Many people come for the more popular treks like Everest and Annapurna. But those who know Nepal know that there are many pristine alpine areas with incredible views of the High Himalayas. These lesser known treks are very exciting and rewarding, with great opportunities to learn the local culture along with enjoying a true taste of the real Nepal.
One such trek is the Manaslu Circuit Basic Lodge Trek. Seventeen wonderful days in the shadow of the 8th highest mountain in the world: Mt. Manaslu (elev. 8,163 m). It's name means spirit mountain and the local people have worshipped this mountain as a deity for centuries.
The people on this circuit are originally from Tibet. They moved here many centuries ago to escape warfare and to find better farming land in the rich valleys that surround Mt. Manaslu.
These people still practice their unique Tibetan culture. They are all Tibetan Buddhists and you will find a great devotion here to the Dalai Lama.
There are great glacier lakes, waterfalls, swift flowing mountain streams and rivers along with incredible flora and fauna. This trek will hit high elevations as you cross the pass at Larkya La which tops out at 5,160 meters for the most impressive views of the mountains of Tibet and Nepal.
Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition is pleased to be able to offer you this incredible trekking experience in the shadow of Spirit Mountain. The Manaslu Circuit Basic Lodge Trek is the ideal place to experience not only the natural beauty of Nepal, but also the incredible culture of these hospitable mountain people.
DAY 1 – Arrival in Kathmandu, transfer to hotel.
DAY 2 – Full day sightseeing in Kathmandu Valley
DAY 3 – Drive to Soti Khola (elev. 700 m): 6 – 7 hours
DAY 4 – Trek to Macchakholagaon (elev. 859 m): 5 – 6 hours
DAY 5 – Trek to Jagat (elev. 1340 m): 5 – 6 hours
DAY 6 – Trek to Deng (elev. 1860 m): 5 – 6 hours
DAY 7 – Trek to Namrung (elev. 2630 m): 5 – 6 hours
DAY 8 – Trek to Samagaon (elev. 3520 m): 6 – 7 hours
DAY 9 – Acclimatization Day, hiking to Manaslu Base Camp (elev. 4400 m) and back. 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 10 – Trek to Samdo (elev. 3875 m): 3 – 4 hours
DAY 11 – Trek to Dharamsala (elev. 4460 m): 3 – 4 hours
DAY 12 – Trek to Bimtang (elev. 3590 m) via Larkya La Pass (5,160 m): 7 – 9 hours
DAY 13 – Trek to Dharapani (elev. 1860 m): 7 – 9 hours
DAY 14 – Trek to Syange (elev. 1100 m): 6 – 7 hours
DAY 15 – Drive to Kathmandu by Land Cruiser: 7 hours
DAY 16 – Sightseeing in Kathmandu
DAY 17 – Departure
DAY 1 – Arrival in Kathmandu: You arrive in Kathmandu at Tribhuvan International Airport where you will be met by your representative of Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition and taken to your Three Star Hotel for the evening where you can relax from your long flight.
DAY 2 – Sightseeing in Kathmandu Valley: The Kathmandu Valley is larger than the country of Singapore and the valley contains many interesting cities, villages and sights. It is also home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today we will visit three of the World Heritage Sites; Swayambhu, Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath Temple. All three places emphasize the uniqueness spirituality of the people of Nepal. We will travel by private car with our own English speaking guide. We will overnight in our Three Star Hotel.
DAY 3 – Drive to Soti Khola (elev. 700 m): We will travel by private land cruiser to the village of Soti Khola on the banks of the Budhi Gandaki River. We leave Kathmandu, crossing over the pass before dropping down and following along the Trisuli River until we cross the bridge to Dhading Besi. Our road gets narrower and eventually we find ourselves on a local road. We will pass through the village of Arughat Bazar, the last major village of any size before we enter into the Manaslu region. We will drive farther until the end of the road at Soti Khola where we will spend the night in a local tea house. Travel time is around 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 4 – Trek to Machhakholagaon (elev. 869 m): This is our first day of trekking and we are making our way north following along the Budhi Gandaki River. Our journey takes us past hot springs that come right out of the cliff and drip on the trail. The trail is busy here as there is a larger local population. That will be changing over the next couple of days as we get farther and farther from Arughat. We will spend the night in the multi-tiered village of Machhakholagaon at a good guest house with good local food. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 5 – Trek to Jagat (elev. 1340 m): The trail goes up hills and down others, past many walls while donkey trains come by with their bells jingling to announce their arrival. There are monkeys and langurs jumping in the trees. Our destination is the village of Jagat which is a stone village with beautiful stone streets where we will spend the night in a local guest house. Trekking time is around 6 hours.
DAY 6 – Trek to Deng (elev. 1860 m): Just north of Jagat is the longest single suspension bridge over any river in Nepal. We will climb upwards to the pretty little village of Philim with its great views of the valley below. We will follow along the path that hugs the cliff, watching eagles soar on thermals overhead. The area becomes largely uninhabited as we walk along the edge of the gorge. From here, we will come to the junction with a right for taking one to Tsum Valley. We will choose the left fork as we follow now a much smaller Budhi Gandaki River as we enter now dark bamboo forests on our way to the village of Deng. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours, and we will stay at a local lodge.
