The Manaslu Base Camp trek is quickly becoming one of the most popular multi-day treks in Nepal. Situated in the heart of the Nepalese Himalayas, this scenic journey takes you past glaciers, Larkya La pass, monasteries, and remote mountain villages as you make your way to the base camp of the 8,163m Mt. Manaslu.
Renowned for its raw beauty and rich cultural heritage, the Manaslu region offers trekkers a chance to experience the ‘unspoiled’ Nepal. The Manaslu Conservation Area has preserved the region’s unique biodiversity and age-old culture.
This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to plan a successful Manaslu Base Camp trek.
The Manaslu Base Camp trek is a spectacular journey that takes you into the heart of the Nepalese Himalayas. Located in the Gorkha district, the Manaslu region is a hidden gem that offers trekkers a peaceful natural paradise away from the crowds of more popular routes like the Everest Base Camp trek.
The highlight of this trek is Mt. Manaslu itself – the 8th highest mountain in the world at 8,163m. The Base Camp sits at an altitude of 4,800m below the mountain’s towering peaks.
Along the way, you’ll traverse high mountain passes, hike through rhododendron forests, and spend nights in cozy tea houses operated by the local villages. Culturally, you’ll get a taste of traditional Tibetan life as you enter communities following Tibetan Buddhism.
With the unspoiled natural beauty and cultural richness of the area, it’s no wonder the Manaslu Circuit was declared a conservation area in 1998. It provides the perfect balance of challenge, nature, and cultural immersion.
Highlight of Trek
- Off-the-Beaten-Path: Unlike more commercial treks like Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Circuit, Manaslu offers a less crowded and more authentic experience.
- Diverse Landscapes: Trekkers experience a variety of environments, from subtropical forests to alpine zones, as well as arid areas in the rain shadow.
- Rich Cultural Experience: The trail passes through several Tibetan-influenced villages, where trekkers can experience the rich culture of the Nubri and Tsum people.
- Stunning Panoramas: The trek offers breathtaking views of Manaslu (the 8th highest mountain in the world), as well as peaks like Himalchuli, Ganesh Himal, and numerous others.
- Manaslu Base Camp: A direct view of the majestic Manaslu and the surrounding glaciers is an absolute treat.
- Larkya La Pass: At 5,106 meters, this is the highest point on the trek and offers 360-degree panoramic views of the Manaslu range.
- Flora and Fauna: The Manaslu Conservation Area, through which the trek passes, is home to diverse wildlife including the snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, and many species of pheasants.
- Budhi Gandaki River Valley: A deep gorge and continuous companion during the initial and final days of the trek.
- Tsum Valley Side Trip: This is an optional detour that’s rich in Tibetan Buddhist culture and offers views of unique landscapes.
- Traditional Stone Houses: The villages along the trail showcase traditional stone and timber houses, which offer a glimpse into the age-old architectural styles of the region.
- Monasteries and Mani Walls: Spiritual symbols such as ancient monasteries, prayer flags, and intricately carved Mani walls dot the trail.
- Warm Hospitality: The local people are known for their warmth and hospitality, offering trekkers an opportunity to learn about their way of life.
- Physical Challenge: With its varying altitudes and challenging terrain, the Manaslu Base Camp Trek is a rewarding endeavor for those seeking adventure.
- Natural Hot Springs: At certain spots like Tatopani, trekkers can soak and relax in natural hot springs.
- Environmental Responsibility: The region promotes eco-friendly trekking practices, with many tea houses using sustainable resources and promoting garbage management.
- Day 1 : Kathmandu to Soti Khola
- Day 2 : Soti Khola to Machha Khola (Approx. 7-8 hrs)
- Day 3 : Machha Khola to Jagat (Approx. 7 hrs)
- Day 4 : Jagat to Deng (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Day 5 : Deng to Namrung (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Day 6 : Acclimatization Day in Namrung
- Day 7 : Namrung to Samagaon (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Day 8 : Acclimatization Day in Samagaon
- Day 9 : Samagaon to Samdo (Approx. 3-4 hrs)
- Day 10 : Samdo to Dharamsala (Approx. 4-5 hrs)
- Day 11 : Dharamsala to Bimthang (Approx. 8-9 hrs)
- Day 12 : Day 12: Bimthang to Tilje (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Day 13 : Tilje to Jagat (Approx. 6-7 hrs)
- Day 14 : Day 14: Jagat to Arughat (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Day 15 : Drive from Arughat to Kathmandu
Day 1 : Kathmandu to Soti Khola
- Drive from Kathmandu (7-8 hours)
- Overnight stay in Soti Khola
After arriving in Kathmandu and making preparations, you’ll drive approximately 7-8 hours to reach Soti Khola village to begin the trek. The drive takes you along the winding Prithivi Highway with views of the lush Nepalese countryside. Spend the night here to rest up before beginning the trek tomorrow.
