Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya is an experience like no other. Boasting the highest mountains in the world and steeped in centuries old culture, it’s no surprise that it attracts so many visitors. The Everest region and Annapurna regions are the biggest draw, and as a result, they’re also the places most stretched by visitor numbers, their environments most stressed by development. By contrast, the Manaslu region, a relatively recent addition to the trekking landscape, offers a chance to experience a quieter side to the Nepal Himalaya, and witness a more traditional side of life along the way. Comparisons aside, the Manaslu Circuit Trek offers a journey through dramatic and varied landscapes, and is a worthwhile trek in its own right.
Here we’ll give an account of our experience in the Manaslu region, along with daily details on distances, times, elevation and accommodation. Every day has a short Relive video* (except the Larke Pass day… whoops) which is a great way to get a sense of the landscape. And to fully appreciate what the Manaslu Circuit is like, you can watch our complete Instagram Stories from the trek (part one/part two), along with our video below.
*Some of the Relive distances are wildly inaccurate due to GPS failings, particularly in deep, steep-sided valleys. If you see the route zig-zagging up the mountain for no apparent reason, don’t worry, this is not the trail.
Fancy tackling the Manaslu Circuit Trek yourself? Find out everything you need to know to plan your trek in our complete Manaslu Circuit Trekking Guide.
On our most recent trip to Nepal, we set out on the longest trek of our lives. To say we were excited is an understatement of mammoth proportions. For the best part of 40 days we journeyed through the majestic Himalaya to places we’d never been before – a variety of destinations from busy popular routes to those less often visited by the average trekker. Our trek took us round the popular Annapurna Circuit and on to Upper Mustang, but first, Manaslu.
Read through our account day by day, or jump to a particular section by clicking on the links below
DAY 0 – KATHMANDU to ARUGHAT BAZAR
DAY 1 – ARUGHAT BAZAR to SOTI KHOLA
DAY 2 – SOTI KHOLA to MACHHAKHOLA
DAY 3 – MACHHAKHOLA to JAGAT
DAY 4 – JAGAT to DYANG
DAY 5 – DYANG to LUNGA CHHUYDA
DAY 6 – LUNGA CHHUYDA to LHO
DAY 7 – LHO to SAMAGAUN
DAY 8 – SAMAGAUN to PUNGEN GOMPA to SAMAGAUN
DAY 9 – SAMAGAUN to SAMDO
DAY 10 – SAMDO to DHARAMSALA
DAY 11 – DHARAMSALA to BIMTHANG
DAY 12 – BIMTHANG to DHARAPANI
MACHHAKHOLA to JAGAT
JAGAT to DYANG
DYANG to LUNGA CHHUYDA
LUNGA CHHUYDA to LHO
LHO to SAMAGAUN
SAMAGAUN to SAMDO
SAMDO to DHARAMSALA
DHARAMSALA to BIMTHANG
BIMTHANG to DHARAPANI
We’ve marked the Manaslu Circuit trekking route on the map below, along with key villages and sights along the way. Tap the menu button at the top left for more details, to toggle layers on and off, and switch between satellite and terrain view.
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP (ONLINE VERSION)
To save this map to use online on desktop or mobile just tap the star symbol at the top. When you open Google Maps on your phone, navigate to ‘Saved’ at the bottom, then swipe along to ‘Maps’ at the top. You’ll find this map in your list of maps.
On desktop, click the three lines at the top left, select ‘Your Places’, then ‘Maps’. Click the map, then scroll down and select ‘Open in My Maps’ to access the interactive version.
Alternatively, just tap the rectangle symbol at the top right of the map in this blog post to view the My Maps version larger on desktop.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to view this version of the map offline, but we’ve created a similar version for offline use as per below.
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP (OFFLINE VERSION)
Maps.me is our go-to offline mapping app. We find it straightforward to use for planning routes in advance, as well as navigating on the trail. It doesn’t drain our phone battery, and it’s quick and easy to save and organise ‘bookmarks’. There are many trails already marked on Maps.me, plus you can download and import a KML track of your route to the app.
To use Maps.me, first download the app (iOS/Android). Hover over the region or country that you want to visit and the app will prompt you to download this map. Once downloaded, it can be viewed offline.
You can tap anywhere and save it as a ‘bookmark’ by tapping the star symbol at the bottom. Hit ‘Edit Bookmark’ to personalise the bookmark colour, organise your bookmarks into different folders, and rename them.
You can navigate easily or plan routes in advance by tapping your start point and selecting ‘route from’, then tapping your end point and selecting ‘route to’. Tap the car, walking, or cycling symbol at the top of the screen to indicate your mode of travel. If you want to plot a different route to the one suggested by Maps.me, just tap a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) bookmark between the start and end points and select ‘add stop’.
Maps.me shows the distance and travel time, plus elevation profiles for hiking trails. Note that the estimated time isn’t always reliable, but we’ve always found the distance and elevation gain/loss to be largely accurate. It only shows very basic contour lines.
You can track your progress on the trail using GPS. The arrow shows your direction of travel. Tap the compass at the top right of the screen to keep the map in a fixed position (the arrow will rotate). Alternatively, tap the arrow at the bottom right of the screen to rotate the map in the direction of travel (the arrow will stay in a fixed position).
Gaia (iOS/Android) is another offline mapping app that is very useful. It shows the contours in much more detail than Maps.me, as long as you have previously viewed the section of map online. With a paid membership you can download various maps in advance for offline use. The app has existing OpenStreetMap trails marked and you can import GPX tracks and view them offline. You can also create new routes online yourself and export them as GPX or KML files. You can navigate easily on the trail using the arrow that shows your GPS location. Unlike with Maps.me, it isn’t possible to quickly check distances between two points (or at least we haven’t figured out a way to do it). There are a lot of useful features in the free version and even more benefits if you have a paid annual membership, so if you spend a lot of time outdoors it is worthwhile learning how to use the app to its full advantage.
In our experience, Gaia drains your phone battery much quicker than Maps.me, even in flight mode, so it’s best to shut down the app completely each time you finish using it.
OsmAnd Maps (iOS/Android) is another great offline mapping app with lots of useful features. In our opinion, it’s not as intuitive as Maps.me, and it has so many features that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Like Gaia, we recommend checking out the written and video tutorials on the OsmAnd website to learn how to fully use the app. The benefits of the app include being able to plot routes in advance and save them as GPX tracks, and to view detailed elevation and terrain information, including surface types. You can also import GPX tracks. One downside is that the free version does not include contour lines, but these can be added via a paid plugin.