Polish Manaslu Expedition Team 2015 flew into Sama Gau! I don’t understand why? Some of them had trekked in reverse, i.e. Bimthang – Larke La Pass – Dharmasala – Sama Gau. I had recently gone to the Manaslu circuit trek after the earthquake. Monsoon has already stopped and I saw lots of locals going through their daily chores on rebuilding the damaged trail. Repairing and maintenances of damaged buildings were ongoing parallel.
The trail was not perfect yet! There was landslide rubble and local teams were either rebuilding or slightly rerouting the trail, whichever seems appropriate. This was my second time tracing the circuit. My aunty works under the government medical team. The team looks for vaccination and other medical camps. In 2013 I had trekked up to the village of Lho with her.
Instead of going further ahead and completing the circuit, I was forced to abandon the trip and return down to Arughat with my aunty and her medical team. This time my friend offered me to join the team of four trekkers doing Manaslu Circuit Trek. Post-earthquake trip! I own Everest Handicraft (P) Ltd. and mainly export garments and hemp products overseas.
It was the beginning of festival time in Kathmandu, and I scheduled the itinerary. When I came to know it will be a thirteen-day trip and if trek as planned I won’t miss the festival. I’m was ready for Manaslu Adventure.
My wife didn’t let me go, she wanted to join me. It was a hard time for me to convince her. In spite of busy schedules and bulk orders for garment shipment finally, I got permission. My wife was ready to handle garment stuff on my behalf of me. I was a free man for thirteen days in the mountain. You won’t understand this if you are a bachelor!
3rd October 2015 – Dhading Bus Station | Kathmandu
7:45 O’clock in the morning, I was in the Dhading Bus Station and meet the rest of the team. It was a small team of four trekkers and one guide. It was a fun, packed local bus. Sharp 8:00 AM we left the station. With a small toilet break in the middle, we continued our journey to Arughat. Countryside road, terraced rice field, and green hills, it was a perfect escape from bustling Kathmandu, a so-called metropolitan city and the capital of Nepal.
There was some technical issue on the bus and we had to stop in the middle of nowhere, which took three hours! There was nothing we could do! Just waited for some mechanics to come over and fix the shit. “By now we already missed the local ride from Arughat to Soti Khola”, said Prakash. Prakash was our guide for the entire thirteen days in the mountain. Just looked over the map, waited next to the rice field while someone was fixing the stupid old bus.
We spend the first night in Arughat. I forget the name of the hotel, but the owner’s name was Udaya. If you happen to visit Arughat for any reason I highly recommend this hotel. Ask anyone, about the hotel of Udaya in Arughat? Anyone could point you in the direction and name.
4th October – Arughat | Gorkha
Local bus to Soti Khola gave the signal! Pwaap Pwaaaaaaaaaap. It was ready to leave. I recommend you to wear summer clothes, it was boiling hot in Arughat. It could be same for the first two or three days. The recent earthquake-damaged bridge before the Soti Khola. Either way, Soti Khola was the starting point of the Manaslu Circuit Trek. It was a long journey from Soti Khola to Maccha Khola. Inhospitable weather at that moment!
All of us were sweating, just sweating and sweating. I was tracking the total distance and steps with the help of the iPhone. It displayed 23.28 km with 35,349 steps. Trust me it was really the hardest part of the entire trek. It took a little longer than usual because of damages and rubble along the trail. Some portions were rocky after landslides.
5th October – Maccha Khola | Gorkha
It looked like it was going to be a tremendously hot day. I salute those locals who were engaged in maintaining the trail early from the morning. Tourism was now the major source of income for locals after farming. In some parts, the trail was really exposed to the Budi Gandaki River. It was a narrow and uphill portion.
In some places there were wooden slabs, just to prevent from slipping. Teahouses in Thulo Dhunga were temporarily closed after the earthquake. Prakash was informed about this, so we took lunch shortly, a little before the Thulo Dhunga.
It was extremely hot and because of scattered rocks, a little difficult to walk. If you know how to walk on the rough trail it won’t be a problem. I fell down and almost broke my right knee. Poor me! This happened when I tried to catch up with the speed of a native in a difficult portion.
As we approached Jagat it looked more spectacular. This was a beautiful village near the Budi Gandaki River. It was also the starting point of the restricted region in Gorkha. This restriction applies to foreigners only and they need special permissions.
