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Manaslu Vs Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Manaslu Vs Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Many trekkers are frequently confused whether to trek to Annapurna region or to Manaslu region. So, they have common confusion on “Manaslu v/s Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp Trek”.

Whichever trek you choose, you will get to walk on the lap of high Himalayas and explore the varied landscapes with the diverse flora and fauna. These treks have different things on offer. Also, the trek duration varies. But, in the end, you will collect the lifetime memories once you opt for any of these treks.

Here’s a detailed comparison between these remarkable treks:

Annapurna Base Camp

Annapurna Base Camp 7 Days

The Annapurna Base Camp offers a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri region. It includes high peaks like Machhapuchhre (6,993 m), Annapurna III (7,555 m), Gangapurna (7,454 m). It also includes Singu Chuli (6,501 m), Annapurna I (8,091 m), Annapurna South (7,219 m) and Hiunchuli (6,441 m).

It has amazing near 360-view of the magnificent Himalayan range from Poon Hill. It includes more peaks like Baraha Shikhar (7,647 m), Nilgiri South (6,839 m), Tukuche (6,920 m), and Dhaulagiri (8,167 m).

The flora and fauna throughout the Annapurna Base Camp region are spectacular.

Highlights:

  • Opportunity to explore the culture and lifestyle of the local ethnic people. These include the local Gurung, Magar, and other tribes within the region.
  • The beautiful lush forest of rhododendron, alpine vegetation, bamboo.
  • Relaxing days spent in the city of seven lakes, Pokhara

Manaslu Circuit Trek

best time to trek manaslu

The Manaslu Circuit is far less crowded than the other two treks- Annapurna Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit. Manaslu gets 10 times fewer trekkers than the other two. The trek is wild and remote. Yet, tea house treks are possible. Camping is also a great option for this trail.

Highlights:

  • Budi Gandaki- a deep, long river gorge. You will cross many suspension bridges on the sections near this magnificent gorge.
  • The scenery provides all Nepal has to offer. You will trek through the subtropical jungle at lower elevations and to the Himalayan foothills.
  • You will also face high, cold and challenging crossing of the Larkya La above 5,100 meters.

Annapurna Circuit

The circuit is full of quaint and beautiful villages of Bahundanda, Ghermu, Upper Pisang, Kagbeni and Marpha. It has the Tilicho Lake- one of the highest, most beautiful and well-preserved lakes of Nepal. The Thorung La Pass is absolutely spectacular.

Highlights:

  • Local and ethnic pumpkin dishes in Tal
  • The option of homestays in the villages of Odar, Ghandruk
  • The Ice Lake – a day hike from Manang
  • Muktinath- a religious pilgrimage place for Buddhists and Hindus
  • Jomsom- apple orchards and apple wine
  • A chance to take a dip in the natural hot springs in Tatopani

Trek Permits

Regardless of where you trek in Nepal, you will need certain permits to do so.

Manaslu Circuit

Following permits are necessary for a Manaslu Circuit Trek.

  • Manaslu Restricted Area Permit
  • Manaslu Conservation Area Permit (MCAP)
  • Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP)
  • Tsum Valley Restricted Permit (if you plan for a side-trip to Tsum valley)

Annapurna Circuit

You need these permits for the Annapurna Circuit Trek.

  • TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System):.
  • ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Entry Permit):
  • Restricted Area Permit (if you choose to go to Upper Mustang)

Note: If you buy the restricted permit, you do not need to buy TIMS.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek

These are the permits you need for the Annapurna Base Camp Trek.

  • TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System)
  • ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area entry Permit)

The Seasons

Before planning any trek in Nepal, understanding the risks involved is a major factor to consider. Knowing the local weather conditions of the region is key for this.

Spring

Spring is the 2nd best season to do treks in Nepal. This includes treks to Annapurna Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit and Manaslu. Months of March, April and May are spring months in Nepal.

Annapurna Base Camp

You can enjoy the colorful blossoms of the local flowers in the lower regions of the trek. This includes entire hillsides covered in pink, yellow, red, white blossoms of rhododendrons.

For nature lovers, this is ideal trekking season.

