Attention! This is a long article that covers almost everything you should know about Manaslu Circuit Trek by a local author who is born and raised in this particular area. This is the most updated writeup you could ever find online, so stay tight and enjoy the reading.
One good thing about venturing into this unknown world of Manaslu is that it is not at all as expensive as one would think. In fact, it is relatively cheaper than trekking in the Everest Region, but don’t expect it to be cheaper than Langtang and Annapurna. Our clients who experienced Manaslu circuit trekking have nothing but positive feedback and for most of them who had also been to Everest Base Camp aka EBC or Annapurna Base Camp aka ABC, Manaslu is so much better compared to other trails in Nepal. Watch this video to learn more about why you should trek Manaslu.
In this article, we hope to answer some basic questions you may have about Manaslu, in particular on the overall impact this trek may have on your wallet! To do this trek, you will need a permit, transportation, guide (and probably a porter) and of course, food and accommodation. We have gathered the cost figures for these essentials below.
- How much does the Manaslu Trekking Permit cost?
- The cost of transportation for the Manaslu Trek
- How much is the cost of food on the Manaslu Trek?
- How much is the cost of tea houses (accommodation) on the Manaslu Trek?
- How difficult is Manaslu Trek?
- Trek essentials: what to pack for the Manaslu Trek
- Telecommunications and wifi facilities in the Manaslu Region
- Manaslu Trek cost for Nepalese
- Other miscellaneous costs
How much does the Manaslu Trekking Permit cost?
The Nepal Government applies a special rule and cost for the Manaslu trekking permit as this is a restricted area of Nepal. In fact, you will need three permits for the Manaslu:-
|Permit Types||Foreign||SAARC||Nepali||Child under 10|
|MCAP (Manaslu Conservation Area Project)||USD 30||NPR 1,000||NPR 100||Free|
|ACAP (Manaslu Conservation Area Project)||USD 30||NPR 1000||NPR 100||Free|
|Manaslu Restricted Permit (Sep.- November)||USD 100/week||USD 100/week||Free||Free|
|Manaslu Restricted Permit (Dec. – August)||USD 75/week||USD 75/week||Free||Free|
|Tsum Valley (September – November)||USD 40/week||USD 40/week||Free||Free|
|Tsum Valley (December – August)||USD 35/week||USD 30/week||Free||Free|
“Note: The Manaslu restricted area permit fee has recently increased from the previous figuer. Based on recent change (17th July 2019) the breakdown above was taken from the Nepal immigration official page. If you choose 14 days itinerary for a circuit, 1 week in the restricted area is enough while 1 week in Tsum Valley plus 1 week in Manaslu two weeks permit will allow you to explore both valleys, unless or otherwise If you wish to stay longer. “
I know what you are thinking, why do we need all these permits? Please allow us to explain.
The Manaslu Restricted Area Permit is necessary as you are entering a special region in Nepal. This is required by the government to preserve the area and keep the number of tourists low in order to aid in its preservation. The cost of the permit varies depending on the month you will be in the region and the number of days you will be in the area. If your traveling months are from September to November, the cost is about USD 100 for the first week per person plus USD 15 per day per person thereafter.
If you are traveling between December and August the cost is slightly cheaper at USD 75 for the first week per person, and USD 10 per day per person thereafter. The average total number of days for the Manaslu Trek is about 14 days, and you will likely need the restricted permit for about 8 or 9 days. Some trekkers chose to trek for 17 days, and if that is the case, there will be 10 days of special permit required. It’s always a good idea to discuss this with your local travel agency to plan ahead (or contact us).
We are not done yet! You are also required to buy MCAP and ACAP permits. These are USD 30 apiece per person. If you choose the Tsum Valley trek as a side trip for your Manaslu trek, then you are also required to buy another restricted permit for this area and the cost is USD 40 per week per person between September and November. While the off-season (December to August) cost is USD 35 per week
If you compare the permit cost with other trekking regions such as Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, and Kanchenjunga, Manaslu is actually higher but still cheaper than the Upper Mustang Trek. I know this is probably hard to understand and to remember, and I hope we do not confuse you even more! But you should not worry about this and let your local trekking agency in Nepal arrange these for you.