6th October – Jagat | Gorkha
More precisely, it was Upper Jagat. After breakfast we continued our journey. I fastened a bandage over my knees. The trail was slightly rerouted here on the way to Philim. Some temporary wooden bridges were also fixed along the trail that had started from yesterday.
Crossed a long bridge over Budi Gandaki and we made our ascend to the beautiful village of Philim. Walk past north of Philim and we stopped in Chisapani for the lunch.
Wide riverbank of the Budi Gandaki had squeezed and enters through a narrow gorge. Somewhere in between, there was a small hotel area of Deng. Chandra Dai welcomed us in his teahouse.
I’m fragile on recalling the name, and I forget his teahouse name again. But this was the first one on the right of the trail. Or simply ask about the name of the teahouse owned by Chandra Dai.
7th October – Deng | Gorkha
As far as I remember the beautiful part of Manaslu Circuit began. As we walk further north, there was a different tribe of people. It’s a vast change in culture, tradition, and language.
Also, it was a very different lifestyle. Their ancestors were simply nomadic peoples, far away from Tibet. Manaslu Bread with Jam and boiled eggs were ready for breakfast. We trek up to Namrung by evening. Wi-Fi was not working, as there was a problem with the electricity supply. As a part of earthquake damages, it was being repaired. I hope hydro will soon generate electricity. Namrung was the major village before Lho.
8th October – Namrung | Gorkha
The plan was changed. Our schedule itinerary for today was to reach Sama Gaun. Now we will take a break in the village of Lho and trek Sama Gau next only. I was easy going and I agreed with others. It was a short yet elegant walk. The face of Lho was changed. I can see lots of newly built teahouses here. Tourism had brought a great change in the daily life of a local.
I was so happy to see these changes. I wanted to drink a beer, Gorkha Beer for the afternoon. I treated myself to a chilled beer, a view of Manaslu and a beautiful village, also Lama School and Gompa.
9th October – Lho | Gorkha
We hiked a little from Lho early in the morning. Wait there to witness the beauty of Manaslu in the morning sun.
Hiked down and hit the trail toward Sama. On the way, we took another side trip to Pungyong Gompa. It was a beautiful walk to the medieval village of Sama. Prayer wheel and carved stones were placed at the entrance of the village. I guess these monuments date back to the time of the early settlement of the village.
I encountered some expedition members, and they were hiking down to Arughat, which was a good thing. If they mentioned this online, it will help a lot of others to shape their minds. It could be a strong proof of the feasibility of the teahouse trek around the Manaslu circuit, after the earthquake. I’m a jackass, again, I forget the name of the hotel, but the owner’s name was Bir Bahadur.
You can ask anyone haha! He was also planning to open the pub in Sama Gau. Probably in the near future and I need to trek here again for the drinks!
10th October – Sama Gau | Gorkha
A bit cloudy in the morning. We hiked south of Birendra Lake. It was a small glacial lake on the northern slope of Manaslu. We cooked some soup and tea at the base camp of Manaslu. The view of Manaslu was totally different from the base camp. Trek to Base Camp was worth it! We waited for a while, smoked cigarettes, drinks, ate, and slept for a while. Look at another short time lapse from the base camp.
The trail up was narrow, you need to be careful or make sure you know how to swim.
11th October – Sama Gau | Gorkha
It was another short trip to the medieval village of Samdo. From here one trail leads to the nearby Tibetan Border and another to Larke Pass. This was the final village of Gorkha. There was only one teahouse in Dharmasala, a support camp or base camp for Larke Pass. Comparatively, the trail was easier, mostly flat and wide. Samdo looks amazingly beautiful. Many peoples spend two nights in Samdo.
As a part of acclimatization, many hikes to the nearby Tibetan Border. We had to finish the trek in thirteen days, so we skipped a so-called rest day in Samdo.
12th October – Samdo | Gorkha
Dharmasala, it was our final camp before traversing the Larke Pass. There was one isolated teahouse. It was freezing cold there! This was also a short trip. The view was amazing. I couldn’t sleep well probably elevation or cold was responsible.
I slept in the dining cause I just guess that this was the warmest place. The staff there asked to leave the main door slightly open, simply they don’t want their dog to stay outside.
They didn’t know where in the Manaslu their dog was! The door remains open the whole night, there was no sign of the dog, and just freezing wind blew into the room. I couldn’t sleep well. Also, an alarm was set in my mind to wake up at 3:30 AM. Prakash has informed not later than 4:00 AM in the morning we need to leave.