Another reason for treks during spring is the clear skies and amazing visibility of the mountain peaks. You can also enjoy your treks in the cool, average temperatures of 17 degrees Celsius.

Annapurna Circuit

The lower regions of the trails are full of colorful blossoms of the local flora. The average temperatures here is around 10 degrees Celsius.

It gets colder as you ascend to altitudes above 4000m. During May, the lower regions experience a strange haze over the mountains. Yet this is not the case for high altitudes.

Manaslu Circuit

The temperatures on the trails are just right around at 6-12 degrees Celsius. It doesn’t reach negative degrees even at villages like Samagaun. The nights and early morning are cold but not chilly. This season doesn’t see a lot of crowd like the other two treks.

Summer

Most parts of Nepal enjoy a wet summer. June, July, and August is summer time in Nepal.

With the right preparation, equipment, and gears along with tolerance of rainfall, this can be the ideal season for treks.

This season sees fewer crowd making for quaint and peaceful trails. These months are perfect for adventure lovers with flexible times.

Annapurna Base Camp

The weather is quite harsh and unpredictable. The days are warm with temperatures between 18-25 degrees Celsius. It rains for most of the late afternoon and evenings. You do get the occasional rewards of clear blue skies with amazing visibility.

The trails are wet and muddy. These are the months to carry crampons or spikes for your trekking boots.

You also must carry insect repellents or sprays to get rid of the mosquitoes and other insects.

These months are not great for trying out new routes. Yet, for those who prefer quieter trails and lush green valleys and hillsides, this season can be ideal.

Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna Circuit trek has a diverse geography. Hence, you may have different experiences during these months in this single trek. In the lower regions, you will experience rainfall along with wet and muddy trails.

Yet, for most parts, this is not the case. Most parts of the Annapurna Circuit trek lies in the rain-shadow areas of Annapurna.

Hence, the chances for rainfall are slim in the region. These sections lie in the northern area of Annapurna Circuit trek. It includes parts of Jomsom, lower Mustang, Marpha.

Manaslu Circuit

You can do your treks in shorts and tees as the temperatures get quite warm around 20-25 degrees Celsius. Yet, you will experience rainfall almost on a daily basis. It usually rains in the late afternoons and evenings. Be sure to reach your trek destination before noon during this season.

Yet, this season is the best time to enjoy lush green forests, occasional rainbows, surprising good weather.

Autumn

Autumn is the best season to trek anywhere in Nepal. The autumn months of September, October, and November attract the highest number of trekker. It enjoys more predictable weather in the higher regions. It also enjoys dry and cool days with great visibility.

Annapurna Base Camp

The average temperature ranges between 15-17 degree Celsius. You can enjoy clear skies that give way to beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There is very little to no chances of rainfall or snowfall during these months.

Annapurna Circuit

The lower regions of the Annapurna Circuit trek generally enjoys warm weather in autumn. The days have an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. The nights are colder at 7-8 degrees Celsius.

You should also be ready for freezing temperatures in the higher regions. You can enjoy sunny and bright warm days and amazing starlit sky during the night.

Manaslu Circuit

This season comes with stable and comfortable weather for treks. You can feel slightly colder in the higher regions of Samoa and Sama gaun. In these places, the average temperatures can drop to -2. Yet the daytime temperatures of 2-6 degrees is great for treks and long walks in the villages.

Winter

Most of the higher regions of the trek enjoy snowfall and below freezing temperatures.

Most of the tea houses, restaurants and cafes also remain closed in the higher regions of the trek. The villagers move to the lower regions for the season.

Annapurna Base Camp

The skies are clear for most days with magnificent views of snow-capped mountain peaks, hillsides.

The days in the lower regions are cool with average temperatures of 9-12 degrees Celsius. The early mornings and nights are colder with temperatures between -15 to -20 degrees Celsius.

Annapurna Circuit

The average temperatures during winter can depend on which section of the trek you are in. On an average, the daytime temperatures are 7-12 degrees Celsius on the lower regions.

High passes in the region may remain closed due to unstable and extreme weather conditions.

