Conrad and I first met 2 years ago and we've talked about Nepal trip at that time, 2 years later we booked a flight ticket to Kathmandu for 16 days. We’ve done few research and watched a lot of videos about the trekking in Nepal, there are famous classic Annapurna Circuit Trek, the epic Everest Base Camp Trek but we were not interested in the traffic jam on the trail of the mighty Himalaya so the rising of Manaslu Circuit Trek with less-travelled trails attracted us, we decided to take on this adventure.
Manaslu Circuit Trek requires 3 types of permit: ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit) as the trekking will cross the Larkya La where it ends in the Annapurna Conservation Area at Besisahar, TIMS (Trekker Information Management System) and Manaslu Restricted Area Permit. While Top1Trekking helped us to arrange all permits ahead but the Manaslu Restricted Area requires original passport for the trek hence one day spent in Kathmandu is essential. We had a day out sightseeing the living cultural museum of Kathmandu, visiting the old city of Bhaktapur Durbar Square where the wood carving of the Newari people amazed us, then we stopped for lunch in Bouddhanath with an amazing view from roof top of the restaurant. As we arrived here right at the Buddha Jayanti, the place was crowded with the Tibetan Buddhism celebrating birthday of lord Buddha. We ended up the day in Pashupatinath watching the cremation of the Hinduism on the bank of the Bagmati river, this was such a mix experiences we have for the day.
DAY 1: CRAZY BUMBY RIDE - Drive to Arughat (550m/1804ft) by Jeep
Nepal itself is a place full of unexpected things, we can’t get the Manaslu Restricted Permit on time because the Department of Immigration office closure on the afternoon, the next day is Labor day mean a delay occurred. Therefore, instead of drive to Soti Khola, we had to wait in Arughat for the permit since after that there will be no chance to receive the proper documents for the trek. We’ve set out on crazy bumby ride to Arughat and arrived the place after 7 hours tough time sit on the Jeep but with splendid scenery, this area was hardly effected by the devastating earthquake in 2015 so we still came across some signs of the quake’s destruction.
DAY 2: NO MORE BUMBY ROAD! - Trek to Machha Khola (900m/2,952ft) - 23.28 km
Upon the arrival of these permits that we were waiting for we started the trek. Its our first day of walking we were very excited to get out of the city to breath the fresh air in the mountain. The trails follow the beautiful river of the Buri Gandaki which used to be the salt trading route between Tibet-Nepal and now it is used by trekkers, locals and mule caravan. The trail later follows down to the sandy river bed, climbing over stone ridges then again moving down to the river crossing suspension ridges, we reach Machha Khola village super tired, here we stayed our first night on the mountain. These lodges with stone wall that I saw on TV the other day I saw in real now.
DAY 3: TRAFFIC JAM IN THE MOUNTAIN - Trek to Jagat (1,340m/4,396ft), 22.89km, 9 hours
We set out on the long day through beautiful scenery, with no air pollution and no “Beep Beep” toward Jargat at 1,340m above sea level, sharing the narrow trails with goat and mule caravan is like the traffic jam in the mountain but it was so much fun, mule caravan is used to bring food and other supplies up to the high mountain. Along the trail there is high and steep waterfalls, terraces field and thatched roof villages where we met cute children before crossing a suspension bridge by foot. After 9 hours of walking, we finally made it to Jagart, officially entering the Manaslu Conversation Area, the amazing nature absolutely worth the effort, the color changes, the rock, tree, animals… its amazing, if you have a change go for it.
DAY 4: NEVER GET BORED OF ITS BEAUTY! - Trek to Deng (2,095m/6,873ft), 21.4km, 8 hours
Landscape changes frequently in just one day so we never get bored of its beauty. Sometimes we found ourselve crossing suspension bridge with the sound of the fast-flowing river, other times out in the terraces hill where birds singing peacefully, the ringing bell of mule caravan is a warning sign of traffic jam ahead. The trails passing through jungles, crossing ridges with the loop of ascending and descending seem never stop. Nepalese song as a theme for the dance cleared our hardship and we started to know how to speak “bee bee” like the mountain goats. Today we catched the first glimpse of Ganesh Himal.
