By Anuj Pandey, General Manager
I have been enjoying a lot of perks of my Job. Every year I get chance to hop on treks with international groups and go to remote and exotic locations. This time in April, I had the pleasure to lead a medical group to one of the newly growing areas of Nepal and do the Manaslu Circuit Trek and I must say, the experience is one of a kind!
Beside the well-known Everest and Annapurna treks, Manaslu Circuit trek is also being increasingly popular these days. Turned into a tea house area few years back, the trek is of the same difficulty level as of the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit Treks but offers something totally unique compared to those noted treks. The raw and pure nature, mixture of Hindu and Buddhist (Tibetan) culture, lesser crowd, typical flora and fauna, spectacular mountain views, visit to the base of the 8th highest mountain- Manaslu (8,156m) and the crossing of Larke Pass (5,106m) are the reasons why more and more trekkers are opting for this trek these days. Many people who have been trekking in Nepal for a long time say that the trek gives the impression of trekking in Nepal some 10-15 years ago.
Manaslu Circuit Trek Itinerary
The trek has a standard 16 day itinerary starting and ending in Kathmandu but this can be easily customized depending on the timeframe one has and one’s interest to skip the motorable path. A few days can be added in if you want some extra time to acclimatize, want some personal time in the mountains or do some side trips to Tsum valley. However, here I will go with the standard itinerary in detail with the major highlights.
Day 1: Drive to Soti Khola (Approx. 775m) via Arughat
Drive time: 7-8 hours (4 hrs asphalt road and 3-4 off road)
Lunch: Dhading Besi
Hotel: New Tsum Valley
Tip: Good to leave Kathmandu early to skip the traffic at Thankot. You can either take a private Jeep, Bus for a bigger size or share a bus to Dhading Besi and get a local jeep to Arughat and then continue to SotiKhola.
Day 2: Trek to Machha khola (Approx. 900m)
Walk time: 5-6 hours
Hotel: Manaslu Inn
Day 3: Machha Khola to Jagat (Approx. 1300m)
Walk time: 7-8 hours
Hotel: Jagat Guest house
Tip: After two and half hours from Jagat, you reach Tatopani, a natural source of hot water. Sit down for a hot tea and freshen up.
This is the first check post for the permits.
Day 4: Jagat to Deng (Approx. 1,860m)
Walk time: 7-8 hours
Lunch: Ekle Bhatti
Hotel: Windy Valley
Tip: Have some time for good photos after 20 mins’ walk. You come across a suspension bridge with 2 beautiful waterfalls.
Day 5: Deng to Namrung (Approx. 2,560m)
Walk time: 7-8 hours
Hotel: Namrung Guest house
Day 6: Namrung to Lho (Approx. 3,180m)
Walk time: 4-5 hours
Hotel: Tashi Delek Guest house
Tip: After Lunch, you can hike up to the monastery, which offers great views of Manalsu.
Day 7: Lho to Samagaun (Approx. 3,580m
Walk time: 3-4 hours
Hotel: Gurung Guest house
Day 8: Rest at Samagaun
This day can be perfect to enjoy the views of the majestic mountains and make side excursion. One can hike up to the Birendra Lake (3,450m), a beautiful glacial lake for a short walk or to Manaslu Base Camp (4,700m) for a long walk. This Base Camp is the starting point of all Manaslu expeditions.
Day 9: Samagaun to Samdo (Approx. 3,875m)
Walk time: 3 hours
Hotel: Tibet Twin lodge
Tip: You can have excursion to Tibetan border.
Day 10: Samdo to Dharmashala (Approx. 4,460m)
Walk time: 3-4 hours
Hotel: Dharmashala Camp
Tip: Early dinner and early sleep is recommended for next day’s early start to cross Larke Pass. There is only one hotel in Dharmashala with additional units of tents. The hotel is very basic. Have a sense of adventure!
Day 11: Cross the Larke Pass (5,106m) to Bhimthang (Approx. 3,720m)
Walk time: 9-10 hours
Lunch: Packed lunch after crossing the Pass and then good late lunch upon arrival at Bhimthang
Hotel: Ganga Manaslu Guest House
Day 12: Bhimthang to Tilje (Approx. 1,963m)
Walk time: 5 hours
Lunch: Surke khlola
Hotel: North Face Hotel
Day 13: Tilche to Jagat (Approx. 1,300m)
Walk Time: 5-6 hours
Hotel: Paradise Hotel
Day 14: Drive to Kathmandu (1,400m) via Beshishar
Drive Time: Jagat to Besishar (2-3 hours)
Besisahar to Kathmandu (6 hours)
Hotel: Marshyangdi Hotel
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Accommodation: Tea house trek is easily possible in Manaslu area. However, the teahouses are pretty basic. It will be a good idea to have a personal sleeping bag (-20) with you for the trek, especially for Dharamasala. In the Itinerary above, I have listed the comfortable accommodation options available.
