The Manaslu Circuit in March experiences winter to spring transition, offering delightful mountainous environments. The days start to become bright and warmer, indicating the arrival of spring season. The trekking trails are adorned with shades of vibrant colors, where rhododendrons are found blooming heavily in red, pink, and purple. The forested areas of the lower Manaslu regions are found painted, offering magnificent insights to the trekkers.
March, as the beginning of a blooming season, is well-defined by the vibrancy of enchanting wildflowers and colorful landscapes. Starting from March, the days tend to be longer, enabling enough time for trekking. The extended daylight hours offer ample time for wide exploration of the Manaslu circuit. March, with its pleasant weather and milder temperatures, is the alluring time to embark on the Manaslu Circuit Trek in the Himalayas.
The Manaslu Circuit trek is indeed challenging but also achievable and rewarding at the same time. It generally takes around 14-18 days to complete the trek, covering a distance of 180 kilometers in approx. The common starting point of the trek is Maccha Khola, which concludes at Besisahar. The highest point of the trek is Larkya La Pass (5,160 meters/16,929 feet).
The trek passes through diverse mountain topographies and remote traditional villages, providing natural and cultural immersion in the Manaslu region. During March, the festive vibes are widespread in local villages providing an opportunity to explore and participate in traditional festivals of the region. Trekking the Manaslu circuit in March is a unique mix of natural beauty and cultural experiences.
Highlights of the Manaslu Trek in March
- March is the beginning of a beautiful spring with vibrant rhododendron blossoms.
- Stable weather in March offers enhanced clarity, with unobstructed views of the Manaslu massif and other towering peaks in clear skies.
- March temperatures are moderate and pleasant for comfortable trekking experiences.
- Blooming flora, enchanting landscapes, and enhanced views of mountain peaks create a scenic environment for photography.
- March offers a vibrant atmosphere in teahouses with warmth and genuine hospitality.
- Nature comes alive with March and offers a chance to witness the valuable wildlife of the Manaslu region.
- March provides an opportunity to explore and engage in several local and cultural festivals.
March weather and temperature in the Manaslu Circuit
The March weather of the Manaslu trek is favored by the moderate temperature and stable weather conditions. However, there is no guarantee in saying that the weather will remain as predicted. The high mountainous weather can change in no time. So, it is always advisable to pack layers of clothes in order to stay warm and dry throughout the journey. Likewise, the lower altitudes are warmer during the daytime, but the higher elevations still experience cold temperatures. Mostly, the evenings, nights, and mornings are colder in high-altitude regions above 4,000 meters.
The Manaslu trek starts from 710 meters and reaches 5,160 meters altitude above sea level. This shifting elevation causes temperature variations, and the temperature drops significantly while gaining high altitudes. Weather is affected in a similar way, so it is good to be prepared for weather and temperature fluctuations that may lead to the possibility of cold and windy conditions.
- Lower altitude temperature upto 1,500 meters.
The Manaslu Circuit temperature at lower elevations can range from 10-20 degrees Celcius during daytime, and the night temperature can drop around 0-10 degrees Celcius.
- Moderate altitude temperature from 1,500 meters to 3,000 meters.
The moderate elevation temperature in the daytime ranges from 5 to 15 degrees Celcius. Whereas the night temperatures can be freezing cold, ranging from -5 to 5 degrees Celcius.
- High altitudes above 3,000 meters.
Temperatures in higher elevations are found to be around -5 to 10 degrees Celcius on days and hover around -10 to -5 degrees Celcius at night.
Most of the Manaslu region remains dry in March with reduced precipitation, less avalanches and fog. Although the lower regions experience less or no rain/snowfall, the higher elevations, including the Larkya La Pass, can have snow accumulation, which you need appropriate gear to overcome through the snowy trails. Weather-favored clean trails help for comfortable trekking, and clear blue skies offer undisturbed visibility of mountain peaks.