DAY 5: COLD WATER THERAPY FOR FOOT - Trek to Namrung (2,900m/9,514ft)
The sunny day of walking were pretty hot, we came across the villages where the local people broke rocks and carved it to build house by hand, pine trees were chop for building house as well, from what I learned the government allow local people who live inside Manaslu Conservation Area to use pine trees under control. The trail passes through Mani stones placed along the roadside, Buddhist images and “OM MANI PADME HUM” mantra were craved on it, a sign of Tibetan Buddhism. The trail then goes through forest detach us from civilization, ascent along deep river gorge where the light almost can’t touch the river bed, too deep to look down below, other side of the river there is waterfall with water falling deep down to the river. Climbing with lot of steps we catched the first glance of Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world. Our feet and knees were crying for a massage, but there was no massage therapist at that time only a super cold water from the soothing stream where we washed our feet. We stayed at Jungle Lodges (Lunga Chhyuda, 2,375m), 1.5 hours walk to Namrung.
DAY 6: A LOOP OF UPHILL AN DOWNHILL - Trek to Lho (3,180m), 20km, almost 8 hours.
Another hot walking day, we are now almost 3,000m heading for Lho, the trail passing through long mani stone wall, entering the village of Limi where there are buddhist prayer flags and grass blowed by the winds, a loop of uphill and downhill and flat trail seem never finished. The are less and less oxygen as we ascent, our breath became heavier, thinking of how hard it would be to sleep at this elevation, we can’t wait to take the booth off after long walking day. In Lho, Rimbu monastery standing in front of breathtaking Mt. Manaslu.
DAY 7: MANASLU, HERE WE COME! - Trek to Samagaeon (3,520m/11,548ft)
Waking up with a stunning view of the Manaslu, 8th highest mountain in the world and the crispy fresh air, felling so blessed🙏, preparing for the walk to Samagaeon. The trails passing stone gate and long mani stone wall, up to this level you will see more of Tibetan Buddhism monasteries and chortens many of them were destroyed by the earthquake of 2015 earthquake. With mountain all around us 360 degree, the higher we reach the more beautiful the mountain and the Manaslu is straight ahead of us. Again, we shared the trail with mule caravan and never get bored of the landscape as it changes from dense pine forest to open river valley where Yaks lying on green carpet made by grass, beautiful flowers greeting us along the trail, as we cross the Shyala village with the view of mountain so beautiful that nothing can compete, then we reach Samagaon with amazing views of Mt. Manaslu the “spirit” mountain.
DAY 8: UNEXPECTEDLY FALLING SNOWS - Trek to Samdo (3,875m/12,713ft) – 4 hours
We made our way toward Samdo, basically its 360 degree surrounded by mountain, beautiful valley with snow-capped mountain as backdrop. Now, we’ve spent a week doing the hike to acclimatise, we’ve seen glacier, glacier lake as well, monasteries, there is whole bunch of thing that you can come up here and do, with this way you can get more custome to the altitude then keep going up. Thinking about reaching Dharmashala (4,450m/14,599ft), we felt strong and super excited but an hour after we arrived at Samdo, snow started to fall unexpectedly, so cold and so much beautiful as I am gazing out of the window seeing Yaks caravan walking under falling snow. First time I’ve ever seen snow.
DAY 9: A MARATHON RUNNING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN
The morning in Samdo welcomed us with such suprise❄️❄️❄️❄️ too much snow to continue the walk up to Daramsala. There was no communication between Samdo and Daramsala which caused some tensions and worries whether we should go up in such condition or wait for weather changes. We didn’t have extra days to just chill and wait for the weather to change for safety reasons. After an hour, we decided to walk all the way back to Arughat to be able to catch our flight. At this point, I’m so stressed out!!! Took us 8 days to get to Samdo from Arughat. Now, we have only 4 days left to get back down???😱😱😱
As you could imagine, it was like a marathon running down the mountains in the snow😥😓
But there is no choice!!! Part of the adventure it is!!! And yes, we packed and left Samdo right away.
Double the distance of the whole circuit wasn’t fun. 135km as original plan has turned into 260km!!! Arggg!!!
LAST FEW DAYS: A REAL ADVENTURE
The last few days of the adventure was fun but kinda crazy as well, after we’ve back to Lho its snowing and my nose so cold here, the mountain marathon keep continued through landslide part of the trail, we reach Arughat after long arduous journey but were stucked to political strike. The unexpected things are not over yet, a heavy rain overnight caused bad muddy roads Took us 12 hours to get back to Kathmandu instead of 7 hours. Thanks god finally we made it back to the city 5 hours before the flight. What a trip that we’ve been through from the begin till the end!!! We learnt so much and so grateful for the chance to experience such beauty of nature and its people❤️
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