Most of the tea houses remain open throughout the year on most sections of this trail. You will not have to worry about accommodation and meals on this trek. Make sure to try the hot local soups, noodles and butter tea. They are great to warm up your body.

Manaslu Circuit

If the cold temperature is not a problem for you, December can be great for treks to Manaslu. You can enjoy excellent mountain peak viewing conditions. From January you can enjoy snowfall in this region. The average temperatures decrease and remain around -10 to -6 degrees Celsius.

Trek Difficulty

Annapurna Base Camp Trek

The Annapurna Base Camp Trek takes you to the base camp of one of the highest peaks in the world, Mt. Annapurna. This camp lies at an altitude of 4130m.

It is one of the most popular trekking trails of Nepal second only to Everest Base Camp trek.

You can do this popular trek solo or group, whether you are a beginner or an experienced trekker.

Compared to the rest of the high altitude treks of Nepal, the difficulty level of this trek is moderate. With patience and perseverance, this trek is achievable by anyone.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

Annapurna Circuit trek also falls in the moderate level of difficulty in treks. Yet, unlike Annapurna Base Camp trek, this trek encircles the entire Annapurna Range. This makes this trek the longest trekking routes in the region. Hence, it can be a bit harder than the Annapurna Base Camp Trek.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

The Manaslu Circuit trek encircles the eighth highest mountain in the world, Mt. Manaslu.

It is a moderately strenuous trek. This is partly due to the conditions of the trail. The trails are not as well maintained as the other two. Hence, it is comparatively more difficult.

The highest pass of this trek is the Larkya La. It lies at an altitude of 5135m, slightly lower than Thorung La Pass. Yet this pass is a bit more exposed to the elements of weather. Hence, it is more difficult to cross.

Trek Duration

You can change the duration of any of these treks to suit your preference. Make sure you keep appropriate acclimatization and rest days.

The longer duration is suitable for beginners and novice trekkers. It is also preferred for individuals who do not have altitude experience.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek

The standard Annapurna Base Camp trek takes between 12-16 days. You can also pot for 7-9 days Annapurna Base Camp trek if you go rapidly. The standard package varies between different agencies and things on offer.

If you choose the classic Annapurna Base Camp route, it covers a total of 115 km. You will walk around 10-20 km a day for the duration of your trek.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

The standard and professionally designed duration of Annapurna Circuit Trek is usually 18-24 days long. You can reduce it to 12-15 days.

The standard Annapurna Circuit Trek route covers around 160 km-230 km. This wide variation is due to the increasing use of vehicles between various points of the trek.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

A standard Manaslu Circuit Trek takes anywhere between 17-22 days. You can shorten it to 12-14 days.

The total distance covered during a Manaslu Circuit trek is 177 km. This is the total distance from the starting point to the end point.

Local Trekking Staff

Manaslu Circuit Trek

The government regulations of Nepal do not allow foreigners to trek Manaslu region without a local trekking staff.

You have the option of hiring one or more local, trekking staff. The local trekking staff can be your guide, porter, porter-guide.

Make sure they have the professional license required for the job. Each of the local trekking staff have their own perks.

Annapurna Base Camp

There are no such conditions for Annapurna Base Camp trek.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

For Annapurna Circuit Trek, this condition depends on the route you take. If you plan to enter Upper Mustang region, you may have to hire at least one local, trekking staff. If you do not choose to enter Upper Mustang, you do not face any such condition.

Physical Fitness and Training

training for trekking in nepal

You do not need to be a professional trekker or mountain climber to do any of these three treks. Yet coming prepared with prior physical training and fitness is great for a comfortable trek.

You need to take training exercises that focus on cardio, stamina, leg strength, and flexibility. Having trained in these four aspects can help you achieve these treks more comfortably and easily.

All three of these treks is suitable for anyone.

Annapurna Base Camp

The Annapurna Base Camp trails are one of the well-maintained trails of Nepal. These trails are comparatively easier compared to the other two treks.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

Because of the distance of the Annapurna Circuit trek, you should hire a porter to carry your luggage.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is more attainable than most people think. Yet, do not disregard your physical fitness.

Being moderately fit both physically and mentally helps make this trek a joyous and wonderful one.

