Manaslu Circuit: When I think of the memories that will stay with me forever, there is no doubt that watching a meteor shower among some of the world’s highest mountains in the silence of the Himalayas is a memory I truly treasure.
For those who don’t keep track of the world’s highest mountains, Manaslu is the eighth highest in the world, and the trek around Manaslu takes the small number of visitors above the snow line over the Larkya La pass, itself over 5,100 meters above sea level. The route itself meets the nearby Annapurna trek route for the last few days, but for the majority of the trip, the colorful tea houses and tourist facilities are charmingly absent on this wonderful trekking route.
Tropical Forest To Alpine Scenery
Unlike the trekking route to the Everest Base Camp, the Manaslu Circuit begins at low altitude and includes a gradual ascent which helps to manage the altitude. The first day of the route begins at the town of Gorkha, with the steep climb to the temple at the top of the hill certainly challenging, but the views from the hill are well worth the effort, with a spectacular panorama view over Mount Everest and the high Himalayan peaks from the first campsite.
The first few days take the trek through the tropical climate of the valleys, where lush greenery and woodlands have been pushed back to provide space for rice paddies and several other crops, with some farmers we met offering a taste of the beautiful crop from their fruit trees.
Climbing To Altitude
As we ascended into the Alpine surroundings above 2,000 meters, the first suggestions of the change in altitude were felt through a mild headache, but after a week in the tropical lowlands, the cool air in the evenings was a pleasant change. The route took us through the stunning Budhi Gandaki gorge, with narrow paths traversing the steep slopes of the valley, with only the occasional pony caravan or village providing a change of scenery from the beautiful river valley. Carrying and drinking enough water is a big challenge as you ascend to altitude, but the bowls of hot soup in the evening meal are certainly a tasty way to rehydrate after a day on the trail.
Crossing Larkya La
After a half day’s walk to the camp just below the pass, the final day took us above the snow line and on to the pass itself, and while it is certainly a day to savor, it is also very challenging. The stunning mountain scenery and the remarkably clear blue lakes early in the day are sensational. The pass itself is the highest point on the trek, and after a well-deserved break to enjoy the view, it was all too quickly time to descend on the path that would take us back down through a stunning mountain valley. While it is definitely the most challenging day along the route, it is also hugely rewarding.
While I ventured out of the tent in the cold evening for a bathroom break, it was in the camp at the foot of the pass in Bimthang where I saw the meteor shower and was given a wonderful memory to treasure.
The route down the valley on the other side of Manaslu is equally beautiful, with the peace of the route continuing down into the small town of Dharapani, where the route joins the Annapurna circuit until Besi Sahar. For the last few days, the facilities are much more modern, and the chance to sip a cold Everest beer is difficult to resist after such a wonderful adventure.