The Manaslu region is situated in the central-western region of Nepal, northwest of the capital city, Kathmandu. It falls within the jurisdiction of the Gorkha District, with Arughat serving as its administrative headquarters. Historically, Arughat served as the starting point for the Manaslu Circuit Trek. However, due to recent road expansions, trekkers now have the option to commence their journey from Soti Khola, further upstream.
The culmination of the Manaslu Circuit Trek takes place in the picturesque village of Dharapani, which also serves as a common stopover for those embarking on the Annapurna Circuit Trek. If you’re interested in comparing the Manaslu and Annapurna Circuit treks, you can find more information on the differences between the two routes here.
Traveling from Kathmandu to Soti Khola via Arughat
If you’re planning to journey from Kathmandu to Soti Khola, keep in mind that there are no direct public buses to Soti Khola, so you’ll need to make a stopover in Arughat. The distance between Kathmandu and Arughat is approximately 136 kilometers, and the journey will take a minimum of 6 to 7 hours.
The road conditions from Kathmandu to Dhading Beshi are generally smooth, with well-maintained asphalt-coated roads. However, as you progress from Dhading Beshi onwards, the terrain can become rough, especially in the section between Arughat and Soti Khola. In some instances, only a four-wheel-drive vehicle can navigate this challenging terrain.
During heavy rainfall, the section approximately 30-45 kilometers ahead of Arughat can become extremely muddy, and there is a risk of landslides in the worst-case scenario. In such conditions, an alternative is to take shortcuts on foot to reach Arughat, a journey that typically takes about 7-8 hours. Alternatively, you can negotiate with vehicles heading in the opposite direction to provide you with transportation to Arughat, as vehicles from both directions might get stuck in the middle.
Traveling from Kathmandu to Soti Khola by Local Bus
There are a few options for morning buses from Kathmandu to Arughat, and they may take different routes. The most recommended option is to take a 35-seater bus via Dhading Beshi, which includes a short lunch break and takes approximately 6-7 hours.
Upon reaching Arughat, you’ll find a transport syndicate system in place, with small jeeps or mini-buses that regularly operate on the Arughat – Soti Khola route.
Traveling from Kathmandu to Soti Khola by Private Jeep
Opting for a private jeep can save you the hassle of waiting and ensure a more comfortable ride. Private jeeps with a tourist plate (green color) can take you directly to Soti Khola without the need for a stopover in Arughat. Moreover, they are less likely to be affected by protests or road closures. If you choose a private jeep with a red plate, it will have to stop in Arughat, and from there, you’ll need to switch to a locally reserved jeep to continue your journey to Soti Khola.
Traveling from Dharapani to Beshi Sahar
Walking between Beshi Sahar and Dharapani is not a recommended option due to heavy traffic and dusty roads. Instead, consider the following alternatives:
Dharapani to Beshi Sahar by Local Jeep
The stretch between Dharapani and Beshi Sahar is part of a larger road project constructed by the Nepali Army, extending all the way to Manang Chame. It’s important to note that these mountain-carved roads can be quite challenging at times. However, it may provide some reassurance to know that there have been no reported fatal accidents, thanks to the skilled local drivers. Local jeeps typically take around 5 hours to traverse this route and depart almost hourly or whenever they are fully loaded.
Dharapani to Beshi Sahar by Private Jeep
To ensure a smooth journey, it’s advisable to pre-book private jeeps. Look for jeeps driven by locals who are familiar with the road conditions. This local knowledge can be invaluable for a safe and efficient trip.
In the event of heavy rainfall, the significant flow of water from waterfalls can lead to road blockages. During such circumstances, your only option is to wait until the water recedes. Attempting to cross in high water is highly discouraged for safety reasons.
Traveling from Beshi Sahar to Pokhara
You have a couple of options for getting from Beshi Sahar to Pokhara:
Beshi Sahar to Pokhara by Local Bus
Finding a bus between Beshi Sahar and Pokhara is convenient, as they operate on a frequent basis. These buses come in various sizes, ranging from small mini coasters that can accommodate 16 people to larger, more comfortable 40-45 seaters. The journey is typically a smooth 4-to-5-hour drive, thanks to the well-maintained road conditions throughout the year.
