Hidden Gems of the Manaslu Circuit Trek: Must-Visit Places Off the Beaten Path

Updated on June 18, 2024

The Manaslu Circuit Trek, nestled in the rugged terrain of the Gorkha district in Nepal, has long been celebrated as a hidden gem for trekkers seeking a more remote and unspoiled Himalayan adventure.

While the classic trekking route offers stunning vistas and cultural encounters, there are lesser-known places off the beaten path that promise unique experiences for the intrepid traveler. 

In this extensive travel note, we uncover these hidden gems, inviting you to explore the Manaslu Circuit beyond its well-trodden trails.

Manaslu Circuit Trek Overview

Before we embark on our journey to the hidden gems of the Manaslu Circuit, let's briefly explore the traditional trekking route that has attracted adventurers for decades.

Manaslu Circuit Trekking Itinerary

The Manaslu Round Trekking typically takes around 14 to 18 days to complete, covering a distance of approximately 177 kilometers. 

Trekkers typically follow a counter clock wise routes that travel around Mount Manaslu, offering diverse landscapes, rich cultural experiences, and a challenging high-altitude adventure.

Manaslu Circuit Trek Highlights

Stunning Mountain Views: The trek provides breathtaking views of Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain in the world, along with a backdrop of other majestic peaks.

Lush Forests: The trail winds through lush subtropical forests, home to diverse flora and fauna.
Cultural Encounters: Trekkers have the opportunity to visit traditional villages inhabited by various ethnic groups, including the Gurung, Tamang, and Tibetan communities.

Challenging Passes: The trek includes crossings of challenging high mountain passes, including the Larkya La Pass, which stands at 5,160 meters (16,929 feet) above sea level.
Unique Teahouse Accommodations: Teahouses provide shelter, meals, and an opportunity to interact with local communities.

Beyond the Classic Trail: Hidden Gems of the Manaslu Circuit
While the classic Manaslu Circuit offers a remarkable adventure, those willing to venture off the beaten path can discover lesser-known destinations that promise solitude, pristine natural beauty, and a deeper immersion into the region's culture. Here are some of the hidden gems awaiting your exploration

Tsum Valley: A Spiritual Sanctuary
Location: Northern Gorkha, Tsum Valley

Trek Duration: 7 to 10 days (round trip from Soti Khola)

Tsum Valley, often referred to as the "Hidden Valley of Happiness," is a remote and sacred enclave nestled to the north of the Manaslu Circuit. This hidden gem was opened to trekkers in 2008, and it offers a profound cultural and spiritual experience.

Highlights:

Monastic Culture: Manaslu Tsum Valley is dotted with ancient monasteries and chortens, providing insight into Tibetan Buddhism and traditional monastic life.

Warm Hospitality: The locals, predominantly of Tibetan descent, are known for their warm hospitality. You'll have the opportunity to stay in homestays and immerse yourself in their way of life.
Unique Festivals: If your visit coincides with local festivals, such as Lhosar (Tibetan New Year), you'll witness colorful celebrations and traditional dances.

Trekking Route: Begin your journey from Soti Khola, joining the classic Manaslu Circuit route.
At Philim, head north toward Lokpa to enter the Tsum Valley.
Explore picturesque villages like Chumling, Chokhangparo, and Nile, which offer a glimpse into traditional Tibetan culture.
Visit the awe-inspiring Mu Gompa, a significant Buddhist monastery.
Return to Philim and rejoin the classic Manaslu Circuit.

Nubri Valley: A Hidden Paradise
Location: Northwestern Gorkha, Nubri Valley

Trek Duration: 8 to 10 days (round trip from Sama Gaon)

Nubri Valley, adjacent to the Manaslu Circuit, remains relatively undiscovered by mainstream trekkers. This secluded valley is a pristine paradise with awe-inspiring landscapes and vibrant cultural traditions.

Highlights:

Remote Villages: Trek through remote villages like Sama Gaon and Samdo, where time seems to have stood still. Experience the warmth of the local communities.
High-Altitude Lakes: Explore the glacial lakes of Birendra Tal and Pungyen Gompa Lake, which offer serene settings amidst towering peaks.

Unique Wildlife: Keep an eye out for wildlife, including the elusive snow leopard and the Himalayan blue sheep, locally known as "bharal."

Trekking Route: Commence your trek from Sama Gaon, one of the last villages on the classic Manaslu Circuit.
Hike to Birendra Tal, where you can camp and enjoy the tranquility of the lake.
Continue to the pristine Pungyen Gompa Lake, situated at the base of the towering Manaslu Glacier.
Return to Sama Gaon and rejoin the classic Manaslu Circuit.

Rupina La Pass: An Adventurous Detour
Location: Southeastern Gorkha, Rupina La Pass

Trek Duration: 7 to 10 days (round trip from Arughat)

The Rupina La Pass, often considered a trek within a trek, is an adventurous detour from the traditional Manaslu Circuit. This hidden gem promises challenging terrain and stunning alpine scenery.

