While the Everest region attracts the jet setters and bucket list-tickers, and the Annapurnas get more roads and crowds, the Manaslu Circuit and remote Tsum Valley remain the province of those who are willing to walk, spend the time necessary to access the region, and escape the hordes. We spent 20 days trekking, over 300 kms on foot, crossed 5000 meter pass and saw beautiful and wild terrains.

Trekking Season:

March to May and October to December.
We started our trek on October 1st and finished October 20th and continued to the Annapurna Circuit for another 10 days.

Permits and Regulations (for 4 people)

Guide ($20 per day) – $440 (22 days) – 2 days extra payment for our porter guide for his fare going home.
Permit – $155 – ($70 for the 1st week and $10/day after plus $35 for a Tsum Valley permit for 7 days).
MCAP – $20/each (for the Manaslu Circuit)
ACAP – $20/each (for the Annapurna Circuit)
TIMS – $10/each – TIMS is needed when exciting Darapani & when trekkers continue  to the Annapurna Circuit. (Rules is $10 each if there’s a guide and $20 each without a guide)

Additional Expenses:

$180 – Jeep from Kathmandu to Arughat (we had planned to take the local bus, but due to the Dashain holiday it wasn’t running)

Itinerary, Experiences and Day to Day Expenses:

Below is our day to day itinerary, experiences and expenses for 2 persons.

Note: WALKING TIME includes our break time, taking photos and lunch. TOTAL EXPENSES, the amount we spent for the whole day. The prices of Daal Bhat, rooms, and tea are just comparisons for every village and guest houses we stayed in.

Jeep from Kathmandu to Arughat, Manaslu Circuit

Day 1  – Kathmandu Arkhet Bazar

Driving Time: KMT to Arughat – 9:30 AM – 4:30 pm
Altitude: Arughat (510m)
Walking Time: Arughat to Arkhet Bazar- 5:00 pm – 6:20 pm

We initially planned to take a bus from Kathmandu to Arughat but due to the Dashain Festival there were none available. It took us 2 hours to finally find a private jeep that would take us to Aurughat.

The road is in generally poor condition, dusty and full of potholes and after 6 hours of driving we were  very happy to have rented a private jeep. We arrived in Arughat by 4:30 pm covered in dust. We decided to start our trek to the next village which is about 1 and half hours walk and spent the night in Arkhet Bazaar.

Stay: Diamond Hotel.
         Room: 400
         Daal Bhat: 400
         Milk Tea/cup : 40
         Hot Shower, Charging, Wifi: Free
Total Expenses : 2,240 Rupees

Day 2  – Arkhet Bazar – Machakola

Altitude: Machakola (869m)
Walking Time: 6:30 am – 5:30 pm

A supposed-to-be 5-6 hours of flat road and easy trail took us more than 11 hrs. Not because we were slow but because our guide took us to a trail that we jokingly called “the shortcut”.

We ascended from 500km to 1,500km to a trail with no other trekkers but only locals trekking along the way. We ended up bushwhacking through beautiful rice terraces and millet fields.  This was the most punishing start but seeing the beautiful views & terrain with no other trekkers in sight made it worth getting lost. We arrived almost in the dark in Machakola.

Stay: Chum Valley Hotel
          Single Room: 400
          Daal Bhat: 480
          Hot Shower: Free
Total Expenses : 2,990 Rupees

Day 3  – Machakola – Jagat

Altitude: Jagat (1,340m)
Walking Time: 7:00 am – 4:20 pm
Check-point: Jagat

After walking for more than 11hrs on the previous day, Day 3 was a lot easier. Crossing from the bridge, we trekked through beautiful Sal forest then climbed to a bridge over the Budhi Gandaki. The trail weaves up and down passing countless cascading waterfalls and abundantly growing ganja (marijuana) along the trail.

Jagat begins the restricted area of the Manaslu Circuit so prepare your MCAP permit here. This is the first check-post for checking permits and registered guides on the Manaslu trek. The officer told us that our porter/guide’s papers were no good and that he was not a registered guide. As this wasn’t our responsibility (we had paid the trekking agency to do this), we left our guide to deal with the issue.

Stay: Jagat Guest House
         Single Room: 300 , Double Room: 400
         Milk Tea/cup: 80
         Daal Bhat: 500
         Hot Shower: 250 – Cold Shower: Free
Total Expenses: 2,885 Rupees

Day 4  – Jagat – Lokpa

Altitude: Lokpa (2,240m)
Walking Time: 7:00 am – 2:240 pm
Check-point: Philim

With the permit issue from the day before we thought we might have a big problem on Day 4 but we were greeted by our guide with a big smile and a card clipped on his shirt showing that he was now a registered guide!

