Pristine, rich in culture, and simply unforgettable, the stunning Manaslu Circuit is seldom the first choice for a trekking adventure amongst backpackers and travelers alike. It is not famed as the legendary Everest Base Camp trek, or it’s neighboring trail, the distinguished Annapurna Base Camp Trek. But the very solitary attribute of the massif is what makes it so exceptional and endearing.
The trek, which was first made available to the public in 1991. It starts from Arughat Bazar, a 7-8 hour drive from Kathmandu, and ends at Besisahar. This is the most common starting point for the Annapurna Base Camp.
Throughout the trek, you’ll be greeted by the sight of over 10 magnificent peaks, all of which are well over 6,500 meters ( 23,000 ft). Among them are the Ngadi Chuli, the Himal Chuli, the Ganesh Himal Range, and evidently, Mount Manaslu. Standing tall at 8,163 meters (26,781 ft), it is the eighth highest mountain in the world.
While the mountains are definitely show-stoppers, also expect to be taken aback by the dense hills, steep gorges, distinct flora, glacial valleys. And be sure to be accompanied by the Budhi Gandaki river throughout the expedition.
Though local settlements are fairly sparse throughout the trail, the striking cultural and religious significance is impossible to overlook.
The highest elevation throughout the trek would be achieved on the Larkya La pass at an elevation of a whopping 5,125 meters (16,815 ft). The pass bestows you with the captivating sight of mountains such as Himlung, Cheo, and even Annapurna.
The duration of this trek can range from 14-21 days. We have various packages available to cater to your needs and preferences.
Interesting Facts on the Manaslu Circuit Trek
- Mount Manaslu (8,163 m) is the 8th highest mountain in the world.
- The name Manaslu could be loosely translated to “mountain of the spirit” in Nepali.
- The Manaslu Conservation Area protects many highly endangered animals, snow leopards, and red pandas being a few to name. Approximately 110 species of birds have also been recorded in this region.
- Nearly 19 types of forests and other forms of fauna have been documented there.
- Ethnic groups in this trail are scattered throughout, each of them having their own unique norms, and some even dating all the way back to the 8th century.
- The trek passes through the Budhi Gandaki Valley, the Larkya La Pass, natural hot springs, and many other notable sites.
- Manaslu is located 64 km east of Annapurna.
Manaslu Circuit Weather and Seasons
The area that covers the trail is said to consist of six climatic zones due to variations in the elevation within the circuit. Those zones are tropical, subtropical, temperate, sub-alpine, alpine, and arctic, and ranges from below 1000 to over 5000 meters.
The lowest altitude that you’ll pass on the trek would be 710 meters, which lies within the tropical-subtropical zone. On the other hand, the permanent snow-line is said to be over 5,000 meters in elevation, resulting in consistent sub-zero temperature. Hence, the weather in this route varies immensely from range to range.
Despite the contrast of the climate throughout the circuit, you will be presented with something extraordinary to treasure no matter what season or month you choose to trek in. Read along and find out which season, in particular, calls your name.
Manaslu Circuit in Spring
The pre-monsoon season, which consists of the months March, April, and May, is great for those who want to experience the best of the tranquility as well the scenery of the trail. Considered as one of the best time periods to visit the circuit, Manaslu during the month of spring is a spectacle that stays with you.
It seems as if everything is being brought back to life during this time.
Frozen lakes begin to thaw out. Streams begin to fill, new buds begin to sprout and villagers that had chosen to spend the winter somewhere more forgiving gradually return.
Most of the lodges and tea-houses that had stayed closed during the peak of winter can be found re-opening themselves to cater to the sheer number of trekkers and mountaineers. One would say this magical pathway has been reawakened from a deep sleep during Spring.
And the best part? This season is undoubtedly the safest of all seasons for a trekking expedition. There are very low risks of avalanches, landslides, and other climatic hazards.
March is the coolest of the three months during Spring. The temperature, in general, can be felt as neither too cold up nor too hot down below. Vegetation and flora all around start to blossom. Rhododendron, the national flower of Nepal can also be found appearing here and there. People preferring a cool climate should consider trekking during this month.
