Manaslu Circuit Trek VS Annapurna Circuit trek

Manaslu and Annapurna are closely suited, two interesting treks in the central north of Nepal.

Manaslu Circuit Trek VS Annapurna Circuit trek

Manaslu and Annapurna are closely suited, two interesting treks in the central north of Nepal. While the Annapurna Circuit trek has been popular for more than half a century, the Manaslu Circuit Trek is a newly discovered trail, recently getting a lot of attention from the world. So, if you are planning your trek to Nepal, you might be overwhelmed by all the explanations about these two treks in Nepal.

Now, let’s clear your confusion and find out Manaslu Circuit Trek VS Annapurna Circuit trek so that we can pick the best one.


Manaslu Circuit Trek 

Manaslu region lies within the Gorkha district of Nepal, east of the Annapurna range. It homes Mount Manaslu which is the world’s 8th highest peak at 8,163 meters above sea level. In Sanskrit manasa, means “intellect” or “soul”. After many unsuccessful attempts, Manaslu was first climbed in 1956 by the Japanese team. The entire region is protected under the Manaslu Conservation area. This conservation area of 1,663 sq. km (642 sq mi) was established in 1998. 

Manaslu Circuit trek circumference this Mount Manaslu from Soti Khola to Dharapani, almost completing the circle in 13 to 17 days. In the circumference, we cross the subtropical Himalayan foothills in the lower region and enter into the alpine aird landscape, offering a completely distinct view. For many years, this restricted trekking region of Nepal remained a camping trek, thus only being accessible to professional trekkers. However, Manaslu Trek has now been a tea house trekking trail, thus attracting the attention of the world.

Annapurna Circuit trek

Annapurna region mostly lies within the Lamjung, Manang, and Mustang district of Nepal in the proximity of the Annapurna range. It homes Mount Annapurna which is the world’s 10th highest peak at 8,091 m meters above sea level. It is also called the most beautiful mountain in Nepal. In Sanskrit Anna, means “food” or “nourishment” and Purna means “fulfillment. 

A French expedition team first climbed Annapurna in 1950. Since then, the trek to Annapurna started gaining the attention of the whole world. The mountain is protected under Annapurna Conservation Area, the largest in Nepal. This 7,629-square-kilometre (2,946 sq mi) conservation area was made in the year 1986. 

Annapurna Circuit trek circumference this Mount Annapurna from Besishar to Jomsom in 13 to 17 days. In the circumference, we cross the subtropical Himalayan foothills in the lower region and enter the semi-arid landscape of Manang and Mustang, offering a completely distinct landscape view.

Trek highlight: Annapurna Circuit trek vs Manaslu Circuit trek

Annapurna Circuit trekManaslu Circuit trek
View of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Fishtail, Mardi, Gangapurna, Khangsar Kang, Tarke Kang, Lachenal Peak, Nilgiri Himal North/ central/ south, and many more peaks above 6,000 meters from the different view pointsPanoramic view of Manaslu, Annapurna II and Lamjung Himal and many other himlayan peak right from the Manaslu Base Camp
Conquer Thorong La Pass 5,416 meters 17,769 ft, above sea levelConquer Larke Pass 5160 m, above the sea level
Visit Muktinath, Nepal’s most holy pilgrimage site for Hindu and Buddhist followersVisit Pungen Monastery, one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in the Manaslu region
Witness the unique landscape and culture of ManangWitness the unique landscape and culture of Sama Gaun and Samdo
Trek along the Kali-Gandaki Gorge, the world’s deepest gorgeTrek along the Budi-Gandaki gorge
A chance to visit Phewa lake and other natural wonders of Pokhara 

Trek Overview: Manaslu Circuit Trek VS Annapurna Circuit trek

To start the Manaslu circuit trek, you shall first drive to Arughat Bazaar in Gorkha and get the Jeep to Soti Khola. From here, you walk to Machha Khola and Jagat. Getting deeper into the Manaslu area, we stop at villages such as Deng, Namrung, and Lho before getting to Sama Gaon. From Sama Goan, we can visit Manaslu Base Camp or Pungen Monastery before walking down to Samdo. Here, we visit a Tibetan border before getting down to Dharamsala. Finally, we cross Larke Pass (5160 m) to get to Bhimtang for joining the Annapurna Circuit trek trail at Dharapani. From here, we drive to Besishar and then to Kathmandu, thus bringing our trip to the end. 

To start the Annapurna Circuit Trek, one must first drive to Besisahar, the headquarters of the Lamjung district, and then head to Jagat on a Jeep. Then, you shall cross Dharapani to get into Chame and Pisang before getting to Manang. The restricted trekking region of Manang is our acclimatization point before we cross Thorong La high pass and get into the Mustang district. Thus visitng Muktinath and Jomsom, we walk down to Tatopani. From Tatopani, we drive to Pokhara, the magical city of lakes. A final tour to Kathmandu brings our trip to the end. 

