Manaslu, at 8,163m, is the 8th highest mountain in the world. But that bare fact doesn’t convey the beauty and majesty of this peak, as it looms above the Budhi Gandaki valley in north west Nepal. Just like the Annapurna massif to its west, the Manaslu area is also home to a long circuit trek which goes around the mountain, crossing over from the Budhi Gandaki valley to the Dudh Khola valley, which is one of the tributary valleys of the Marsyandi river.

The Manaslu Circuit is quite special for many reasons. One of these is due to the fact that you pass through all the different climactic zones of the Himalaya when you do this trek. Starting at the village of Soti Khola at around 500m, the trail passes through temperate forests, deep gorges, forests of pine and rhododendron and high meadows above the treeline before traversing glaciers and climbing up to the 5,100m Larkye La at the head of the Budhi Gandaki valley.

You also cross various cultural zones, from the Hindu villages at the beginning to the Tibetan Buddhist ones higher up. The trek ends at Dharapani on the Annapurna Circuit trail after some 14 days of walking. It’s not a trek for the faint of heart, but nor is it a forbidding one. Along the way you get to see spectacular peaks like the Ganesh Himal, Himalchuli, Peak 29, Manaslu, Manaslu North, Samdo, Cheo Himal and Himlung, to name just a few. The wildlife of the area is pretty spectacular too, from musk deer, tahr and the bharal to snow leopards in the upper reaches of the valley. If you’re looking for the ultimate all-purpose Himalayan trek, then this is it. 

Stay tuned as we’re going to bring you a feature story on the Manaslu trek as well as a video feature  soon.

A pony train crosses a shallow channel of the Budhi Gandaki river below the village of Maccha Khola
A pony train crosses a shallow channel of the Budhi Gandaki river below the village of Maccha Khola
Bibek Bhattacharya
Trekkers cross a suspension bridge beyond the village of Jagat. A common feature of all Nepal treks, these suspension bridges, first introduced by the Swiss, are a lifeline for the inner mountain villages