We trekked along the riverbank with lots of up and downhills before we passed Sirdibas village and then crossed the Budhi Gandaki River on one of Nepal’s longest suspension bridges. From the bridge we started a very steep ascend to Philim.

We had our permits checked in Philim before we continued our trek towards Gumbal where we stopped for lunch, and from Gumbal was another steep 40 – 50 minutes ascent to Lokpa.

Stay: Lokpa Guest House
          Room: 550
          Dhaal Bhat: 550
Total Expenses: 3,260 Rupees

Day 5  – Lokpa – Chumling

Altitude: Chumling (2,386m)
Walking Time: 7:10 am – 11:07 pm

The start of the Tsum Valley trek. The locals here no longer greet you with Nasmaste but instead they use the Tibetan greeting “Tashi Delek”.

Prepare your energy bars here, Lokpa to Chumling is just 4 hrs of trekking, but a very tough up and down trail. We started at 7:10 and after about 15-20 mins of walking we crossed another bridge, and then a winding beautiful walkway/suspension bridge that snaked up the side of the mountain. From here we started to climb mostly on stairs. After about 1 hr and 30 mins we encountered a fresh landslide of rubble and rocks that required some skilled climbing to get over., but thanks to our porter who helped us cross this section, we came out unscathed. After crossing the landslide we continued with unending ascent until we came to a fork in the path. To the right the trail headed to Ripchet and the left to Chumling. Take the trail to Chumling that crosses another suspension bridge, and from there it’s another 30 mins climb to the village.

Chumling is a very small village with only 3 tea houses, with about 15 houses and 100 inhabitants. There is monastery at the upper end of village you can go to for view of Ganesh Himal, it was also surrounded with colorful amaranth and millet fields during our stay there, as it was harvest season. We spent the night at the Chumling Guest House, and our room featured an amazing view of Ganesh Himal. The common area had a very homey feeling plus the owner Raju was very friendly and helpful.

Stay: Chumling Guest House
         Room: 500
         Dhaal Bhat: 550
         Milk Tea: Cup:90 – SP:450 – MP: 520 – BP:630
         Shower: Free but cold
         Charging: Free just ask the owner
Total Expenses: 3,280 Rupees

Day 6  – Chumling – Chhokang Paro

Altitude: Chhokang Paro (3,031m)
Walking Time: 7:15 am – 11:15 pm
Check-point: Chhokangparo

If you’ve seen the movie “Unmistaken Child”, Chhokang Paro is where Lama Kongchog died after 26 years of meditation. Unmistaken Child is a 2008 independent documentary film, which follows a Tibetan Buddhist monk’s search for the reincarnation of his beloved teacher, a world-renowned lama.

We started our trek at around 7:15, and after about 30 mins of walking we crossed the river and continued to a steep ascent for a couple of hours through a beautiful forest of pine trees. Before reaching Chhokang village, in the middle of a robust fields of ganja was a tent selling all sorts of stuff, from snacks to beer, noodles, toilet paper, washing powder, name it and he probably had it. Along the way there were small landslides that we passed, needing extra care as it was very easy to slip. From there it was another hour to reach the village of Chhokang Paro, which at 3000 metres high had us feeling the thin air. We stayed at Milarepa Hotel & Lodge. The owner was a very nice young guy named Pemba who speaks English well.

Chhokang Paro is a village of more than 50 houses. There is another check-post here so prepare your permit.

Stay: Milarepa Hotel & Lodge
         Room: 300
         Dhaal Bhat: 500
         Milk Tea: Cup:90 – SP:380 – MP: 500 – BP:670
         Shower: Free but cold
Total Expenses: 3,145 Rupees

Day 7  – Chhokang Paro – Mu Gompa

Altitude: Mu Gompa (3,700m)
Walking Time: 7:30 am – 3:00 pm

The trek from Chhokang to Nile is fairly easy; we headed east through small villages and past Lamagaon then crossed a bridge to Nile. Nile is a beautiful little village in traditional Tibetan stone houses of about 150 population. We stopped there for lunch. After lunch we continued our trek to Mu Gompa along the bank of Syar River. The trail starts to get steeper and tougher as one approaches Mu Gompa.

Mu Gompa is the largest monastery in the region. The Gompa lies at the highest and most remote part of the Tsum Valley. We spent the night there at the monastery (which is the only place to stay) allowing us to explore the surroundings the next day and to acclimatize.

