Day 1 – Katmandu / Arugat > Arket Bazar
The Manaslu circuit starts from Arugat which we reached in 5 hours of a very bumpy jeep ride from Khatmandu.
We hit the trail which is 45 min walking from the village of Arugat where we stopped for our first dal bhat.
In Arugat price for 2 daal bhat and 2 tea was 620 Rs. Temperature at lunch time was 32 C which made it a nice t-shirt walking day.
In 3 hours walking we reached Arket Bazar where we choose to spend the night. Lodge was very clean including the squatting toilet. Two daal bhat for dinner with 3 bottles of water and breakfast with two “chapati with jam and honey” set which contains 2 chapatis, 2 scrambled eggs and a tea per person accounted for a total of 1210 Rs.
Night temperature is still too warm (above 25C) for our 3 seasons sleeping bag. The silk cocoon was used as a sleeping bag instead.
Day 2 – Arket Bazar > Lapubesi
Left Arket Bazar within 2,5 hours we reached Liding where we stopped for lunch in front of a spectacular waterfall.
Temperature at lunch was around 30 C with an nice fresh breeze. Lunch with 2 dal bhat and 2 cups of tea was 580Rs.
Walk continued to Lapubesi where we choose to spend the night. Dinner was 300 Rs for a portion of dal bhat and 30 Rs for a cup of tea. For breakfast we got only one chapati “set” 2 omelet and 2 milk tea which made a total for our stay (including dinner) of 1540.
Warm night again.
Day 3 – Lapubesi > Dobhan
A nice 6,5 hours walking day with a convenient stop for lunch after 3,5 hours in Khorlabesi, where for 540 Rs we got 2 Daal Bhat and 2 cups of tea.
We got caught by rain in Dobhan which dropped the walking temperature a bit from 30C to a lovely and fresh 23C. Rain lasted some 30min and as soon as it decreased we did the last bit of the now slippery walk to Dobhan.
In Dobhan we stayed at the Shanti hotel and campsite. For a dinner with 2 daal bhat, 4 cups of tea and breakfast with 1 chapati set and 2 omlette we paid a total of 1480 Rs.
Day 4 – Dobhan > Philim
Temperature at 8am was 25C which made it a nice day to start with a light fleece. Within 3 hours we reached our lunch spot in Jagat. During the walk temperature increased to a windy 28C making it nice in t-shirt.
Lunch in Jagat was 840 Rs for 2 dal bhat and two cups of tea.
We reached Philim in 3 hours from Jagat, last 45 min under a light rain. Temperature in Philim at 6pm was 17C.
In Philim we stayed at the Royal Garden guest house. Arrangement was getting increasingly basic. Squatting toilets in this case were really dirty and shower was in the same structure together with the toilet, making it inconvenient.
Dinner for two with dal bhat and 4 tea cups and breakfast with 2 omelet and one chapati was 2055 Rs.
Day 5 – Philim > Deng
Wake up temperature was 14C. Dinner and breakfast for 2 in Philim was 1880 Rs.
We reached Pewa for lunch. Lunch spot at 32C was also a “flies paradise” making the rest quite stressful. Deng was only one hour away from Pewa, which made this a relatively short day.
In Deng we had a restless sleep waking up due to barking dogs. Moreover, the lodge was infested by rats running all night above our heads and defecating between the gaps of the wooden roof covering our sleeping bags with their droppings.
Day 6 – Deng > Ghap
Wake-up temperature in Deng was 10 C at 6:30 am.
This was a short hike of 4,5 hours to reach Ghap. This section has been rather steep and mostly in fresh shadow for the first part, which made it good with fleece.
We had lunch and dinner in Ghap which was 2050 Rs for 2 persons.
Day 7 – Ghap > Lho
A little longer than a 7 hours walk today, which made it the longest so far and the steepest with a gain of 1213m and a drop of 270m accounting for almost an absolute 1000 meters gain. Day temperature was between 20C and 25C and we were comfortable walking with long sleeve t-shirts.
Evening temperature was now getting as low as 10C, time for our down jackets.
Day 8 & 9 – Lho > Samagaun + acclimatization day
Wake up temperature was of 6C in Lho.
The trail to Samagoun is steep but short; we made it in a bit more than 4h after visiting the monastery which overlooks Lho. Walking temperature was again around 20-25C.
