Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Manaslu Circuit - An Intro

Arughat is the start of the Manaslu trekking circuit, a 16-18 day trek which circumnavigates Manaslu, the world's 8th highest mountain. Until recently this trek was solely a camping trek, involving being completely self sufficient. Camping treks can be quite an expensive and cumbersome way to trek as the amount of porters needed seems to increase exponentially with every trekker. However teahouses have been cropping up so now it is just about possible, if you are in a small group, to complete the circuit as a teahouse trek. Developing fast, the Manaslu circuit is tipped to be the new Annapurna circuit as trekkers are deterred from Annapurna due to all the road building taking place.

Manaslu stands at 8156m and was first climbed by a Japanese team in 1956. It has therefore always been thought of as a Japanese mountain and it continues to have ties with Japan. We saw some sacks of aid in villages marked with 'gift from the Japanese people'. The sacks were clearly quite old and unopened. We wondered if Japan would like them back for the moment!

Although trekking agencies still like to sell the Manaslu circuit as a camping trip it was a blog which first made us aware of the possibility of completing the trek as a basic teahouse trek. As this circuit is developing rapidly, that blog is now quite out of date, so I'll try to write about our experiences to give some more up to date information.

The first consideration when planning a Manaslu trek is that the Manaslu area is currently a restricted zone which requires an extra permit but this is easily acquired in Kathmandu. You are also meant to have a guide but we met a few people who just had porters. To do the trek staying in teahouses I'd recommend a group with a maximum of 4 trekkers (not including guides and porters) as there are some places which currently have very little accommodation. On the accommodation front you have to be prepared for a sometimes very basic standard. The rooms can be bare and sometimes the only food is Dal Bhat - vegetables were scarce and meat nonexistent. However, I think this adds to the experience and we enjoyed sitting in the smokey kitchens watching  family life go on around us. But if you want the same experience go now as it is changing fast.

A few other practical tips are that a 3 season sleeping bag is necessary as well as a thermarest or roll mat as sometimes the beds are very hard and cold. There was electricity in every other village, so charging of cameras etc is possible (sometimes for a small fee) and there is even internet at Samagaon. Simple food supplies like biscuits and noodles can be bought along the circuit but it is best to take your own means of purifying water rather than to rely on bottled water.

In my next installment I'll given a brief description of our trek on the circuit, hopefully for some light entertainment as well as giving some useful information for those wanting to do the trek themselves.

1 comment:

  1. We were Germany group of 4 friends on Manaslu trek in August 2013. Mr Sanjib he was was guide and He had arranged everything for us in advance, so we could start our trekking immediately .
    during arranging our trip, communication with Sanjib was very friendly and perfect, he immediate answered all our requests and solved all problems.
    Many thanks to Sanjib, it has been great experience for us. We will definitely come to Nepal ,
    Visited August 2013