Manaslu Circuit Trek Difficulty
Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of the most prized trek destinations in Nepal. It’s a beautiful mountain hike with varied landscapes, steep-sided valleys, serene lakes, and lofty mountains. The trek is a fantastic uncovered stretch with a series of long, strenuous trails that makes the journey exciting. The Manaslu Circuit Trek is regarded as having a moderate difficulty level.
Deep gorges and mountain ridges along the river valley, while further highland, up the steep mountain foothills, you’ll find a rugged trail leading to several rural settlements. Trekkers can see many scenic places and hidden beauty along the way.
They’ll also get in a lot of trouble while making their way up. Trekkers have to trek on unfamiliar trails with rocks and boulders to fetch up at the circuit. They spend hours and hours climbing the steep hills and traveling remote landscapes.
Trekkers are to walk the course of 10-12 km each day after the trailhead starts 136.2 km away from Kathmandu. They have to walk through wild forests and pass several villages to arrive at the circuit.
Since Manaslu Circuit is right below Mansiri Himal in the west-central part of Nepal, trekkers must pass the Larkya La, which is the toughest part of the trek. The long duration also makes the trek quite tiresome for hikers.
Therefore, they have to prepare themselves before the trek. Training and exercise have to be done sincerely, especially for amateurs. Trekkers also have to do all the planning ahead of the trek.
Manaslu’s unpredictable weather can create difficulty. Therefore, trekkers must monitor the weather forecast and adjust accordingly. They’ll have to acclimatize before heading up to prevent altitude sickness.
Trekkers will have to take safety measures and bring needed equipment with them to ease the trek. Several other factors make the Manaslu Circuit Trek difficult, and the article will provide detailed information about it.
Table of Contents
What makes the Manaslu trek Difficulty?
1. Steep and Narrow Trails
Hiking in Manaslu Circuit may seem fun and adventurous, with impressive views all the way around. But, in reality, it is tough and demanding. The trek is quite challenging, with long, unpaved foothills that are incredibly difficult to climb.
Walking the harsh terrains of Manaslu Circuit is painful as the greater part of the trek is steep with craggy hills and a clifftop. Trekkers will have to constantly climb the grueling stone stairs and walk over rocks to reach the pass.
You will ascend treacherous slopes and walk through the dense forests multiple times for days and weeks. Scramblings are required on the route to Larkya La Pass with the use of a hand for balance. Although it’s moderate climbing, you’ll still need a lot of strength and stability to ascend the mountain pass.
This trek alone can take up to 3 hours, which might look normal, but you’ll find it hard to finish due to inhospitable circumstances. Most Manaslu Circuit trails take 6 hours to finish, while some of them are ascended in -7-8 hours.
2. Cold and Unpredictable Weather
The weather in Manaslu is generally cold year-round but in winter. It’s brutal during the season with heavy storms and snow. The weather is frigid at the circuit, making the trek harder than it is. The temperature changes quickly and the weather, without hikers even noticing.
But, it’s not just winter when the weather conditions at Manaslu fluctuate. Even with the good weather forecast and bright sunny skies, the weather turns faster and soon gets overcast. You may often experience dark cloudy weather in the morning and afternoon, even when it’s not monsoon.
The risks of getting caught in the poor mountain weather are high during summer due to frequent downpours. This makes the trail muddy and slippery, giving you a hard time ascending the trail. The overflowing of water causes floods, landslides, and avalanches in different parts of the region.
3. Physical Training
Even though it’s simple trekking, climbing Manaslu isn’t possible without proper training and exercise. Even if you’re physically fit, you must work on your health. This will improve your stamina and skills to combat possible challenges.
Those who’re trained beforehand have a comfortable trekking experience. They’re less stressed about the trail and can quickly adapt to the varied atmospheric condition at higher altitudes. Trekkers who have infused cardiovascular exercise in their fitness routine can stand the jagged trails.
4. Altitude Sickness
Altitude Sickness is very much a challenge for trekkers going at higher elevations. It’s the result of different conditions, but mostly lower air pressure. Climbing trails at higher altitudes like Manaslu often witness trekkers struggling with altitude sickness.