Fooding: The fooding options are also a bit basic compared to Everest and the Annapurna areas. Go for local food like Dal bhat, chapatis, Potatoes, noodle soup, fired rice and noodles. Meat is too hard to find but still refrain from eating them; eggs are easily available in all the hotels.
Water: Water is easily available in all the hotels and there are few taps along the trail. A Lifestraw or Sawyer bottle will come in very handy or water purifiers shall also be okay.
Electricity and Charging: The charging facilities are very less in the areas. It will be very helpful to take a power bank or solar charger (Goal zero) for the trek.
Communication: The area has very limited connectivity. CDMA phones are available in some places like Jagat, Philim, Samagon and Tilje. Also, there is Internet option available in Philim, Deng, Syal and Samagoan. Wifi facilities in the lodges cannot be fully trusted but the good thing is card Internet, Everest Link like in the Everest area has been started in the area. This Internet facility is reliable and fast but is a bit expensive. (200mb costs USD 5)
Security: The Manaslu circuit trek is a safe area to trek. However, there are few sections which have possible threat of land slide (with rock fallings). So one should be careful, especially in the stretch from Khorla Besi-Tatopani-Dobhan and Jagat-Deng. One should also watch out for the passing ferry mules. Always make sure that you are not on the exposed side of the trail while giving way to them!
Equipment: Apart from the regular trekking gear like boots, jackets, trousers, caps, gloves, sunglasses etc., make sure you carry a pair of mini crampons- they will be a life savior. Do check if your guides and support staffs also have one.
Permits: Manalsu area is a restricted area and Solo trekking is not possible. A registered guide is also mandatory to complete this trek. You need to have Manaslu Restricted area permit issued for minimum of 2 persons. Along with that, you also need to have Manaslu Conservation Area Project fees whereas TIMS card is not required.
(This is a personal account of Mr. Anuj Pandey. It you want to have more details on the trip, please contact him at email@example.com For more details, you can also go to: https://www.explorehimalaya.com/packages/manaslu-circuit-trek/ )
Medhavi Davda, one of the attendees of International Travel Bloggers and Media Conference 2017 http://htmnepal.com/program/itbmc/, has recently posted her travel story on Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar Trek in her blog http://www.ravenouslegs.com/ . Though she was in Nepal solely for the conference, she could not resist the charm of Nepali Himalayas and instantly packed her bags and set off for Everest Base Camp, one of the most sought-after adventure trails in the world. Medhavi’s refreshing details take us to the very base of the mighty Everest and make us enjoy every corner and every stone of her journey including the overwhelming moment she had at the first sight of Everest. As Everest Base Camp Trek is always one of its kind, so is the story of her trek! Explore Himalaya is really delighted to be a part of her lifetime experience. To enjoy her journey in full detail, please visit http://www.ravenouslegs.com/blogs/trek-to-everest-base-camp-and-kala-patthar
If you are next in the queue, you can also visit her next blog for detailed guidelines http://www.ravenouslegs.com/blogs/handy-guide-and-tips-for-everest-base-camp-trek-in-nepal . You will never remain without thanking her!
This year’s Himalayan Travel Mart http://htmnepal.com/overview/ was a huge success in many ways. Apart from promoting Nepal as an elite adventure destination in global context, it also brought together a group of professional International Travel Bloggers, International Media and Travel Photographers who did not just share their expertise on Blogging and Media but also spread some words to the world about their travelling experience in Nepal. Swati Jain, a loved Travel blogger cum freelance Travel writer from India is one of them. She has recently published two articles titled Celebrating Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra of Nepal and Understanding the Evolution of Indra Jatra in Depth in her widely read travel blog Bouyant Feet https://buoyantfeet.com/
In her first article “Celebrating Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra of Nepal”, Swati Jain has taken us through her 4 day-experience of action packed Indra Jatra festival held at Kathmandu Durbar Square and its vicinity. As much as she is surprised by the festival itself and some perks of her unpreparedness, readers will also be equally amazed by the way she presented the energy and liveliness of the festival. Needless to say, the colorful images have added life to her sensuous details. In the meantime, she hasn’t missed the opportunity to give us some meaningful details about the festival, which is undoubtedly an added advantage as many readers still have some blurred ideas about the festival. Swati is actually bold enough to accept her prior ignorance!
“So if you are one those like me, who think that this prestigious festival is limited to the living goddess of Nepal and expects to read the same in this blog, hang on till I share its long history and significance. My myths were shattered.”