Difficulties of Manaslu Trek
Proper physical fitness
The Manaslu trek is a strenuous journey that requires good physical fitness. This challenging trek involves varied and rugged terrains, high altitudes, steep ascents, and descents that demand excessive physical exertion. Trekkers need to have a moderate to high level of fitness with a considerable level of strength and stamina. You can prepare for the trek by engaging in cardiovascular training (dancing, aerobics, jogging, cycling, etc ) and constant physical exercises (push-ups, squats, planks, etc) that help to build up endurance capability.
Each day of long hours of trek with a backpack is tiring. Therefore, a backpack containing your trek essentials has to be manageable with only the most important packing. Practice training with a loaded backpack to be better accustomed to carrying a moderate weight for longer trek hours. Furthermore, crossing Larkya La Pass adds to the difficulty of the Manaslu trek journey, requiring excessive physical endurance and power due to the challenging steep ascent.
Altitude Sickness and Acclimatization
The Manaslu Circuit trek involves reaching a high altitude of above 5,000 meters. It is while crossing the highest point of the trek, Larkya La Pass, at 5,160 meters/16,929 feet. This significant altitude creates the need for proper acclimatization. Acclimatization is essential to adjust the body to the increasing elevation and avoid the chance of prevailing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is normally caused due to the high pace of ascend; as a result, a body doesn’t get adequate enough time to cope with the reduced level of oxygen and change in air pressure. The symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, etc.
Altitude sickness is a high risk in the Manaslu trek due to the height the trek reaches. The general symptoms of altitude sickness, like dizziness and headache, are seen after reaching 2,500 meters/8,202 feet. There are three stages of altitude sickness such as acute mountain sickness (AMS), high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), which possess a great chance of occurring if well acclimatization is not done. Focus on gradual ascent and lower down to elevations until you become ready for the further ascents. Always listen to your body, and do not let altitude sickness prevail or become severe till you lose coordination and performance.
Long Duration and Remote Terrains
The Manaslu Circuit trek is a long-duration journey that takes around 14-18 days to complete. This lengthy trek also demands a daily walking distance of about 6-8 hours and robust health and stamina to deal with the sustained trek. Moreover, the trekking trails are not easy and smooth but incorporate uneven land surfaces, rocky paths, several river crossings, and challenging navigation through rugged landscapes.
Also, the trek meets its highest point, Larkya La Pass, which has a slanting ascent. You need proper bodily balance and sturdy legs to overcome the trekking journey of Manaslu Circuit. You can use the trekking poles that aid the stability in walking. Likewise, hiring professional, well-experienced, and licensed guides is essential for navigation assistance, and porters can help carry your loads and backpacks.
Food and Accommodation
Food and accommodation for the Manaslu trek in March are fulfilled by the commonly available teahouses and lodges along the trail. You can expect basic accommodations with limited amenities. Only simple facilities like shared rooms (with twin bedding, mattresses, pillows, blankets, etc), shared bathrooms, and common dining spaces are available in the teahouses. Likewise, traditional-style toilets are found outside of the teahouses with no modern toiletries. Therefore, it is best to be self-reliant with personal hygiene items.
The accommodation services and facilities greatly depend on the cost. You can also find more luxurious lodges with modern amenities in lower regions. Luxurious accommodation services will be scarcer the more you reach higher elevations. While in teahouses, you can have a hot shower or bucket of hot water and wifi facilities at an added cost. The communal dinner area offers a vibrant atmosphere in the teahouses with fellow trekkers around. You can communicate and enjoy the evening, sharing stories and experiences of the journey.
Accommodations in March, along with the trekking trails, seem lively due to the flow of trekkers. As March is a good time for Himalayan treks, the flow can quickly and easily fill up the spaces. Therefore, it is better to know primarily about the handiness of accommodation during the trek and if the possibility is low, then reserve the room.
The food offered in the teahouses is some popular traditional meals and locally available fresh items. In addition, the teahouse menu also covers several continental dishes. Local food includes dal bhat, momo, yak steaks, mushroom soups, noodles, thukpa, etc., and Western cuisines include sandwiches, pizza, spaghetti, etc. A variety of drinks like milk, canned juice, tea choices (milk, black, lemon, honey, ginger), coffee, etc. are available. Hot and purified water is also available in teahouses, and mineral water is found along the trekking routes. However, the cost of food and beverages is higher in high-altitude regions than at lower altitudes.