Trek Itinerary: Manaslu Circuit Trek VS Annapurna Circuit trek

Manaslu Circuit Trek ItineraryAnnapurna Circuit Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Drive from Kathmandu to Soti Khola (710m)
Day 2: Trek from Soti Khola to Machha Khola (900 m)
Day 3: Trek from Machha Khola to Jagat (1340 m)
Day 4: Trek from Jagat to Deng (Dyang) (1860 m)
Day 5: Trek from Deng to Namrung (2660 m)
Day 6: Trek from Namrung to Sama Gaun (3220 m)
Day 7: Acclimatization Day at Sama Gaun (3220 m)
Day 8: Trek from Sama Gaun to Samdo (3860 m)
Day 9: Rest Day at Samdo (3860 m) (Acclimatization Hike to Tibet Border)
Day 10: Trek from Samdo to Dharamasala (4480 m)
Day 11: Trek from Dharamasala to Bhimtang (3750 m) via Larke Pass (5160 m)
Day 12: Trek from Bhimtang to Gho (2550 m)
Day 13: Trek from Gho to Dharapani (1910 m)
Day 14: Drive from Dharapani to Beshisahar to Kathmandu
Day 1: Kathmandu to Besisahar to Jagat (1,100m)
Day 2: Trek to Dharapani (1,960m)
Day 3: Trek to Chame (2,710m)
Day 4: Trek to Pisang (3,300m)
Day 5: Trek to Manang (3,500m)
Day 6: Acclimatization Day at Manang
Day 7: Trek to Yak Kharka(4,110m)
Day 8: Trek to Thorong Phedi(4,600m)
Day 9:Trek to Thorong La – Muktinath(3,800m)
Day 10: Trek to Tatopani(2,135 m)
Day 11: Drive to Pokhara (2800m)
Day 12: Drive/ fly to Kathmandu (1400m)

Trek facts: Manaslu VS Annapurna Circuit trek

ParameterAnnapurna Circuit trekManaslu Circuit trek
Max elevation5416 m  5167 m
Trek duration12 days14 days
Trek Cost$1200$900
Trek distance160 and 200 kilometers 177 kilometers
Trek DifficultyModerateModerate
Solo TrekkingAllowedNot allowed
Independent trekkingAllowedNot allowed
GuideNot CompulsoryCompulsory
Travel agency bookingNot CompulsoryNot Compulsory but recommended
TrailWell Marked  Well Marked  
PermitTIMS card and Annapurna Conservation area permitAnnapurna Conservation area permit, Manaslu Conservation area permit, Manaslu Restricted area permit

Difference in Experience

ParameterAnnapurna Circuit trekManaslu Circuit trek
Ethnics TribeGurung, Ghale, Manange & ThakaliLama, Thakuri & Bhote
Possible side tripsTilicho Lake, Ice Lake, Gangapurna Lake & Nar Phu Valley  Serang Gompa, Hinang Gompa, Pungyen Gompa, Birendra Lake, Manaslu Base Camp & Tsum Valley
Access to Tibet BorderYesNo
Domestic Flight availabilityFrom Jomsom to PokharaNO
Major RiverMarsyangdi & KaligandakiBudi Gandaki
AccommodationTea house and HotelsTea house
CrowdRelatively highRelatively low

Which is harder Annapurna or Manasu Circuit trek?

Although considered moderately hard, the newbie trekkers find that Manaslu Circuit is more physically demanding. Since the Manaslu Circuit trek has lots of stairs, narrow passages, and long distances to travel, it is hard. Also, if you plan the Manaslu TUSM Valley trek, adding more destinations, it gets more difficult. Annapurna Circuit trek is also hard, but with the right guidance, the only hard part of the trek is the Thorang La pass. Although the distance is higher in Annapurna Circuit trek, the path is relatively easy. 

Conclusion and Verdit 

Well, both of these treks are absolutely fantastic and one of the best treks on the whole earth. The Annapurna Circuit is already popular worldwide and very frequently talked about. It’s relatively easy, happening, and the choices for food and accommodation are relatively high. However, you don’t get to visit the mountain’s base camp, but the trip to Manang and Muktinath makes it worth it. The final visit to Pokhara and relaxing stay in Lakeside also get some brownie points. So, it’s always more recommended, especially for newbie trekkers. 

The Manaslu Circuit on other hand is less frequent and quiet. If solitude and peace are what you seek, this is the ideal trek for you. Manaslu Circuit trek now offers a more authentic Himalayan trek as you get to see the mountains right from its Manaslu Base Camp. But the journey is relatively arduous and accommodation is quite basic. Also, the Himalayan Masters’ Manaslu Circuit trek is cheaper than that of Annapurna.

Now, the choice is yours. 

Whatever you pick, Himalayan will always be here to help you. Send us an email with any queries and bookings.

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