Then comes April, bringing along the Nepali New Year with it. Temperature can be felt rising comparatively, but still remains pretty favorable throughout. The effect of spring is more evident during this time, making the region a colorful and lively wonderland. Hence, April takes the cake for being the best month in Spring to visit and trek through the circuit.
May would be the warmest month of the trio, the month that will bring an end to the Spring season in Nepal. Trekking in the circuit during this month would make you break a sweat, but not miserably hot. Even with the temperatures rising, higher altitudes in the trail would remain mildly cold. The last blooms of Rhododendron should take place during this month.
With the easy-going climate, flowers in bloom, and the number of trekking enthusiasts low in number, spring has to be one of the best seasons to visit the circuit.
Manaslu Circuit in Summer
Summer in Nepal is a little peculiar because while being the hottest season, it’s also during this time the country experiences the largest downpour. Thus, June, July, and August are also known as monsoon or the rainy season here.
Despite all the clouds that would be hanging, the clearest, most pristine, and sparkling views of landscapes and mountains fare seen during this season. While spring makes the area blooming with delightful new changes, monsoon makes the trail lush and dense and gorgeously green.
Presence of various bugs and leeches are also very evident throughout these months. To add to the inconvenience of the trekkers, the trail is also quite slippery and muddy which calls for a great pair of trekking shoes.
The heat and the rain gradually kicks in during June. Trekking during the first weeks of the month might actually be your safest bet during this season. The average temperature during this period would be humid, as the rain and clouds often overshadow the hot sun.
Expect to come across a few trekkers. There also many chances of you being greeted by a couple of rainbows during the trip.
Even though the downpour is at its maximum during July, it is so only in the lower altitudes. As you got higher, the weather is unpredictable and is almost similar in every season.
August is the final month during the summer/monsoon season. Due to the constant rain, vegetables thrive beautifully, providing amazing freshness, taste, and quality. Hence, you’re in a treat for every meal that is served to you during the trek.
Full, fat waterfalls, streams and throttling rivers will be a common sight that you’ll get used to around the circuit during August.
If the rain doesn’t bother you and you are someone who enjoys the rain, there’s no doubt that trekking during this time period is rewarding in every way.
Those who like to live life on the edge, and have multiple trekking experiences up their sleeve, could consider opting for this season. It is the time of the year that is a lot challenging and adventurous. Be sure to prepare yourself with proper gadgets and equipment that you would need.
Manaslu Circuit in Autumn
When all of Nepal is engaged in carrying out the celebrations of Dashain and Tihar, one of the most auspicious and important festivals of Nepal, you’d think tourist expeditions would come to a halt. Just like the daily life activities or at least be significantly less in number. To your avail, you can actually find an exact opposite scene on the Manaslu Circuit Trek.
A very popular opinion, Autumn is arguably the best season for a trekking expedition through the circuit.
The season starts fresh and pleasant, after all that downpour from the previous months. The temperature’s stable, being neither hot nor too cold, nearly perfect for active trekkers. The sky is clear, the fields are full.
The tea-house/lodge owners’ are a lot happier, since September, October, and November attracts the most number of trekkers and potential customers for them.
Downpours finally subdue and gradually comes to an end during September. Temperature normally feels either warm or cool. Streams are still more-or-less full and so are numerous waterfalls, ever-ready to be admired. Expect to come across few other fellow travelers.
October takes the crown for being the best month, out of the entire year, to trek through the Manaslu Circuit. It’s a little drier than September and it’s moderately perfect.
This kind of climate allows all levels of trekkers to acquire the absolute best experience from the circuit. Therefore, October encounters the largest volume of traffic in the Manaslu Circuit trail.
It is also the best time for novice trekkers to dive into trekking. There is near to zero risks during these months.
Autumn gradually comes to an end with November and it brings with it cold and dry weather. However dreary that might sound, November is still one of the best seasons you can decide upon for a trek. The overall scene and natural theatrics that the trail offers you are more or less the same during October and November. Mornings and nights on the trail during this month is when you’ll notice a significant drop in temperature.