13th October – Dharmasala | Gorkha
Early in the morning, we left Dharmasala, almost around 4:20 AM, pure Nepali Time. We use slang when things don’t happen at scheduled time, it’ ‘Nepali Time’. This was the very first trip for Prakash as well,
I mean post-earthquake trip. He informed me that there was no teahouse or teashop in the middle. We had to walk more than ten hours in the high elevation to get to the campsite.
Miracle happened! There appears a small teahouse after descending from the pass. During the first phase after the earthquake, upper villages of Manaslu were not accessible from Arughat because of the landslide. So mules were used to carry a daily supply in reverse. So just temporary teashop was set there for the person who looks after the mules.
We stopped for some tea. We were already very close to Bimthang. I wished this teashop remained there in coming future. It would be great to have a hot cup of tea!
14th October – Bimthang | Lamjung
“No hurry, but soon”, said Prakash. It was an easy trail, all the way down to Dharapani. It was a busy and commercial village on the Annapurna Circuit Trail. The trail mostly passed through the lush green forest.
It was really an easy downhill. Little long though! My pedometer displayed a 30.3 km distance. Everything was cheap down there! I had around four bottles of beer. It was the end of the road for us. Just drive back to Kathmandu, so excited.
15th October – Dharapani | Lamjung
A rough jeep rides down to Beshi Sahar. There was no space left inside. Prakash and me we fit ourselves on the roof along with a backpack. It was a little risky but spectacular. There was a nice water waterfall on the way down. We switched to another small minibus from Beshi Sahar. Arrived at Thamel later afternoon, around 6:30 PM. We planned for the dinner and short interaction program for the next day.
6th October – New Bus Station | Kathmandu
As planned, we gathered in Revolution Cafe for the dinner. A great break from Dal Bhat. Chicken Rosemary and chill Tuborg Beer! Small feedback section, I had asked Pradeep to update this post with client references, what they said about the Manaslu Circuit Trekking.
He should do it shortly. It was a Good Friday. “Let’s go to Purple Haze“, Pradeep instantly made a new plan. We went there and enjoyed more beer!
Manaslu Circuit Trek After Earthquake | Summary
As a local from Nepal (I consider myself an experienced trekker, I had done Annapurna Base Camp, Circuit, and Langtang Trek) I recommend people to trek Manaslu. Don’t hesitate to go for it. Just don’t forget to put your own tested ankle boot in your pack.
You need to compromise a little on luxury that’s it. The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not being in your comfort zone is great fun. Come to trek Manaslu and help the locals augment their income.
Manaslu Circuit Trek Distance in Kilometers | Tracked using iPhone
Here is data I tracked with my iPhone. I didn’t include the data from Kathmandu to Soti Khola and Dharapani to Kathmandu. This was because it was a trip on the bus. It took us around eight hours to drive from Kathmandu to Arughat. Also another one hour from Arughat to Soti Khola. In the end, it was a long day. Almost eleven hours from Dharapani to Kathmandu.
1. Soti Khola to Macha Khola
2. Macha Khola to Jagat
3. Jagat to Deng
4. Deng to Namrung
5. Namrung to Lho
6. Lho to Sama Gau via Pungyen Gompa
7. Sama Gau Manaslu Base Camp and Back
8. Sama Gau to Samdo
9. Samdo to Dharmasala
10. Dharmasala to Bimthang
11. Bimthang to Dharapani
Manaslu Circuit Trek Review After Earthquake
Alexey from Russia wrote –
“Trek was good, as we expected. We expected to see mountain nature from jungles to snowy mountains, to see locals life and we got it. The first days were rather hard because the trail was damaged after the earthquake and landslides.
And we weren’t acclimatized enough. But after it was perfect – not so hard, definitely not boring. For the first 2 days for not experienced groups, I can recommend dividing this part somehow on 3 days.”
Irina from Russia wrote –
“It was fine to receive your request for trek feedback, anyway every one of us was strongly impressed with our Nepal trip. Yeah, it was a great trip! Lots of new impressions from mountains and landscapes, nepali lifestyle, and good company! Actually, I can’t remember any significant problems during the trek.”
Arina from Russia wrote
“I wanted to write some feedback for you. Actually, the trip was really amazing. You, guys, were very friendly and helpful. And provided very good quality service to us. And our trekking group was really cool. Prakash always cared a lot about us and Akash added a lot of fun and talks about Nepali culture. So everything went perfect.”