Around Manaslu Part One
Around Manaslu Part One by Issie Inglis
This is a superb trek. Everything about it is just what you might have expected to find trekking in Nepal thirty years ago. Very few trekkers or ‘trekkers amenities’, fantastic scenery, remote villages and not too tough although some of the days are long. The Larkya La pass is the one difficulty on this trek and has potential to be a serious crossing due to the steepness of the descent if there is a lot of snow.
I did this trek in 2008, and again in 2009, with clients from a commercial, adventure travel company. I think it is one of the most beautiful treks I have ever done, although best done with clients who have some experience of trekking as there are no real amenities whatsoever until you reach Dharapani on the other side of the circuit.
We camped all the way round but since 2012 it is possible now to use lodges all the way. There is much building going on and new lodges springing up all the time. Some are still pretty basic however, and you may end up in someone’s house if it is busy, and it is becoming busier each year.
Manaslu is situated west of Kathmandu and to the east of the Annapurnas, and the circuit trek around it starts in Arughat Bazar and joins the Annapurna circuit at Dharapani, finishing at Besisahar.
Getting to the start – Kathmandu to Arughat Bazar
It is a five hour drive, even in a decent bus, so an early start is needed. We had a total epic the first time I did this trek and it took us 13 hours as the driver went the wrong way. So keep an eye on the map! It is a bit of a bumpy ride but very scenic.
Once you get to Arughat the bus will stop in the town and you will need to walk the last 15 minutes through the town to a campsite by the Manaslu Lodge.
There were other groups camping here, and from this point on we always sent one of the sherpas ahead to make sure we got a campsite. As this trek increases in popularity this is going to become more of a problem as some of the campsites are tiny. However more do seem to be springing up.
Kathmandu – Arughat to Shyala, 9 Days
The first part of this trek takes you along the banks of the Burhi Gandaki. To begin with the walking is easy but some of the days are long and, as it is seriously hot for this part, it is good to start early. Our daily Routine was: Bed tea – 06.00, Washing water – 06.15, Pack bags and clear tents. Breakfast 07.00. Depart 07.30. This normally got us into camp around 16.00 so we had time for tea and a wash (no showers on this trip!!)
The path follows a beautiful but airy path high above the river and narrow in places. There are lots of ups and downs and it is very hot and jungley. There are streams to cross all the way up so sticks are good to have to hand. The river is just spectacular.
Day 4 from Macha Khola to Louri, after 3 hours and a very pretty, easy morning, you reach Tatopani, As you might expect from the name, there is a hot spring right in the middle of town and is great for hair / clothes washing, so get your clients to put washing stuff into their packs. It’s a bit public but lovely and warm.
Jagat is a lovely paved village with poinsettias everywhere and worth a short stop. The campsite, should you get there the night before, is just on the entrance into town and looks very nice. Permits are checked in the village.
Day 6 from Ekli Batti to Bihi, this is one of the most outstanding days on the trek. It is quite a long day but the scenery is just fantastic you are starting to come out of the jungle and there are pine trees at last. It is much cooler walking here. The trail goes up and down but not too much to be uncomfortable. There are big overhanging walls where the gorge narrows down and great views all day.
Namrung is another lovely village with a great campsite. There is a site in the middle of the village but if you leave the village and take the right path down towards the river instead of the main trail you will come to a lovely made site in mature pine trees by the river. One of the nicest on the trek.
After Namrung the track start to climb properly for the first time. The terrain becomes very different, more open, and lots more agriculture. There is a long slow pull up to Shyala and into one of the best views on the whole trip just after the gate into the village. Wall to wall mountains and great views of Manaslu at sunset and sunrise. Don’t even have a second thought, just get up at four o’clock take loads of pictures.
Shyala is where you really feel you are getting to a bit of altitude and it would be possible to have an acclimatisation day here. In 2008 I decided to stay here as some clients were already getting headaches. I wanted to try and get up on to the ridge behind the camp to see if we could get closer to Manaslu and after a false start ended up on a path which took us up on to the ridge just behind the camp and was spectacular once we got up. It was not a great path and quite steep in places but what views. You just felt you were so close to the mountains, it was stunning. We saw an avalanche coming down. It was spectacular.
Join Issie for part two of the trek here!