How much should I pay for a guide and porter for the Manaslu Trek?
While Nepal has some trekking trails where tourists can trek even without a guide, this doesn’t apply to Manaslu. It is also required that at least two trekkers are in a group to apply for a Manaslu permit.
Contrary to what international travel companies might tell you, hiring a professional guide is actually not at all expensive for the Manaslu Region. On average, the fee is about USD 22 to 25 per day and this includes the guide’s food, accommodation, and insurance.
We are also often asked by our clients if it is possible to only trek with a porter in Manaslu. The answer is yes, this is possible! However, the cost of hiring a porter is not that much different from hiring a guide due to the cost of food and insurance. I would say roughly USD 20 to 25 a day inclusive of food, accommodation, and insurance would be the cost of hiring a porter for Manaslu trek. Similarly, we are often asked to design the itinerary with a porter guide (a learning guide) as well, That would cost roughly USD 25 to 30 a day. The good thing about having a porter guide is that he also helps to share the load and guide you through the trail. In brief, a porter guide is one person who can do both jobs as a guide and a porter. This option is an idea for a small group or a couple.
It is highly recommended that you go with a professional guide for safety reasons and you can be sure of the experience and rigid training they went through to get their license. Of course, this depends on you. Just as long as you don’t go trekking on your own in Manaslu without a guide or porter as it is not actually allowed by the government.
What to expect from a guide with our company
We take your security and safety seriously, so we ensure all our guides have undergone proper professional training and received a licence from the government.
- The majority of the professional guides from NEST Adventure are born and raised in the Manaslu Region (Gorkha, Dhading, and Nuwakot). So they know their way around these mountains very well.
- All our guides go to Manaslu at least 5 to 7 times every year so you can be sure of their experience in this terrain and in this area.
- Most of our guides are young but very experienced and well educated. They are able to converse in English very well, and in some cases, in other languages too.
- Apart from safety, we want to make sure you will enjoy your time with NEST Adventure. All our guides have received 5 out of 5 ratings from our previous clients. Please review here.
- Each of our guides really has a good relationship with locals and teahouse owners along the way. So there is not an issue with communication with teahouses or finding accommodation.
- To make sure you have a good rapport with the guide, we arrange for meetings with the guide prior to departure. You can ask the guide questions and test his knowledge and experience and if for some reason, you are not satisfied, we would be happy to provide another guide that will match your requirements.
Please, do not hesitate to contact us, if you are looking for someone like I just described (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The cost of transportation for the Manaslu Trek
As you would expect in an off-the-beaten-trail area, the Manaslu trek hasn’t connected yet with any public tourist bus services. And because of this, it remains a less traveled trekking trail. The only way to reach the starting point of the trek is to take an off-road local bus to Arughat or Sotikhola or hire a private jeep, which is more convenient. Riding a local bus to Sotikhola is less than USD 10 per person. If you choose the private jeep option, it will cost you approximately USD 190 to 200 each way to Arughat or if you want to continue further to Sotikholait will be USD 200-240. The same applies at the end of the trek from Tal or Besisahar to Kathmandu, and costs are also roughly the same. Between Tal and Besisahar, there are also local jeeps running every other hour which will cost you roughly NRS 1500 to 2000 (USD 18) for tourists and NRS 1500 for Nepalese.
|Trailhead Conditions of Manaslu Trek In July 2019|
|Due to the off-road trail condition, transportation to the trailhead of the Manaslu Circuit Trek has always been difficult. However, in July 2019 over 90% of the road was black-topped (particularly the muddy and dusty section between Dhadingbesi and Arughat). There has also been ongoing work to prevent road-flooding. It is believed the construction will be finished before the autumn trekking season of September – October 2019. For 2020 spring the trail condition will be much more comfortable for commuters. This is good news as now travelers will have more easy access to the Manaslu Circuit Trail even in the monsoon. Looking back in the past, the trail frequently used to close because of the monsoon, but this year local transportation running smoothly with no issues. IMG_SRC Arughat News:|
The hike to Manaslu typically starts from SotiKhola. Unfortunately, there is no direct public transportation from Kathmandu to SotiKhola. You have to take a private jeep or go by local transport. But for the adventurous at heart, what better way to experience a country than to travel as locals do. And of course, public transportation is more cost-effective than hiring a private jeep especially if you are by yourself.
