Trekking in the Manaslu region
The Manaslu region was not opened for trekking until 1991, and it was so remote and relatively unknown that for a long time it was only possible to trek in the region by camping. In the last few years however the region has become more and more popular, with many citing the main Manaslu trek as the “best trek in Nepal.” Stunning mountain scenery, an incredibly diverse landscape ranging from lush temperate forests to pine trees to high barren passes, and beautiful welcoming Tibetan-influenced villages in the Tsum area distinguish Manaslu from other treks as a way to get a taste of much of Nepal’s mountain culture. Villages have opened teahouses along the trekking routes to welcome travelers, and Manalsu has recently become possible to do entirely as a teahouse trek. *The Manaslu region was hard-hit by the 2015 earthquake, and most if not all villages in the region suffered damage – for some the damage was extreme. However, in the almost year and a half since the earthquake and aftershocks, many villages – particularly those along trekking routes – have rebuilt the worst of the damage, and Manaslu is once again ready to welcome trekkers this fall 2016. Trails have been inspected and repaired and, by all accounts, new fixes have made many sections of trails better than they were before the earthquake.
As with many trekking areas in Nepal, the best season for trekking in the Manaslu region is in the fall, post-monsoon season (late September-November) and the spring (April-May). Manaslu receives plenty of rainfall and is susceptible to landslides during the monsoon storms, and can get lots of snow – making trekking routes difficult and sometimes dangerous – during the winter. However, as with the Everest region early winter can be a good shoulder season, so long as trekkers are aware of weather reports and the higher areas have not yet been blocked by snow.
As the Manaslu region’s popularity increased over the years, so did the number of trekking lodges in the region. Although basic, lodges are adequate and usually less expensive than lodging in the Everest region during high trekking season. Trekking in Manaslu used to only be possible as a camping trek, but in recent years it has become possible to do entirely as a teahouse trek. *Reports confirm that most villages along popular trekking routes in Manaslu have rebuilt lodges – so as of the fall of 2016 Manaslu is once again possible to do as a teahouse trek.
There are no health facilities along popular trekking routes in the region. In case of emergencies, helicopters have rescued travelers with insurance coverage, and there are telephones in some villages as well as some cell phone coverage.
The Nupri people in parts of Manaslu are culturally influenced by Tibet – and in fact they paid taxes to Tibet until the 1800s. As a result, much of their dress, customs, and cuisine heavily resemble Tibetan traditions. The Nupri still have close ties with Tibet and continue to trade with the region. Other peoples in other parts of Manaslu, like in the Everest region, celebrate many Tibetan-influenced Himalayan festivals. Lhosar – Tibetan New Year – is perhaps the best known and which falls in late February or early March. The masked dances and the Tibetan opera are a sight to behold.
The starting point for most treks in Manaslu is the village of Arughat in Gurkha district, and often ends in Besi Sahar. Besi Sahar is also the starting point for most people doing the Annapurna Circuit. Buses, micros, and private jeeps can take people to Arughat and other nearby villages directly from Kathmandu.
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