Promising you a journey of a lifetime amidst the Himalayan wonders of Nepal, the Manaslu Circuit trek is one of the best trekking destinations in Nepal. Although not as popular as the Annapurna Circuit or the Everest Base Camp trek, this trek takes you to the most unwandered corners of the country.
With the richness it provides in terms of cultures, authentic village experience, and the rawness of the Himalayas, this trek is the perfect alternative to other popular trekking routes, hence called ‘The New Annapurna Circuit’.
As you circumnavigate the eighth highest peak globally, Mt. Manaslu, pristine valleys and stunning landscapes unfold amidst you accompanied by the breathtaking panorama of the mountains, displaying mother nature in her full might.
However, this reward doesn’t come easy as the Manaslu Circuit Trek has its own set of difficulties. As you go along the untouched trails of the Himalayas, you will come across challenges like altitude, unpredictable weather, difficult trails, and what not.
While the trek can be daunting even for someone with trekking experience, one can successfully complete the trek with sufficient preparation. This blog aims to guide you and equip you with enough knowledge about the trek and its challenges before you embark on it.
Preparation in terms of Physical Fitness
Although enjoyable, the Manaslu Circuit trek is equally daunting in terms of challenges. Given the testing distance of Manaslu trektrek along the rugged trail that it features, physical fitness is paramount to successfully complete the Manaslu Circuit trek.
During the trek, you are expected to cover the 177 km (about 109.98 mi) distance on foot on elevations crossing 5000 m while carrying certain weight, that too without much rest. Therefore, it is important that you start your preparation at least a couple of months before your journey.
As you will be trekking in areas with less oxygen, cardiovascular strength is a must to help tackle altitude sickness. Set an exercise regime with cardio for endurance and leg strength as the foundation.
You will come across many steep ascents and descents throughout the trail. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you go regularly for hiking. If any hiking route isn’t available in your location, going up and down the stairs of a tall building helps as well.
Get into the habit of walking for at least 5-6 hours every day, and to be able to easily carry the weight of your luggage during the trek, carry a certain weight simulating the conditions of the actual trek. Start with your regular-weight backpack and gradually increase the weight for your ease.
Indulge in activities like running, aerobics, cycling, swimming, along with your regular workout to strengthen your respiratory health and your stamina. A 45-minute run on the treadmill every day could help you along the undulating terrains of the region.
You can include different kinds of exercises in your routine based on your preference. Starting from yoga to core workout, everything helps build a strong physical foundation if done right. Just make sure to focus on the right areas of your body like legs, calves, shoulders, hips, and back.
The Manaslu Circuit trek lasts for around 14-16 days (about 2 and a half weeks) depending on your itinerary, and while this might look fine at a cursory glance, it is actually quite a long and challenging period to be in the trekking circumstances.
Factors like lack of oxygen, high altitude, long everyday hours of walking, lack of proper rest and familiar comfort, and unpredictable weather can highly cause fatigue and stress. Along with this, impacts on mood and cognitive function can be observed due to increased elevation.
These challenging conditions presented by the trek can often be testing for your mental resilience. Therefore, mental fortitude is as important as physical strength to successfully tackle the psychological aspects of the trek as it can sometimes mark the thin line between conquering the challenges or giving up.
It is highly advisable to practice mindfulness to develop a positive mental attitude prior to the trek. Being informed about every aspect of the trek also helps you to be mentally prepared for your expectations regarding what is to come.
Visualization exercises play a crucial role in overcoming your anxiety as you visualize yourself successfully conquering all the challenges and coming out on the other side of the trek. It works almost as manifestation and helps you handle your hurdles better while delving into the stunning landscapes.
During your expedition along a trail as difficult as the Manaslu Circuit trek, careful attention to your health and medical considerations is paramount to prevent the exacerbation of any health issues, if any, in a region so inaccessible.
As the area is quite remote with no connectivity to the road, immediate access to healthcare is not available at your disposal. Therefore, it is highly recommended to take a full body checkup before the trek so that you are aware of your health conditions.
One of the major health issues faced by the trekkers during the trek is altitude sickness, which can sometimes even be life threatening. Therefore, measures should be taken to prevent altitude sickness like acclimatization and slow hiking while giving proper time for your body to adapt.
It is advisable to stick to a plain diet, preferably vegetarian food while on the trek to avoid food poisoning. Hydration is very important along with avoiding alcohol.
For the worst-case scenario, you should carry a broad-spectrum antibiotic along with bandages and ointments for common ailments.
Gear Checklist and Packing Tips
Packing the appropriate gears and equipment is the key to successfully conquering the Manaslu Circuit trek given the challenging weather conditions and the rugged terrains. The basics of a comprehensive gear checklist would include appropriate clothes suitable to tackle unpredictable weather from warm to freezing cold temperatures.
Clothing suitable for trekking includes absorbent base layers, insulating clothes for warmth, along with windproof and waterproof outer layer. Proper trekking shoes along with waterproof trekking boots are a must with ankle support and a good grip to tackle the steep ascents and descents.
Besides this, you should carry a backpack with a rain cover to easily carry all your gear while keeping in mind the weight of each item. Trekking pole can provide you with the required stability and support throughout the trek.
A four-season sleeping bag and a puffy jacket are indispensable items that you must carry irrespective of the season of travel along the Manaslu Circuit trails. Among the personal items, a first aid kit is mandatory to carry along with all your medicines, toiletries, and things that you will compulsorily require.
For a detailed packing list for the Manaslu Circuit trek, read on.
For embarking on the Manaslu Circuit trek, few permits are compulsory along with the presence of a guide as it is an area restricted by the government of Nepal. Therefore, you should be prepared in advance with all the documentation needed in coordination with a reputable local travel agency such as Ace the Himalaya.
The permits needed to embark on the Manaslu Circuit trek are:
- Manaslu Conservation Area Permit (MCAP)
- Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP)
- Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) Card
- A Special Restricted Area Permit (RAP)
These permits help you access the region along with providing security as it keeps a record in case of emergencies. Therefore, you should be prepared to present these permits at different checkpoints along the trek.
As you traverse the pristine Manaslu region, it is your responsibility as trekkers to embrace the ‘Leave No Trace’ principle to leave the trek equally beautiful for fellow future trekkers. You should always carry your trash with you until you find an appropriate place to dispose it off.
Another thing that you ought to be careful about is where you are trekking as the region is very delicate with scarce vegetation. You should continue your trek through the well-established trails and be mindful not to step on the fragile vegetation in the area.
This region is home to a huge species of flora and fauna. However, as the ambassadors of the Himalayas, you are expected to observe them from a distance, not disturbing the course of nature.
The guidelines provided above are enough to help you with thorough preparation for your culturally and scenically enriched odyssey around the Himalayas. So, start your preparation and embark on this adventure of a lifetime with Ace the Himalaya!