Who is the Manaslu Trek for?
Who would enjoy the Manaslu Trek? Probably most people would enjoy the trek but especially those who are interested in culture, want to get away from the crowds and commercialisation of other treks, and are happy to compromise on comforts to experience authentic Nepal. For those who realise they missed the Annapurna Circuit Trek in it’s golden age will love this trek.
What permits do I need for the Manaslu Trek?
- Restricted Area Permit: US$ 70 per week (was $50 in 2011) + $10 per day extra. First check is at Jagat and last check Dharapani. You’ll probably need more than 7 days to get from place to place.
- Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) permit: NRs. 2,000 (approx 20 Euro or US$30)
- Annapurna Conservation Area Project (MCAP) per: US$10mit: NRs. 2,000 (approx 20 Euro or US$30)
1. must be organised through a registered trekking agent. 2 & 3 you can get yourself from the Nepal Tourism Board office in Kathmandu, but much less headache to let your agent arrange. Note, the TIMS card is not required when you purchase a restricted area permit.
You’ll need to provide 4 passport photographs.
Because of the Restricted Area Permit, the Government of Nepal can track how many trekkers a company is sending to these areas, estimate the number of staff sent with them and the approximate income to the trekking company and then tax accordingly. Hence few companies will offer permit only without a guide (which is anyhow obligatory).
How much does the Manaslu Trek cost?
…except for Dharmasala expect 250npr per bed max. and here is a menu from 2010
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8482199@N07/5210447267/in/set-72157625350635341 lower area Machakhola
As mentioned above, the permit costs per person are Rs 4000 for MCAP and ACAP plus US$70 per week for the restricted area (Jagat to Dharapani).
A guide can cost upwards of $15 per day, a porter upwards of $10 per day (very approximate) and they normally manage their own food and accommodation.
Food and accommodation are usually combined in the bill and can cost anywhere from Rs. 1000 at lower altitudes and up to Rs. 2000+ at Larkya Phedi.
See the right column for the current exchange rate.
You don’t need to fly to reach this trek. Buses are not expensive to Gorkha or Dading Besi > Arughat, around the Rs 500 mark. Returning from Besi Sahar is similarly priced. Jeeps running to Besi Sahar can cost around Rs 500 per ‘section’ and it means you can spend Rs. 1000 or so to speed your journey from Dharapani these days (spring 2013).
Can I trek the Manaslu Trek independently / alone?
According to the rules, you must trek as a group of at least two and be accompanied by a registered guide.
People often buy an extra permit for a “ghost trekker” and then go alone with their guide. To do this you need a real passport from a real (foreign) person.
Is the Manaslu Trek difficult?
Below the main picture on this page Jamie McGuinness explains:
Note: The Lonely Planet guide book describes the Manaslu trek as tougher than most, but this is now wrong. There have been new trails put in that significantly reduce the climbing involved and reduce the exposure. The trails are now wide and good unlike in Tilman’s time (1950) where in one part the trail was a few narrow planks resting on branches that had been hammered into cracks in the rock!
While some of the trails are fantastically airy, high above the Budi Gandaki river, the trails are perfect for trekking. You should be fit as there is lots of up and down, but there is nothing too extreme on this trek. Just take it easy on the decent from the pass.
What is this website about? What is it for?
For many years camping groups have passed along this route bringing their funny yellow and orange tents, bringing and cooking their own food, all carried by a crew not from that area, taking pictures and moving on. They had little choice as there was little or no usable accommodation. The locals benefited very little from this tourism. In the last two years, this has changed and their are now enough tea-houses to be able to travel without a tent. The key was the night below the pass at Larkya Phedi (Dharamsala) which was a cold night’s camp, which is now a basic but clean, warm lodge with 64 beds and good food.
On the other hand, there is the hand of progress in the form of bulldozers bringing roads. It is not sure when roads will appear in this area, but given the eating of the Annapurna Circuit, it won’t be many years.
So now the locals of Nubri have a good chance to benefit from tourism and they need to do it quickly as possible (not least because its an extraordinarily tough life up there) and for this to happen everybody needs to know that it is there, that it is a tea-house trek, that it is not so very costly to do, that it is a fabulously beautiful area, that their tea-house trek will make a difference to the locals and that you don’t have to wait until October to do it.
Agree or disagree? – please add your comments below!
When it is most busy?
This data could be suspect as the data for Mustang given in the MoTCA source document is identical month by month. It is likely it is correct, as Mustang has Teeji Festival which falls in the spring when a lot of people go. But you can see October is very busy, which seems a little bit crazy when you think that November and December can be fine too.
According to the data, the trek is becoming more popular by the year.
How busy is the Manaslu Circuit trek compared to the Annapurna Circuit trek?
It’s anecdotal evidence, but the Annapurna circuit sees around 10,000+ trekkers per year (it was 65,000 in 1995!) compared to Manaslu’s 2,000. This information only really affects you if you trek in October, as most other months are quiet.
Why is tea-house trekking better than camping?
It’s totally up to you which you prefer doing!
- Better for the local economy & better for you – in a lodge there is more local interaction, warmer, snugger and you are bringing money and jobs into the area. A small amount it may be, but it can have a big effect. Camping however brings very little work for locals other than bog standard portering.
- Tea-house trekking uses just a quarter of the porters (2 trekkers:1 porter for tea house trekking, 1 trekker:2 porters for camping). Your team is smaller and you feel less like a Royal Family on expedition. You employ fewer porters, but more money is spent locally on food and stay.
- In the long run it’s cleaner. Camping invariably leads to littering but with a tea house, the landlord has the responsibility to keep the area clean. Hopefully.
Don’t have high expectations of luxury lodges quite just yet, but expect simple accommodation. Things are improving quickly. Some groups bring a cook with them to work in the kitchens and train the local cook on the job, thus cooking is improving. In Manang on the Annapurna circuit, most of the cooks are from this Manaslu region, and some of them are starting to return to work at home. Again, this will bring improvements.
Can I do the Manaslu Circuit trek in reverse?
Yes. But be wary of proper acclimatisation. The locals in Samdo and the lodge owners in Larkya Phedi come this way from Pokhara and Kathmandu as it is the fastest way.
If you are not acclimatised, it will be better to come via the Budi Gandaki valley, otherwise you have several days acclimatising in Bimtang followed by a leap to 5100m which is considered risky. Read more about the Manaslu Trek in reverse here.
What gear / clothes / equipment to take on a trek?
As little as possible while being prepared for most likely eventualities, is a short and not-so-helpful answer. Given that the locals get by on very little indeed, it makes no sense to be carrying five changes of clothes with you when you go to visit their region.
Experience counts for a lot, so for the best answer, read what Mr Smith has to say about it:
What is the food like? What can I eat on the Manaslu Trek?
Dal bhat! And for a longer answer, see here: http://manaslucircuittrek.com/#comment-878