If the increase in a number of other trekkers and bypassers is not of any inconvenience to you, then I do not see any reason for you to not trek in this indescribable circuit.
Also, you could look out for the Manaslu Trail Race that takes place every year during this time.
Manaslu Circuit in Winter
Cold, dry, and possibly, the most adventurous time period to tackle the circuit would be during winter. It begins and extends itself from December, through January, and February.
The skies are mostly clear and bright, and the mountains look magnificent. But the almost piercing air will definitely challenge you. The weather obviously tends to get a lot chilly as you tend to ascend.
Be sure to pack and prepare well for winter trekking. This will help you a lot.
Also, prepare to catch sight of various frozen lakes, streams, and waterfalls throughout the circuit. An occurrence of snow storms is also not rare during this season.
Daytime is somewhat manageable in the winter; it’s the night and the morning time that requires extra gear and a call for some preparation, both physically and mentally. Temperature could even get as low as -20ºC on average as night falls.
Early December is the most pleasant period out of this trimester. The weather is quite similar to that of November until it inevitably and consistently gets colder. Winters are certainly challenging but only if you are not a winter person. In fact it is during the winters that you can expect breathtaking views of the snow capped mountains.
Winters are not the best time if you are an armature trekker. It is best to opt for spring or autumn. But if you are looking for an adventurous and a peaceful trek, winters serve you best. But a professional guide is a must. January sees the coldest time of the year and number of trekkers also falls flat. It could be a great chance to enjoy the serenity and peace a lot more.
Last month of winter February doesn’t offer that much of difference in the weather in compared to January. But you can definitely notice the increasing temperature in the lower regions. And by the end of February, you will notice a few blooms here and there.
The visuals that are laid out in all sorts of frozen or nearly-frozen manner would undeniably render you speechless. It is not the best time of the year to go exploring but is in fact the best time if you want to capture the majestic mountains at its best.
Some Extra Tips for Manaslu Circuit Trek
- The most highly recommended seasons to tackle the circuit would easily be Autumn and Spring. Unless you are experienced in various terrains and climates and have multiple previous expeditions up your sleeve, it’s best advised to avoid the circuit during Winter and Summer.
- It is nearly impossible to trek the circuit without proper gear during winter. Crampons, sunglasses specially designed to be worn in the snow, and other supplies must be mandatorily equipped with first hand.
- Being geared with a tent, sleeping bag and other necessary pieces of equipments for taking proper shelter is highly advised when trekking during off-seasons, particularly winter
- Choice of clothing and garment for the entire trip should be pre-planned and confirmed with since the circuit consists of six different climatic zones in total.
- The Manaslu Circuit Trek is considered as a rather strenuous route, so light training on local terrains and almost any form of cardio exercises should warm your body up for the ultimate trek.
- Smoking during the trek, primarily around higher altitudes is very much discouraged. Besides the obvious detriment of overall health, smoking can cause or worsen altitude sickness.
- Always remember to hydrate yourself and carrying some energy bars, dry food, etc is never a bad idea.
There aren’t words that justifiably describe just how special the trek through the Manaslu Circuit is. Simply put, it’s beautiful. Everywhere you look, you’ll only find yourself being dumbfounded. I say this without mentioning any season in particular because the beauty of the circuit prevails through all of the seasons, at all times.
Surely, Spring and Autumn will still be everyone’s first choice of recommendation, and for great reasons too. They’re both the safest seasons. From bunch to the overall trek is a lot more pleasant. The availability of standard accommodations, and the weather is just lovely.
These two seasons give you two looks of the environment with regards to the biodiversity.
But not everyone can squeeze themselves within the months of those seasons, and it’s understandable if you do not prefer being surrounded by people throughout the trek. Off-seasons like January, or July could serve you better.
If you’ve weighed in all the possibilities of risks during winter, taken all the precautions into careful contemplation, there’s nothing more that you need except your gear, will, and determination in place.
So, no matter what season you decide to embark the Manaslu Circuit Trek on, there’s a hundred percent guarantee that you’ll constantly be telling yourself that there’s no place on earth you’d rather be.