Permits for the Manaslu Trek
Manaslu Circuit trek in the Manaslu region cover a wide range of areas. The trek circumnavigates the Manaslu massif, and the permits for the Manaslu trek in March are required for the several days of trekking in the Manaslu region. The permits for trekking the Manaslu Circuit include the following:
Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP)
A significant portion of the Manaslu region is occupied by the Manaslu Conservation Area. Manaslu trek passes through this protected area, and MACP is crucial to enter and trek within the Manaslu Conservation Area. The cost of an MCAP permit is NPR 3,000 per person, with unlimited validity. There is no extra charge for additional days of trekking, so you can spend extended days with the same MCAP permit.
Manaslu Restricted Area Permit (MRAP)
Some areas fall under a restricted zone, one of which is the Manaslu region. Because of the restriction, a special Restricted Area Permit is required to enter and trek in the region. During the trek into the Manaslu region, the restricted zone starts from Jagat and continues until Bimthang. MRAP helps manage trekkers in the region and regulate their frequency. The MRAP cost varies during particular seasons, which is generally high at peak seasons (Autumn and Spring) and comparatively low at off-seasons (Summer and Winter).
MRAP permit costs from September to November
- USD 100 per person for the first week.
- USD 15 per day per person after a week
MRAP permit costs from December to August
- USD 75 per week per person for the first week
- USD 10 per day per person after the initial seven days
Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP)
Annapurna Conservation Area Permit is required for trekking in the Manaslu region. It is because to enter the Manaslu Conservation Area, you first have to make a way through the Annapurna Conservation Area. Therefore, the ACAP permit is a mandatory permit to enter and trek in the protected area and complete the Manaslu Circuit trek. This permit is mainly required from Dharapani until reaching Beshisahar. Dharapani being the starting point of the ACAP area, the permit allows you to pass the villages descending through there. The general cost of ACAP is NPR 3,000 per person with no additional charge for extended days.
TIMS is a vital trekking permit for all treks in the mountains. It helps authorities to keep track of trekkers during their trek in the Himalayan regions. Required information is accessed through a TIMS card like name, nationality, emergency contact, and trekking route. Likewise, the record of information inserted into the system helps authorities and local people quickly respond to any incidents and run rescue operations. The TIMS card can either be acquired from registered trekking agencies or the office of the Nepal Tourism Board. The cost of a TIMS card is NPR 2,000 per person and remains unchanged throughout the year.
March Packing Lists for Manaslu Trek
The Manaslu trek passes several landscapes of the Manaslu region, with the trekking route navigating challenging terrains. March trek can experience diverse weather and temperatures in the high-altitude regions of Manaslu. So, it is essential to pack the right clothes, equipment, and gear regarding the climatic conditions of March. Below is the recommended packing list of items for the comfortable and successful Manaslu trek.
- Equipment and gear – Trekking Poles, Sleeping Bag, and Down Jacket (Above 4,000 meters for mornings, evenings, and nights)
- Bodywear – Lightweight T-shirts, Pullover, Thermal tops and bottoms, Trekking shorts and pants, Flexible hiking trousers, Water/Windproof jackets
- Headwear – Sun/Brimmed Hat, UV protection Sunglasses, Headlamp, Scarf
- Handwear – Woolen gloves, Waterproof gloves
- Footwear – Hiking Boots, Woolen socks, Pair of light socks
- Health and hygiene – Toilet paper, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Soap, Shampoo, Deodorant, face towel, Nail cutter, Wipes, Hand sanitizer, Lip balm, and Sunscreen.
- First Aid Kit – Tweezers, Bandages, Thermometer, Small scissors, Antiseptic, Safety pins, Gauze pad, etc.
- Accessories – Smartphones, Earplugs, Camera, Spare batteries
- Miscellaneous – Water Bottle, Diamox tablet (for altitude sickness), Journals, Play cards
Note: You can pack the trek items in the provided duffel bag and can rent the sleeping bag for USD 35, which needs to be returned after the trek.
