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Six Nepal Treks – But Which to Choose? - Part Two

Six Nepal Treks – But Which to Choose? - Part Two

May 4, 2022
Langtang Ri Trekking
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This blog is the continuation and Part II of Six Nepal Treks - But Which to Choose: https://www.langtang.com/en/blog/six-nepal-treks-but-which-to-choose

In Part I of this comparison of six Himalaya treks, we looked at three of the most often booked treks – Everest Base Camp; Annapurna Base Camp; and Annapurna Circuit.  

We continue the comparison here with three more treks you might choose between. These three range from the somewhat challenging Manaslu Circuit through to the very manageable Langtang Valley trek.
We hope this comparison of six of Nepal’s most popular treks helps you choose the right trek for you. But of course, you don’t necessarily have to restrict yourself to just one trek. Nepal has so much to offer that we hope to see you returning again and again to experience another part of our wonderful Himalaya Mountains.

The Remaining Three Treks Compared

Criteria

Manaslu Circuit

Mardi Himal

Langtang Valley

Trek time

14 days

7 days

8 days

Access and time

Long one-day drive to start. Returns flights Jomsom to Pokhara, then to Kathmandu. 2 extra days

Flight or one day drive to Pokhara, and return. 2 days extra

One day drive to start, and return. 2 extra days

Highest altitude

5,125m Larkya La Pass

4,500m Mardi Base Camp

3,870m Kyanjin Gompa

Difficulty

Challenging.  Long distance and high altitude. Guide essential

Strenuous.  Long days of steep ascent and descent. High altitude. Trail path of lesser quality

Moderate.  Modest daily altitude gains. Modest maximum altitude. Good trails. Guide recommended

Scenery

Very varied and beautiful. Stunning high pass scenery

Very good at higher altitude days. Stunning peaks

Beautiful valley ascent surrounded by snow-capped peaks

Cultural experience

Very varied and good throughout trek

Very good lower in the valleys

Very good. Excellent monastery experiences

Serenity

A less frequently trod trail

Very good as visitor numbers are lower

Very good as visitor numbers are lower

Accommodation & facilities

Good, but options reduce with altitude

Good options lower in the valleys

Very good

Wow-factor

Many wows. Beautiful monastery; stunning mountains; challenging high pass 

Stunning high-altitude vista of the Annapurna Sanctuary peaks

Trek is not too demanding and the scenery and cultural experience very good

Who should attempt this trek?

Anyone with very good fitness, preferably with previous high-altitude experience

Anyone with very good fitness. Guide and previous experience recommended.

Anyone with moderate to good level of fitness.

 

 

Manaslu Circuit

Mount Manaslu is the eighth-highest mountain in the world, and might also be called “Twin Peaks” as it boasts twin summits. This is another trek that loops high through the Himalaya and delivers amazing scenery and views of a beautiful mountain every serious climber wants to summit. The trail actually follows an ancient trading route used by Tibetan people to trade salt with lowland Nepal communities.

Most trekkers start their trek with a one-day drive from Kathmandu to the starting point at Arughat or Soti Khola, depending upon road conditions. The trekking trail follows the Budhi Gandaki River Valley high into the mountains to the Larkya Glacier and 5,135m Larkya Pass and then rapidly descends into the adjacent valley. 

The initial days of the trek take you along forest-clad trails that cross the gravelly riverbed via multiple suspension bridges. By day-4 you are reaching about 2,000m altitude and first glimpses of snow-capped peaks to the north. The villages you pass through have a very long history of Buddhism and beautifully engraved Mani Wall stonework is common and tells ancient stories of the faith. The valley walls are towering rocky mountains that stretch on up through the valley to be lost in the clouds.

A cultural highlight is the village of Ghap and its Buddhist monastery. Be sure to take an afternoon walk from the village up to the monastery and admire the artistry and ornamentation of the main temple rooms. You are sure to encounter young novices learning ancient chants and scripts.

Another day or two brings you to the much larger village of Sama and the foothills of Mount Manaslu itself. The mountain is covered in glistening snow and ice high above the village. It is hard to take your eyes off it. Charge the camera batteries overnight and use your rest-day to hike up towards Manaslu Base Camp. The views as you head higher and higher up the valley wall are stunning everywhere you look.

From here the trail ascends higher above the tree line until you reach the scant few buildings of Dharmashala, which only operates through the warmer months to accommodate trekking groups heading for Larkya Pass. This last ascending day of the trek starts before dawn and takes you along the Larkya Glacier channel to the glacier itself and the desolate 5,135m Larkya Pass. After some photos of your successful pass crossing it’s a rapid descent to the next valley and southward for a couple of days through forests to Dharapani and the drive back to Kathmandu or perhaps Pokhara.

This is a challenging trek. It is long and strenuous and reaches a testing altitude. Choose this trek for its beautiful mountain-peak scenery, unspoiled Buddhist villages and challenge. Click through to more itinerary details.

