Manaslu Trek Experience 2017 - by Jenna Nodding

The Manaslu Trek is claimed to be Nepal’s hidden gem. It has much less traffic than its neighbours over at Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit; however, momentum is gaining. If this is on your list I recommend doing it sooner than later. The scenery won’t disappoint! 
S.N. Date & distance   Start & end point   Elevation & Gread  
1 Date of trekking March 10-15, 2017 Starting point Sotikhola Maximum elevation 5,160m
2 Distance 190 KM Ending Point Dharapani Minimum elevation 760m
3 No. of trekkers 2 Person Trek style Tea House Difficulty / Gread Challanging
4 Minimum days 13-17 days Maximum days 20-25 days Daily Budget USD 20-25

Permit Info: 

At least two people in the group and three different permits are required for Manaslu hike
Manaslu Conservation Area permit (A guide is needed to attain this) - $50USD for the first week and $7 USD/day afterwards
TIMS card (Trekker Information Management System) - $25USD for 15days
Annapurna Conservation Area permit - is also $25 USDAll said, the permits cost around $150USD
 
Planned Start: Soti Khola
Planned Finish: Dharapani 
 
Actual Start: Soti Khola
Actual Finish: Soti Khola

Transportation:

Kathmandu to Arughat – Hired a Jeep through Travel Link Services - $165USD
Arughat to Soti Khola – Local bus - ~650ru for three people
 
It is possible to take a local bus from Kathmandu to Arughat. We elected to take a private jeep for the convenience.  Some of the other hikers, who took the local bus, mentioned it took about 9hrs; the private jeep took 6hrs.

Trail:

The trail is a double track passing through small villages as it follows the river up the valley. It is the main connector to the remote villages and; therefore, busy with mule trains, locals, and trekkers. You’ll find yourself walking on stone steps, riverbeds, and through landslide and avalanche areas. Your mind will never be bored as you trek through subtropical jungles, barren alpine terrain, and alongside cliffs looking down at the river.

 Accommodations

No camping gear is required as you hike from village to village, staying at teahouses along the way. The buildings and beds are basic. The buildings have no source of heat and snow was able to blow in through the paper-thin walls. The beds were a wooden platform with a foam mattress and sheet.  I found them quite comfortable; at times, I was alone with this sentiment. Some of the teahouses had blankets for use. Our guide did not carry a sleeping bag; however, we packed -9 deg C sleeping bags and I would recommend others do the same.

Trek Cost 

In my personal experience, Manaslu trek cost also depends on how much you want to spend in a day. It was recommended to budget $35 USD/day for the trip including food and accommodations. We, however, spent about 20- $25 USD/day.

Itinerary:

Prior to this trip, I had never been above 3600m. As a result, we chose a more conservative itinerary. We also wanted to take advantage of being in the area and see all of the main sights.  The main places we decided to check out where Manaslu Base Camp, Pung Gyen Gompa, and Gyala Bhanjyang Pass. Once we were on the trail things changed. We were able to cover the terrain quicker than we had anticipated, putting us a full day ahead of schedule. With this extra time, we decided to spend more time in Namrung. Here we were fortunate to see an amazingly beautiful monastery. It was one of my favourite places on the trail with very calm energy.  Once up by Sama there was too much snow to hike to the Manaslu Base Camp. Some of the other hikers broke trail to the Gompa; however, we elected to take a rest day, gaining ~1000m the previous day. Their comments were that it was well worth the 9hrs of hiking. We didn’t get any higher than Sama so I am unable to comment on the trail further along. Our taste buds agreed that the best "Dal-bhat" was in Deng. Philim was a busier town than we anticipated and therefore, I’d recommend staying on the outskirts of town. There were great accommodations on the left as you exited the town when hiking up the valley, which had individual huts.
                                Planned Itinerary    Elevation of destination   Elevation gain      
Day Date Location Meters Feet Meters Feet Distance Time
1 10-Mar Jeep to Soti Kohol 730 2336        
2 11-Mar Soti Kohol to Khorlabesi 970 3104 240 768 12km 6hrs
3 12-Mar Khorlabesi to Jagat 1379 4413 409 1309 11km 6.5hs
4 13-Mar Jagat to Deng 1860 5952 481 1539 12km 6hrs
5 14-Mar Deng to Namrung 2540 8128 680 2176 15km 7hrs
6 15-Mar Namrung to Lho 3180 10176 550 1760 12km 6hrs
7 16-Mar Lho to Sama 3520 11264 340 1088 7km 4hrs
8 17-Mar Sama --> Base Camp --> Sama 3520 11264 340 1088    
9 18-Mar Sama --> Pung Gyen Gompa --> Sama 3520 11264 0 0 5km 6hrs
10 19-Mar Sama to Samdo 3875 12400 355 1136 6km 4hr
11 20-Mar Samdo --> Gyala Bhanjyang pass --> Samdo 3875 12400 0 0    
12 21-Mar Samdo to Dharamsala 4460 14272 585 1872 7km 5hr
13 22-Mar Dharamsala to Bimthang 3580 11456 -880 -2816 13km 9hrs
14 23-Mar Bimthang to Tilje 2300 7360 -1280 -4096 9km  
15 24-Mar Tilje to Dharapani - back to Kathmandu 1963 6282 -420 -1344 5km  