Day 2 : Soti Khola to Machha Khola (Approx. 7-8 hrs)
- Trek from Soti Khola to Machha Khola
- Cross several suspension bridges
- Pass through Sal forest
- Overnight in Machha Khola
On the second day, you’ll officially begin the Manaslu Circuit trek. It’s a relatively easy day, passing through verdant sal forests and over suspension bridges. You’ll finish at the riverside village of Machha Khola, home to the Gurung people.
Day 3 : Machha Khola to Jagat (Approx. 7 hrs)
- Continue following Budhi Gandaki River
- Climb steadily to village of Jagat
- Explore narrow alleyways of Jagat village
- Overnight in Jagat
Today the trail continues alongside the Budhi Gandaki River. You’ll ascend steadily throughout the day before reaching the cluster of narrow alleyways that make up Jagat village. It’s the last place to stock up on supplies before the restricted area.
Day 4 : Jagat to Deng (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Enter Manaslu Conservation Area
- Show permits at checkpost
- Pass mani walls and cultivated fields
- Stay overnight in Deng
Beyond Jagat you enter the Manaslu Conservation Area. Be sure to have your permits handy as you’ll need to show them at the checkpost. From here, it’s a relatively relaxed day hike taking in mani walls, prayer flags, and cultivated fields on the way to Deng for the night.
Day 5 : Deng to Namrung (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Trek through dense forests
- Cross the Budhi Gandaki on suspension bridge
- Visit monasteries in Namrung village
- Overnight stay in Namrung
Leaving Deng, the forests become denser and more remote. You’ll cross the aquamarine Budhi Gandaki river again today via a long suspension bridge. The trail ends at Namrung village where you can visit the small monasteries and experience the culture.
Day 6 : Acclimatization Day in Namrung
- Short hike to neighboring villages
- Acclimate to altitude
- Rest day
It’s important to take a rest day here to allow your body to acclimatize. You can do an optional short hike to neighboring villages like Lihi and Sho before spending the rest of the day resting in Namrung. Drink plenty of water and prepare for higher elevations ahead.
Day 7 : Namrung to Samagaon (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Pass mani walls and enter Tibetan region
- Views of Manaslu opens up
- Explore Samagaon village
- Overnight stay
Today you enter the Tibetan culture region, marked by mani walls, mani stones and traditional villages. Get your first glimpses of the Manaslu massif today. The village of Samagaon will be your home for the next few nights.
Day 8 : Acclimatization Day in Samagaon
- Optional day hike to Pungyen Gompa
- Rest and acclimatize
- Celebrate life in Samagaon
Take another essential rest day today by exploring the ancient Pungyen Gompa or just relaxing in Samagaon. Celebrate the rich culture here by joining in on tea, dancing, and singing with the villagers.
Day 9 : Samagaon to Samdo (Approx. 3-4 hrs)
- Descend past Manaslu Base Camp trail
- Cross Budhi Gandaki over wooden bridge
- Steady climb to Samdo village
- Overnight in Samdo
From Samagaon, you’ll descend past the turnoff for Manaslu Base Camp and cross the Budhi Gandaki river over a wooden bridge. It’s a steady climb to the tiny village of Samdo where you’ll spend the night before crossing the Larkya La.
Day 10 : Samdo to Dharamsala (Approx. 4-5 hrs)
- Continue climbing past glaciers
- Dharamsala offers views of Larkya La
- Overnight at Dharamsala
It’s a short but tough day hike to Dharamsala. You’ll continue climbing higher, catching glimpses of the glaciers flowing down from Larkya La. Spend the night at Dharamsala, resting beneath the impressive 7,000m peaks before tomorrow’s pass crossing.