In Samagoun the lodge had a battery charging service for 100 Rs.
For the acclimatization day we choose to hike to a viewpoint from where there is a lovely view of Manaslu and a glacier lake. Wake up temperature was of 5C…and first signs of acclimatization, as our sleep is interrupted many times with visits to the toilet.
We had twice dinner and breakfast and one lunch in Samagaun for a total of 3560 Rs for two persons which included 4 garlic soups with noodles, 11 tea cups, vegetable momo, corn dindo, chapati with jam and honey and various liters of boiled water.
Day 10 & 11 – Samagaun > Samdo + acclimatization day
2,45h walk. Walking temperature was 20-25C. Comfortable walking with fleece. By 3pm weather got cloudy with a mix of rain and snow, dropping the temperature to zero. Surrounding was now mostly rocky. We took half a diamox each.
On acclimatization day we climbed up to 4200m and came back when we saw heavy clouds coming in just in time to avoid the snowstorm that covered everything in white. For these two days in Samdo we paid 5150 Rs including food and water. Going to bed and waking up temperature was 10 degrees in the teahouse. We took half a Diamox again. Some other travelers start having symptoms of the high altitude here.
Day 12 – Samdo > Dharmasala
We left early as the amount of snow is increasing and we were concerned that the pass would close. It was a 3,5 hour walk to Dharmasala. The trail was muddy with the snow of the previous day melted by the sun. It was comfortable walking with a thin fleece in the shadow and a long sleeve t-shirt in the sun. After arriving in Dharmasala we quickly realized why people stay here only one night. The lodges were very cold, small and dirty. The toilets were the worst we have seen. The lodges are built from mud and stone; with the cold and humidity, the walls crumbled and dirtied our stuff in the room. In the dining area the temperature was 8C around 1pm. Also today the weather got worse at around 2pm, starting to snow. At 5pm it was 2C. This was the coldest part of the hike, with no chance to warm from a hot drink alone. People were dancing to warm up and eager to go to bed and get this night over with. A group of Dutch travelers were very sick and calling the helicopter to organize a pick-up. This was not possible until the day after as the weather condition did not permit for the helicopter to land. For 2, we paid around 5000 Rs for 1 day. We didn’t record the prices of things that well here as managing our warmth was the priority.
Day 13 – Dharmasala > Larkya La pass > Bhimtang
We crossed the peak today. Wake up was 4:30am, and we left at 5:15 am after a quick breakfast. The morning was very cold and windy. Exposure of the path to the sun was continuously changing and was making it difficult to regulate body heat. Layering clothing and gloves was very important.
Getting to Bhimtang was a 9h walk with an altitude gain of 680m, and a loss of 1444m. Three quarters of the trek was in knee-deep snow, which made going up very challenging and going down very slippery. We met marathon runners with clip-on crampons who had an easier descend.
Arriving at Bhimtang, we picked one of the teahouses with no shower, and could pay for a shower elsewhere but decided that we could delay the shower to the day after when the temperature will be higher.
Day 14- Bhimtang > Tilje
Temperature was 20-25C and we were walking in long sleeved t-shirts. We had a last glimpse of Manaslu before the trail went along a river and turned towards Goa. At lunch we stopped at Goa. We saw that many new lodges were being built.
Once in Tilje we finally had our first hot shower in a long time.
Day 15- Tilje > Jagat
6,5h to Jagat. On this day, we exited the park as the trail joins Annapurna. As we were not impressed with the trail and trekkers of Annapurna, we decided to finish the last bit of the trek as quickly as possible and asked our guide to arrange a pick up at Bhulbhule one day earlier.
In Jagat we slept at a lodge with the owner, who as many Nepalis worked in Dubai years and came back to settle. It was a super dusty and windy day in Jagat and all the tin roofs were shaking and making a thunder-like noise all night.
Day 16- Jagat > Bhulbhule
Last trekking day. 6 hour walk to Bhulbhule. We enjoyed a bit of the remaining beauty of this well walked and now widened part of Annapurna trek. We chose not to walk on the jeep road and saw some waterfalls; yet the width of the valley and the awareness of so many trekkers and jeeps around made us only walk faster to reach our final night at Bhulbhule.