What makes the Manaslu Trek difficult?
No trek is difficult on its own. There are several factors associated with the difficulty of the Manaslu Circuit Trek. Let’s explore each of them in detail.
Although the starting point of the trek, Soti Khola, is only about 140 km from Kathmandu, the Manaslu region is distant from the capital city due to its tough Himalayan landscape. Unlike the Everest region, no airport connects Manaslu to Kathmandu. So, trekkers have to take a long bus ride on risky off-roads to get to the trailhead. It can be a nightmare for someone who’s never traveled on such bumpy and curvy roads. Thankfully, the drivers who drive on these roads are highly skilled and experienced, so you’re in safe hands. It’s a lifetime adventure, after all!
This is the part where you’ll have to make use of your physique. You’ll literally be hiking in the foothills of the giant Himalayas. The Manaslu trek is physically and mentally demanding due to its steep paths, enormous rocks, and cliffs. The trail is challenging from the start with several ups and downs. Unexplored, off-the-beaten-path along the journey considerably increase the difficulties. Numerous natural obstacles, river crossings, and other difficult terrains, will be present on the path to test your limits. One must have extraordinary endurance and fitness to participate in this high-altitude trekking experience like Manaslu. Hence, proper preparation is extremely important for this trekking trip.
The total trekking distance of the Manaslu Circuit from its starting point (Soti Khola) to the endpoint (Dharapani) is about 177 km. It is more than the Everest Base Camp trail, which happens to be 130 km. Following a typical 14 to 16 days itinerary, you’ll be trekking in the rugged terrain of Manaslu for 10 to 12 days straight. At that rate, you’ll be hiking 10 to 15 km daily, which is quite extreme for a novice hiker. Considering the rough terrain, it can be challenging for even expert trekkers. So, physical fitness again comes to your rescue. Make sure you’re in your best health when you go trekking.
Weather & Climate
Weather is one of the key factors that contribute to the difficulty of the Manaslu trek. With persistent snow lines over 5,000 meters, the Manaslu Conservation Area spans six climate zones. The climate zone and seasons affect the temperature in this location.
You can find it challenging to manage bad weather, windstorms, and ice terrain in winter. Even though the days are often pleasant, a sudden decrease in temperature can make the morning and night extremely cold. This makes winter trekking nearly impossible. Due to the bitter cold, many tea houses are closed during the winter. Additionally, Larkya La Pass is inaccessible due to a lot of snow.
The trekking path includes steep terrain that during the rainy season is vulnerable to landslides and landfalls. This is why it is never a good idea to go trekking in the monsoon or during the winter. Spring and autumn are considered the best time for the trip. However, the weather in the Manaslu region is unpredictable throughout the year.
The Manaslu Circuit Trek is a high-altitude trek ranging from 600 m to 5106 m at Manaslu larke La Pass, so it poses a high risk of altitude sickness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Anyone regardless of their age or fitness level can be a victim of altitude sickness when traveling above 3000 meters. The early symptoms of AMS are headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, difficulty sleeping, etc. Minor symptoms can be managed by acclimatization, hydration, and enough rest. However, if things get complicated, the patient should be taken to a lower altitude or may even be airlifted to Kathmandu if the condition is serious.
Another major problem for hikers trekking Manaslu is accommodation. Due to its remoteness, the trail does not have many lodges to accommodate the visitors who arrive in Manaslu around peak season in large numbers because of the good weather and climate, which causes chaos. Even if you were successful in acquiring the room, it won’t be high-end. Lodges and tea houses run by the locals are the most typical types of lodging in the area. Most tea houses offer rooms with single to double beds, both with and without en suite bathrooms, depending on the price range. It's advisable to book the rooms in advance because trying to get lodgings at the last minute is not only difficult but impossible during peak trekking season.
Food & Drinks
Every food item that’s available on the trail is either locally sourced or carried for days from the lower towns. So getting a wide selection of food and drinks is impossible because of the hostile environment, which makes it extremely difficult to ship supplies there. Hence, the most popular cuisine in the area is a conventional Nepali dish, consisting of rice, lentil soup, veggies, salads, and pickles. Over time, locals have started offering a variety of products, including some Western and Asian cuisines. You may get some delectable foods like stir-fried noodles, soft flatbreads, hot soup, and muesli, although they are somewhat pricey. You will also get simple hot drinks like tea, coffee, and hot lemon.