Finally, she has some wise tips that are sure to help you if you are the next one to enjoy this vibrant festival. For full story, https://buoyantfeet.com/2017/10/06/celebrating-indra-jatra-kumari-jatra-of-nepal/
As promised in her earlier blog, Swati Jain has given a full detail on both Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra in this article. The festival is not enlisted as an off beat cultural interest in travelers’ bucket list and neither is the festival a virgin area for the writers. However, Swati stands out in this particular writing! She has traced the festival right from the myth making day and has brought down the cumulative history to the present day by associating the evolution with the major historical epochs of Nepal. Quite a feat! So, if you are a myth hunter, or want to have an in depth insight into the festival, or just interested in some unexplained facts about the festival, the article is a right answer for you. For full story,
If you want to enjoy the festival more intimately, you can also visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFNg-kwtS-g&t=3s
HAPPY READING and HAPPY WATCHING!!!
Sometime preparation is more exciting than the festival itself. Tihar, Nepali’s second biggest festival is probably one of them. The festival, that immediately follows Dashain, the biggest festival, is one of the highlights of autumn season in Nepal. Nepal’s autumn is normally not considered to be as colourful as the one in the west. To be honest, we don’t have the second spring with all those colourful maple leaves, mellow pumpkins and scary stories! However, autumn is not less exciting as we have Tihar, the festival of lights and flowers!
Preparation of Tihar is all about buying, buying and buying! So, as the days draw closer, you will come across an unmistakable crowd in almost every chowk of Kathmandu. The streets of main bazar get thronged with people from early morning. They get so full that if you can save yourself some space to behold the spectacle or can make it to the other end of the street without squeezing yourself, you are lucky!
As the festival is all about rituals, flowers, lights and delicacies, the shopping list goes really long. And equally long is the row of different stalls on the either side of the streets. The stalls are laden with flowers, jhilimili (electric lights, paper decoration etc), bhai masala (a concoction of nuts and dry fruits for brothers) and an exhausting array of ritual items. Every item is weaved with myths and is equally important. So people don’t miss any of them, which is why the shopping spree seems to be never ending. Evenings are really beautiful as the shops are lighted with all those colourful lights. If you are around New Road, you won’t want to miss the extravagant decoration of jewellery shops there.
So walking down the streets during Tihar can be a rewarding experience as it offers you not just the fun of a festival, but also the chance to witness a different dimension of Nepali culture! Just be a bit prepared for the impatient crowd and unruly traffic, and the fun is all yours!
Flowers are the foremost prerequisite for Tihar. The flowers used in the festival are exclusively sayapatri (marigold), godawari (chrysanthemum) and makhamali (globe amaranth). Sayapatri (literally hundred petalled), with its golden hue is the flower that matches the mellowness of the season. Sayapatri is used for both garlands and house decoration. Whereas, makhamali and godawari are used just for garlands only. It is believed that makhamali never gets withered. So, sisters offer makhamali garland to brothers on bhai tika, the fifth day of the festival, with a wish that their brothers would remain immortal like the flower.
Another thing people don’t miss in Tihar is lights. Lights are used for both ritualistic and decorative purpose. People light their houses with colorful lights from Laxmi Puja, the third day of the festival. People use diyo (a small clay lamp with a cotton wick), candles and electric lights that come in different shape and size.
One of the main delicacies of Tihar is bhai masala. It is the concoction of nuts (cashew nuts, almond, raisin, walnut etc) and dried fruits, offered by sisters to brothers on bhai tika. A stall or shop without bhai masala is a rare sight.
The shops and stalls are heaped with different ritual items ranging from walnut to seven colored tika. Some of the items that include the seemingly endless list are rato mato (red mato), amala (Indian Gooseberry), citrus fruits, coconut etc. Though it seems like a herculean task to know the name of all items at once, you would enjoy the neat arrangement displayed in all its glory!
Monsoon is considered as the off-season for trekking in Nepal. However, with a huge portion of Great Himalayan Trail, Nepal offers a wide range of option for trekking. Some of the rain-shadowed regions here provide the possibilities of trekking in Nepal during monsoon. The isolation of theses restricted areas is the best part of these trekking. One more reason to trek to these places is with no phones or lights, one can get disconnected to the world and purely enjoy the nature.
Except in the winter, the region can be trekked anytime of the year. The rain-shadowed valley also known as the forbidden kingdom has preserved the Tibetan Buddhism spread by Guru Rinpoche over the centuries. The region also holds several important cultural landmarks with the arid landscape like the desert making this trek more attractive. The hospitality of people of this region makes your stay even better.
The most isolated region of the country is popular as a must do trekking in Nepal. The rain-shadowed region is one of the strenuous trekking. However, the rewards of the trek can overcome the effort you give. The Bon Po (people of Dolpo) following the Bon religion influenced from Tibet and their culture is the highlight of this trek. Next, is the remoteness of the area. Apart from this; landscapes, views of the snowcapped mountains, monasteries including Shey Gompa are the reason why this is a must do trekking.