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The Manaslu Circuit Trek is the best all round tea-house hike in Nepal on the Great Himalaya Trail; the new Annapurna Circuit. No camping needed.

Manaslu trek in reverse…

Photographer Jerome Lorieau trekked the Manaslu Trek in October 2010. He trekked the circuit in reverse ending in Laprak. He tells us about his experience and shares some photographs from his trek.

Tell us about your experience on the Manaslu Trek.

I trekked around the Manaslu in October 2010. It was unusual because instead of doing it
the traditional way I did it in reverse. The reason was to finish in the village of Laprak in the Gorkha district where I stayed for two weeks as part of a photo project about the Gurung people.

From this beautiful trek, I will especially remember my stay in the remote village of
Bimtang. Set in a small valley along the Dudh Khola and surrounded by Larkya peak at
6249m and Manaslu Himal at 8163m, the place is both beautiful and dramatic. It is a place
where porters, trekking guides and trekkers enjoyed a hot Tibetan tea after crossing Larke
Pass at 5220m
. In the peak season, around ten inhabitants share Bimtang’s quietness
with the visitors. In the wintertime, only one man, an old Tibetan refugee, lives in this
impressive environment.

Tibetan cemetery facing Larkya peak, Bimtang, on the Manaslu trek © Jerome Lorieau

Tibetan cemetery facing Larkya peak, Bimtang, on the Manaslu trek © Jerome Lorieau

On my way down towards the Gandaki river, I really liked the Buddhist influence in each
villages. The more you climb towards Larke Pass, the more the landscape is marked by
the Buddhist culture. Temples welcome visitors at the entrance to villages. Prayer flags
and Mani stones with Mantra inscriptions beautifully decorate trails. In Samagaon is
Kargyu Chholing Gompa, an old temple worth a visit where a few monks live in very poor
conditions, like the inhabitants of the village. However each day they are rewarded by a
wonderful view over the Manaslu.

Winnowing wheat, Samdo. Manaslu trek. © Jerome Lorieau

Winnowing wheat, Samdo. Manaslu trek. © Jerome Lorieau

Most of all, when trekking I like taking refuge and sharing moments with Nepalese people
in their typical kitchens. I like the mood of it, the way they welcome you, the way they
make you a tea, the way they cook you a dhal bhat, the cosiness and the warmth of it.

Children playing, Jagat. Manaslu Trek. © Jerome Lorieau

Children playing, Jagat. Manaslu Trek. © Jerome Lorieau

There is so much to say about the Manaslu trek. Like many others parts of Nepal, the
scenery from start to end is just stunning and amazing. If you visit my blog and my
website, some of my photographs will tell you more about it, its people and its
environment. I did this trek thanks to the trekking agency Trinetra, a very competent and
friendly professional Nepalese team which has worked in the area for 15 years.

Nepal is a fascinating place. Understanding its landscapes, means both understanding its
people and immersing yourself in its culture. Influenced both by Buddhism and Hinduism,
Nepalese people worship many gods through their environment and their sacred
mountains … where a lot of their culture roots comes from.

My website: www.jeromelorieau.com
Trinetra Adventure trekking agency website: www.trinetra-adventure.com

What was it like crossing from West to East? Was it difficult to acclimatise, and was the climb not too steep?

Before crossing Larkya pass, we spent one night at Larche (4200m) in order to acclimatize. The next morning, we left very early, around 4.30/5am. I was not sure that I was ready for it but we did go. It was very steep and so a difficult and slow climb. Before reaching Larkya pass I started to feel mountain illness and not be able to walk straight. I managed to cross the pass but I didn’t stop on the top to celebrate it. I just rushed down. I felt very tired. My body was so tired that I was unable to walk anymore (I have never felt so physically tired in my life). My guide ended up carrying me part of the way. Further down, I had a 10mn nap that made me feel better and so we reached Dharamshala where I had a good break. We were in Samdo by the end of the afternoon. I will certainly remember it.

What month did you trek in?

October. There was a bit of snow on the ground when walking on top of Larkya pass.

Would you recommend visiting Barpak and Gorkha rather than staying on the Budi Gandaki river?

Yes. This is a very good diversion. It offers a good variety of landscapes and the villages are beautiful. The walk between Laprak and Barpak offers great views over Buddha Himal. It is the same in Barpak (especially in the early morning. By the end of the day, Buddha Himal is usually covered in clouds).

Which is your favourite photo from your trek?

Here is the link to them:

  1. A monk that I met in Samagaon. We visited his temple.
  2. I was wandering the village of Samdo when I saw Tibetan women working in a field. I tried to help but I was not very good.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I don’t know if it could interest some of your readers, but I am organizing two photo workshops in March 2012, including a trek:

  1. The Three Kingdoms of Nepal (in Kathmandu and its valley)
  2. Following the Gurung trails (trekking in the Gorkha district among Gurung villages)

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