What to do:

  • Watch the monks in their morning and evening puja ceremonies
  • Day hike up a hill above the Gompa to some smaller monasteries or climb up higher to almost 4000 km to see the spectacular views of the valley towards Ganesh Himal (We were lucky to see Bharal Blue Sheep while descending back to the monastery).

Stay: Monk Monastery
          Room: 500 (we were initially told that the room cost 500 for 4 people but when we payed we were asked 500 each couple)
          Dhaal Bhat: 600
          Milk Tea: BP: 665
          Shower: Free but freezing
Total Expenses: 3,535 Rupees

Day 8  – Mu Gompa – Lamagaon

Altitude: Lamagaon (3,302m)
Day Hike: 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Walking Time: 11:00 am – 4:55 pm

We went on a 3 hour day hike around Mu Gompa in the morning before we headed back down to Nile for lunch. The trail to Nile is all downhill which took us only 20 minutes.

After lunch we continued our trek and as we were nearing Lamagoan we were battered by strong winds and heavy rain. We decided to spend overnight at Lamagoan and stayed at a pretentious luxury guest house called Jambala Hotel.

Jambala Hotel is beautiful from the outside with newly built and carpeted rooms but perhaps the worst stay we had on the entire trip. We were welcomed by a chained and very aggressive dog, and the owner was not friendly at all having a lot of rules like no shoes allowed inside the room, the electricity should only be turned on only at 8:00 in the night and he is charging guests 350 rupees for a hot shower while the dining room is very dark and cold. The food here was undeniably the worst food we’d had.

Stay: Jambala Hotel & Lodge (not recommended find a better lodge in the village)
         Milk Tea: Cup:80 – SM:330 – MP:400 – BP:550
         Daal Bhat: 600
         Single Room: 300, Double: 600, Triple: 750
         Hot shower: 350
Total Expenses: 1,635 rupees

Trekking along Tsum Valley, Nepal

Day 9  – Lamagaon – Chumling

Altitude: Chumling (2,386m)
Walking Time: 6:42 am – 12:30 pm

We decided to leave early and had our breakfast back at Milarepa Guest House in Chhokang Paro.  After our breakfast we continued to descend to Chumling. From Chhokangparo the trail makes a very steep descent down to Dramba, then we crossed on a suspension bridge and from there it was another 20 to 30 minutes climb before reaching Chumling.

We arrived in Chumling at around 12:30, a perfect day for washing clothes and taking shower.

Stay: Chumling Guest House
          Room: 500
          Dhaal Bhat: 550
          Milk Tea: Cup:90 – SP:450 – MP: 520 – BP:630
          Shower: Free but cold
          Charging: Free just ask the owner
Total Expenses: 3,735 Rupees

Day 10  – Chumling – Deng

Altitude: Deng (1,860m)
Walking Time: 7:10 am – 3:30 pm

Leaving the remote Tsum Valley, the trail heading back to Lokpa consists of 3 hours of numerous ups and downs. From Lokpa it is another hour back to an intersection; to the left will lead back to Jagat and to the right to continue on the Manaslu Circuit. We took the trail to the right and crossed a suspension bridge and ascended about 30 minutes to Nyak Pedi where we had our lunch. After lunch we continued on a narrow gorge trail along the Budhi Gandaki River. This side of the Manaslu Circuit looks really crowded after days of seeing almost no trekkers in the Tsum Valley. We stayed in Deng for the night.

Deng is a very small village with only 2 guesthouses although more guesthouse construction is currently on-going. We stayed at the Hotel Windy Valley, the rooms were just thin plywood and may have not been cleaned since they opened the place.

Stay: Hotel Windy Valley
         Room: 400
         Dhaal Bhat: 600
         Milk Tea: Cup:70 – SP:350 – MP: 600 – BP:900
         Hot shower: 200, Cold shower: Free
         Wifi: 300
Total Expenses: 3,300 Rupees

Day 11  – Deng – Namrung

Altitude: Namrung (2,630 m)
Walking Time: 7:10 am – 2:30 pm
Check-point: Namrung

A short walk from Deng, we crossed yet another suspension bridge. The trail continued on a number of steep ascents and descents along the side of the Bhudi Gandaki River. We followed the trail going to Gap village and stopped there for lunch at the Buddhi Guest House. The food served there was good but be aware that the owner chases every customer to give him tip.

After running away from the tip chaser, we continued to our final destination for the day. We crossed the Bhudi Gandaki several times and followed a dense forest trail before reaching Namrung.

