Manaslu circuit trek is a scenic off the beaten trek in the pristine landscapes of the Manaslu region. The trek passes through the foothills of the majestic Manaslu Himal, the 8th highest mountain in the world. The virgin landscapes of the region and the beautiful natural surroundings will spellbind you.
But how difficult is the Manaslu trek? You might wonder. Well, the difficulty level of any trek depends upon the individual trekker. Manaslu Circuit Trek’s difficulty depends upon the trekker’s ability and adaptability. Some trekkers find it easy to trek the natural terrains, whereas some struggle a lot during the trekking adventure.
A lot of factors play a huge role in determining the difficulty level of the Manaslu trek. Factors like the harsh terrain, accommodation facilities, weather conditions, food facilities, and others affect the difficulty level in the Manaslu Circuit trek. You can keep these factors in mind and take the necessary precautions to reduce the difficulty level by a significant amount.
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What Makes the Manaslu Trek Difficult?
Manaslu Circuit Trek adventure starts from Arughat or Soti Khola and crosses the majestic Larkya La Pass (5106m), which is also the highest point of the trek. Although the beautiful trail was severely damaged in the earthquake of April 2015, the route has been duly renovated and re-established since then.
The rugged trails are steep and rocky, with numerous boulders. But with proper preparation and determination, you can complete this trek with ease. Some of the factors that determines how difficult is the Manaslu trek are as follows:
Manaslu Circuit trek lies in the Gorkha district of western Nepal. The geographically diverse trek ranges from 228 m in altitude to the majestic Larkhya la pass at 5106 m. You will also get the majestic views of the eighth highest mountain in the world, Mt. Manaslu (8,163 m).
Manaslu Circuit trek has a total distance of 177 kilometers. You will be walking the length of 15-20 km for 10-12 days. This long-distance trek and is not easy for those who have not trekked the hilly landscapes in the high altitude region.
You can reduce this difficulty by customizing the trek and reducing the total days in the itinerary according to your ability and desire. Moreover, you can also take the jeep drive at some points during the trek to reduce the total distance.
Remote landscapes and harsh terrains
The harsh terrain of the Manaslu region is quite challenging as there are steep uphills and downhills. Moreover, the terrains of Budhi Gandaki Gorge is also quite steep as well. The trails turn breezy at times, crossing the various suspension bridges along the Budhi Gandaki river.
But there are also temporary wooden bridges or makeshift bridges made of logs to cross the pristine rivers. The most challenging part of the trek is crossing the stunning Larkya La Pass (5106 m). It is also a test of your endurance level and stamina. Besides that, the rocky trails on uneven terrains might pose a challenge for the beginner trekkers.
Physical training, patience, and determination are of utmost importance during the Manaslu Circuit trek. However, a basic level of fitness is essential for the successful completion of the trek. Acclimatization, rest, and regular hydration are crucial for the trek as well.
Weather is another factor that determines how difficult is the Manaslu trek. The weather conditions are relatively stable in the peak seasons of autumn and spring. The warm and dry conditions in the autumn and the spring season makes for a perfect for a trekking adventure.
Autumn is the best time to trek the Manaslu region as it provides stable weather with less precipitation. Spring season offers a beautiful and stable climate. The unobstructed views of the snow-capped mountains will enchant you. Wildflowers like rhododendron bloom all around the hills providing a colorful scenario for trekkers.
The summer season is generally wet in the Manaslu region. The trail gets slippery and infested with leeches in the monsoon season. Besides that, the Larkya La Pass remains covered with snow and hence remains closed in the winters. There are freezing conditions in the morning and at night time. The harsh sun in the daytime makes the trekking adventure a challenge as well.
Therefore, if you trek in the autumn and the spring season, you can hike with ease. However, most of the tea houses get closed during these seasons. If you want to trek in the offseason, you need to book the accommodations early.
Altitude sickness is a huge concern for trekkers trekking the Manaslu Circuit trek. The Manaslu Circuit Trek reaches its highest point at Larkya La pass (5106 m). The risk of altitude sickness is greater on this high altitude trek. Nausea, extreme fatigue, headache, and loss of appetite are some of the symptoms of altitude sickness. Another sign is shortness of breath, caused by the lack of oxygen levels in the air.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the result of fluid accumulating in parts of the body. If you find these symptoms, you must stay at the same altitude until these symptoms get relieved. You can descend a few hundred meters if the symptoms persist and continue your trek when you feel better.
You might feel severe headache, tiredness, vomiting, and loss of coordination if the AMS worsens into High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). HACE is a severe form of AMS and can turn fatal within 12 hours if the progressive symptoms get ignored. Furthermore, the High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) causes shortness of breath, cough, and tiredness and can turn fatal as well.
