In the Autumn of 2017, we trekked around the Manaslu Circuit and in the Tsum Valley. We took 22 days to do the entire trip,
We arrived in Kathmandu two full days in advance of our trek with plans to explore the city, eat lots of food, and to pick up last-minute items we might need for the road.
Shona's is the place to go for gear rentals and purchases: they are well-informed and helpful. We had most of the gear needed for our adventure but had intended to rent sleeping bags from Shona for the trip. The 4-season bags we rented were overkill for Manaslu as it never actually froze inside our sleeping quarters during the entire trip. Next time, we will either go without sleeping bags (renting blankets when needed in the lodges) or with a much lighter option.
Day 1: Kathmandu to Soti Khola
Early morning bus ride
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 gets terrible motion sickness.)
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 gets terrible 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.
The ride was long and dusty. We initially got stuck in a traffic jam inside Kathmandu before we paused for a quick break on a roadside stop outside the city about 3 hours in.
We stopped for lunch midday after leaving the main road. Dal Bhat for everyone. Kazi was less than impressed with the quality of the restaurant 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 a number of crews out repairing the road as we passed.
We arrived in Aarughat just before sunset. We would have had another 2+ hour hike to our first night's destination but Kazi arranged a jeep to take us as the sun was setting. We were grateful as the jeep crossed a river after it was pitch black out and the drive was less than 45 minutes.
Upon arriving in Soti Khola, we checked into the only lodge still with available rooms and ordered our supper. Dal Bhat and hot tea for everyone. The meal was great, we were tired and so we crashed quickly.
Day 2: Soti Khola to Macchukhola
We rose early to the sound of the roaring river just beside the village. Breakfast was quick and delicious and we were on the road with our first steps of the trek just after 7:00am. For three people's supper, two rooms (two in one, one alone in a two-bed room), and breakfast for all three, the bill came to a low 3,000 rupees.
The day was very, very hot. I was incredibly uncomfortable in the heat. When we finally stopped for lunch, dal bhat is what we wanted, even if it will take 45 minutes to prepare for us. I encouraged this as we only had another six kilometers or less of trail ahead of us before stopping for the day. With the heat and the sun, I wasn't sure I would be capable of doing much more than that. This Canadian is not used to the 27 to 30 degree weather and hiking under the high, hot sun.
Arriving at our lodge in Macchukhola, we were the first trekkers to check in and we dropped our bags and ran for the showers. Here, the showers were great big rooms that were spotless when we arrived. The water was chilly but it was welcomed after our hot day.
That evening, the supper was delicious and we began to meet the other trekkers who were traveling in both directions. Some of the trekkers had gone straight up the Tsum Valley and then back out again without doing the full Manaslu Circuit.
It was here that people shared complaints with their fellow travelers and the loudest and most heard complaint: I brought too much stuff!
Day 3: Macchukhola to Jagat
The early breakfast had worked our nicely for us on the previous day—we'd been first to breakfast and first on the road—so we ate at 6:30am again. The bill from the lodge in Macchu Khola came to 3,800 rupees for the three of us.
We set off from Machhakhola at 7:30am. I thought it was a little late as I was again worried about the heat and sunshine. Luckily, we travelled for some time along the river that had carved out a deep valley through the hills. The sun remained off our heads until nearly 10:30am and I was able to cover a great deal of ground before overheating.
Day 4: Jagat to Lakpho
Lunch was in a very busy town that almost everyone on the road stopped all within a 2.5 hour time frame. Great for their business, and they were very sweet about making room for us. The lady who served us had a wonderful enthusiasm and was incredibly kind and charming.
While we were eating our lunch, a helicopter landed at a spot directly across the river on the opposite face of the valley from where we sat. It seems there was a medical emergency in the village. We could see small figures of people running between the landing spot and the village while the helicopter was being loaded. I hope all goes well for everyone.
The trail was again hot in the sun, but what hurt me was a series of stairs towards the end, once we had turned off the Manaslu Circuit and into Tsum Valley. I had a rough time keeping up with everyone ahead of me on the trail.
The views across the valleys were spectacular today. Early on, we caught our very first glimpse of a snow-capped peak and eagerly snapped photos. Then, as the trail led us up the side of the hills and away from the river below, the sight of the cliffs and trees and waterfalls along our whole day was amazing and beautiful. Grasses blowing in the wind not from weather but from the rushing of the river and waterfalls was beautiful. And there were several water falls that spilled water from such high points along the hillside and cliffs that the spray often dissipated near entirely before making contact with the rivers or more waterfalls below.
Tonight’s meal was just after sunset, at 6:30pm. Kazi is charming and he laughs a hearty laugh when we always order Dal Bhat. I think he approves. When he came to let us know that it was coming time to get ready for supper, all the dining spaces were filled as there are only two dining halls and one was filled with people from an organized group and the rest of the trekkers had already sat at the outdoor spaces.
This was perfect in my mind. Kazi led us up and into the kitchen where all the meals were being prepared. We sat at the tables inside the kitchen and were able to watch all the commotion as the meals were being prepared on the old, iron stove.