Manaslu Circuit Reconnaissance Trek
In early September this year, 2015, Langtang Ri Trekking & Expedition sent a team of five trekking guides and support staff to investigate conditions on the famous Mount Manaslu Circuit trail. We had not had any overseas clients request to trek this trail since the April earthquake, so we thought we should trek the trail ourselves and see if conditions are favourable to accept international visitors again.
Mount Manaslu itself is a beautiful twin-peaked mountain boasting an 8,163m summit, first climbed by a Japanese party in 1956. But the natural beauty, unspoiled people and culture of the region has attracted thousands of trekkers over recent decades. The region is one of those “best kept secrets” that only those that do their research get to learn about and then make the effort to visit. While the big name trekking routes of Everest and Annapurna get all the headlines and most of the visitors, it is special places like the Manaslu Circuit and the districts it traverses that give visitors a much richer insight to Nepal and its people – and the mountain scenery is spectacular too!
Limited Earthquake Impact
The start of the circuit trail is located at the village of Soti Khola in the huge Budhi Gandak river valley about 170km west of Kathmandu. There region traversed by the Manaslu Circuit trail is located well to the west of the April earthquake epicenter. But while some damage was certainly experienced at villages along the trail the extent of damage was very much less than the epicenter region over 100km to the east.
Our team initially walked for about four days northward up the valley through the villages of Tatopani and Jagat and on towards far northern villages such as Ghap almost in the shadow of the border with Tibet.
International trekkers welcomed
It was in these initial sections of the trail where earthquake damage was evident. But since April the local people had completed repairs to most damaged buildings. Our team found the local people as happy and welcoming as they have ever been. The importance of international visitors to the region was very evident where ever our team went. Local people encouraged our team to return with visitors soon. On a number of occasions we found the people working hard to widen and improve the condition of the walking trail, in part to ensure international visitors return to the region.
Our team found facilities for visitors to be good along the trail. Many local people also talked with our staff about opportunities for home-stay visitors and people wishing to spend a little more time experiencing the unique culture, music and folklore of this wonderful region of Nepal. There seems to be a mystic in almost every valley that can spin wonderful tails of gods and demons and spiritual enlightenment that would capture the imagination of visitors.
On to the Annapurna Sanctuary
Our team continued westwards in the high Himalayas to the north of Mount Manaslu and then turned south-west into the Annapurna Sanctuary region to complete the trek at Besisahar. Even less impact from the earthquake was observed in this part of the trail, however the local people were just as welcoming and keen to see visitors return.
Manaslu Circuit Trail Open for Visitors
Our team enjoyed the reconnaissance trek and returned to Kathmandu very confident the region is ready to accept trekking groups once again. While some repair and improvement works will continue for some time they will have but a minimal impact on visitor experience.
Our team also made new friends on the trail and identified new opportunities for exploration and local cultural experience that visitors may enjoy. So we feel we are now even better placed to guide visitors through the region and help them experience the real Himalaya with Langtang Ri Trekking.