Manaslu Trek Without A Guide: Is A Solo Trek Possible

Manaslu Trek Without A Guide: Is A Solo Trek Possible

A trekker trekking in Manaslu circuit

Introduction

The Manaslu trek was opened by the government of Nepal in 1991/1992 and is governed by National Trust for Nature Conservation(NTNC). The project that aims to conserve the authenticity and wilderness of Manaslu is Manaslu Conservation Area Project(MCAP). The best off-road paths in Nepal can be seen on this Manaslu trail, where you can witness nature’s pristine beauty in its purest forms. Through the Budhi Gandaki River, this hike leads you to a pristine and remote track. The inhabitants of Manaslu are Gurung and Sherpa, who follow Buddhism and are influenced by Tibetan culture. So, can we do the Manaslu trek without a guide?

Different people have different tastes and their own way of doing things. Likewise, when trekking, some people prefer to trek solo, while others prefer guides or partners. If you are a lone wolf, we have some bad news for you. Circumnavigating the Manaslu is prohibited without a guide and attempting to do so is a bad idea.

Unlike other trekking destinations like Annapurna base camp and Everest base camp, one cannot trek on their own because of the restricted villages and Manaslu Conservation area that are a part of the Manaslu trek.

Manaslu trek without a guide – Why prohibited?

Manaslu shares six Village Development Committees(VDCs) with Tibet. Exploring these villages requires additional permits from the government of Nepal. On top of that, there must be at least two people during the entire trek plus a guide, and hiring a potter is optional. Hence, the minimum number of people required to trek the Manaslu circuit is three.

Moreover, trekking routes in Tsum Valley, Larkya La Pass, and Manaslu base camp also share their area with Tibet. Special trekking permits in Manaslu can be acquired by a registered traveling agency.

Permits required for the Manaslu trek

Permit for manaslu circuit trekking

Three permits are a must if one desires to trek the Manaslu circuit. Out of three, Manaslu restricted area permit(MRAP) must be acquired from a registered traveling agency.

However, the Manaslu conservation area project(MACP) and Annapurna conservation area permit(ACAP) can be obtained from cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Three permits required for the Manaslu trek are:

Manaslu restricted area permit

The area between Jagat and Dharapani is set to be a restricted area by the government as this area is close to Tibet. And the permits for this route can only be applied for via a registered traveling agency. You must have your permit before entering Jagat and until crossing Sama Gaun.

Price

  • December to August: US 75 per person for the starting 7 days & US $ 10 per person per day after seven days. 
  • September to November: US 100 per person for the starting seven days & US $ 75 per person per day after 7 days.

Manaslu Conservation Area Project(MCAP) permit

Philim is the starting point of MCAP during the Manaslu trek. You can see a welcome board of MCAP in Philim which is at an elevation of 1,590m from sea level.

Regardless of the season, the price for this permit is US$ 30 per person for any number of days.

Annapurna Conservation Area Project(ACAP) permit

Some part of Annapurna falls under the route of the Manaslu trek, which is the reason for acquiring a permit. The price for an ACAP permit is also US$ 30 and is the same throughout the year.

Tsum Valley permit (Optional)

If you wish to explore the Tsum Valley, you will need a Tsum Valley permit as well. 

Tsum Valley is not a part of the Manaslu trek, and you can skip this permit if you have no

The intention in visiting it. The cost for a Tsum Valley permit is US$ 35 per person for any 

number of days. 

Pros of having a trekking guide during the Manaslu trek

Pros of having a guide on Manaslu circuit trekking

Well, hiring a professional guide is mandatory even if you have experience in trekking alone for years. However, looking at the brighter side, there are many benefits of hiring a guide that will help you complete the trek effortlessly.

Besides compulsion from the government, the advantages of hiring a guide for the Manaslu trek are as follows:

Comfortable Navigation

Sign boards in the trek route of Manaslu can be confusing. There will be teahouses and people in the route but some spots can be tricky. Having an experienced trekking guide can be considered a wise decision as chances of getting lost and walking unnecessary distances can be eliminated.

The guide can work as an interpreter

Having a local guide who speaks both Nepali and English can be fruitful as the language barrier will be broken. You can communicate with the guide and share knowledge and wisdom. Moreover, if you are into the culture and lifestyle of the inhabitants of Manaslu, your guide can interpret questions and answers for both parties.

Support and Safety

Larkya La pass is infamous for altitude sickness as it is located at a height of 5,135m and having a professional guide will help you ease this situation. In higher altitudes, health posts or medical care is not available. Moreover, minor cuts, bruises, and body aches are quite common during the trek. In case of emergency, a guide can call for evacuation via helicopter.

Hassle-free arrangement of permits and documents

If you book a guide from a traveling agency, you can let the guide make all the arrangements for you. All the permits and documents required to complete the trek successfully will be managed by the traveling agency.

Best food and accommodation

An experienced guide will know all the best places to eat and drink during the journey. Based on your preference, you can ask the guide about the availability of food choices in teahouses. Additionally, the guide will know the best tea houses with ideal accommodations.

Helping the guide earn some money

Most of the guides do the job as a side gig along with agriculture or low-paying jobs. Hiring a guide will help them uplift their lifestyle and meet their daily needs. Additionally, you will also play a role in supporting the local tourism of the Manaslu area.

Motivation: Altitude and climate can break you down and test your endurance to the fullest. A guide will motivate and encourage you in such cases. Moreover, a guide can calm you down whenever a panicky situation occurs.

Best spots for pictures and videos: If you are a snapper who loves to take perfect photos for your social media or memories, a guide will direct you to those sweet spots. Besides, if you are a professional vlogger, you can ask the guide to take you to some unknown and hidden places that are less frequently visited.

Price of guide and porters for the Manaslu circuit trek

You can hire a guide and/or potter or potter guide for the Manaslu circuit trek. Guides will help you in navigation, translation, and communication while a potter will help you carry the heavy load of your supplies. A hybrid of both, a potter guide can be hired if you are low on budget. However, a potter guide will lack certain skills, and a good potter guide who possesses all the skills is hard to find. 

Cost for a licensed guide 

The price for a licensed guide is about US$ 20 – US$ 26 per day, including food, accommodation, and insurance.

Cost for a potter

The price for a potter is about US$ 15 – US$ 22 per day, including food, accommodation and insurance. You can expect a potter to carry about 20 kg of weight.

Cost for a Potter guide

The price for a porter guide is about US$ 20 – US$ 25 per day, including food, shelter, and insurance.

How to find an experienced guide for the Manaslu trek?

Manaslu circuit trekking

You are most welcome to do some research and find an experienced guide on your own. There are ways where you would be able to find the best-suited guide according to your budget and expectations. Below is a list of tips to consider before hiring a porter or a guide for the Manaslu Trek:

  1. Be certain that the guide possesses a valid license issued by the government of Nepal.
  2. Ask whether the fee covers food, lodging, and insurance.
  3. Check whether the guide is experienced or not.
  4. Make sure the guide can easily communicate in your native language or English language.
  5. Hiring a guide from a reputed travel agency as guides from trekking agencies like Swotah are genuine.
  6. Make sure that the porter can carry the supplies throughout the journey.
  7. Ask questions about the itinerary of the Manaslu trek.
  8. Ensure that there are no hidden fees after the trek is completed.

Conclusion

To conclude, the Manaslu circuit trek without a guide is impossible to attempt, as per the government of Nepal. The need for a guide is because of the special permits required for the restricted villages and conservation areas that come under the Manaslu circuit trail. The area between Jagat to Dharapani is a restricted area and requires to have a permit. Besides, hiring a guide comes with its own sets of advantages, as explained above.

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