Stay: Namrung Guest House
         Room: 400
         Dhaal Bhat: 600
         Milk Tea: Cup:70 – SP:420 – MP: 520 – BP:700
         Hot shower: 200, Cold shower: Free
         Wifi: 300
Total Expenses: 3,560 Rupees

Manaslu Circuit Trail

Day 12  – Namrung – Shyala

Altitude: Shyala (3,500 m)
Walking Time: 7:10 am – 1:40 pm

Namrung to Lho is a slight ascent otherwise very easy. From Lho we continued a slow ascent then dropped down to cross a bridge and then continued on a trail through a beautiful forest of pine and rhododendrons with moss and clear stream and then a short climb before we reached Shyala.

Shyala is a small village full of stone rubble that looks like a ghost town. Most houses there was destroyed during the earthquake in 2015. But don’t be discouraged with that as Shyala also offers the best panoramic view of Mt. Manaslu (if the weather is good).

Stay: Royal Ideas Sharing Café (not recommend, look for another place instead)
         Double Bed: 500, Tripple: 700
         Dhaal Bhat: 700
         Milk Tea: Cup:80 – SP:370 – MP: 700 – BP: 900
         Hot shower: 350, Cold shower: Free
         Charging: 200
Total Expenses: 2,875 Rupees

Day 13  – Shyala

Altitude: Shyala (3,500 m)
Walking Time: Day off

DAY OFF. The weather was terrible, there is no visibility to any of the mountains and Dave had bad diarrhoea so our day off was mostly in our sleeping bags.

Stay: Royal Ideas Sharing Café (not recommend, look for another place instead)
          Double Bed: 500, Tripple: 700
          Dhal Bhat: 700
          Milk Tea: Cup:80 – SP:370 – MP: 700 – BP: 900
          Hot shower: 350, Cold shower: Free
          Charging: 200
Total Expenses: 1,470 Rupees

Day 14  – Shyala – Samagaon

Altitude: Samagaon (3,520 m)
Walking Time: 1 hour

Day 14 was an easy 1 hour trek to Samagoan.

Samagaon is a beautiful village with many things to do. Make sure to have an extra day here to explore around the village, visit the Birendra Tal Lake, visit the monastery or go to the Manaslu Base camp to acclimatize. Most expeditions to climb Manaslu start in Samagaon.

  • Day hikes:
    Pungyen Gompa 4-5 hours walk
    Manaslu Basecamp 5-6 hours walk
    Birendra Tal 1 hour walk

Stay: Boddhisattra Hotel
          Room: 400
          Dhaal Bhat: 560
          Milk Tea: Cup:85 – SP:500 – MP: 750 – BP: 1,200
          Cold Shower: Free
Communal area is heated at 4pm
Total Expenses: 3,100 Rupees

Day 15  – Sidetrip to Manaslu Basecamp

Altitude: Manaslu Basecamp (4,800 m)
Walking Time: 4.5 hrs. Ascent – 3 hours descent

We had a perfect weather on Day 15 to climb to the Manaslu Base Camp. The steep ascent from Samagoan took us about 4 and a half hours. The trail has a short start in the forest then becomes exposed on a steep slope above Samagaon giving an impressive view of the Manaslu glacier and Birenda Tal below. As we gained altitude the view became more dramatic but it became more and more difficult to breath because of the thin air.  Before reaching the base camp the last part of the climb was on steep narrow moraine before being rewarded with a breathtaking view of the mountains. We took photos, walked around then headed back to Samagaon which took us 3 hours to descend to.

Stay: Boddhisattra Hotel
          Room: 400
          Dhaal Bhat: 560
          Milk Tea: Cup:85 – SP:500 – MP: 750 – BP: 1,200
          Cold Shower: Free
Communal are is heated at 4pm
Total Expenses: 2,420 Rupees

Day 16  – Samagoan – Samdo

Altitude: Samdo (3,8750 m)
Walking Time: 7:20 am – 9:30 am

Another easy and short walk from Samagaon to Samdo. We passed through several Mani walls and junipers as the valley began to widen. Then we climbed to a ridge and dropped to cross the Buri Gandaki on a wooden bridge then passed a white stupa before we started to see Samdo village.

