as expensive as it is in the Everest region.
Manaslu trek has transformed from a camping trek to a complete teahouse trekking experience in recent years. Accomodation is not a problem on Manaslu circuit trek. With older teahouses getting renovated and a few new ones up and running, you can easily find a place to sleep after a hard day’s trek. Accomodation is as simple as it can be. The rooms are on a twin-sharing basis. If you want to take the room all to yourself, you have to pay the full price. The tea houses provide a blanket and a mattress, but a personal sleeping bag is highly recommended. Bathrooms are usually outside. Hot showers cost you extra. While a very few teahouses might have actual hot showers others will provide you pails of hot and cold water. Electric charging also costs you extra. The higher you go the more it costs you to charge your electronics. It helps if you bring your own solar panel or buy one in Kathmandu.