Beshi Sahar to Pokhara by Private Jeep
If you prefer a more private mode of transportation, you can arrange for a private jeep or car (ideal for groups of 3) to pick you up from Beshi Sahar and take you to Pokhara. This option offers flexibility and comfort, and the journey usually takes around 4 hours.
Traveling from Beshi Sahar to Kathmandu
When traveling from Beshi Sahar to Kathmandu, you have several convenient options to choose from:
Beshi Sahar to Kathmandu by Local Bus
Local buses operate regularly between Beshi Sahar and Kathmandu, providing a cost-effective transportation choice. The journey typically takes around 5 to 6 hours. The road conditions are generally stable, but it’s worth noting that potential landslides can occur once you reach Mugling, where the road intersects with the main East-to-West Highway. Additionally, traffic jams can occasionally cause delays, so you should account for some extra time in your schedule.
Beshi Sahar to Kathmandu by Private Jeep
You can arrange a private jeep for a more private and comfortable ride. The travel time is similar to that of the local bus, usually taking around 5 to 6 hours. Private jeeps offer greater flexibility and the convenience of traveling at your own pace but keep in mind that unexpected traffic congestion or road issues like landslides can still cause delays on the route.
Read more about Manaslu Road Conditions: A Journey Update
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Exploring the Manaslu Region: A Comprehensive Guide
Manaslu Circuit Trek Overview
The Manaslu Circuit Trek is a breathtaking adventure in the central-western part of Nepal, offering trekkers a unique and less crowded alternative to the more popular Annapurna Circuit Trek. This trek boasts a range of highlights, varying difficulty levels, and specific permit requirements.
- Stunning Mountain Views: The Manaslu Circuit offers spectacular views of the Manaslu Range, including the majestic Mt. Manaslu itself, the eighth-highest peak in the world.
- Cultural Immersion: Trek through picturesque villages inhabited by diverse ethnic groups like the Gurungs, Tamangs, and Tibetans, providing opportunities for cultural exchange.
- Remote Wilderness: Experience the raw beauty of the Himalayan wilderness, with pristine forests, gushing rivers, and charming terraced fields.
The Manaslu Circuit Trek is considered moderately challenging, with altitudes ranging from 600 to 5,106 meters above sea level. Trekkers should be prepared for steep ascents and descents, as well as variable weather conditions, especially at higher elevations. It’s advisable to have prior trekking experience and a good level of fitness.
To trek in the Manaslu region, you’ll need a special trekking permit, and it’s compulsory to travel with a registered guide or as part of a group. Additionally, you’ll require an Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) since the trail connects with the Annapurna Circuit.
Comparing Manaslu and Annapurna Circuit Treks
If you’re considering whether to choose the Manaslu Circuit Trek or the Annapurna Circuit Trek, here’s a quick overview of the Annapurna Circuit:
Annapurna Circuit Trek:
- Well-established trekking route with a higher degree of commercialization.
- Varied landscapes, from lush subtropical forests to arid high-altitude plateaus.
- Highlights include the Thorong La Pass, Muktinath Temple, and the Kali Gandaki Gorge.
Safety Tips and Precautions
Trekking in the Manaslu region can be challenging, especially during adverse weather conditions. Here are some safety tips:
- Weather Awareness: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and be prepared for sudden changes in weather, especially during the monsoon season (June to September) and winter (December to February).
- Altitude Sickness: Acclimatize properly to avoid altitude sickness. Ascend gradually and stay hydrated.
- Emergency Contact: Carry a satellite phone or ensure access to emergency communication in remote areas.
- Local Guides: Trekking with experienced local guides is highly recommended for navigation and safety.
The Manaslu region offers an unparalleled trekking experience, combining natural beauty with cultural richness. Whether you choose the Manaslu Circuit Trek or the Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal’s Himalayas promise an unforgettable journey. Be prepared, stay safe, and immerse yourself in the adventure of a lifetime.