Tips for Manaslu Trek in March
- The Manaslu Circuit trek journey is demanding, both physically and mentally. Mental resilience is important to trek in challenging high-altitude remote terrains, and varied weather conditions, and physical endurance is a must to overcome the challenges of trek.
- The milder temperatures of March offer warm and pleasant days at lower altitudes, but the mornings and evenings at the high elevations can be colder. So, pack warm clothes to stay cozy during the journey.
- Pack layers to accommodate the temperature variations. Carry mixed clothes, including heavy ones for cold weather and lightweight ones for warm temperatures.
- Despite March being a delightful time for trekking, the risk of altitude sickness occurs due to the trek’s high altitude. So, focus on the gradual ascent with enough days for acclimatization.
- Hiring a guide helps with logistics, enhances safety, and provides an immersive trekking experience. Likewise, porters help to relieve the load of your backpack.
- Maintain good hydration and proper hygiene to stay healthy and carry a basic first aid kit to respond in case of injuries and general medications for illness.
- March offers blooming landscapes and enhanced visibility of the surroundings allowing for the photography opportunity. Capture the enchanting topographies and snow-capped mountains during your March trek to Manaslu.
- March is a popular trekking month. So, it is good to check the accommodation availability and make reservations beforehand.
- Although water is available in taps along the trekking journey, it is not safe to drink directly. So carry purification tablets or a hot water bottle from teahouses to stay healthy and hydrated.
- Due to the remote nature of the trek in the secluded location, evacuation can be tough in case the emergency hits. So, it is recommended to have travel insurance and evacuation coverage for the Manaslu Circuit trek.
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FAQs About Manaslu Trek in March
What weather can I expect for the Manaslu trek in March?
March offers milder temperatures and stable weather conditions. The March days are warm and delightful; however, nights can be colder at high altitudes. Likewise, the weather is less hazy and pleasant, with clear blue skies that provide enriched visibility of the Manaslu surroundings.
When is the best time for the Manaslu trek?
The best time for the Manaslu trek is during spring and autumn. March to May in spring and September to November in autumn provide the best weather and adjustable temperature for the Manaslu trek. The clear weather and moderate temperature during this time favor a comfortable journey.
How can I prepare for the Manaslu trek?
To prepare for the Manaslu trek, emphasize a gradual and steady pace of ascent, allowing enough time for acclimatization. This helps to minimize the chance of altitude sickness. Also, stay alert to the possible symptoms and keep yourself hydrated throughout the journey. Engage in physical exercises and cardiovascular training to excel in stamina and endurance capacity.
What about the teahouse availability in March for the Manaslu trek?
As March is a popular trekking time, the teahouses and lodges can fill up easily; however, there are several teahouses along the way. It will be wise of you to check the availability of accommodations and book in advance to secure a spot.
What are the essential pack lists for March?
Although March offers mild temperatures with pleasant and stable weather, you can pack regarding the climatic variations in the high-altitude Himalayan regions. Pack a mix of light and heavy clothes along with wind and waterproof jackets in case of rain and snowstorms. Carry sturdy trekking boots with good grip and ankle support for a smooth and comfortable trek.
What are the health precautions for the Manaslu trek?
Maintain good personal hygiene to stay healthy and fresh throughout the trekking journey. Carry a basic first aid kit and general medications to be prepared for injuries and minor health complications. To avoid the risk of altitude sickness, stay hydrated by consuming enough water and other fluids and acclimatize to the environment.
Can I trek independently in Manaslu Circuit?
No, you cannot do a solo trek in the Manaslu Circuit. The Manaslu region has permit regulations, and permits are not issued for individual trekkers. Meanwhile, trekking with a licensed agency is recommended. For effective and safe navigation and insights into the natural and cultural aspects of the trek, it is better to trek in a group, hiring local guides and porters.
What about the mobile network coverage along the Manaslu Circuit?
Due to the remoteness of the Manaslu trek, you may face communication challenges. The mobile network coverage is limited along the circuit as the region is also less populated compared to other trekking trails. Due to this, you have to carry satellite phones for contact in case of emergencies.