Manaslu Trek During Winter December and January

Before jump into the detailed trek of Manaslu circuit trek during the winter season in Nepal (December and January) let me give you some basic information about our group. We are only two people (Minimum size for Manaslu trek) and come from South Korea. I’m in my mid 30’s, and my mom is in her mid 60’s. We have a little bit better physical condition than average trekkers, which is probably because we always like to explore high altitude trekking especially, loves Himalaya regions such as in Nepal and Tibet. I've been visited Nepal since 2007. In order to experience different and avoid busy trail, we decided to trek Manaslu during the winter season. We hired one guide and one porter. I have carried 18kg baggage during the trek. We prepared tent, portable water purifier, and portable solar panel. We have already experienced in several high mountains (Above 5000m). We have always used sleeping bag temperature rating of -40°C (mine), and my Mom’s is -60°C during this trekking.
 
I have written down all my experience of 13 days from my recent trek in Nepal. This might be helpful if anyone looking into this adventure during the same time of the year as I did. Just to make quick understanding for readers here is the highlight from our trek.
 
  1. In the first week of our trek, a village around Machhakhola and Jagat I feel like the temperature was very warm and it didn’t drop down below 7°C, and rise up to almost 20°C during daylight.
  2. In Manaslu area, most of them use solar power, so charging is slow and expensive. It is better if you bring your own portable solar charger and power bank.
  3. Wifi and 3G network is partly available, but my 3G didn’t work after Jagat (I used Ncell). Local people are using 2G with a different sim card. Locals said during the winter season, communication devices are unstable in this region.
  4. In the most of villages, the tea houses were closed but we found at least one lodge opened in each village. No tent required before Samdo. There was only one lodge opened in Samagaon.
  5. In Samagaon, you should wake up early in the morning not to miss a sunrise. At night, you have overcome coldness but not to miss the night sky.
  6. The view from Manaslu Base Camp was unbelievable; we cannot take our eyes off the scenery. You can enjoy 360-degree panorama of grandeur of nature
  7. I’ve never seen such a clear winter milky way. Because it is not only the air is clean but also the atmosphere was so thin.
  8. Dharamsala was completely closed! But we found the way. The lodge owners from Dharmasala gave us a key in Samdo and get 2000 rupees from us. We cooked our own food and slept in a tent.
  9. You better bring lots of water during the day of high pass and food. We didn’t bring enough water. It was so painful to go down.
Dec 31st, 2017 : Kathmandu – Dhading Besi – Arughat – Soti Khola – Lapubesi – Machhakhola

 Kathmandu to Dhadingbesi   4 hours trip by jeep (paved road).
Dhading Besi to Arughat 3-4 hours trip in private jeep including 30 min lunch (off-road)
Arughat to Soti Khola Around 1 hour trip by jeep (off-road)
Soti Khola to Lapubesi Walking time including breaks - 1 hour 50 min.
Lapubesi to Machhakhola 2 hours 20 min. including breaks
Jeep cost - Kathmandu to Soti Khola We paid 225 USD to rent a private jeep
Dinner  620 NPR
 Soti Khola to Machhakhola distance Around 14km by Samsung health app.
Accommodation type Hot shower & private room, but the water was not really hot, just warm.

It takes around 8 hours from Kathmandu to Soti Khola, but duration time could be longer because of traffic jam near Kathmandu valley. To avoid the traffic jam, you should leave early or late. You can ask your guide or a company about the best time to avoid traffic jam making your plan. Sotikhola is the last point can reach by jeep, that is where everyone starts their trek. I’m not sure if this is a right information, but according to my guide, the road to Tibet is under construction. I don’t know when the construction will be over. If my guide is right, he said it will take 5 years to complete the construction.

It was a rocky trail between Sotikhola and Machhikhola due to the several ongoing blasting. We also found the trail in between was very dangerous. Because of road construction, we had to detour several kilometres. We started at Kathmandu at 6:15 in the morning, and arrived at Machhakhola around 18:30. We used headlamps on the way. It was a quite challenging day for us because we had to pass very dangerous road after sunset. Also, we walked very fast with heavy luggage. If someone who wants to go Machhakhola in the same day, I would highly recommend starting your journey as early as possible from Kathmandu.
Jan 1st 2018 : Machhakhola – Kholabesi – Tatopani – Dobhan – Jagat
 Machhakhola to Kholabesi: 1 h 25 min including breaks   Food: 3,390 NPR
Kholabesi to Tatopani: 1 h 5 min including breaks Room & Shower: 700+250 NPR
Tatopani to Dobhan: 1 h 5 min including breaks Number of Group: 2
Dobhan to Jagat : 3 h 40 min including breaks Distance: 23km
 

There is a check post at Jagat. Manaslu special trekking permit entry date will count from here. You should be accompanied by a guide, from an authorized local agency. In order to issue the permit the group size must be 2 or bigger (Group size means number of foreigners), I also heard from my guide a single trekker also can visit Manaslu with a ghost permit (Paying double an amount of permit fee and trek with ghost permit) You should check with your local agency if they will be able to arrange a ghost permit as this required a real passport from other trekkers with visa validity. In addition to the Manaslu special permit, you also need ACAP and MCAP.
 
Falling rock is most frequently Because of ongoing road contraction construction You need to stay alert on falling rock. We had a lunch, and refill drinking water at Dobhan. Machhakhola and Jagat is very warm in this season. The temperature didn’t drop down to below 7°C, and rise up to almost 20°C in during the day light. 

Jan 2nd 2018 : Jagat – Philim – Ekle Bhatti – Deng (1880m)

1)    Jagat to Philim: 2 h 40 min including breaks.
2)    Philip to Ekle Bhatti (Actually, new Ekle Bhatti) : 1 h
3)    Ekle Bhatti to Deng: 4 h 10 min including breaks
4)    We walked total 23.7km

Only two lodges are opened at Deng. You can experience 10 years before Everest region lodge. I mean you can feel wind even if you are inside the room. Of course, there is no electricity in your room, unlike the other lodges we have been through. Guests on the same floor should share one toilet, but we are the only guest. 
I came to know in the mountain area, you have to pay for charging the electric device. Most of them use solar power, so charging is slow. I bought a 21W portable solar panel to charge my cell phone. It was not so bad. Slow but possible to charge. 

Wifi and 3G didn’t work after Jagat. Local people used 2G with a different sim card. I used Ncell, but it didn’t work after Jagat. It was the first view we captured snowcap mountain From Deng, 

 

About Jaesung Hong

Jaesung Hong My name is Jaesung Hong from South Korea. I am a student and completed Bachelor of Science in Electronic and Computer Engineering and also completed Master of Science in Physics (High Energy Physics Theory). By profession, I am a Physician, at the same time, doctoral student.  I've been visited Nepal since 2007. I always like to explore high altitude trekking especially, loves Himalaya regions such as in Nepal and Tibet. I have recently explored the high altitude passes of the Manaslu Trek in Nepal. 
 
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