Day 11 : Dharamsala to Bimthang (Approx. 8-9 hrs)
- Cross the Larkya La pass (5,160m)
- Descend to Bimthang through moraines
- Overnight stay at Bimthang
The most challenging day of the trek involves crossing the Larkya La pass (5,160m). After conquering the pass, take in the views then descend carefully to the open landscapes of Bimthang for the night.
Day 12 : Day 12: Bimthang to Tilje (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Trek through high pastures and rhododendron forest
- Cross a high suspension bridge
- Overnight in Tilje village
From Bimthang you’ll pass through dramatic landscapes of grassy pastures and rhododendron forests. Cross a thrilling high suspension bridge before reaching the Gurung settlement of Tilje to spend the night.
Day 13 : Tilje to Jagat (Approx. 6-7 hrs)
- Descend steeply on stone steps
- Pass hot springs and marsyangdi river
- Overnight stay in Jagat
Today is mostly downhill as you descend through lush forest on stone steps. You’ll pass several natural hot springs and the Marsyangdi river before pulling into Jagat village for the night.
Day 14 : Day 14: Jagat to Arughat (Approx. 5-6 hrs)
- Trek downhill to Soti Khola
- Drive to Arughat
- Farewell dinner & overnight stay
On the final day of trekking, descend to Soti Khola where you began. Catch a bus or jeep to drive 2-3 hours to the town of Arughat. Enjoy a farewell dinner and celebratory drinks before spending your final night.
Day 15 : Drive from Arughat to Kathmandu
- 8 hour drive back to Kathmandu
- Check into hotel
- Explore Kathmandu city life
Take a private or public bus back to Kathmandu (approximately 8 hours). Get settled back into your hotel in the big city and head out to celebrate completing the amazing Manaslu Circuit!
NOTE: If the above itinerary does not meet your needs, we can design individualized travel plans based on your preferences.
Design Your Travel Plan
We can design individualized travel plans based on your preferences.
Packing List & Gear
Pack light, while bringing essential clothing, equipment, and first-aid supplies along the Manalsu trek. Here is a recommended packing list:
- Lightweight hiking pants – quick-dry is best
- Hiking shorts
- Long sleeve shirts & t-shirts
- Fleece jacket & insulated down jacket
- Socks & underwear
- Waterproof jacket and pants
- Hat & sun gloves
- Warm wool hat & gloves
- Sturdy hiking boots – broken in
- Camp shoes or sandals
- Gaiters (optional)
- Daypack – approx 30L capacity
- Trekking poles
- Sleeping bag – warm to -10C
- Headlamp & spare batteries
- Water bottles/bladder – min 3L capacity
- Sunglasses & sunscreen
- Hand sanitizer & wet wipes
- Quick-dry towel
- Toiletries – travel size
- Passport & permits
- Phone, power bank, adapter
First Aid Supplies
- Basic first aid kit
- Altitude sickness medications
- Antibacterial cream
- Pain & fever relief
- Bandages, tape, blister kit
With no camping required, you can get away with packing fairly lightly for this teahouse trek. Sturdy hiking boots, warm layers, raingear, and a good daypack are key. You can charge electronics and buy snacks, water, meals at the lodges.
When is the Best Time for the Manaslu Circuit Trek?
The Manaslu Circuit trek is possible during the spring and autumn seasons between March to May and September to November. During these periods, the weather tends to be stable with sunny days and cold nights.
The post-monsoon autumn season of September to November is considered the best time for the trek. At this time, the countryside is lush and green after the rains. The skies tend to be very clear offering excellent mountain views. As the temperatures start to drop at night, there are fewer leeches and mosquitoes too.
In the pre-monsoon spring months of March to May, the trails can be a bit muddy and the river crossings high with snowmelt. But the rhododendron forests burst into bloom at this time, adding spectacular color to the landscape. Daytime temperatures increase at lower elevations.
While possible, the winter and monsoon seasons see very few trekkers. From December to February, temperatures drop well below freezing with high winds and snowfall, especially at higher elevations. Trails can be difficult to follow. The summer monsoon months of June to August bring heavy rainfall, landslides, and dense cloud cover obscuring views.
Difficulty & Fitness Requirements
The Manaslu Circuit trek is considered moderately strenuous. Trekkers should have a good level of fitness and come prepared for long days hiking up to 8 hours. The highest point reached is the Larkya La pass at an elevation of 5,160m.
