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Welcome to the ultimate face-off between two of the most iconic treks in the Himalayas – the Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Manaslu Circuit Trek. In this blog, brought to you by the Glorious Himalaya team, we’ll be putting these two treks against each other to help you decide which one is the best fit for you.
Overview of Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek
Are you looking for an adventure that will take you through some of the most stunning landscapes in the Himalayas? Look no further than the Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Manaslu Circuit Trek. These two trekking routes offer a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Nepal.
Let’s start with the Annapurna Circuit Trek. This classic route takes you on a journey through a variety of landscapes, from lush subtropical forests to high-altitude deserts. The trek covers the Annapurna massif and offers stunning panoramic views of some of the world’s highest peaks, including Annapurna I (8,091m) and Dhaulagiri (8,167m). Along the way, you can immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions of the ethnic communities that inhabit the region. Highlights of the trek include crossing the Thorong La Pass, one of the highest mountains passes in the world, and visiting the sacred Hindu temple of Muktinath.
Now, let’s move on to the Manaslu Circuit Trek. This off-the-beaten-path route takes you through the remote and rugged terrain of the Manaslu Conservation Area. The trek offers a unique cultural experience of the Gurung and Tibetan communities. The trek route offers majestic views of the Manaslu mountain range including Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, and Himal Chuli. Highlights of the trek include crossing the Larkya La Pass, one of the most dramatic mountains passes in the world, and visiting the ancient monasteries.
Whether you choose the Annapurna Circuit Trek or the Manaslu Circuit Trek, you are sure to have an unforgettable adventure that will leave you in awe of the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Nepal. These treks are not for the faint of heart, but for those who are up for the challenge, the rewards are immeasurable.
Difficulty level: Which trek is more challenging?
Both the Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Manaslu Circuit Trek are renowned for their challenging terrain and require a good level of physical fitness and stamina.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is generally considered slightly less challenging than the Manaslu Circuit Trek. The trek involves crossing the Thorong La Pass, which stands at a towering 5,416 meters. However, the route is well-established, and there are numerous teahouses and lodges along the way.
In contrast, the Manaslu Circuit Trek is a more rugged and remote trek that involves crossing the Larkya La Pass at an altitude of 5,160 meters. Unlike the Annapurna Circuit Trek, which is well-developed with numerous teahouses and lodges along the way, you need to be more self-sufficient on the Manaslu Region Trek.
Best time to go on the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek
The best time to go on the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek is during the autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May) seasons.
During the autumn season, the weather is usually dry, and the skies are clear, providing breathtaking views of the mountains. The temperature is also moderate, making it a comfortable time to trek. It is the most recommended time to trek in Nepal, and both the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek are popular during this season.
The spring season is also a fantastic time to go trekking in both regions. The warmer temperatures make it more comfortable for hikers, and the blooming rhododendron flowers add to the beauty of the landscape.
The winter season (December to February) can be very cold, with the higher passes often covered in snow, making it challenging to trek. The summer season (June to August) is considered the monsoon season, with heavy rainfall making the trails muddy and slippery, and the views may be obscured by clouds.
Trekking permits and fees for both treks
Both the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek require trekking permits and fees.
For the Annapurna Circuit Trek, trekkers need to obtain two permits:
- Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP). The cost of the ACAP is NPR 3,000 (approximately USD 25) per person.
- Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card. The cost of the TIMS card is NPR 2,000 (approximately USD 16) per person.
For the Manaslu Circuit Trek, you must obtain Manaslu Restricted Area Permit (MRAP). As of 2021, the cost of the MRAP varies depending on the season:
- From September to November, the permit fee is USD 100 per week per person, with an additional USD 15 per day for each extra day.
- From December to August, the permit fee is USD 75 per week per person, with an additional USD 10 per day for each extra day.
And Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card is needed as well.
Accommodation and food options: What to expect on each trek
Both treks offer a range of accommodation and food options for trekkers. Here’s what to expect on each trek:
Annapurna Circuit Trek:
- The route has well-established teahouses and lodges throughout the trek.
- You can expect basic but comfortable accommodation with a bed, blanket, and pillow.
- Most teahouses offer communal dining areas where trekkers can enjoy meals such as dal bhat (rice, lentils, and vegetables), momos (steamed dumplings), and other Western dishes.
- You can also find snacks, bottled water, and soft drinks at the teahouses.
Manaslu Circuit Trek:
- The route has fewer teahouses than the Annapurna Circuit Trek and some areas require camping.
- You need to carry your own gear, including tents and sleeping bags, for the camping sections.
- The teahouses and lodges that are available are often basic, with shared bathrooms and no heating.
- The food options are similar to the Annapurna Circuit Trek, with dal bhat being the staple meal.
- Snacks and bottled water are also available but may be more expensive than on the Annapurna Circuit Trek due to the remote location.
Overall, you can expect basic but comfortable accommodation and hearty meals on both treks, with more options available on the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
Safety considerations: How safe are the treks?
Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek are generally considered safe, but there are still some safety considerations that trekkers should be aware of. Here are some specific details for each trek:
Annapurna Circuit Trek:
- Altitude sickness: As the trek reaches high elevations, altitude sickness is a concern. It’s important to acclimate properly and recognize the symptoms of altitude sickness, which can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.
- Natural hazards: The Annapurna region is prone to landslides and avalanches, especially during the monsoon season. Trekkers should be aware of the weather conditions and avoid trekking in areas with high risks.
Manaslu Circuit Trek:
- Remote location: The Manaslu Circuit Trek is a more remote trek and requires careful planning and preparation. Emergency services and medical care may not be readily available in some areas, so it’s essential to have a proper first aid kit and emergency communication devices.
- Altitude sickness: Similar to the Annapurna Circuit Trek, altitude sickness is a concern on the Manaslu Circuit Trek due to high elevations. Trekkers should take time to acclimate properly and recognize the symptoms of altitude sickness.
- Landslides and river crossings: The trek involves crossing several rivers and areas prone to landslides. Trekkers should be cautious while crossing and follow the guidance of experienced guides.
Both treks require physical fitness and proper preparation, including suitable clothing and gear. It’s also recommended to trek with an experienced guide and porter, as they can help with navigation and provide support in case of emergencies.
Cost Comparison: Annapurna Circuit Trek vs. Manaslu Circuit Trek
Annapurna Circuit Trek is generally a more affordable option than the Manaslu Circuit Trek due to several factors. Firstly, the cost of trekking permits is lower for the Annapurna Circuit Trek compared to the Manaslu Circuit Trek. Additionally, there are more budget-friendly accommodations and food options available along the Annapurna Circuit route.
However, the total cost of the trek can vary depending on factors such as the duration of the trek, the season, and the level of comfort desired. For example, choosing a shorter itinerary with fewer rest days will lower the overall cost of the trek. Similarly, trekking during the off-season when prices for accommodation and transportation are lower can also reduce costs.
It’s essential to budget for additional expenses such as transportation, equipment rental, and other miscellaneous costs such as tipping guides and porters. These costs can add up and should be taken into consideration when planning the budget for the trek.
Choosing the right trek: Which trek is best for you?
The best trek for you depends on a variety of factors such as your fitness level, trekking experience, time availability and budget. To decide which trek is best for you, consider the following key factors:
Both the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek are challenging treks that require a good level of physical fitness. However, the Manaslu Circuit Trek is generally considered more strenuous due to its remoteness and longer trekking days.
If you’re an experienced trekker in good physical shape, either trek could be suitable for you. If you’re a beginner or have concerns about your fitness level, the Annapurna Circuit Trek may be a better option.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is a more popular and well-established trek compared to the Manaslu Circuit Trek, which is relatively new and less crowded.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous and off-the-beaten-path trek, the Manaslu Circuit Trek could be a great option.
However, if you prefer a more established trek with plenty of accommodation and food options along the way, the Annapurna Circuit Trek may be a better choice.
Annapurna Circuit Trek typically takes around 10-13 days to complete, while the Manaslu Circuit Trek takes around 14-18 days.
If you have additional time, the Manaslu Circuit Trek may be a more practical option. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to account for additional travel time to and from the trekking area.
As previously mentioned, the Annapurna Circuit Trek tends to be a more budget-friendly option due to lower permit fees and greater availability of accommodation and food options.
If you’re on a tight budget, this trek may be the best choice for you. However, keep in mind that additional expenses such as equipment rental, transportation, and miscellaneous costs can add up.
Ultimately, your decision will also depend on your personal preferences. Do you prefer a more challenging and adventurous trek, or do you prefer a more established and comfortable route? Do you want to experience a more off-the-beaten-path trek, or do you want to follow a more popular and well-established route? Consider these factors and choose the trek that best suits your interests and preferences.
Tips for preparing for the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek
Below are some suggestions on how to get ready for these treks:
- Start training early: Both treks involve long hours of walking, often in high altitudes. To prepare, start training a few months before your trek by gradually increasing your endurance and strength through cardio and strength-training exercises.
- Get the right gear: Invest in quality trekking gear, including comfortable and sturdy hiking boots, warm layers, rain gear, and a good quality backpack. Renting equipment in Nepal is also an option.
- Acclimatize slowly: Acclimatization is crucial for both treks, especially when crossing high passes. Plan your itinerary with enough rest days to allow your body to adjust to the altitude gradually.
- Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated is essential for trekking at high altitudes. Carry enough water or hydration salts and drink frequently.
- Pack smart: Pack only the essentials, as you will carry your backpack during the trek. Consider renting a porter to carry your bag and lessen your load.
- Obtain necessary permits: Get the necessary trekking permits and ensure that you have all the required documents and ID proofs.
- Hire a reliable guide and porter: A local guide and porter can help you navigate the trails, assist with carrying your backpack, and provide valuable information about the trek and the region.
- Get travel insurance: Trekking at high altitudes involves risks, and it’s important to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuation.
By following these tips, you can prepare for the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek, making your experience safer and more enjoyable.