Quietly tucked away in the centre of Nepal along the Tibetan border, between two of Nepal’s more popular national parks is the protected Manaslu Conservation Area. Despite being situated above Nepal’s most historic city, Gorkha (origins of Nepal’s first king) and being home to its namesake Himalayan giant, Manaslu, this region is only just beginning to gain trekking popularity.
Unlike other popular trails in Nepal, this trail begins close to sea level in a subtropical climate at 530m! We follow the Budhi Gandaki river upstream into Upper Manaslu via a deep and narrow gorge trail with countless cascading waterfalls that feed into the river in summer and autumn. The trail meanders through traditional Gurung farming villages and dense sal forests on both sides of the river by crossing suspension bridges. We steadily climb into low and high alpine climates, to lands inhabited by Bhotia people (Tibetan descendants). In Sama gaon we take an extra day to acclimatise and explore Sama gaon monastery, or for those feeling energetic, a day hike to the base camp of the 8th highest mountain and a beautiful glacier lake. We cross the long glacier traverse of Larkya La pass (5106m) from which you will enjoy a panoramic vista including Manaslu, Cheo and Himlung. Over the pass we walk out through the Marshandgi valley, following the Dudh river in now the Annapurna Conservation Area in Manang through Magar villages.
- Spectacular views of Manaslu
- Beautiful gorge trek through subtropical forests
- Traditional farming villages of Gurung and Magar hill tribes
- Buddhist Tibetan culture of Bhotia people
- Manaslu base camp
- Crossing Larkya pass
Trip GradingThe significant altitude range involved in this trek requires good fitness. Some days include long steep ascents and descents, through remote and less tourist serviced sections. Prior trekking experience is recommended to join this trip.
Food & Drinks
A Himalayan Ascent representative will collect you from the airport. It’s a free day to recover from your international flight. Later in the evening, there will be a group briefing and welcome group dinner.
This is a free day for you to explore the crazy, yet wondrously beautiful city of Kathmandu. Home to 5 World Hertiage sites, Kathmandu is a stunning landscape of handcrafted wooden palaces (durbar or palace squares of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur) and glorious Buddhist stupas (Swayambu and Boudhanath). It’s a city that stimulates all senses, so be prepared because Kathmandu is a city that demands attention.
We drive out of the Kathmandu valley exiting via the busy west gate of the city, and down the hillside with direct views of the Langtang mountain range. The windy road eventually turns right into Gorkha district and up to Arughat, our trailhead. We have the afternoon to explore this little riverside town as we prepare for our trek.
We follow the Budhi Gandaki river north passing Gurung and Magar farming villages, and through forests noisy with monkeys. During summer especially and also autumn, large waterfalls stream down gorge cliffs feeding the Budhi Gandaki river. It’s a refreshing sight in the heat at this low altitude. However, be prepared for fun and wet stream crossings!
We continue to follow the undulating trail along the river and through sal forests. The gorge narrows against steep cliffs and dense forest, and then widens for pleasant riverbeds. There’s a steep climb up to Machha khola or “fish river” for our night’s stop.
At Tatopani or “hot water” you can stop to enjoy a natural hotspring bath under a cliff. After crossing a suspension bridge to the other side of the river, there’s a climb up stone steps to Dobhan.
The trail continues on the true left of the river until Thado Bharyang just below the town of Jagat. We cross the river to Jagat, and to more prominent Buddhist communities as seen by chortens and mani walls in the villages. The route crosses the river again and up to Philim.
From Philim we enjoy more thunderous waterfalls and a sensational gorge walk high above the river. The trail then wanders through pine and bamboo forests to the Gurung town of Deng.
The Budhi Gandaki river thins further as we continue the journey now high in Upper Manaslu. We trek north-west in parallel to the Tibetan border only 5km north when we reach Ghap. Maniwalls and chortens welcome and well wish travellers through villages inhabited by Bhotia tribes, Tibetan descendants who migrated into the Nupri valley. We trek through forests filled with alpine rhododendrons and oak trees up to Namrung.
As we journey deeper into the Nupri valley, the Bhotia way of life and devote Buddhist culture can be appreciated in each village. Old monasteries or “gompas” can be seen positioned high above the trail route. Look south-west for your first views of the twin peaks of Manaslu (8163m), and south to take in Himal Chuli (7893m, 18th highest mountain).
To allow for adequate acclimatisation before crossing our highest point at Larkya La pass, we will spend an extra day in Sama gaon. You can visit the local monastery that offers splendid views of Manaslu, spend the day hiking the steep trail up to Manaslu base camp (4500m, 7-8 hr for the 1000m climb and return) that passes the beautiful Birendra Tal glacier lake or stay in with a good book.
Today is an easy day that traverses north up the valley through birch and juniper forests. We pass stone huts, mani walls and cross wooden bridges to reach Samdo. Samdo is the old trading centre for routes between Tibet and Nepal.
It’s a slow but short climb towards Larkya glacier and our pass crossing. We walk to the glacier terminal moraine passing through a barren high altitude landscape consisting mostly of juniper shrubs. The popular northwest ridge route to Manaslu can clearly be seen as we hike up to Dharmsala.
Depending on conditions, the pass is a long snow and rock traverse on Larkya glacier. To avoid unpleasant afternoon winds, we start the crossing early in the morning. Walking first up the rocky glacier moraine and then onto the pass itself, it’s a slow trudge at high altitude. However, the panoramic view from the high point is a spectacular scene encompassing Himlung, Cheo and Kang Guru. The 1.5 hr descent follows steep switchbacks on a rock scree. Trekking poles are advised, and even crampons if conditions are icy. Eventually the track drops into a grassy meadow which we follow to Bimthang.
This is mostly a downhill day except for a crossing of Karche pass (2710m) as we now follow the Dudh river or “milk river” south into Manang and the Annapurna Conservation Park. The trail to the classic Annapurna circuit trek connects at Dharapani. We see the familiar sights of Gurung villages in Tilje as we move further south from the Tibetan border and Bhotia communities.
Our last day of trekking is another gorge trek down the beginnings of the mighty Marshyangdi river. The evening meal at Tal will be shared with our portering staff whom we will farewell the next day.
Everyday on a trek is an adventure in Nepal, even a humble bus drive! We take an interesting drive down a new road that connects Tal to Besisahar along the river. You’ll be happy to see the small town of Besisahar, our rest for the night.
We return to Kathmandu via the same route. Once in Kathmandu, you have the afternoon to rest. A massage is recommended! The next day is a free day to catch up on shopping and sight seeing before your departure home.
We bid Kathmandu and Nepal farewell….until next time.
Inclusions & Details
- Trekking permits
- 4 nights Kathmandu hotel
- trekking guides
- transport in Nepal
- extensive high altitude wilderness first aid kit
- all lodging on trek
- all meals outside Kathmandu
- porters to carry personal gear
- down jacket
- sleeping bag and expedition duffel
- international flights to Kathmandu,
- meals in Kathmandu (USD 10-15 per meal),
- aerated and alcoholic beverages,
- personal items (e.g. phone calls, laundry),
- travel insurance (incl. early departure and rescue) and personal trekking gear.