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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 winter

Brrr cold. As winter comes, the numbers of people doing the Manaslu Trek drops to just a handful per week. At higher altitudes it’s cold. Photographer Alex Treadway, who shot some of his Himalayan Nights series here, trekked over the Larkya pass on Christmas day. To take night shots obviously requires a lot of waiting around until after long after sunset to take long exposure photos. Alex says that the temperature was easily down to -20ºC.

The white bits are frozen water. © Paulo Grobel

Usually around mid-December, the residents of Samdo pack up their village and head over the Larkya La to Pokhara, Kathmandu and beyond to sell herbs, wool, cheese and of course to escape the cold. Just a few people remain behind to look after the village.

This might be of concern to tea-house trekkers. Will the Dharamsala (Larkya Phedi) lodge stay open through winter? Will you have to camp instead or trek from Samdo to Bimtang in a day?

Maybe is the answer. Generally Dharamsala closes when the number of groups becomes too low – it is simply uneconomic, and rather boring for the manager too. So far the system works as follows. If a group is planning to pass through, they can make contact with a guesthouse in Samdo where the Dharamsala tea-house key is kept. Someone can then accompany you up to the lodge, open it up and cook for you. The following day they will return again to Samdo. The income from this (beyond the salary of the temporary lodge manager) goes to into the Samdo community fund.

Maybe? If you are a small group, the person in Samdo might not find it worth their while to walk up with you to open the lodge. Really it works for groups of four or more – or requires some negotiation about fees.

So there should be a happy, and warm, night before the hardest day on your trek.

If you have questions, please just leave a post below and we’ll get back to you at top speed.

And finally – if you are really going to brave the cold (especially if you plan to walk around at night taking photographs) then you might want to take along a pair of down trousers, pictured left.

You can buy down pants in from Shona’s in Jyata near Thamel for around Rs. 5000 (I think). Fabulously warm and they make a good pillow if you’re not wearing them.

Call Shona’s on (+977) 01-4265120.

7 Responses

  1. Michael said on December 15, 2011 at 2:22 am


    I had send an email about this, but thought I would post here as well 🙂

    I’m going to be starting the Manaslu Trek on the 20th of December and will be in Samdo on the night of the 30th.

    Is there a specific lodge in Samdo that I should go to that has the key?

    We are a group of 3 with a guide and porters, so hoping we can get someone to accompany us to go open the lodge.

    Thanks for this informative post and wanted to say great job on this site. The info I’ve gained has been of incredible value.


    • admin@manaslu said on December 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      Will try to get back to you as soon as possible Mike!!!

    • admin@manaslu said on December 16, 2011 at 4:59 am

      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comments. Best to get your guide to call Samdo on 994640004 (pretty sure that’s it). With your numbers, it sounds like it should be possible to do, but will be much better to give advance warning and make an agreement.
      Best of luck!

  2. Bruce said on July 27, 2014 at 4:35 pm


    Any result on the above, planning to do it in mid Jan when the same problem will arise. I will be solo with a guide/porter, dont mind paying the union rate to the lodge opener, whats a ball park figure for that?

    Great site, saved me a lot of research


    • admin@manaslu said on July 29, 2014 at 3:56 am

      From a guide, Pradeep: Well I would say it is almost impossible cause we need to walk on snow above Namrung, even the sama gau is covered by snow may be few hotel in Sama gau, Samdo will be totally close so will be Dharmasala too. Equipments are needed to cross the pass like couple of meters of rope and other only climbing guide can assist it is almost out of imagination for normal trekking guide to traverse Larke Pass in January with lots of snow.”
      We’ll find out more from a climbing guide and let you know. Perhaps not impossible, but will be extremely cold and require good self sufficiency.

      • Bruce Reid said on August 6, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        Thanks, might have to think about the dates if the snow is that deep. Cold shouldnt be a problem, I trek in the Khumbu in Jan and up to 5200 metres in Ladakh in early summer before the snow has cleared, but i am not a winter climber and i am not enthusiastic about rope work. Any further info appreciated


      • Bruce Reid said on August 13, 2014 at 10:19 pm

        Respect Pradeep’s opinion but how does that square with the photo’s above from December? My experience in the `Khumbu in Jan is that there is not much if any snow and the trails are clear. I understand that it will be cold but I can cope with that, especially if i can bribe the villagers to open the upper lodges.
        bets wishes



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