This is a near perfect trek. It is a stunningly beautiful area where you have a grandstand view of the big mountains yet they are intimate, and there is much that is culturally fascinating. Magnificent sunrises and sunsets on big white peaks – we can’t get wait to go back!
Ramesh of Nepal Mountain Trekkers had organised everything really well, and our guide Min, and porters, DB and Bikash were excellent and were fantastic companions.
We very much recommend our itinerary as below.
We drove from Kathmandu to Gorkha, then to Barpak to start the trek. This is a big prosperous village, which was the epicentre of the earthquake in April 2015. We walked from there to Larprak over a ridge, Mamche, at 2,700 metres. There are great views of Ganesh Himal from Mamche.
Larprak was also badly damaged and there is a huge reconstruction effort to rebuild it in a safer site, New Larprak.
We walked from there to join the main Manaslu circuit at Khorlabeshi, by the thundering Bhudhi Gandaki. We followed the river, to Jagat, and then headed into the amazing Tsum Valley.
We passed through Lokpa to Chumling, which is a delightful village. There are beautiful terraced fields and mature Bhutan pine forests. We visited the newly constructed health post, built to be earthquake resilient and using local material as well as traditional building methods.
After Chumling, we walked to Gumba Lungdang. That’s a lovely walk through pine, hemlock and birch forest, with views of Ganesh 1 and 2, and Lumbo Himal as well as more distant views of Himalchuli and Ngadi Chuli. The monastery was nearly completely destroyed and if you want to stay there, it is best to have your own tent. The nuns do have 3 tents but they are not in good condition. They do feed you well though from their vegetable garden. There are awesome views of Ganesh Himal if it is clear.
We walked from there to Chhokang Paro, another delightful village, with lots of mani walls and chortens. Look out for the Tsum Valley Café run by Pema – he had been a barista at Himalayan Java in Kathmandu, and makes fantastic espresso, cappuccino, macchiato etc. What a delightful and surprising treat!
From Chhokang Paro, it is an easy walk to Nile through beautiful fertile large flat fields, the amazing and valuable productive land of the upper Tsum Valley, and lots of chortens, mani walls and gompas leave you in no doubt that you are in Buddhist land. Beyond the fields, the near vertical walls of the valley become the snow capped 6,000 metre+ peaks of Cherke Himal, Kipu Himal and Langju Himal.
Mu Gompa is fascinating and from there you can see sunset and sunrise on Ganesh 2 to the south.
We went from there to Bhajyo at 4,030 metres. It is a beautiful spot, though you need tents to stay here – a wonderful place to relax, with Langju Himal and Tabsar towering over you. We walked from there to another pasture, Thongbu, 4,500 metres, to get a clear view of the pass and chorten on the border with Tibet.
From there, we retraced our steps back to Mu Gompa, then to Nile, where we stayed in delightful Mingma’s Homestay. We went from there back to Chumling, Lokpa, then re-joined the main Manaslu circuit trail and on to Deng,
From Deng, it is worth visiting Bihi village, above the main trail at Bihi Phedi. Bihi is a lovely traditional village, which hardly sees trekkers, and there is a newly reconstructed school, built of wood, again with earthquake resilience principles and very aesthically pleasing with traditional styles. We walked to Namrung, which is charming.
The next day we walked to Lho and up to the impressive Ribung monastery.
From a viewpoint close to the monastery, we saw sunrise on Manaslu – absolutely awesome.
The walk from Lho to Samagaon is spectacular, we passed through the sleepy village of Shyala, where there is a magnificent amphitheatre of mountains – Himalchuli, Ngadi Chuli, Manaslu, Naike Peak, Larkye peak, Samdo Peak, Saula Himal. It is truly heart stopping.
Samagaon is a delightful village and what a location. One could easily spend days there. We made a day hike to Manaslu Base Camp – fantastic views of the huge shimmering glaciers and of Manaslu, Manaslu North and Naike peak. We got nice cups of tea at base camp – they were on a lull, the October climbers had gone and the November ones had not arrived yet.
We tore ourselves away from Samagaon, to Samdo, which is high and fascinating. It is a Tibetan village that moved over the border to its current location when the Chinese entered Tibet in the 1950s. It was very icy and white when we were there. We had hoped to walk to the border with Tibet, but the snowy conditions made this difficult.
From Samdo, it is an easy walk to Dharamsala at 4,460 metres. It was perfectly clear and the views of Samdo Peak, Naike Peak, Larkye Peak, Cheo Himal, Manaslu and Manaslu North were wonderful.
Dharamsala accommodation is not great, but the location is staggering. We were extremely lucky and had a perfect crossing of Larkye La, seeing sunrise on Larkye peak; and as we headed down, the most amazing views of Cheo Himal, Himlung, Pongkar peak, Kang Guru, then Lamjung Himal and peeping over it, Annapurna 2. We passed by large glaciers, the Salpudanda glacier and walked down to Bhimtang.
Bhimtang has the most wonderful sunsets and sunrise and is surrounded by a myriad of high peaks.
From Bhimtang, it is a very fine walk to Gho, through an ancient and magnificent forest, with regular views back onto a cirque of white fluted peaks and glaciers.
Gho is a proper village, with fields of buckwheat and millet, and flower gardens and we stayed at a lodge with a warm solar shower…
After Gho, we drop down to Dharapani to join the Annapurna circuit. We stayed in gorgeous Tal with its waterfalls, pretty gardens and delicious food.
From Tal the first part of the walk to Syange is beautiful with the thundering Marsyangdi river in a deep gorge. After that we hit the road, and from Syange, we took a jeep to Besisahar. – and from there, by car, back to Kathmandu.