The trail heading up the mountain brings acute mountain sickness to hikers. Symptoms of it start to develop from 2,500 meters and above. Trekkers higher than 4,000 meters are extremely challenging and risky for trekkers.
At the height, the atmosphere thins, and the oxygen level significantly lowers, making it difficult for trekkers to breathe. The common early symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath.
The mild cases can worsen but can still be relieved with medication. However, if the symptoms get severe, seek medical help or attention. If needed, descend the trail and take a rest before trekking again.
You can reduce the possibility of getting sick by trekking the cliffs and mountain ridges more slowly. The trek also requires a month of preparation followed by acclimatization and proper sleep.
5. Food and Accommodation
Teahouses are the most obvious and popular choice of accommodation at Manaslu Circuit. They are fairly reliable, conventional, and inexpensive. They provide you with the required facilities, but they are a bare minimum.
The services may not be anything you get in a fancy hotel and restaurant, but it’s still nice. They have single, shared rooms with beds, pillows, mattresses, and blankets. They have different budgets, but the facilities are kind of similar.
You might not get a wide variety of food in the teahouse as they normally serve authentic Nepalese dishes, dal, bhat, and tarkari. The meal also includes warm drinks like tea, coffee, and others.
You can have muesli, bread, egg, and porridge for breakfast. There may be other options on the menu, such as fried noodles, dumplings, and vegetable soup. You can carry your snacks and other protein bars to appease your hunger.
6. Heavy Backpacks
Trekkers at Manaslu Circuit have to carry their luggage along the trail. They have to bear the weight of the heavy backpack all along the way. Trekking on the rugged terrains of Manaslu whilst carrying the backpack is extremely tough and risky.
The unnatural position of carrying backpacks with heavy weight can cause neck, shoulder, and back pain. You might also injure yourself while climbing the steep trail with a backpack. To not get harmed, you can hire a porter who can help you with the luggage and make the trek easier and more comfortable.
Manaslu Circuit Trek Difficulty in Different Seasons
1. Spring (March-May)
Spring is a perfect time to go to Manaslu. It has pleasant weather with amazing scenery that’s a joy to watch. But, trekkers may have a little trouble making it to the top due to changing weather.
Manaslu awakens from winter in March, so the trek gets a bit challenging at the start. But as the weather improves and the temperature rises, walking the trail is no more pain. You can walk the trail more comfortably.
The hiking trails are open but crowded in the season. This may add to the difficulty level and cause discomfort. But, if you trek in late spring or early, you won’t find many trekkers on the trail.
2. Autumn (September – November)
Autumn is a peak season for trekking Manaslu Circuit. It has nice and lovely weather with a crumb of light wind breeze that makes the trek relaxing. You’ll get a mix of warm and cold weather in Fall. The weather is mostly warm during the day, making it easy to walk the trails.
The weather is normally stable, but it can see some fluctuations in climatic conditions. It’s difficult to predict the weather at higher altitudes, making it difficult to plan and preparation. Trekkers might have to stand cold weather during the season. A light snowfall at the end of the season can make the trail wet and slippery. So trekkers have to be careful while climbing the trail.
3. Winter & Monsoon
Winter & Monsoon are off-season. They are quite infamous for their poor and unpleasant weather. Trekking Manaslu in winter and monsoon only amplifies the trek challenges. The heavy downpour triggers floods, landslides, and storms along the trail.
The paths are muddy and slippery in the monsoon. Many teahouses and lodges remain closed during the season, so you should book the room in advance. You’ll also need proper gear like waterproof pants, jackets, and trekking poles. Summers are hot and humid in Manaslu, so carry sunscreen and a sunhat to prevent skin from UV rays.
Winter has frigid weather with icy cold mornings and nights. The temperature is below the freezing point in the season, making the atmosphere hostile. Winter brings heavy snowfall that covers the trail and makes it difficult to trek. You’ll need winter boots with crampons to climb the trail.
Tips to minimize trek difficulties
1. Acclimatization & Hydration
Climbing the trails at high altitudes is a burden. It’s tricky and strenuous with steep foothills, which reach a new height, making the trek harder. The trek presents a significant challenge at higher altitudes.