The total distance is about 138 km (86 miles) between Kathmandu and SotiKhola. You need to take a local bus from Kathmandu to Arughat, and then a local jeep from Arughat to Sotikhola.
What is the difference between a local jeep and a local bus?
Local buses from Kathmandu are bigger and have more capacity, while what is called a local jeep in Nepal is more like a van than a bus. These are often crowded with less seat capacity and fewer seats (small-sized seats)! Basically that’s the difference between a local jeep and a local bus!
So what should you expect from the local bus/jeep ride?
- You should prepare yourself to fit in a small seat (where available). Miraculously, a 30-capacity bus can instantly fit 50 or more people so be prepared to share the space. Legroom may also be limited so enjoy stretching before you board the bus.
- The local bus to Arughat only leaves early in the morning each day at 7:00 am and 8:00 am, so plan to be at the local bus station at least 30 minutes before departure time.
- Make sure that your luggage is well covered by a bag cover or large plastic bag before placing it into the local bus as the ride is going to be really dusty.
- Make sure that you also wear dark color clothes and by all means, please use a face mask, hat, sunglasses, and scarf. Take water with you. Trust me, you will need this. If you have a window seat, it could be very sunny, so be prepared to use your scarf to block the sun’s rays.
- The first 90km of the road is well black-topped (this is between Kathmandu and Dhading) so your ride will be comfortable. However, after this, it’s a challenging ride, with dust, muddy and very narrow roads. This is where the adventure begins.
- The local bus will stop for a toilet break and lunch break in the middle of the ride. Savor this opportunity to taste local authentic food such as chicken and mutton (goat) curry with Dal Bhat (a Nepali set food with lentils and rice). Food in the local areas tastes different from Kathmandu.
- Request your agency to book a seat on the right side of the bus as this is going to be a very scenic ride offering rivers, gorges, valleys, snow-capped mountains, green hills, and rice terraces.
- And finally, after the ride, you will probably find yourself humming to a local folk song! Prepare yourself to listen to music and mingle with the friendly locals (and some chickens and goats if you are lucky!).
What to expect from a private jeep ride
A private jeep ride might be an alternative option for those who don’t want to compromise comfort (bearing in mind that you also have a couple of weeks ahead of you to trek and be outside your comfort zone most of the time). If you have some other trekkers to share this with, this is probably a better option. On the route, Kathmandu to Sotikholait is recommended to have a private jeep as this section is a really difficult trip compared to other local buses such as between Dharapani-Besishar and Besishar to Pokhara or Kathmandu. Please be reminded, however, that a private jeep does not have all the bells and the whistles you might expect. This will not be a top of the line vehicle or any luxurious fully functioning 4×4 car. Firstly, it is probably not going to be a new model. It will be at least 5 to 10 years old and have seen its fair share of mountain roads.
Do not expect it to be a fully functional air-conditioned jeep at all times. Most of the private jeeps that run on this section of the road don’t have air condition. The reason for this is because the mountain road combined with the altitude and challenging terrain requires high-power. For safety purposes and to ensure the car does not break down the driver will not turn on the A/C. So, you should expect it to be dusty and muddy even if you hire a private jeep. Just please make sure the windows are fully functioning as that is the only thing that separates you from being fully covered with dust after the trip.
The advantages of having a private jeep in between Kathmandu and Sotikhola are:
- Private jeeps can travel faster than a local bus. This is because local buses stop anywhere and everywhere for passengers. If you are short on time, this is the best way to go.
- Comfort-wise, private jeep provides enough legroom and safe storage for your luggage. In a local bus, you may find your luggage or trekking bags on top of the bus or separate from you if this is too big to be carried on the bus.
- Private jeep allows you to stop anywhere you need for lunch, snacks, and the nice viewpoints along the way (for that selfie perhaps?), and of course, the much-needed toilet break. Or sometimes, you just need to stop to stretch your legs.