(Trekking in Manaslu region)

 

Mardi Himal

This is a short trek that packs a lot into a week. The Mardi Himal is a 5,587m peak in the eastern Annapurna Sanctuary. A narrow col ridge abuts Mardi Himal to the sacred peak of Machhapuchhre. This trek takes you rapidly up and up to the 4,500m Mardi Himal Base Camp, weather and snow conditions permitting.

The trek starts just west of Pokhara. The trail heads north through the southern reaches of the Annapurna Sanctuary and villages of the Tamang, Gurung or Bramhin people. The lower regions are covered in dense forest with monkeys, birds and wildlife all around. The trail is especially beautiful when the Rhododendron are in flower.

If you trek to Annapurna Base Camp you head north just as the Madi Himal does, however the Base Camp trail follows the bottom of the river valley. By contrast, the Madi Himal trail follows high ridgelines northward and provides spectacular views to all the main Annapurna peaks from the high ridgeline vantage points. So, this trek offers expansive mountain views. Another point of difference is the much lower number of fellow trekkers you will encounter on the trail. This is an opportunity for some mountain serenity and quiet contemplation.

There are good teahouses and accommodation available at every village and the local people will welcome you warmly. Just the names of some of the villages indicates what to expect – Lovely Hill; Rest Camp; Forest Camp; High Camp.

The trail entails a lot of fairly rapid ascending, so good fitness is required. The support of a guide, and especially a porter, will keep you on the right path and make the ascending easier. The trail is less well formed than the high-traffic Annapurna Base Camp path, but this just adds to the experience and wildness of the trek. Each ridge peak or forest clearing provides new views to Madi Himal itself and the multitude of Annapurna summits beyond. This is another trek that requires extra camera memory cards.

The ultimate day is the trail up to Mardi Himal Base Camp. From here English climbers first reached the summit in 1961. The smart option is to start this day’s walk before dawn and head up to the 4,200m altitude View Point to catch a stunning sunrise over Machhapuchhre and the Annapurna peaks. The trail then continues on to the 4,500m base camp. The last couple of days walk are all about descent, down and down and down again back toward Pokhara.

Choose this trek if you are short of time and want to maximise your scenic views of the Annapurna Sanctuary peaks. However, be prepared for some had walking. Descending can often be harder on the legs than ascending. Click through to more itinerary details.

(View of Mt. Machhapuchhre from View Camp)

 

Langtang Valley

This is the least physically demanding of the six treks, but still delivers a major Himalaya experience. The trail takes you along the Langtang Valley and through the Langtang National Park – the very first national park designated in Nepal. The ultimate goal for most treks is a visit to the Buddhist monastery, the Kyanjing Gompa, at the head of the valley.

The Langtang Valley and surrounding peaks are just north of Kathmandu. A trip up the Chandragiri Cable Car in Kathmandu will provide wonderful views of these peaks. However, it takes a full day’s drive over challenging roads to deliver you to the trek starting point at Syabrubesi. From here the trek takes you eastwards along valley wall trails into the high Langtang Valley. 

Initially, the Langtang Valley is very narrow with no room for safe trekking paths along the river edge. As a result, the trail winds high along the valley side but descends by the third day to the valley floor as the valley widens into a beautiful green grassland the local people utilise for their livestock. Make sure you try the local cheese. 

This trek is reasonably easy walking with no extreme altitudes or challenging high passes to cross. But one sombre moment is passing the site of what was Langtang Village, destroyed by the 2015 earthquake that shook Nepal. Please rest in peace many souls.

The feature of this trek is the stunning scenery. The serene valley curves gently into the distance, flanked high on each side be countless beautiful peaks dusted with snow. In the valley, cattle and yaks graze and local people tend their herds, and make a little cheese too. It is hard to take an uninteresting photo in the Langtang Valley, every view is another potential postcard. This is a wonderful location to capture photos of sunrise and sunset on mountain peaks. With peaks all around there is always some spot capturing the perfect light. A night-time walk under a full-moon is also a fantastic way to experience the valley, but do dress warmly.

When you reach the far end of the valley pay a visit to the historic Kyanjing Gompa and accept a blessing from the Buddhist monks. They make great cheese too. Don’t forget the cheese.

The return walk to Syabrubesi is just as easy and scenic as the walk in. But this time you get to see the mountain scenery from the reverse angle. The return drive to Kathmandu remains bumpy.

There are some side-trek and additional experience options in the Langtang Valley. You might try a day’s mountain climbing to the summit of 5,500m Yala Peak, considered one of the easiest climbs for the less experienced. You could also extend the trek to reach the Gosainkunda Lakes at 4,380m altitude, considered sacred to the Hindu faith.

We suggest you choose to trek the Langtang Valley if trekking in comfort with not too much physical challenge is more your style. Even with modest effort the scenery rewards are huge. This trek also delivers lots of serenity, if that is what you seek.  Click through to more itinerary details.

(Way to Kyanjing Ri)

Which Trek Will You Choose?

We have done our best to outline what we consider to be six of the best treks in Nepal. Please contact us at Langtang Ri if we can help you make the decision. Website: www.langtang.com Email: info@langtang.com 

 
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