Hiring a guide
The Manaslu region falls under the government declared restricted area and hence it is impossible to trek solo in the region. The Manaslu Circuit Trek requires a registered guide to accompany you along the restricted area.
Besides the Manaslu trek, there are other treks, including Tsum Valley, Larkya La pass trek, and others that require permits as well. Manaslu Trek trekking permits are available at the Nepal Tourism Board’s office in Kathmandu. There are certain rules to follow during the Manaslu trek.
The first one is that your trekking adventure should include one authorized person from a local trekking agency. The authorized person can either be a licensed professional guide or a porter guide. Besides that, trekkers must be in a group of at least two (not including the guide and porter), and you must get your trekking permits through an authorized trekking agency.
Accommodation is another crucial factor that determines how difficult is the Manaslu trek. There are tea houses along the Manaslu region for the trekkers. Tea houses are basically small lodges around the area that provide twin beds, pillow, and a warm and fuzzy blanket.
The facilities of these teahouses are pretty basic. Hot showers and running water are a luxury at these teahouses in the high altitude conditions. However, you can use wet wipes if the hot shower options are not available. Bathrooms are generally outside of the tea houses. They are usually squat style toilets, and you should not expect high-quality sanitary conditions.
Besides that, there is no heating facility in the rooms, and the only heating available is in the common dining room. Since this is a high altitude trek, charging your phones, cameras, and other electronic gadgets will cost you extra. The cost is less, but you can carry a power bank or solar-power battery charger to save charging costs.
While you might not be comfortable in these tea houses but you will have to compromise as these are the only accommodation facilities in the region.
The food options in the high Himalayan region are very limited. The tea houses often serve the staple dish of “Dal Bhat” which includes rice, dal (pulses), vegetables, lentils, gundruk, pickles, etc. The dal Bhat is a dish that you will find in every Nepali household.
Besides that, there are western dishes as well, including momo, burger, Chowmein, pasta, and others in the teahouses. Many trekkers find it hard to adjust to the same plate of dal bhat throughout the trek.
You can carry snacks and vitamin supplements if you have a dietary restriction or cannot adapt to different food tastes. Protein bars, chocolate bars, granola bars are great snacks to munch on during the trek.
Almost 70% of people traveling and trekking in Nepal suffer from travelers’ diarrhea. Hygiene is a big issue, and so is the quality of water. Trekkers must carry anti-diarrhea, antibiotics, electrolytes, rehydration salts, and some other necessary medicine with them to tackle this problem.
Trekkers also need to hydrate regularly during the Manaslu circuit trek. Also, carry water purification tablets or chlorine solution for clean drinking water at all times.
The ascent or the uphill climb is another challenging part of the entire trek. The Manaslu trek is quite a challenge for those trekkers who have not trekked uphill on a high altitude region before. You can practice going up and down the stairs before the trek.
You can also use a stair stepper with your backpack to prepare for the trek. Trekkers can trek in a zigzag way to reduce the impact of the ascent. Guides and porters also use this method rather than climbing straight uphill.
Arriving at the destination
The Manaslu trek starts from Arughat or Soti Khola, which takes around 6-7 hours of drive. The drive takes you through the scenic landscapes of the hilly region. The road is bumpy, which might cause a little challenge for some trekkers.
It also passes through the dangerous highways alongside the Trishuli River. Some travelers might find it to be quite risky, but others find it to be a great adventure.
Trekking early in the morning means arriving at the trekking destination early as well. There is nothing much to do after trekking adventure in the afternoon and the evening. You can carry lots of books to read during the trek. Moreover, you can also take a deck of cards, and board games to play with fellow trekkers and pass your time in a fun way.
The weight of your backpack is one of the challenging aspects of the trek. Trekkers might find it difficult to trek with their backpack. You can hire a porter in case you don’t find carrying your own bag and trekking comfortably.
Porters cost around $15 in the region and carry 15-30 kgs of weight. The cost also depends on the weight of your backpack.
The high altitude Manaslu region has cold and freezing conditions during the nighttime. Thus, common cold is quite common, and you need to protect yourself from all these conditions through warm clothing and proper precaution.
You should dress in layers to add or remove layers of clothing as per the weather requirement. Anti cold medicines and herbal remedies, including garlic soup, is quite useful during the trek.
Trekkers usually suffer from altitude sickness when they rush through the trek. The primary key to trek the Manaslu region is to trek at a gentle pace. Therefore, you should go slow and trek gently with regular hydration. This way, you can tackle altitude sickness with ease.
Hence, these were the various factors that affect the difficulty level of the trek. I hope you learned about how difficult is the Manaslu trek in detail and the factors causing these difficulties. You can read about these factors to reduce the level of difficulty and prepare well for the trip. Happy trekking!
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