Stay: Tibetan Twins Hotel & Lodge
          Room: 400
          Dhaal Bhat: 650
          Milk Tea: Cup:90 – SP:360 – MP:720 – BP: 1,400
          Shower: Free but freezing
Communal are is heated at 4pm
Total Expenses: 3,150 Rupees

Day 17  – Samdo – Daramsala

Altitude: Daramsala (4,460 m)
Walking Time: 7:41 am – 11:30 am

Samdo to Daramsala is just a short 3-4 hour trek. We left Samdo shortly before 8:00 and arrived in Daramsala at 11:30.The trail drops to a bridge crossing the Budhi Gandaki River and then slowly ascends to Daramsala. There is only one tea house there with tents for trekkers to stay for the night before the final push to the Larkya La Pass.

Warning! Don’t expect any luxury at 4,460m high. The place was very crowded and tents were dusty. Food was terrible and prices can be as high as the location.

Stay: Daramsala Tents
        Room: 300/person (about 5 rooms only, usually booked way ahead)
        Tent: 200/person
        Dhaal Bhat: 800
        Milk Tea: Cup:140 – SP:700 – MP:1260 – BP: 1,800
        Shower: No shower (at 4,460m is freezing cold)
Total Expenses: 3,500 Rupees

Day 18  – Daramsala – Larkye Pass – Bimthang

Altitude: Larkye La Pass (5,1–m)
Bimthang – (3,590 m)
Walking Time: 4:30 am – 12:30 am

We had an early start at 4:30 in the morning with our torches. We slowly climbed the ridge to the far side of Daramsala. The climb was not difficult but it was an unending rocky trail and steep moraine before we reached the Larkya La Pass at around 8:30 in the morning.

After taking a break and a couple of photos, we continued our trek to Bimthang. There was another 10-15 mins of ascent before the trail finally started to descend. And another 4 hours of un-ending descent on a loose stone trail before we reached the beautiful valley of Bimthang.

Bimthang is easily one of the most beautiful places I have seen, a place well-earned after 8 laborious hours of crossing the Larkya La Pass. Bimthang is surrounded with spectacular view of Cheo Himal, Gyaji Kung, Kang guru and the Annapurna II, as well as views of Manaslu from the other side, our first glimpse at it’s west side.

Stay: New Tibetan Hotel & Lodge
         Room: 500
         Dhaal Bhat: 600
         Milk Tea: Cup:190 – SP:500 – MP:780 – BP: 1,200
         Shower: Free, freezing cold.
Total Expenses: 3,520 Rupees

Day 19  – Bimthang – Gho

Altitude: Gho (2,515 m)
Walking Time: 7:20 am – 9:30 am

The walk from Bimthang to Gho was mostly downhill. We crossed a glacial stream and climbed over the side of the moraine descending into a spectacular forest of rhododendron and beautiful pine trees. Then we continued to descend on the trail that hugged the Milk River (Dudh Khola) and stopped at Karche for lunch. Karche was just a 1 hour before to Gho. After lunch we continued our way to Gho and stayed at Hill Top Guest House.

We were given a room with attached bathroom with very hot shower, heaven after days of no hot showers. This feels like a luxury holiday!

Stay: Hill Top Guest House
          Room: 500
          Dhaal Bhat: 600
          Milk Tea: Cup:190 – SP:500 – MP:780 – BP: 1,200
          Shower: Free, freezing cold.
Total Expenses: 3,520 Rupees

Day 20  – Gho – Dharapani

Altitude: Dharapani (1,963 m)
Walking Time: 7:45 am – 10:30 am
Check-point: Darapani

Last day of our Manaslu Circuit trek. The trek was just a 3 hours downhill to Dharapani. We bid goodbye to our porter guide and to our friends from Sanook Tiew and stayed at the New Tibet Guest House for the night before continuing to the Annapurna Circuit.

Stay: New Tibet Guest House
         Room: 500
         Dhaal Bhat: 470
         Milk Tea: Cup:70 – SP:350 – MP:450 – BP: 800
         Shower: Free but cold (you can ask hot shower for a fee)
         Wifi: Free
Total Expenses: 3,400 Rupees

SHARE
Raquel is an avid traveler and an aspiring photographer. She loves trekking, camping and mountain climbing. Raquel is also a self-taught artists having her paintings exhibited in the Philippines and in Bangkok.

3 COMMENTS

  1. You’ve created a really useful and interesting trip log illustrated with beautiful photos. Good work, Raquel! I wish I could be out there, breathing in the fresh air and experiencing the trek. Is autumn best time of year to go?

    • Thanks Judy. Yes, autumn is the best time to trek there, not only the weather is perfect but it will also be the harvest season. So amaranth will be in golden and red rose colors.

      Are you and Dave planning to trek there? We heard the other day that they are planning to build a road to Manaslu and Tsum. That would totally change everything when there is a road.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here