Manaslu which is also known as Kutang is the eighth highest mountain in the world situated at 8,163 meters (26,781 ft) above sea level. It lies in the Mansiri Himal, part of the Nepalese Himalayas in the west-central part of Nepal. The Manaslu means “Mountain of Spirit”, derived from the Sanskrit word Manasa, refers to “intellect” or “soul”.
Manaslu was first climbed by Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu, both members of a Japanese expedition on May 9, 1956. It is said: “just as the British consider Everest their mountain, Manaslu has always been a Japanese mountain.”
Manaslu is the highest peak in Gorkha District and lies about 64km east of Annapurna. In December 1998, National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) of Nepal declared it as The Manaslu Conservation Area under the National Parks and Wild Life Conservation Act. It is also managed by the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) of Nepal.
Manaslu Himal is famous for its snow- covered mountains. Endangered species like snow leopards and red pandas; mammals like Asian black bear, horseshoe bat, Tibetan snow cocks and crimson horned pheasants are found in this region. Different ethnic groups who live in the hills are scattered along the trekking route.
The trail starts from the Aarughat and extends to Larkhe La pass, and includes six climatic zones: the tropical and sub-tropical zone, the temperate zone, the sub-alpine zone, the alpine zone, and the arctic zone. Significant peaks such as Ngadi Chuli, Himalchuli and Baudha are the major centers of attractions in this trekking route.
Most of the trekkers enjoy spring and autumn season for the Manaslu Trek. Since the atmosphere in the spring season is very pleasant, the first week of March to June is considered the best time for trekking. Similarly, for the autumn season, September to November is the best time to trek.
Is Manaslu Trek possible without a guide?
If you are thinking about Manaslu Trek without a guide, then you should drop this idea immediately.
The Government of Nepal has declared that every foreign trekker needs to take a permit and must be accompanied by a registered guide in the restricted area. Since the Manaslu region is also one of the restricted areas as declared by the government, it is impossible to trek without a guide.
The other trekking routes also share borders with Tibet such as Tsum Valley, Larkhe La pass, and Manaslu base camp. So, these trekking routes also need permits.
If you are thinking of exploring the Manaslu Trek, then you need to take a special permit. Trekking permits are obtained with the help of an authorized trekking guide. As per the declaration of the Nepal Government, you must fulfill the following requirements to receive a Manaslu trekking permit:
- You must hire at least one authorized person from a local trekking agency in Nepal, either a license holder professional guide or a porter guide.
- There must be at least two people in one group (not including the guide and porter)
- You must file your special permit through an authorized trekking agency.
If you are able to meet the above government requirements, you should also provide the following documents to your trekking agency to apply for your permit:
- Original passport with your Nepal entry visa (with the arrival stamp).
- 4 passport size photos
- Travel Insurance that covers emergency evacuation up to 6000 meters.
An alternative Solution to Manaslu Trek without Guide: Hiring License Holder Porter/Guide
Being an individual tourist, you are not allowed to take a special permit. So, you have to arrange your trek through a registered trekking agency.
An alternative solution to Manaslu Trek without a guide is that you can hire a professional and experienced license holder porter or guides.
The cost of hiring a porter is about USD 18-22 per day and this includes the porter’s food, accommodation, and insurance. Porters can carry a backpack up to 12kg-15kg.
Additionally, the cost of hiring a porter-guide is higher than hiring a porter only. The rate for hiring a porter-guide is USD 20-25 per day. Some of the experienced porter guides are good at communicating in English; they can provide detailed information about the trail and share some of your load throughout the trekking journey.
If you are planning for Manaslu Trek, you should do enough research before making a decision. Manaslu Trek without a guide is not possible as the area from Jagat to Bhimthang is declared as a restricted region. You cannot travel as an individual trekker; you need to be accompanied by one government authorized license holder guide or porter at the very least.
Most trekkers are unaware about the independent Manaslu Trek. Most of them want to go on an individual trek. But, it is mandatory to have a guide or porter for security reasons.
After the April 2015 massive earthquake, the trekking route has been damaged. Numerous tea houses are under construction and many trekking routes have been altered. So, it is best to have a guide for your own safety.