Tatopani - Great place to stay as they have a natural hot spring. Accomodations are open to the air
Deng - Best Dal Bhat (Traditional Nepali food) we ever had in the Manaslu                           
Ghap - Awesome accomodations, brand new resortic style tea houses, also not so busy                            
Lho - Has a full blown store                            
Shyala - I would stay here over Lho, better views 
                           
There is a small accommodation that looks up the Tsum valley that looked like an amazing place to stay. It didn't work into our itinerary. At the start of the trail, you walk along a road for an hour before you're on the 'trail'.                         
(If you like more detailed information, I can send you photo's of my guidebook, please contact me here)  
                         
    Actual Manaslu trek Itinerary Elevation of destination   Elevation gain      
Day Date Location Meters# Feet Meters Feet Distance Time
1 10-Mar Jeep to Arughat, charter to Soti Kohol 708 2266     140km 8hrs
2 11-Mar Soti Kohol to Tatopani 913 2922 205 656   8hr 10min
3 12-Mar Tatopani to Philim 1543 4938 630 2016   8hr 12min
4 13-Mar Philim to Ghap 2070 6624 527 1686   9hr 4min
5 14-Mar Ghap to Namrung 2592 8294 522 1670   2hr 23min
6 15-Mar Namrung to Samagaon (Aka Sama) 3492 11174 900 2880 19km 8hr 10min**
7 16-Mar Samagaon 3492 11174 0 0    
8 17-Mar Samagaon to Namrung 2592 8294 -900 -2880 19km 6hr 19min
9 18-Mar Namrung to Philim 2070 6624 -522 -1670   9hr 20min
10 19-Mar Philim to Mocha Khola 850 2720 -1220 -3904   9hr
11 20-Mar Mocha Khola to Soti Kohol 708 2266 -142 -454   2hr 12min
12 21-Mar Soti Kohol to Arughat via local bus 708 2266 0 0 13km 1hr 15min
 
Table symbols:  (* distances are unknown. They are estimates from other sources **we did not stop for lunch this day *** lunch on average took 1.5hours  ## elevation taken from watch)

Packing list

Gear I packed for this trip Quantity Gear I packed for this trip Quantity
-9°C sleeping bag 1 Bra 1
Silk cotton blend sleeping bag liner 1 underwear 2
Gortex jacket 1 Trekking socks (Burnt one..oops) 3
Soft shell jacket 2 Solomon high top hikers 1
Synthetic light puffy (Wasn't needed) 1 Micro spikes 1
Down heavy puffy 1 Hiking poles 1
Hiking pants 3 Buff 1
Shorts 3 Ball Cap 1
Light long john pants 2 Gloves 1
Rain pants 1 Sandals for camp 1

We found the Manaslu trek itinerary to be quite relaxed, hence being a full day ahead of our plan. The 14-day option is feasible for those with prior altitude experience and a strong fitness level. If you were like us, no previous high altitude experience, a desire to check out the local sights, and not get caught up in the need to push, and a very strong fitness level, I’d recommend 14 - 15 days. Those who are questioning their fitness and their knees (there are a lot of steps on the trail) I would give yourself extra time, 17-18 days.
 
For more information, including a list of the gear we packed and overnight temperatures check out www.GetOutsideAdventures.ca  I’d be happy to answer any questions swirling around in your head. 

About Jenna Nodding

Jenna Nodding Jenna (ACMG Hiking Guide) has spent five months following the white blazes along the Appalachian Trail, two weeks hiking across Baffin Island, 15 days exploring the high altitude passes of the Manaslu Trek in Nepal, and over 400 nights sleeping in her MSR hubba. She loves teaching others how to find and create their own adventure and invites you to check out www.GetOutsideAdventures.ca
 
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