The trail involves ascents and descents on stone steps through remote mountain terrain. Acclimatization to the high altitude is essential. Prior high-altitude hiking experience of over 3,000m is recommended. That said, the trek is achievable for most people who actively train beforehand.
Good cardiovascular endurance is required as you’ll be trekking 5-8 hours most days. Work on building your aerobic fitness and leg strength by hiking, swimming, cycling and climbing stairs in the months before the trek. Going on practice hikes while carrying a backpack is great preparation.
Permits & Regulations
The Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) oversees the restricted area from Jagat village onwards. Trekking this region requires purchasing special permits in advance in Kathmandu.
- Manaslu Conservation Area Project Permit: 3,000 NPR (approx $26 USD)
- Manaslu Special Permit: $70 USD per week
- Annapurna Conservation Area Permit: 2,000 NPR (approx $17 USD)
- TIMS Card (Trekkers’ Information Management System): 2,000 NPR (approx $17 USD)
Permits can be obtained through licensed trekking agencies in Kathmandu. You’ll need to provide passport photos and scanned copies of your passport when applying for the permits. Multiple permits will be checked frequently throughout the trek at checkpoints.
Park regulations help preserve the unique biodiversity and cultural heritage of the region. Follow guidelines around waste, fires, wildlife, and respecting local traditions. Do not venture off the set trekking route into restricted areas without permission.
Food & Accommodation
One of the best parts of teahouse treks in Nepal is sampling delicious local cuisine along the route. Basic guesthouse accommodation with shared rooms is available in each village.
Some typical Nepali dishes you’ll encounter on trek include:
- Dal bhat (lentil soup, rice, curry vegetable)
- Momos (dumplings with vegetables/meat)
- Chow mein/fried noodles
- Chapati breads
- Spring rolls
- Tea (milk, lemon, black)
Most teahouses offer a combination of Nepali, Tibetan and Western food. Diets are generally carb-heavy with rice, noodles, bread as staples and veggies. Dal bhat is a commonly served filling meal. Meat tends to be yak, chicken or mutton.
Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking treated water, juices, and hot drinks. Avoid cold items and raw foods to steer clear of stomach issues. Carry snacks like protein bars, nuts, chocolate for energy boosts when trekking.
Basic teahouse accommodation dominates along the Manaslu Circuit route. Dorm-style rooms feature shared bathrooms. A typical night costs 500-800 NPR ($4-7 USD).
Most places have communal dining halls to eat meals, charge devices and socialize. Blankets are provided but bringing a warm sleeping bag is recommended, especially at higher elevations.
Some lodges have private rooms with attached bathrooms available for more comfort and privacy, costing around 1,500 NPR ($12 USD). Hot showers may cost extra (~$3-5).
Advanced booking is not required. Just show up and choose lodging upon arrival into villages. Quality ranges from very basic to relatively upscale teahouses in main stops like Samagaon.
Guides & Porters
While not compulsory, hiring a local guide and porter can greatly enhance the Manaslu Circuit trekking experience.
Why Hire a Guide?
An experienced guide provides:
- Excellent route-finding skills
- Knowledge of flora, fauna, and local culture
- Permit procurement assistance
- Safety in remote terrain
- Navigation and problem-solving
- Insider tips for planning
Why Hire a Porter?
Porters are hired to:
- Carry main bags each day – up to 20kg
- Reduce your pack weight
- Offer encouragement along the trail
- Guides: $25-35 USD per day
- Porter: $20 USD per day
- Assistant Guides: $20 USD per day
Licensed guides registered with TAAN (Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal) are recommended. Be sure to tip your guide and porter generously for excellent service.
Follow these tips to make your Manalsu Circuit trek smooth and successful:
- Book permits and guides in advance through a Kathmandu agency
- Bring Nepali Rupees for meals, lodging, snacks
- Carry cash as ATMs are scarce in remote regions
- Pack conservatively as bags must be carried by porters
- Bring water purification tablets or filters
- Respect local traditions and Buddhist culture
- Learn basic Nepali phrases
- Shop for last-minute gear in Kathmandu’s Thamel district
- Charge all devices before departing as electricity is limited
- Fly in and out of Kathmandu Airport
- Allow extra days in the schedule for delays or cancellations
- Consider buying trekking insurance for emergencies