Manaslu Trek (18 days)
This trek was officially opened to tourists in 1991, but mountaineering expeditions have long had access to the area. In 1950 a party led by HW Tilman trekked from Thonje to Bimtang and Colonel Jimmy Roberts crossed the Larkya La looking for an interesting mountain to climb. Manaslu (8156m.) was attempted by Japanese expeditions every year from 1952 until 1956, when the first ascent was made. It thus became known as a 'Japanese mountain', and much of the information about the area was available only in Japanese. The Japanese continued to dominate the climbing scene on Manaslu until 1971. A few trekkers, including the peripatetic Hugh Swift, managed to obtain trekking permits for the region, but otherwise this trek has always been the domain of the mountaineering expedition. The book Honey Hunters of Nepal, by Eric Valli and Dianne Summers, makes good background reading for this area.
Though the Larkya La is not a difficult pass, the trek around Manaslu is harder than most in Nepal. In many places the walls of the Buri Gandaki valley are perpendicular, so you cannot walk along the bottom of the valley. There is a huge amount of wasted climbing involved during the first part of the trek as you climb up and down over ridges or onto shelves to bypass cliffs. The trail is rough and steep and it often literally hangs on a bluff high above the river. The trek is remote and has no rescue facilities or opportunities to bail out if you are tired. There is only one facility that might conceivably be called a trekkers' hotel, and there are few English signboards between Arughat and Tilje.
The trek is geographically spectacular and culturally fascinating. The inhabitants of the upper Buri Gandaki, a region known as Nupri ('the western mountains'), are direct descendants of Tibetan immigrants. Their speech, dress and customs are almost exclusively Tibetan. There is still continuous trade between Nupri and Tibet; Chinese cigarettes, for example, are found more frequently than Nepali cigarettes. The mountain views in Nupri are sensational and the crossing of the Larkya La is one of the most dramatic of any pass in the Himalaya.
Drive from Kathmandu to Arughat Bazaar (570m.) which takes about seven hours. You drive along the Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway for the first part of the day; you turn towards the hill bazaar of Gorkha. After Gorkha the road gets a bit rough but you will reach your destination Arughat Bazaar in approximately seven hours from Kathmandu.
Trek from Arughat Bazaar to Soti Khola (530m.) and it takes about six hours. You trek over flat leveled path along the bank of Budhi Gandaki river through mostly terraces, numerous villages, green hills, some pretty waterfalls and you are quite surrounded by green forest. This day you take lunch at Arket Bazaar which lies middle way to Soti Khola. This is the best place to relax and can enjoy swimming to ease your tiredness of walking. To reach Soti Khola, the trail is ups and downs through forest of Sal, Chilaune and other local vegetation. Soti Khola is a village at the bank of Budhi Gandaki. The swimming spot is nearby here.
Trek from Soti Khola to Machha Khola (890m.) which takes about six hours. The zigzag path passes through forest, villages, streams, pretty waterfalls and green valley until you reach Lapu Besi. This is a village mainly covered by Mongolian. Now you again proceed the zigzag path to reach Machha Khola. There is a small market with few shops, lodges and donkeys are kept there.
Trek from Machha Khola to Jagat (1350m.) and it takes about six hours. You cross the Machha Khola - Fish Stream - and head upstream to the tiny village of Khola Bensi and the hot springs at Tatopani. The valley sides are steeping until they are impassable and the route then switches to the left bank by way of a suspension bridge. The trail is quite exposed and challenging in places. After a short section of forest path you reach the single teahouse at Doban. Above Doban, the Buri Gandaki descends an impressive series of rapids. Beyond this steep section, the river is much more placid, meandering across a broad gravel bed. At Lauri, you re cross the river on a suspension bridge, and then climb on a high path to the fields of Jagat, where you camp.
Trek from Jagat to Philim (1700m.) which takes about three hours. The early part of trek moves gentle uphill and then somewhere through flat leveled path. You cross suspension bridge over Budhi Gandaki before you enter Philim. Philim is a big village mainly inhabited by Gurung. There are small monasteries, chortens, prayer flags fluttering in the sky, graves and typical houses.
Trek Philim to Deng (2095m.) and it takes about six hours. You trek over flat leveled path mostly through forest of pine, rhododendron and others. While walking, you cross few bridges and can see villages at far distance. There are few houses at Deng. From here, you can enjoy a pretty waterfall lying at some distance. Deng is famous for its potatoes, buck wheat, barley, wheat, cabbage, spinach as people are mostly involved in agriculture.
Trek Deng to Namrung (2900m.) which takes about five hours. In the beginning, you trek almost flat leveled path and then the trail moves uphill all the way to Namrung through forest. From here, you can enjoy the spectacular views of Mt. Manaslu, rock hills, green valley and ridges. Namrung is a Buddhist village where there are monasteries, water turbine, hydro electricity power house, mani walls, chortens and prayer flags can be seen fluttering in the sky. The typical houses remind you of Tibetan architecture.
