Not so long ago, the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal used to be the best trek of its kind—the sort where you can trek for up to 14 days around one of the highest mountains in the world. Such a trek would span two separate Himalayan river valleys separated by a 5,000m watershed pass, and traverse through some of the remotest cultures and fantastic ecologies under the shadow of the tallest mountains in the world. Sadly, these days, the Annapurna circuit is anything but, overrun as it is by hordes of trekkers and multiple tea houses that make the trek possible for thousands every year. Add to that the steady road building activity that nibbles away on the trail on both sides of the trek, and you have an iconic trail that’s losing its charm.

However, just one valley to the east lies the Manaslu Circuit, which is almost unknown outside of dedicated Nepal hands. This trail goes up the Budhi Gandaki River to the 5,100m Larkye La on the shoulder of the 8,156m Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world. The trail passes through the Mansalu Conservation Area which protects the natural flora and fauna of the region. The upper reaches of the trail are dotted with Buddhist villages with monasteries that play an active role in ecological preservation. In other words, a smaller footfall of trekkers and better conservation has resulted in a lovelier Himalayan experience. You can do this trek this April with South Col Expeditions (click on the link to know more) led by the experienced trek leader Sujoy Das. The trek is for 14 days between April 16 and 29. It begins from the village of Arughat on the Budhi Gandaki, and over the next 10 days, the trail steadily climbs up from the tropical valleys to the trrline and to the arctic zones under the Manaslu ridge. The trek then crosses the Larkya La and then to the Marsyandi Khola river where the trail meets the Annapurna Circuit. The trip cost comes to approximately 90,000 for Indians and $1,600 for foreigners. Last we checked, there were only a few seats left, so hurry!