- Private jeeps are also relatively safer on this road section compared to a local bus.
- The departure time from Kathmandu is also flexible so if you are arriving late in the morning from the airport and do not have a day to spare in Kathmandu to prepare the permit, this is the best option for you to start a trek in the same day after the permit is done.
How much is the cost of food on the Manaslu Trek?
Since Manaslu is still in a remote area of Nepal, the cost of food is generally more expensive here than in Kathmandu and menu choices are limited. Those who have been to other base camps in Nepal should be familiar with the rule that the cost of food increases as the elevation increases. This is because it becomes harder to transport the higher the elevation, particularly if the area is remote. From Sotikhola all the way up to LarkePass, supplies are being transported by men and mules, so you can imagine how much effort goes into each soup you will eat in the region. You may want to budget roughly USD 5-7 per meal. so maybe USD 20 to 25 on a daily basis. Of course, this would vary how much appetite you have and what beverages you drink. Also, breakfast is generally cheaper than lunch and dinner. If you have been to Annapurna, the cost is relatively the same. Everest is still more expensive than Manaslu and Annapurna.
What to expect from food in the Manaslu region
Basic necessities such as food are important and Manaslu is a very local remote area in Nepal, so if you are craving a certain food, make sure you get it in Kathmandu before you leave for your trek as continental-type food could be limited.
- Each teahouse offers a restaurant with (pseudo) continental food, which you can choose from the menu.
- Normally any vegetables served in teahouses are produced from their own field. This is usually organic, so good for your health.
- Not every settlement offers meat (chicken, mutton, and pork). Please note that beef is almost non-existent here. If they do, you should check with your guide if this is fresh before you placed the order. Because of the altitude and weather, it is sometimes difficult to raise animals for consumption. Storing meat over the winter can also be challenging. Better safe than sorry, so please ensure you raise this with your guide so he can check first.
- You won’t find teahouses anytime you are hungry. So for that extra boost, please bring energy bars or chocolate for the trip. It could make a lot of difference.
- “Dal Bhat power for 24 hours” The most common Nepali dish allows you to eat rice as much as you can, with no additional cost. Rice is good as you need carbohydrates for that trek!
- While it is generally clean, please take a lot of caution when buying local food or drinking water.
How much is the cost of tea houses (accommodation) on the Manaslu Trek?
I assure you, accommodation is not an issue at all in Manaslu as teahouses have started to spring up. It is widely known that the recent earthquake in the Manaslu trek area has affected the trail and most of the local houses were damaged, and even the teahouses were not spared by this calamity. Since then, along with the rest of the nation, the area has recovered and the trail and teahouses have been rebuilt. All tea houses are back in business and trekkers can be accommodated at any time without any issue. The cost for one twin sharing room is roughly USD 6 to USD 9 a night. If you are renting one room with two twin beds so you could sleep on your own, please be reminded that you must pay for the total cost of the room, meaning the cost for two people.
What to expect from accommodation in the Manaslu Region
You will eat next to where you sleep? Usually, there are ample teahouses for accommodation in the Manaslu Region, but please be reminded of the following:
- Basic private rooms with a shared toilet are mostly available throughout the trek. However, please expect one night in Dharmasala and GumbaLundang in Tsum Valley where you may need to share a room with other trekkers during high season or you may even end up sleeping in the tent.
- Bring a sleeping bag with you. Although beds, blankets, pillows, etc may be provided, you will not be sure that these are cleaned before you use it. Also, the weather could be very cold so a sleeping bag is a must.
- Extra blankets are provided in each teahouse with no additional cost except maybe for the one night in Dharamsala before the highpass. In this area, you are required to pay NPR 200-300 per additional blanket.
- Warm heaters or open fire will be provided in the communal dining area but only during dinner time. Enjoy the time here to mingle with local Nepalis and fellow travelers. Apart from this time, teahouses do not have heaters in sleeping rooms or communal areas.
- The toilets are very basic so please make sure you bring wipes or toilet paper with you (these are also available for purchase in the teahouses if you run out).
- Do not bargain! The menu prices are fixed!