Highlights:

Panoramic Views: Enjoy unparalleled panoramic views of the Manaslu Massif, Ganesh Himal, and Annapurna ranges from the pass.

Alpine Wilderness: Traverse pristine alpine meadows, rugged terrain, and dense forests, encountering fewer trekkers along the way.

Cultural Encounters: Interact with the friendly Magar and Gurung communities living in the region.
Trekking Route:

Begin your trek from Arughat, following the classic Manaslu Circuit route until Ghap.
From Ghap, veer east toward the Rupina La Pass and trek through the serene forests of pine, rhododendron, and bamboo.
Ascend to the Rupina La Pass (4,720 meters or 15,486 feet) and savor the breathtaking views.
Descend to the Tsum Valley and rejoin the classic Manaslu Circuit at Lokpa.

Ganesh Himal Base Camp: Hidden Wilderness
Location: Northern Gorkha, Ganesh Himal Base Camp

Trek Duration: 7 to 9 days (round trip from Shertung)

The Ganesh Himal Base Camp trek offers a serene journey through pristine forests, charming villages, and, ultimately, a glimpse of the majestic Ganesh Himal Range.

Highlights:

Remote Villages: Explore picturesque villages like Shertung and Chalish, inhabited by the Tamang and Gurung communities.

Wilderness Experience: Immerse yourself in the wilderness of the Ganesh Himal region, with its untouched landscapes and diverse flora and fauna.

Ganesh Himal Views: As you approach the base camp, enjoy stunning views of the Ganesh Himal Range, with peaks like Ganesh I, II, and III dominating the horizon.

Trekking Route: Begin your trek from Shertung, a Tamang village with a unique cultural identity.
Hike through lush forests, terraced fields, and charming hamlets, gradually ascending toward the Ganesh Himal Base Camp.
Reach the base camp (approximately 4,000 meters or 13,123 feet) and soak in the awe-inspiring views.
Return to Shertung and continue your exploration of the hidden villages before concluding your trek.

Kal Tal: A Hidden Lake
Location: Northern Gorkha, Kal Tal

Trek Duration: 6 to 8 days (round trip from Lokpa)

Kal Tal, meaning "Black Lake," is a hidden gem nestled deep within the forests of northern Gorkha. This serene lake offers a peaceful retreat amidst the wilderness.

Highlights:

Hidden Lake: Discover the secluded Kal Tal, a serene alpine lake surrounded by dense forests and towering peaks.

Solitude and Serenity: Enjoy the tranquility of a less-visited destination, perfect for those seeking solitude in nature.

Wildlife Sightings: Keep an eye out for wildlife in the area, including the elusive red panda.

Trekking Route: Begin your trek from Lokpa, a village in the Tsum Valley region.
Trek through pristine forests and charming villages as you make your way toward Kal Tal.
Reach the hidden lake, where you can relax and take in the pristine surroundings.
Return to Lokpa and continue your exploration of the Tsum Valley or rejoin the classic Manaslu Circuit.
Practical Tips for Exploring Hidden Gems
Trekking Permits and Regulations
Ensure you obtain the necessary permits for the areas you plan to visit, as some of these destinations may require separate permits.
Familiarize yourself with local regulations and respect the environment and local cultures during your trek.
Guides and Local Support
Consider hiring a local guide or trekking agency with expertise in the region, especially if you plan to explore less-visited areas.
Local guides can provide valuable insights into the culture, traditions, and natural history of the region.
Physical Preparation
Some of these hidden gems involve challenging terrain and high altitudes. Prior physical conditioning and acclimatization are essential.
Be prepared for a range of weather conditions, especially at higher altitudes.
Sustainable Trekking Practices
Follow Leave No Trace principles and minimize your environmental impact by carrying out all non-biodegradable waste.
Support local communities by staying in homestays or teahouses and purchasing locally-made products.
Responsible Wildlife Observation
If you encounter wildlife, maintain a respectful distance and avoid disturbing the animals.
Refrain from feeding or approaching wildlife in their natural habitat.

Conclusion: Hidden Gems of the Manaslu Circuit Trek: Must-Visit Places Off the Beaten Path

The hidden gems of the Manaslu Circuit offer a glimpse into the unspoiled beauty and cultural richness of this remarkable region. These off-the-beaten-path destinations promise unique experiences, whether you seek spiritual immersion, wilderness exploration, or simply the joy of solitude amidst nature's grandeur.

As you venture into these hidden corners of the Manaslu Circuit, remember that responsible and respectful trekking practices are essential. By treading lightly and engaging with local communities, you contribute to the preservation of these pristine landscapes and help ensure that future generations of travelers can also discover the unseen wonders of the Manaslu region.

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Shailesh

Shailesh Pokharel is young tourism entrepreneur as well as passionate traveler writer, who thrives on meeting new people and exploring the world. I love to share Captivating stories and insights from my global adventure inspiring other to embark on their own journey. Through my blog and travel service I will brings to life the diverse cultures, landscapes and experience I encounters making accessible and exiting for my reader and clients.

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