Daniella and I have finally locked in our honeymoon plans, and we’ve decided on a truly memorable, once-in-a-lifetime trip. Straight after the wedding weekend in Mexico we’ll hop on a plane and fly to Kathmandu (via Istanbul) where we’ll disappear into the Nepal Himalaya for three weeks of exploration, trekking and even a spot of high-altitude mountaineering around Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world.
We’re especially looking forward to being outdoors and active every day, immersing ourselves in the local culture, and spending some time together completely off-the-grid and without distraction – which will be especially important and enjoyable after all the wedding chaos.
Our plan is to trek around Manaslu over a 21-day private expedition. Starting at Arughat, our anti-clockwise circuit around the mountain we’ll take a side-trip into the remote, culturally Tibetan region of the Tsum Valley, which was only opened to foreigners less than a decade ago. When we get to Larkya La pass around 5,100m the plan is to take a few days to ascend rarely-climbed 6,249m Larkya Peak. The climb will require us to set up base camp, ascend the glacier and spend the night at a 5,700m high camp at the col before going for the summit the next morning. After the climb we’ll cross over Larkya La and begin the long descent to join the Annapurna Circuit at Dharapani and further on to the trailhead where we’ll drive back to Kathmandu for a well-earned celebration before flying out to Istanbul the next day.
I took a lot of time to develop and refine the itinerary for this trip, as there is a lot we want to accomplish in a finite amount of time. We wanted to do a trek in combination with an NMA trekking peak, hopefully complete a circuit (rather than an out-and-back route), and experience the local mountain communities and Tibetan Buddhist culture. We also hoped to explore a less-frequented part of the Nepal Himalaya so that excluded the busy and popular Annapurna Circuit, and I had previously trekked the Everest Region with Dad back in 2004. The Manaslu region, in combination with remote Tsum Valley which was just opened to foreigners in 2007, checked all of those boxes. Adding to that, the Manaslu and Tsum regions were hit especially hard by the April 2015 earthquake, and we were keen to support the local economy which relies on trekkers for their income.
I researched the options online, by reading some trekking guides and through discussions with various trekking companies. Here’s the full itinerary for our 21-day trek and climb:
- Day 01/ 6th Apr – Arrive in Kathmandu and transfer to hotel
- Day 02/ 7th Apr – Preparation day and sightseeing in Kathmandu
- Day 03/ 8th Apr – Drive to Arughat (7-8 hours)
- Day 04/ 9th Apr – Trek to Sotikhola (5-6 hours)
- Day 05/ 10th Apr – Trek to Machhakhola (5-6 hours)
- Day 06/ 11th Apr – Trek to Thulodhunga (4-5 hours)
- Day 07/ 12th Apr – Trek to Philim (5-6 hours)
- Day 08/ 13th Apr – Trek to Chumling in Tsum Valley (7-8 hours)
- Day 09/ 14th Apr – Trek to Chhokang Paro (6-7 hours)
- Day 10/ 15th Apr – Trek to Mu Gompa @ 3,700m (6-7 hours)
- Day 11/ 16th Apr – Trek to Lar (3-4 hours)
- Day 12/ 17th Apr – Trek to Chumling (8-9 hours)
- Day 13/ 18th Apr – Trek to Pewa (5-6 hours)
- Day 14/ 19th Apr – Trek to Ghap (5-6 hours)
- Day 15/ 20th Apr – Trek to Lho (5-6 hours)
- Day 16/ 21st Apr – Trek to Samagaon (3-4 hours)
- Day 17/ 22nd Apr – Rest day in Samagaon with possible acclimatization hike to
Manaslu Base Camp @ 4,900m (6-8 hours)
- Day 18/ 23rd Apr – Trek to Dharmasala (5-6 hours)
- Day 19/ 24th Apr- Trek to Larkya base camp near Larkya La @ 5,100m (3-4 hours)
- Day 20/ 25th Apr – Climb to high camp of Larkya Peak (6-7 hours)
- Day 21/ 26th Apr – Climb to summit of Larkya Peak @ 6,249m, descend to base camp, cross Larkya La @ 5,160m and trek down to Bimtang (9-10 hours)
- Day 22/ 27th Apr – Trek to Dharapani (7-8 hours)
- Day 23/ 28th Apr – Drive to Kathmandu via Besisahar (10 hours)
- Day 24/ 29th Apr – Depart Kathmandu
The Manaslu Circuit itinerary, along with other trekking options such as the Tsum Valley and Nar-Phu side-trips, can be viewed in Google Sheets here.
We will be working with the trekking outfitter Climb High Himalaya for this trip, and they will provide all the trekking and climbing services for this trip. We’ll be doing it as both a teahouse and camping trek with an entourage that will include our guide, a cook, and possibly 4-5 porters to carry all the personal and group gear.
A shout-out to Himalayan Trailblazer as well for all their help developing our plans for this trip. I hope to use them on a future expedition or mountaineering trip in the Himalaya. I first contacted them about the possibility of doing a first ascent expedition in Nepal, and they come highly recommended.