Manaslu Circuit Trek has been gaining popularity in the past years, but it requires more days than other base camp treks (at least 13 or 14 days). Not all travelers have that many days to spare, so this article is about the possibility of doing a Manaslu short trek. Is it DOABLE? And if yes, is it WORTH IT?
Many of you have probably heard that the Manaslu trail has shortened due to recent road constructions. During the dry season, the trailhead has now been pushed further up to Machhikhola (which was previously in Sotikhola). There is also now jeep in Dharapani that hikers can take. It means the duration has shortened by one day just because of the road construction alone.
And now, a rumor spreads online that Manaslu trek can be completed in just 10 days! While I agree it is doable, I also see some considerations for anyone planning to take Manaslu short trek for 10 days:
How About the Side Trips?
In my opinion, what makes Manaslu special are the side trips. This is the only trek that allows you to experience Manaslu Base Camp, Birendra Lake, Pung Gyan Gomba and Lho Gomba. These are the highlights of a Manaslu trek, so make sure you see as much of these as you can.
Remember, it is not a marathon, and the goal for the trek is to enjoy the culture, the scenery, the people, and experience the mountain itself. To rush it all in 10 days means you may not have the opportunity to take these side trips and see the beauty that this trek has to offer. More importantly, Manaslu Base Camp.
Altitude Sickness is Real
Indeed the trail has shortened, but the elevation remains the same. The more you rush to complete a high-altitude trek, the higher the chances are for altitude sickness. The side trips mentioned above are our strategy to help you acclimatize in a non-boring way.
What You Find Online
If you search “Manaslu Short Trek,” you will find 10 days itinerary with mostly no side trips in the middle. When planning high altitude treks in the Himalayas, always remember that the amount of altitude you gain each day is more important than how much distance you cover in a hike. This factor comes into the plan when looking at the success rate for completing a high pass trail.
Some trekkers may not mind walking 20 to 30 km a day to cover as much distance. But in fact, do you know how much elevation you will gain in that 30 km? Many companies are very eager to suggest a rapid itinerary without considering the safety of the clients. So think twice and make sure you plan and understand what each day means and how much elevation you gain each day. Do not be shy to ask: Does the itinerary come with acclimatization day? Does it include side trips to Manaslu Base Camp, Birendra Lake, Pung Gyan Gomba, Lho Gomba, etc.?
10 Days Manaslu Trek Itinerary (My Suggestion)
The short answer is “Yes,” but my recommendation is still to go for 13 days instead. Here is my suggested itinerary for ten days. The bright side of the route below is that you would not miss our favorite part of the Manaslu circuit trek and the acclimatization day in Samagaun. Below are some considerations if you want to do the ten-day trek:
- It is only doable in the spring season and (mid-October to early December) not possible during monsoon season as local jeeps cannot drive to Machhekhola.
- High level of physical fitness, long-distance hiking experience and if possible, high-altitude trek experiences are required to complete this trek. You know your body’s capabilities and limitations.
- You need to take a private jeep from Kathmandu to Lapubesi very early in the morning. Once you reach Lapubesi, hike straight away to Machhekhola to save time, Manaslu Trek cost might be slightly higher because of the private jeep.
- Before Samagaun, the days are much longer and require at least 20km to 25km of the hike, in about 8 to 9 hours. You will need to cover more distance at a lower elevation, so there is no need to rush when you reach a higher height. After Samagaun, it has more altitude than distance, so the walk is easy.
- The last day of the trek, from Dharapani to Kathmandu, is also expected to be a long day. You need to travel for 4 to 5 hours between Dharapani to Besishar on a local jeep and then 5 to 6 hours from Besishar to Kathmandu on a local bus or a private car. In total, that is roughly 9 to 11 hours of drive to get back to Kathmandu.
Days Day to Day Itinerary Elevation Everyday trek hour Meter Feet 1 Drive from Kathmandu to Lapubeshi and trek to Machhikhola 710m 2,328 ft 10-hour drive 2 Trek from Machhikhola to Philim 1,570m 5,150 ft 8-9 hours trek 3 Trek from Philim to Namrung 2,660m 8,730 ft 9-10 hours trek 4 Namrung to Lho monasteries and camp to Samagaun 3,525m 11,565ft 8-9 hours trek 5 Rest day, explore MBC, Birendra Lake, Pung Gyen Gomba 2,630m 8,626 ft 7-8 hours trek 6 Trek from Samagaun to Samdo and climb to Samdo hill 3,700m 12,139 ft 4-5 hours trek 7 Samdo to Dharmasala 4,460 m 14,629 ft 4-5 hours trek 8 Trek from Dharmasala to Bhimthang Via Larke Pass 16,929ft 3,700m 12,139ft 7-8 hours trek 9 Bhimtang to Dharapani 1,860m 6,102 ft 8-9 hours trek 10 Dharapani to Kathmandu Drive 1,300m 4,265 ft 9-11 drive
Option 2: 5 Days Pongkar Lake Trek in Manaslu
A much shorter trek is the Pongkar Lake (3,964m) trek, which is also located in the Manaslu region near Bhimtang. This trek offers the best panoramic view of Mount Manaslu, Ponkar Himal, Himalchuli, Nike peak, and much more. This is usually part of the full two-week Manaslu trek as a side trip.
Note that this itinerary will only bring you to Pongkar lake (the best possible viewpoint) from the other side of the trail. This route starts from Dharapani, which is usually the endpoint for a regular Manaslu circuit.
Why is Pongkar Lake Hike an excellent short trek?
- In a short time, you will be rewarded with fantastic views of Mount Manaslu
- Expensive Manaslu restricted area permit is not necessary
- The trek is relatively cheaper compared to the other trek in Nepal.
- Accessible throughout the year
- Experience Manaslu trek without spending at least two weeks
Days Day to Day Itinerary Elevation Everyday trek hour Meter Feet 1 Drive from Kathmandu to Dharapani 1,860m 6,102 ft 10-hour drive 2 Trek from Dharapani to Surki Khola 2,730m 8,956 ft 8-9 hours trek 3 Trek from Surki Khola to Bhimtang 3,700m 12,139 ft 9-10 hours trek 4 Bhimtang to Pongkar Lake and Back to Bhimtang 3,964m 13,005 ft 8-9 hours trek 5 Bhimtang to Dharapani 1,860m 6,102 ft 6-7 hours trek 6 Dharapani – Besishar – Kathmandu drive 1,300 m 4,265 ft 6-7 hours trek