Samagaun, also known as Samagaon, is a picturesque village within Nepal’s Gorkha district, amidst the captivating Manaslu region. This quaint hamlet is a favored resting point for acclimatization among trekkers embarking on the renowned Manaslu Circuit Trek.
Nestled within a tranquil valley, Samagaun is embraced by majestic peaks and verdant panoramas, situated at an altitude of 3530 meters above sea level. The allure of the place is further heightened by its rustic stone dwellings and fluttering prayer flags, which contribute to its enchanting ambiance.
Samagaun village holds a prominent role as a favored acclimatization hub for all Manaslu-bound treks. In response to this, the village accommodates essential guesthouses and modest shops, strategically placed to serve the needs of travelers on their journey.
Why is Samagaun in Manaslu popular among tourists?
Perched at a lofty elevation, Samagaun offers trekkers a comprehensive array of amenities, spanning from delectable cuisine and cozy guesthouses to petite boutiques. Nestled in proximity to the Himalayas, the village grants adventurers the privilege of gazing upon mountain vistas from their lodgings.
Furthermore, acclimatization stands as an essential facet of navigating high-altitude treks. As elevation increases, the air thins and oxygen levels diminish, heightening the risk of altitude sickness—a potentially perilous condition if not managed prudently.
Before traversing the lengthy Larke La Pass (5,106 m), among Nepal’s lengthiest mountain passes, trekkers require ample time to adapt to Samagaun’s elevation. This vibrant village serves as an idyllic locale for acclimatization, be it for the circuit trek or the Manaslu with Tsum Valley Trek, boasting a lower altitude than Larke La Pass.
Samagaun bustles with vitality, inviting trekkers to repose, relish savory fare, engage with locals, explore monasteries, and immerse themselves in age-old traditions. The locale conveniently facilitates excursions to nearby gems like Pungyen Gompa, Birendra Tal, and Manaslu Base Camp.
Despite the season, Samagaun maintains a chill in the air, with temperatures plunging to -10 degrees Celsius in winter and hovering between 5 to 15 degrees Celsius throughout summer. Stay abreast of the routine weather forecast for this locale.
Here are 3 popular side trips in Samagaun for your rest day:
Samagaun to Pungyen Monastery
The Samagaun village is a starting point for a picturesque hike to the Pungyen Monastery (Gompa).
Trail Distance: 9.16 miles approx.
Elevation Gain: 2546 ft. approx.
Time required: 5-6 hours
Embarking from the enchanting morning vista of Samagaun, the trek unfolds with your departure from the settlement and entry into expansive fields. A scene adorned with yaks grazing and other natural wonders greets you along the path. After an hour or two of trekking, you arrive at Shree Gaurishankar Basic School. A short jaunt from this point leads to a divergence in the route, guiding you toward the revered Pungyen Monastery.
Initially, your journey meanders along zigzagging trails ensconced by embracing trees, providing a reassuring backdrop. Gradually, the trees recede, yielding to ascending terrain. As you climb, the path transforms into a precipitous, slender trail, its flanks adorned with scant vegetation or sometimes none at all. Approximately an hour from the lower monastery gate, the culmination of your ascent unfolds – the venerable Pungyen Monastery (Gompa).
Nestled beneath the protective shoulder of Mt. Manaslu, known also as Mt. Pungyen, the Pungyen Monastery holds profound religious significance. With a history spanning around 400 years, this monastery assumes a cultural cornerstone for the Nubri people, a community rooted in the Tibetan tribe.
Local lore paints the icy Himalayan peaks as sanctuaries cherished by deities and guardians of the land. Among these celestial protectors, Lord Pungyen, esteemed as the guardian of the Mount Manaslu vicinity, stands prominent. In an expression of reverence and to secure safeguarding for their community and domain, the Nubri people erected the Pungyen Monastery, an edifice infused with deep spiritual meaning. The realms of Nubri and Tsum Valley in the embrace of Mount Manaslu host the two principal ethnic groups of Nubri.
In alignment with the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism, the Pungyen Monastery boasts architectural and stylistic echoes of this tradition. The landscape is adorned with vibrant prayer flags, intricate murals, and revered relics, all encapsulating a sense of serenity and inspiration. The backdrop of Mt. Manaslu lends an awe-inspiring aura to this haven of tranquility.
Samagaun to Birendra Lake (Tal)
Trail Distance: 1.88 miles approx.
Elevation Gain: 394 ft. approx.
Time required: 1-2.5 hours
The journey from Samagaun to Birendra Lake presents a comparatively gentler terrain when juxtaposed with certain other excursions. The path ascends from the Samagaun Monastery, traverses fields, and culminates at the foothills of the Birendra Lake trail.
Birendra Lake, a freshwater body nestled upon a glacier, exudes a serene atmosphere that lends itself splendidly to relaxation and acclimatization. Along the lake’s banks, trekkers often construct rock cairns—stacks of stones—adorning the landscape and further enhancing the lake’s allure.
In terms of duration, the hike to Birendra Lake is relatively concise when measured against alternative side trips. This quality renders it an ideal choice for an acclimatization day excursion. Moreover, it affords adventurers the opportunity to relish the area’s natural beauty while accommodating the progression to higher altitudes.
During the winter months, a fascinating transformation occurs as Birendra Lake succumbs to icy embrace, becoming a pristine ice lake. This remarkable occurrence adds a distinctive touch to the locale’s charm. While some trekkers are drawn to the experience of walking atop the frozen lake surface, it’s essential to note that such endeavors are not advisable.
Samagaun to Manaslu Base Camp
Elevation Gain: 4,166 ft. approx.
Time required: 5-7 hours
Embarking on the hike to Manaslu Base Camp (4,800 meters) is undeniably an exhilarating venture for trekkers, yet it stands as the most formidable among the array of side trips originating from Samagaon. This ascent to the base camp, while grueling, bestows upon you the grandeur of elevated vistas, simultaneously aiding in your acclimatization. The journey spans approximately 6 to 7 hours and elevates you to a height of 4,800 meters (15,748.03 ft.), involving an altitude gain of roughly 4,166 feet.
Though demanding a full day of exertion, the trek to Manaslu Base Camp yields a gratifying and enriching encounter. The trail commences in Samagaon and unfurls through a mosaic of landscapes, traversing verdant woodlands and unforgiving terrain alike. En route, your senses shall be treated to awe-inspiring panoramas that encompass not only the towering presence of Mt. Manaslu but also the charming hamlet of Samagaon and the serene Birendra Lake.
The trajectory leads you in close proximity to the regal pinnacle of Mt. Manaslu. Here, you shall be privy to breathtaking glimpses of glaciers and encircling peaks, including the majestic Himalchuli (7,893m), the resolute Ganesh Himal (7,319m), and the lofty Shringi Himal (7,187m). Given the elevated altitude of the base camp at 4,800 meters, prudent acclimatization in Samagaun prior to embarking on this ascent is imperative.
Spring marks the climbing season for Mt. Manaslu, and it is conceivable that you may cross paths with intrepid climbers amidst their preparations or upon their return from their arduous ascents. Their presence lends an air of camaraderie and a tangible sense of the challenges and triumphs inherent to the Manaslu expedition. Their stories, challenges, and experiences become an integral part of the tapestry of this remarkable journey.
Nestled along the Manaslu Circuit route, Samagaun shines as a true gem. This village not only offers vital acclimatization but also treats trekkers to unparalleled vistas and delectable sustenance, infusing them with renewed vigor for the journey ahead. Its innate allure, a harmonious blend of natural splendor and cultural opulence, weaves an enchanting spell that etches indelible memories within the Himalayan landscape.