Accommodation

The choices for accommodation is quite wide while you are in the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara. You can choose from a wide range of basic lodges, dorms to luxurious hotels.

On the trails, you will have limited choices of the local, traditional tea houses or lodges.

Annapurna Base Camp and Circuit Trek

These treks are opened for longer and hence have better choices in accommodation.

You can find lodges that have attached bathrooms, free wifi, air conditioners for much of the lower regions of these trails.

As you ascend higher, the choices will be more basic.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

This trek opened only in 1991. Hence, the development of lodges and tea houses for foreign trekkers began much later. You will find fewer choices with fewer facilities.

Most of the tea houses on this trek will have a basic room with a bed, mattress, clean sheets, and blanket. You will also have to use the communal toilets/bathrooms on most of them.

Meals and Drinks

On the trail, the choices on your menu and the number of tea houses, cafes and restaurants decreases.

For drinks, the options usually include hot and cold flavored drinks. For water, you can bring water purifying tabs, gels or steripens.

Annapurna Base Camp and Circuit Trek

The choices of the menu can include continental, Indian, Italian and local Nepali food for the lower regions of the trails.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

You will find very basic menus on this trail. It usually also includes Thali or Thakali (a meal of steamed rice, lentils, seasonal vegetables, and pickle.

Total Cost

Nepal is one of the most affordable trekking destinations in the world. Yet, the price of almost everything will rise with the increasing altitude. This includes the cost of accommodations, meals, and drinks.

This is mainly due to the difficulty and mode of transportation for goods. The only means of transportation for most high altitude regions are mules, porters.

The cost given below is of the standard trekking packages for the different destinations. The range of price can be due to the inclusion or exclusion of one or all the factors given below:

  • Permit cost
  • Accommodation cost
  • Cost of meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and drinks
  • Cost of transportation (domestic flights, private jeep, van)
  • Cost of local, trekking staff (guide or porter or both)
  • Rapid or standard itinerary

Annapurna Base Camp

The standard 12-14 days Annapurna Base Camp trek can cost around US$ 700-1000.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

A standard 17-20 days Annapurna Circuit Trek can cost anywhere between US$900- US$1500.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

The total cost for a standard 20-24 days Manaslu Circuit Trek can be around US$1000-2000.

The Manaslu Circuit Permit costs around US$110 per person. Hence, inclusion or exclusion of this makes a significant difference in the total cost.

Solo or Group Trekking

Annapurna Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit Trek

Both solo and group treks are possible for these treks. These are some of the best trekking destinations for both solo and group treks as well.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

Solo treks are not possible for this trek. The Manaslu region lies in the restricted region of treks in Nepal. Hence, the government of Nepal doesn’t allow solo treks in the region. Group treks of two or more trekkers along with a local trekking staff is possible for Manaslu Circuit trek.

Some Extra Tips

  • Regardless of your long duration trekking destination, do not rush on the trekking trail. Move at your own pace. For many trekkers, slow and steady is the pace to strive for.
  • Always keep yourself hydrated. This keeps you energetic and also keeps aside your everyday trekking challenges.
  • Choose a season for your trek based on your own preferences. Do not choose one based on other’s experience or recommendation.
  • All the three treks have great photographic opportunities. You can get fantastic pictures with the majestic mountains and forest as background. Photographs make for great postcards and memorabilia.
  • Take your favorite snacks for the trek. Sometimes, you need these to give you that extra push and motivation for the climb.
  • If possible, have an extra day at your favorite place on the way back of your trek to relax and enjoy your journey. But you should discuss this beforehand with your agency.
  • Do not travel with a tight schedule. Since the weather is quite unpredictable at the Himalayas, flight cancellations are possible. Keeping a day or two aside will help you complete your trek without having to rush.

Final Say,

Manaslu, Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp are three distinctly beautiful treks in Nepal. All of these treks have their own unique attractions and perks.

Depending on what you prefer and want to experience, you can make your choice.

If you are struggling with making the right choice, you can choose to do all 3 of them in a single trek.

You can contact us for this or any further queries or questions you have of any treks in Nepal.

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