Kathmandu to Aarughat by bus. Local bus from Aarughat to Soti Khola
Getting to the Manaslu Circuit Trail
The first day of the Manaslu Circuit is a commuting day. Getting from Kathmandu to the beginning of the trail in Aarughat is usually a 6+ hour ride and can vary depending on your mode of transportation (bus vs. jeep), the road conditions, and any number of random things that can happen along the way.
Our guide, Kazi, met us early at the hotel, by 6:15am. We had eaten breakfast, packed our gear, and had already dropped extra bags at the hotel desk for storage while we were away.
We zipped across the city to the local bus we would take us to our trail head. Getting there early to ensure we got seats—good seats—was important for us. (One of us is 6'4" tall and another tends to get motion sickness.) All our gear ended up being tied to the roof of the bus, so we pulled out our valuables, stretched our rain covers around the bags, and tossed 'em up.
A good idea: I kept my passport, cash, and electronics in a small bag that was easy to pull from my pack. I didn't worry about damage or loss because I could keep it with me—and the waterproof, 1L, Sea-to-Summit bag kept the crazy amount of dirt and dust out of my electronics.
The bus ride
The ride was long and dusty. We initially got stuck in a traffic jam inside Kathmandu and this unforeseen hiccup added a few hours to our travels before even getting outside the city.
We stopped for lunch midday after leaving the main road. Dal Bhat for everyone. Kazi, our guide, was less than impressed with the quality of the kitchen chosen by the bus driver, but it worked out fine for all of us in the end.
The road leaving the last mid-sized town was rutted, dusty, and precarious. It was extremely rough driving, but we had lots of fun and found it exciting! The week before we traveled, the road was an impassable mess as the rains had kept the road deep in mud. There were road crews out repairing sections of the road as we passed.
We arrived in Aarughat just before sunset. Our original plan was to hike to Soti Khola where we wanted to stay that night. With the late arrival, this was less than desirable as it would be about 2 hours of hiking after nightfall. Kazi was quick to set up a ride for us on a small local bus and some of the other travelers (locals and trekkers) joined us. This smaller bus was very slow, had to cross some difficult terrain, but it got us to our lodge in just 45 minutes.