Therefore, trekkers climbing Manaslu must acclimatize and avoid trekking more than 300 to 500 meters daily. You must let your body adapt to the atmospheric change in mountains and its varying climatic conditions. It increases your ability to adjust to higher altitudes without having symptoms of acute mountain sickness.
Altitude acclimatization will help you trek the rugged trails with ease. Travel with medicines in case it’s needed. Ramp up slowly and stay focused; it’ll take the stress off you and make it comfortable trekking.
Another easy feat to avoid altitude sickness is sleeping down at lower elevations than what you have gained in the day. Make sure to drink enough water to prevent the loss of strength and stamina. If you’re dehydrated, you‘re more likely to be exposed to the sickness.
2. Hiring Trek Guides
The long and strenuous trails of Manaslu are hard to trek alone. They can deceive you and sometimes even put you in trouble. The winding trails of Manaslu can faze you and make you lose your way.
Hiring a guide is the right choice as they’ll help you navigate the right path. These professional guides will help you along the way and get you safely to the circuit. They’ll take care of all your logistics, food, and booking.
These guides will provide you with all the required facilities to help you trek. They’ll be guiding you throughout the way and help you learn about different places while hiking. These guides can also help you interact with the locals and learn about their culture and lifestyle.
They’ll lead you through extensive hikes throughout the trekking adventures. The trekking guide will steer you on rugged terrains and mountain slopes, making the trek safer and easier.
3. Get training before starting the actual hike
Manaslu Circuit Trek is a moderate Himalayan trek with several ups and downs but isn’t too dramatic. The trail has many harder sections with steep slopes, which are fairly hard to climb. You’ll either huffing and puffing up the hill or pulling out from the trek.
You may even injure yourself while climbing the rocky terrains in remote areas. Therefore, getting proper training and exercise before hiking Manaslu is important. This includes muscle building, increasing strength, and improving stamina.
The workout plan must be well-designed and incorporate aerobic and cardiovascular exercise. This helps improve your health and fitness. Training for elevation gain is essential as it’ll help you adjust to the weather at high altitudes.
You can try hiking different trails both short and long. The trek also requires a lot of planning and packing. You’ll need plenty of gears to hike the circuit. So, buy the equipment according to your need and if you may, train using it.
4. Choosing the right time for trekking
Manaslu Circuit trek is open all year round. You can trek it anytime, but some parts are difficult to hike in winter. The weather is icy cold in the season, making the trek awful. Hence, you’ll have to be more cautious when planning the trek to get perfect weather conditions.
Classically, there are two ideal seasons for Manaslu Circuit Trek; Spring and Autumn. Autumn has incredible weather with crowd-pleasing scenery that keeps you busy throughout the journey. The warm and pleasant weather in autumn makes the trek easier and a bit comfortable.
The whole Manaslu Conservation Area looks spectacular in the fall. The changing color of tree leaves, clear-blue skies, and overflowing rivers offer great sightings. You can also see vibrant valleys and shimmering mountains during the trek.
The spring has its magic and charm and of course, the weather. It has a nice climate that trekkers fascinate and enjoys very much. The weather is mild and warm in the daytime, but frosty in the afternoon.
Manaslu just awakens from winter in spring, so the weather is still cold early in the season. The trails are open but covered in deep snow at the higher grounds. You may also encounter wet and muddy trails, which are hard to grasp.
Despite that, it’s incredible to trek in spring as it provides impressive scenery to visitors. Its crisp and clear weather provides an unobstructed view of Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, and Himal Chuli. You can explore the undulating landscapes, beautiful valleys, and monasteries along the trek.
Trekkers walking through the alpine forests of Manaslu will encounter varied wild animals and birds, including musk deer, Himalayan Tahr, and snow leopards. You’ll see full-bloom rhododendron and wildflowers in the woods, which makes the trek smoother.
5. Personalized Itinerary
Since we offer a pre-planned itinerary, you’ll get to travel stress-free. We can maximize the time and even work on the itinerary per your need. We can provide you with a detailed itinerary before the trek.
This will give you a brief idea about the trek and what plans must be made. If you cannot complete the trek or have serious health issues, we’ll fly you back in an emergency. We can also make a few stops at the village for you and quickly explore the town.
Foods and accommodations will be catered to your interests. They will be customized according to your budget and time. You don’t have to rush or continue the journey if you can’t.