Annapurna Circuit Trek Vs Manaslu Circuit Trek

By Glorious Himalaya on April 16, 2023 in Travel Tips, Trekking

The Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Manaslu Circuit Trek are two of Nepal’s biggest and most popular trekking destinations. In this blog, we will discuss the benefits of each trek, compare them, and try to decide which is the best.

Nepal is the place for trekker’s paradise. Many popular treks in Nepal are easy and accessible, like the EBC trek, whereas some treks are challenging and complex to reach, such as the Kanchenjunga Trek. Some of the treks are easy to get, like the Poon Hill trek, whereas others lie in restricted areas like Upper Mustang Trek. But this blog will only discuss two of the best off-beaten treks in Annapurna and Manaslu Circuit Trek.

Overview of Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek

If you are looking for some off-beaten treks in Nepal that are as equally commercial as Everest and Annapurna Base Camp Trek, then two trekking spots come out at the top. They are Annapurna and Manaslu Circuit Trek. The two trekking destinations are trendy among trekkers who like to trek through the wilderness and not trek on the regularly accessible road.

Trekking Trails

Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Annapurna Circuit Trek is the classic trek that takes you through the fantastic landscapes of the Annapurna region. From the lush subtropical forests of the lower altitude to mid-altitude valleys and deserts to the high-altitude snowy peaks and mountains, there is every kind of terrain that you wish to explore and enjoy. During your Annapurna Circuit Trek, you will see some of Nepal’s tallest peaks, like Annapurna I (8,091m) and Dhaulagiri (8,167m). Along the way to ACT, you will also get the chance to indulge in the local culture and traditions of different ethnic communities of the region. Some of the major attractions of the ACT are Jomsom, Muktinath, Lo-ManThang, Kagbeni, Jhinu Danda, Tatopani, etc.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is an off-beaten and wilderness experience, passing through rugged and remote terrain. Within the Manaslu Conservation Area, you will witness endangered flora and fauna. During the trek, prepare to witness mountain ranges like Himal Chuli, Ganesh Himal, and Mt Manaslu. You will also conquer one of the tallest passes in the Manaslu region, the Larkya La Pass, offering breathtaking views of the stunning mountain ranges and the valley below.

Whether you choose the Annapurna Circuit Trek or the Manaslu Circuit Trek, you will have an unforgettable adventure that will leave you in awe of Nepal’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. 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?

Annapurna Circuit and Manaslu Circuit treks are both famous but equally challenging, especially for beginner trekkers. It’s time to find out which is the most difficult.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

The Annapurna Circuit Trek is slightly less challenging than the Manaslu Circuit Trek mainly because it is more accessible. The trek takes you to the wilderness off the beaten path of the Annapurna region. The surrounding area you pass through during your ACT is less remote than the Manaslu area. The highest elevation of the Annapurna Circuit trek is the Thorong La Pass, at 5416m. The route is well-maintained, and there are many lodges and teahouses where you can stay during your trek.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

Manaslu Circuit Trek is another top-rated trek in the Manaslu Region. This more remote and rugged trek takes you to the remote wilderness of the Manaslu region. Its highest elevation is Larkya La Pass at 5160m, which is less than ACT, but the trail is very remote, with few lodges and teahouses in the region.

Best time to go on the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek

Autumn Season

Autumn weather is usually dry, and clear skies provide breathtaking views of the mountains. The temperature is also moderate, making it comfortable to trek. The Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek are popular choices this season.

Spring 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.

Winter Season

The winter season (December to February) can be frigid, and the higher passes are often covered in snow, making trekking challenging.

Monsoon Season

The summer season (June to August) is considered the monsoon season. Heavy rainfall makes the trails muddy and slippery; clouds may obscure the views.

Trekking permits and fees for both treks

Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek require trekking permits and fees.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

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 TIMS card costs NPR 2,000 (approximately USD 16) per person. Manaslu Circuit Trek.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

You must obtain a Manaslu Restricted Area Permit (MRAP) for the Manaslu Circuit Trek. 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, plus 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.

A Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card is also needed.

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 must carry your gear, including tents and sleeping bags, for the camping sections.
  • The available teahouses and lodges are often essential, with shared bathrooms and no heating.
  • The food options resemble the Annapurna Circuit Trek, with dal bhat being the staple meal.
  • Snacks and bottled water are also available, but due to the remote location, they may be more expensive than the Annapurna Circuit Trek.

Overall, both treks offer basic but comfortable accommodations and hearty meals, with more options 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 correctly 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 high-risk areas.

Manaslu Circuit Trek:

  • Remote location: The Manaslu Circuit Trek is more remote and requires careful planning and preparation. Emergency services and medical care may not be readily available in some areas, so having a proper first aid kit and emergency communication devices is essential.
  • Altitude sickness: Similar to the Annapurna Circuit Trek, altitude sickness concerns the Manaslu Circuit Trek due to high elevations. Trekkers should take time to acclimate correctly 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 support in emergencies.

Cost Comparison: Annapurna Circuit Trek vs. Manaslu Circuit Trek

For a few reasons, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is usually cheaper than the Manaslu Circuit Trek. First, the trekking permits cost less for the Annapurna Circuit Trek than the Manaslu Circuit Trek. Also, you can find more affordable places to stay and eat 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.

Budgeting for additional expenses such as transportation, equipment rental, and other miscellaneous costs such as tipping guides and porters is essential. These costs can add up and should be considered when planning the trek’s budget.

Choosing the proper trek: Which trek is best for you?

The best trek for you depends on various 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:

Fitness level:

The Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek are challenging treks requiring 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 may suit you. However, the Annapurna Circuit Trek may be a better option if you’re a beginner or have concerns about your fitness level.

Trekking experience:

The Manaslu Circuit Trek is newer and less crowded than the Annapurna Circuit Trek. If you want an adventurous and less crowded trek, pick the Manaslu Circuit Trek. But if you want a well-established trek with many places to stay and eat, go for the Annapurna Circuit Trek.

Time constraints:

The Annapurna Circuit Trek typically takes 10-13 days to complete, while the Manaslu Circuit Trek takes 14-18 days.

If you have additional time, the Manaslu Circuit Trek may be more practical. However, it would be best to account for additional travel time to and from the trekking area.

Budget:

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 your best choice. However, 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 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, train 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 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, carry your backpack, and provide valuable information about the trek and the region.
  • Get travel insurance: Trekking at high altitudes involves risks, and it’s essential 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.

Conclusion

Overall, the Annapurna and Manaslu Circuit Treks are very special in their own way. They provide fantastic adventure experiences for trekkers visiting Nepal. If you want to explore a region full of people and lots of services, then the Annapurna Circuit Trek is the best place to go. In contrast, if you want an even more remote adventure through the Manaslu region, then the Manaslu Circuit Trek might be your best choice.

However, if you are still in the dilemma of choosing one or the other, why not experience both? GloriousHimalaya has a prepared and curated itinerary that guarantees both fun, challenging, and once-in-a-lifetime itinerary packages of Annapurna and Manaslu Circuit Trek. You have to spare around 30 to 35 days to complete both treks, but the time will be well worth it.

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