Trek Namrung to Lhogaon (3100m.) and it takes about four hours. You trek over winding path which moves through inner Himalayn range. On the way, you can enjoy mountain views of Rupinala pass, Mt. Manaslu, Gorkha Himal, Dwijen Himal, Saula Himal, Lajing peak, and many other snow capped mountains and peaks.. As you go up the vegetation get decreased. In the afternoon, this part becomes quite windy. While walking, you come across mani walls, chortens, prayer flags and monasteries. Before you reach Lho Gaon, you pass a Tibetan village and Lihi Gaon. There is a monastery named as Chon at a ridge and there is a Buddhist school at Lho Gaon run by Buddhist monks. People mainly grow oat, barley, buck wheat, potatoes and vegetables. You can catch panoramic view of Mt. Manaslu, Gorkha Himal, Dwijen Himal, Saula Himal, Lajing peak with others from Lho Gaon.
Trek Lhogaon to Samagaon (3390m.) which takes about four hours. Leaving the village, you follow the right bank of the river, with views of Peak 29 ahead. As you continue on the main trail, you soon reach the fields of Sama Gaon, 3500m. You camp at Sama Gompa, 20 minutes beyond the village, or Samdo, near the Tibetan border. Day 10 Rest day at Samagaon for acclimatization. Surrounded by mountains in a peaceful forest, you take a rest day to acclimatize and relax. You can hike to Manaslu Base Camp for excellent views of Samdo (Pang phuchuli), Nagdi chuli, Simnang Himal, Manaslu glacier, Manaslu ice fall and you can see Birendra Kunda which is an ice lake nearby Manaslu Base Camp. Day 11 Trek from Samagaon to Samdo (3690m.) and it takes about four hours. You trek gentle uphill all the way to Samdo through desert path and windy valley. The Tibetan border is just four kilometers away from Samdo. But visitors are not allowed to pass the border. There is a Tibetan refugee village at Samdo. This is an excellent view point for Mt. Manaslu, Samdo (Pang phuchuli), Nagdi chuli, Simnang Himal, Manaslu glacier, Manaslu ice fall and many more.
Trek from Samdo to Larkya La Phedi (4460m.) which takes about three hours. The trail is rocky and zigzag all the way to destination. Before you reach Larka La Phedi, there is a market Larkya Bazaar (market) where is held seasonal Tibet fair/market. People bring goods from Tibet to sell it here. There is a Dharmasala at Larkya La Phedi.
Trek from Larkya La Phedi to Larkya La (Pass) (5135m.) to Bimthang (3590 m.) and it takes about seven hours. Early in the morning you begin to trek steep ascent path until Larkya La through rocky and windy path. This day you carry packed lunch. From the top, you can enjoy the views of Larkya peak, sunrise, Mt. Manaslu, Ratna chuli, Cheo Himal and many other snow capped mountains and peaks. Crossing this pass, you move steep downhill path through rock and ice. On the way, you can see many icy lakes. Bimthang is a broad and level ablation valley with a number of Mani walls and deserted houses.
Trek from Bimthang to Dharapani (1860 m.) which takes about four hours. Crossing this high pasture, you descend the valley of the Burdin Khola to the area of the Base Camp for the West side of Manaslu. From a ridge at 4150 meters, you have excellent views of Manaslu to the South East and Annapurna II to the South West. Beyond a bridge over the headwaters of the Dudh Khola, you descend into a rhododendron forests and follow a trail through a narrow valley until you reach the highest cultivated land in this valley at Karche, 2785 meters. Walking down you cross a stream to reach Tilje. There is an apple orchard and it is quite famous for local wine. Leaving Tilje, you trek uphill for nearly 45 minutes and reach Dharapani crossing a bridge over Marshyangdi river.
Trek from Dharapani to Jagat (1800m) which takes about six hours. You trek all the way over descent path along the bank of Dudh Khola (river) and Marshyangdi river. On the way, you walk through pleasant villages such as Taal which is an attractive village with pretty waterfall and you can enjoy green hills. Eventually Jagat is a stone village situated on a shelf, which juts into the precipitous Marsyangdi valley. You stay overnight at tea house (lodge).
Trek from Jagat to Nagdi (850m.) and it takes about four hours. A steep trail descends from Jagat through Marshyangdi valley. You cross Marshyangdi river at Syange and walk through Ghermu Path (Ghermu field). This part of trek is pleasant through flat leveled path with views of green valley and villages at some distance. Past this Ghermu field and a village, your trail goes uphill for nearly half an hour to reach Bahundanda. This village is mainly populated by Brahmin, Chhetri and few others. Now, you descend all the way to Nagdi. Nagdi is a Gurung village and the local lodges are run by people who had migrated from Manang and other places.
Trek from Nagdi to Besishahar (823m.) which takes about four hours. You trek over flat leveled path all the way to Besishahar through villages such as Bulbule, Khudi and others, terraces, ridges and sometimes you cross small streams. Beshishahar is the district headquarters of Lamjung district. All the local government offices are situated here. From here, you can see some of mountain peaks, natural sceneries surrounding the valley and the daily activities of local people. This headquarter is the centre from where the daily usable commodities are supplied to the different villages and numerous towns.
Drive from Besisahar to Kathmandu which takes about seven hours. It is a picturesque to get back to Kathmandu along the bank of Marshyangdi and Trishuli rivers with splendid views of green hills, mountains, farming terraces and villages at both sides of road.