Other facilities like electricity, phone networks, WiFi, and laundry are also scarce in the region. For electricity, the locals depend on solar energy which is usually enough for lighting the rooms and charging electronics. It is, however, advised to carry power banks with you. Phone networks are available to a certain extent but not in the higher elevations. Some tea houses along the trail offer WiFi but may not be reliable with spotty coverage. Trekkers need to carry clothes that are enough for the entire trip as there’s no laundry service in the remote villages of Manaslu. You can, however, hand wash small clothing items during the rest days.
These are some of the prominent factors associated with the Manaslu Trek Difficulty. While we can’t control some factors like the trek’s location, terrain, distance, etc., we can take some precautions to overcome the challenges.
How to overcome the difficulties during the Manaslu Circuit Trek?
Circuiting Manaslu is challenging, there’s no denying that! But it’s not impossible. And, we’ll tell you how. We present to you some ways to combat the difficulties that come with the Manaslu Circuit Trek.
Proper acclimatization significantly reduces the chances of altitude sickness. In our Manaslu Trek, we have included enough rest days which will help the trekkers adjust to the low oxygen level in the higher altitude. On the rest days, we organize short hikes around the area to better acclimatize. Rest days aren’t enough, though. In order to gradually acclimatize, one must trek at a slow pace and should only ascend a vertical height of 500 meters each day. In addition, one must eat a balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates and protein. Moreover, hydration is a key to acclimatization. So, drink plenty of fluids like ginger tea, hot water, etc. Stay away from dehydrating agents like alcohol.
Since weather and temperature depend on the season, one must be careful while choosing the time for the trek. As discussed earlier, the weather in the Manaslu region is extreme during winter and monsoon, so it’s best to avoid those seasons. The right time to go trekking in Manaslu is spring (March, April, and May), and autumn (September, October, and November). The spring and autumn months are perfect for hiking with moderate temperatures, bright skies, and clear vision. The weather is also somewhat tolerable during these times with warm days, cool evenings, and chilled nights.
The right equipment drastically improves your trekking experience. Make sure you carry good quality trekking gear, appropriate clothing, and snacks to munch on. Pack warm clothes for the night and light clothes for day hikes. Wear your hiking shoes before the trek to avoid blisters, which can be a great inconvenience during the hike.
Here’s a rough equipment list you can refer to for packing your essentials for the trek. Also, make sure to carry only what’s absolutely necessary to prevent your backpack from overweighing.
- Trekking Boots
- Few pairs of undergarments
- High-quality down jacket and pant
- Thermal wears
- T-shirts and trousers
- Hiking pants and shirts
- Trekking poles
- A pair of gloves
- Woollen hat
- Energy Bars
Guides and Porters
Hiring trekking guides and porters makes your trek so much easier and enjoyable. We, at Outfitter Nepal, employ licensed trekking guides and experienced porters to assist you during the entire hiking duration. Certified guides are well-versed in the location, nature, and culture of the region which makes your trek not only efficient but also informative. They’ll help you navigate the trail and communicate with the locals.
Hiking for such a long duration in the rugged Himalayan terrain is already a challenging job. Imagine carrying a 10-15 kg backpack while trekking. It would be too much for you. So, hire a porter who will carry about 20 kgs of baggage from 2 trekkers and you can get a small day pack to carry your daily essentials like water, electronics, and sunscreen.
Preparing your body and mind for the long and hard trekking journey is another important aspect of minimizing the difficulty of the trek. Walking daily for 5 to 7 hours on the tough terrain of the remote Himalayas requires both mental and physical strength. So, start training a few months before the trek. A cardiovascular workout is the best way to prepare for any trek. It increases the capacity of the heart and lungs to deliver blood enriched in oxygen to the muscles during prolonged physical activity. Strength exercises also boost your physical endurance which will help your legs to keep up with the trek. Try yoga and meditation to maintain sound mental health.
If you’re booking a private trip, customizing your itinerary may save you from so much trouble. With a customized trekking plan, you can take time and trek at your own pace. Outfitter Nepal provides a customized trekking experience for all of our trekking trips if you book a private trip. So, if you have any special preferences regarding the itinerary or other services, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
There you go. These are the challenges of the strenuous trek of Manaslu Circuit and the ways to overcome those challenges. We know it’s a difficult trek, but it’s totally worth it. The Manaslu region is not only the toughest to trek but also the most beautiful with its amazing Himalayan landscape decorated by snow-clad mountains, greenery all around, pristine water bodies, and villages full of lovely locals. With proper planning and preparation, you can make this difficult trek a fun and memorable experience.
If you have any questions regarding the Manaslu trek or any other trips we provide, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always there to assist you. Happy Trekking!
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