Bibek Bhattacharya
A waterfall cascades down through a forest above the village of Bihi, deep inside the Manaslu Conservation Area
A waterfall cascades down through a forest above the village of Bihi, deep inside the Manaslu Conservation Area
Bibek Bhattacharya
Cloud banners drape the Budhi Gandaki valley, beyond the village of Namrung. As the trail enters the high country, spectacular granite pinnacles appear, while fields of barley add colour to the rugged scene
Cloud banners drape the Budhi Gandaki valley, beyond the village of Namrung. As the trail enters the high country, spectacular granite pinnacles appear, while fields of barley add colour to the rugged scene
Bibek Bhattacharya
A first view of Manaslu as it looms over Lho village at dawn. The imposing and sheer granite cliffs west face of Manaslu gleam white in the early morning light
A first view of Manaslu as it looms over Lho village at dawn. The imposing and sheer granite cliffs west face of Manaslu gleam white in the early morning light
Bibek Bhattacharya
A trekker passes by a Kane gateway in Lho village. The upper villages on the circuit are Tibetan, and Lho is home to the region's biggest Buddhist monastery
A trekker passes by a Kane gateway in Lho village. The upper villages on the circuit are Tibetan, and Lho is home to the region's biggest Buddhist monastery
The Lho monastery with Manaslu in the background
The Lho monastery with Manaslu in the background
Bibek Bhattacharya
A couple of Himalayan Tahr out for a walk
A couple of Himalayan Tahr out for a walk
Bibek Bhattacharya
The village of Samagaon, a large Khampa Tibetan settlement sits right under Manaslu, ensuring that you get views like this
The village of Samagaon, a large Khampa Tibetan settlement sits right under Manaslu, ensuring that you get views like this
Bibek Bhattacharya
Like most treks in the Nepal Himalaya, the Manaslu Circuit too is a tea-house trek. There are good lodges at every stop, with comfortable rooms and decent food. Two such lodges in Samagaon with the Naike peak in the background
Like most treks in the Nepal Himalaya, the Manaslu Circuit too is a tea-house trek. There are good lodges at every stop, with comfortable rooms and decent food. Two such lodges in Samagaon with the Naike peak in the background
Samagaon is at an altitude of 3,500m. This makes it a perfect place to tarry for an acclimatisation day. You can take day trips to the nearby glacier lake of Birendra Tal under the Manaslu Glacier. A trekker lines up a shot at Birendra Tal with the Manaslu Glacier in the background
Samagaon is at an altitude of 3,500m. This makes it a perfect place to tarry for an acclimatisation day. You can take day trips to the nearby glacier lake of Birendra Tal under the Manaslu Glacier. A trekker lines up a shot at Birendra Tal with the Manaslu Glacier in the background
Bibek Bhattacharya
A Bharal or a Himalayan blue sheep grazes on the steep moraine slopes above the trail leading to the Manaslu Base Camp. The Manaslu Conservation Area is a protected region, and the beautiful wildlife here wanders free from any fear of human poaching
A Bharal or a Himalayan blue sheep grazes on the steep moraine slopes above the trail leading to the Manaslu Base Camp. The Manaslu Conservation Area is a protected region, and the beautiful wildlife here wanders free from any fear of human poaching
Bibek Bhattacharya
A waterfall on the tangled icefall of the lower Manaslu Glacier. The roar of giant seracs crashing is a constant companion on the trail to the Base Camp
A waterfall on the tangled icefall of the lower Manaslu Glacier. The roar of giant seracs crashing is a constant companion on the trail to the Base Camp
Bibek Bhattacharya
A Mane wall with Buddhist mantras inscribed on it, on the trail to Samdo village from Samagaon
A Mane wall with Buddhist mantras inscribed on it, on the trail to Samdo village from Samagaon
Bibek Bhattacharya
A Khampa Tibetan man with his pony
A Khampa Tibetan man with his pony
Bibek Bhattacharya
The giant east face of the 7,893m Himalchuli catches fire at dawn
The giant east face of the 7,893m Himalchuli catches fire at dawn
Bibek Bhattacharya
A sunrise view of the distant Cheo Himal
A sunrise view of the distant Cheo Himal
Bibek Bhattacharya
Himalayan pigeons huddle for warmth in the morning chill in the nooks of a Kane gateway at Samdo. Himalchuli and Simrung Himal in the background
Bibek Bhattacharya
The gigantic east face of the 6,620m Samdo peak looms over Samdo village. Many trading passes cross over to Tibet from the village, most just a few hours' walk away
Bibek Bhattacharya
A trekker on the trail to Larkye Phedi from Samdo
A trekker on the trail to Larkye Phedi from Samdo
Bibek Bhattacharya
A herd of Bharal at Larkye Phedi, the 4,460m camp before the crossing of the Larkye La
A herd of Bharal at Larkye Phedi, the 4,460m camp before the crossing of the Larkye La
Bibek Bhattacharya
A porter pauses as the sunrise reaches the glacier trail from Larkye Phedi to Larkye La. Most trekkers begin the day's walk around 4am and walk for a couple of hours in freezing temperatures. At these altitudes is best to take things slow and reach the crest of the pass before mid-day. To the left are the peaks of the Larkye Himal
A porter pauses as the sunrise reaches the glacier trail from Larkye Phedi to Larkye La. Most trekkers begin the day's walk around 4am and walk for a couple of hours in freezing temperatures. At these altitudes is best to take things slow and reach the crest of the pass before mid-day. To the left are the peaks of the Larkye Himal
Bibek Bhattacharya
Trekkers crossing a snow-field on their way to the pass
Trekkers crossing a snow-field on their way to the pass
Bibek Bhattacharya
A trekker ties a Buddhist prayer flag at the Larkye La. The 5,160m pass divides the Budhi Gandaki valley and the Dudh Khola valley of the Annapurna region. In the background are the high ridges of the Cheo Himal
A trekker ties a Buddhist prayer flag at the Larkye La. The 5,160m pass divides the Budhi Gandaki valley and the Dudh Khola valley of the Annapurna region. In the background are the high ridges of the Cheo Himal
Bibek Bhattacharya
A beautiful rock and ice pinnacle to the west of the pass. After crossing it, the trail descends to the village of Bimthang at the confluence of three glaciers
A beautiful rock and ice pinnacle to the west of the pass. After crossing it, the trail descends to the village of Bimthang at the confluence of three glaciers
Bibek Bhattacharya
The view from the snowed-in Bimthang village looking north. To the right are the sheer walls of Cheo Himal and in the centre, the peak of Himlung, 7,126m high
The view from the snowed-in Bimthang village looking north. To the right are the sheer walls of Cheo Himal and in the centre, the peak of Himlung, 7,126m high
A pony train enters Bimthang with the northwest face of Manaslu in the background
Bibek Bhattacharya
Trekkers taking photographs atop the moraine ridge of Hampuk
Trekkers taking photographs atop the moraine ridge of Hampuk
Bibek Bhattacharya
Rhododendron blooms in the upper forests of the Dudh Khola valley
Rhododendron blooms in the upper forests of the Dudh Khola valley
Bibek Bhattacharya
White rhododendrons light up the mountainside
White rhododendrons light up the mountainside