- Do not enter the kitchen without permission.
- Teahouses usually charge additional for hot water for bathing or for charging mobile phones, cameras, etc. You may want to bring a power bank with you or some solar battery.
How much is the cost of drinks on Manaslu Trek?
The cost of tea and coffee are relatively the same as in other mountain region but slightly cheaper than in Everest Base Camp. This is because of the food transportation here is cheaper since they use mules, donkeys or yaks. Unlike in EBC where they use a helicopter and then a yak.
A cup of tea – USD 2.5- 4
A cup of coffee – USD 3 – 5
A bottle of beer (600ml) – USD 5-8
A bottle of water/soda – USD 2-5
Drinking water in the Manaslu Region
- Bottled water is available to buy in each settlement at roughly NPR 200 (USD 2) in the lower elevations and NPR 400 (USD 4) in the higher elevations.
- The majority of trekkers use water purification drops or tablets or a water filter to save money. (Our customers receive free water purification tablets. Please don’t forget to ask for these while you visit our office.)
- You don’t need to carry more than one or two liters of water during the day. Normally, the water source is available every one to two hours of walking distance where you can refill your bottles.
- Relatively, the water in the mountains is not as polluted as in the city and is usually drinkable. You will see locals and your guide drinking this water with no issues. However, to be safe, please make sure you use water purification drops
- Your body needs plenty of water at this elevation, so please target at least 4-6 liters a day.
- Carry at least one water bottle which is good for hot and cold water.
How difficult is Manaslu Trek?
Due to the long days before reaching high altitude, the success rate on the Manaslu Trek is much higher than Everest Base Camp or any other trek in Nepal. Based on our experience, around 99% of our groups managed to complete the Manaslu Trek with no altitude sickness issues. People who have no previous high altitude hiking experience have done this trek with no issue. Based on our company records the youngest child was 4 years and the oldest hiker was 72 who completed this trek with no issues. Extraordinarily, we manage to increase the success rate so high here at NEST because our guide is equipped with a medical device called “Plush Oximeter”. This device exactly gives the information to our guide, if the client is well acclimatized or not before proceeding to the high altitude. Which allows them to make a decision If the client is safe to bring in high altitude or need more days to get acclimated.
However, doesn’t mean it’s as easy as walking in the park. Most certainly you need to be physically fit. Watch this video to learn more about how difficult Manaslu trek is?
Trek essentials: what to pack for the Manaslu Trek
- No climbing ropes needed
- No ice ax needed
- No Goretex jacket needed
- No sleeping mat needed (unless you want extra padding!) as the teahouse will provide.
What you need are:
- Hiking boots (high ankle boots recommended and please wear them before you reach Nepal)
- Sleeping bag
- Crampon needed if the trail is icy. You can buy/ hire in Kathmandu (please contact your agency or contact us to know the trail condition).
- Down jacket
- Pair of thermal underwear to keep you warm inside
- Pair of easy dry hiking pants and spare
- Hiking socks (woolen socks are recommended)
- Hiking bag (minimum 50l+10)
Additionally, you could consider taking: warm hat/ head cover, scarf, sunglasses, lip guard, sun cream, trekking pole, headlamp, windproof gloves, water bottle, water purification drops, camera accessory, first aid kit, etc. A detailed trekking essential list will be provided upon request. Please email us.
Telecommunications and wifi facilities in the Manaslu Region
Only 40% of the area in Manaslu has a cell phone signal. However, most of the settlements have a satellite phone for emergency contact. Some lodges in Samagaun and Samdo also offer wi-fi for an extra charge. If you want to bring a 4G sim card with an internet package, we would recommend having Ncell. For less than USD 10, you can buy an internet package in Kathmandu. Make sure you have one of them before departure.
Manaslu Trek cost for Nepalese
The Manaslu Circuit Trek is not only for foreign tourists but is also a major trekking route for locals. Since the number of Nepali tourists has surprisingly increased, Manaslu and Tsum Valley have become one of the top destinations for them. Since I first published this article I have been receiving a dozen questions every week regarding the cost for local tourists.