DAY 7 – Trek to Namrung (elev. 2630 m): We start to gain some serious elevation today as the trail is now moving upwards. We pass streams, waterfalls, and by a number of villages. Our goal is the village of Namrung, which is inhabited by the Thakali people The local architecture is changing, become more typical of the area where several houses are gathered around a common courtyard with animals on the ground floor and people upstairs. We will spend the night in a local lodge. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 8 – Trek to Samagaon (elev. 3520 m): We climb some more today, passing many walls and trekking through dark forests of rhododendron, fir and oak. Here we will see fields with platforms in the middle. These were constructed in order for the people to keep watch out for bears and other animals that threatened their crops. In a harsh land, the loss of crops to a hungry bear can mean starvation in the long, cold winters. There are excellent views today of the various peaks of the Manaslu range. We are now in a world of yaks, pastures and houses. We will spend two nights in Samagaon in order to acclimatize as well as to enjoy the great views from up here. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours
DAY 9 – Acclimatization: We will take a day hike to Manaslu Base Camp (elevation 4400 m) and back which will bring us some great views, plus prepare our bodies for the higher elevations. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 10 – Trek to Samdo (elev. 3875 m): Today is a short trekking day as we are working to acclimatize. We have some higher elevations to travel to, and we need to make sure our bodies are ready. Altitude sickness can be quite serious, and the best way to avoid it is to allow your body to adjust to the lower oxygen levels. We see glaciers along the way today. We leave the tree line today, with our vegetation being juniper bushes. Our destination is the village of Samdo which is known for yak herding. Tibet is only one day walk from here, although we will not be going to Tibet on this journey. Trekking time is 3 – 4 hours.
DAY 11 – Trek to Dharamsala (elev. 4460 m): We are pretty much leaving the villages behind today as we make our way toward Dharamsala. This is an area of stone shelters used by those who traverse the area. They are pretty sturdy, but lack doors which means in cold weather, the rooms can fill up with snow. We will carry a tent with us to lodge overnight. The views are incredible today with the higher elevation. We will probably see blue sheep grazing. Trekking time is 3 – 4 hours.
DAY 12 – Trek to Bimtang (elev. 3590 m): Today is a long way and with many challenges as we must cross the pass of Larkya-La (elev. 5160 m). It is not a difficult climb, but a steady one uphill. The area can be cold and windy due to the high elevation. We can start seeing peaks of the Annapurna Range as well as snowcapped peaks of Tibet. It takes 3 – 5 hours to arrive at the pass, and then downhill with some incredible views of wonderful fertile valleys below. We will be able to see some glaciers up close. Our destination is a small community of Bimtang which means plains of sand. We will pass a glacial mountain lake of Pongkar Tal. We will spend the night in a local lodge. Trekking time is 7 – 9 hours.
DAY 13 – Trek to Dharapani (elev. 1860 m): It is another long day, but this day is primarily downhill. We will trek through incredible forests of rhododendrons and at the vistas are great views of the high mountain peaks. As we enter the valley, we come to real villages with nice guest houses with real dining rooms and nice beds. This is the Marsyangdi Valley where we will spend the night. Trekking time is 7 – 9 hours.
DAY 14 – Trek to Syange (elev. 1100 m): This is our last day of trekking, and we will cross the Marsyangdi River on an iron bridge. We are making our way to Syange village, where we will spend our last night in a local lodge. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 15 – Drive to Kathmandu: We will return by private vehicle to Kathmandu, driving past picturesque mountain villages and past rushing mountain rivers. Time to Kathmandu is around 7 hours where we will check into a Three Star Hotel.
DAY 16 – Sightseeing in Patan and Bhaktapur: Today we will visit two more UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the ancient kingdoms of Bhaktapur and Patan. Both were once their one kingdom before the valley was united in 1769 by King Prithivi Narayan Shah. Each city retains its own royal palace, museums and incredible temples with very ancient architecture. In the evening, return to your Three Star Hotel and enjoy a farewell cultural show in the evening.
DAY 17 – Departure: All good things must come to an end, and today, it is time to travel to your next destination. Your representative at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can help you to plan your future trip as well as to other destinations around South Asia. Be sure to talk to your representative before leaving Kathmandu about a return trip to this great country. As they say, a lifetime is never enough to explore all that Nepal and the Himalayas have to offer.
Your safety is of paramount concern while traveling with Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition. Please note that your leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary; however, since this adventure entails travelling to remote mountainous regions, we cannot guarantee that we will not deviate from it. Weather conditions, health conditions of a group member, unexpected natural disasters, etc, can all contribute to changes in the itinerary. The leader will try to ensure that the trip runs according to plan, but please be prepared to be flexible if required.
THE TREKKING GROUP
For this trek, there will be one leader, an assistant leader (4 trekkers = 1 assistant leader) and Sherpa porters for carrying luggage (2 trekkers = 1 porter). This arrangement ensures that if anyone in the group is sick, the trip can still go ahead as planned. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can run this trek for groups of any size. But, Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition generally includes maximum of twelve (12) visitors as this company has found this to be the optimum size for a successful trip. However, if you would like to make a group booking for more than twelve people, Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can arrange this, too.
All accommodations for the Manaslu Circuit Basic Lodge Trek are on a twin sharing basis with inclusive trip costs and based on standard of hygiene, standard of service and food, location, etc. There are two styles of accommodations on this trip. In Kathmandu, we will stay four nights in Three Star Hotels. On the trek, we will stay twelve nights at local lodges and tea houses which do vary in quality. Most contain unheated rooms with wood beds and foam mattresses. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition provides attached rooms in some major towns; however tea houses or lodges in some places only have shared facilities as well as shared toilet. If we are a solo traveler, we may have to share the room. However, some places in Tsum Valley have just one big room where everyone sleeps. Please understand that we will try to provide single rooms if at possible for an additional supplemental fee.
During our trek, we can enjoy typical Nepali food as well as some basic foods from different types of cuisines. While in Kathmandu, we can enjoy a great selection of foods from a variety of ethnic cultures. In the larger villages, we will have good selections, but some of the small villages may only feature a single item for dinner. Lunch will be served as a picnic lunch. There will be a farewell dinner that will feature a cultural show in Kathmandu.