Here is what local Nepali tourist should know about Manaslu Trek costs
- No trekking permit required for Nepali tourists
- Trekking guide or porters are not mandatory for Nepali tourists
- Local Transportation cost will be slightly cheaper for Nepali tourist compares to foreign tourists. (KTM-Arughat-Soti NPR600-700mDharapani-Besishahar NPR 1,500, and Besishahar-Kathmandu NPR500 – 700)
- Food cost: NPR 500 – 700 per dish which is the same cost as foreign tourists.
- Accommodation cost: NRS 300 – 700 per room
- Drinking water: free if you refill your own bottle or bottled water at NPR 200-500 per bottle
- Soda: NPR 300 – 500 per bottle
Other miscellaneous costs
It is widely known that if something requires extra effort, then please do not expect it to be cheap and you will be charged additionally in the mountain. For any trek in Nepal, the following are additional costs you may want to also factor into your budget:
- Charging your electronic gadgets: Such as a camera, mobile phone, etc definitely costs you a few dollars. The extra cost needs to be paid due to the high investment for the small local hydropower station in the community. As you will be in the mountains for many days you will definitely require to charge at least your phone or camera (as you would want to capture the sceneries for sure!). You might as well invest in a portable solar battery charger or a portable power bank. Extra batteries for your camera will help as well.
- Bucket shower (i.e. a pail of water): Water is heated by gas or firewood and it might cost you a few dollars each time. In the mountains please don’t expect to have a shower every day. Yes, as much as we want to do that, it is just not practical and economical. And if it’s cold you might not want to take off all your clothes! So you should be prepared to smell the same as yesterday for several days. And remember we will all smell the same! Instead of a bucket of water, another option would be to pack some wet wipes and use them instead. Please bring the used wet wipes back to Kathmandu for disposal as they are not biodegradable.
- Donations: If you visit monasteries, a gompa or stupa, although it is not mandatory, they do expect some small contributions for the maintenance of the premises. Costs here could vary.
- Tips for the support staff: After each trek, your guide and porter also expect some tips from you. Of course, this usually reflects on your experience during the trek. Usually, USD 80-100 is average for ten days trek.USD 5 to 7 per day. This is shared between the trekkers in the group. For example, if you are 10 people, expect to pay around $10 each for a trek of ten days.
As you probably gathered from your research, different companies publish different costs for the Manaslu Trek. This is probably very confusing as the cost range is relatively wide and it is difficult to decide which company to trust. If you are planning for the Manaslu Trek you should research a bit before you make the decision. For example, if you try to look up the cost offered by international travel agencies, the charges could be more than USD 2,000 but if you check with a local travel company in Nepal, the cost for the same package could reduce by a third. First-time travelers normally go with international agencies because of their branding and confidence regarding safety. However, I assure you that local agencies in Nepal can deliver a perfect Manaslu trek itinerary and the same level of quality at a fraction of the price. It actually doesn’t matter whether you go with the more expensive or the cheaper ones, as everyone sleeps in the same category as teahouses. There is no such thing as a 5-star tea house in the mountain region. In addition, you are also assured that you will be served the same quality of the meal.
As a rough estimate, the Manaslu package for 14 days could well range between USD 800 and USD 900 per person on a full board package. An international agency would ask you USD 2,700 for the same package. If you wish to pay for your own food and accommodation and just request the essentials from the local travel company (e.g. guide, porter, permit, and transportation), the cost will drop to USD 500 or USD 600 per head.
The Manaslu Base Camp Trek could be the right trek for that special group of adventure trekkers who want to explore the unexplored and not boast that they have seen Everest or have been to Everest Base Camp. This trek is for travelers who want serenity and quiet while trekking and not be on crowded trails as in the Everest or Annapurna areas during the trekking season. Anyone who has been to Manaslu can vouch for the unspoiled beauty of the area and we hope to keep it that way for the years to come. It is more remote than the other trails so you should be prepared to rough it as you travel and give up comfort for at least 2 weeks.
If you think, our expert team and local guides are suitable for your needs, please do not hesitate to contact us at (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). I hope I was able to answer most of the questions that you been searching for online. If I missed anything, please feel free to write and ask me a question in the comment section below.
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