Best Time to Trek the Manaslu Circuit Trek

The best times to trek the majority of trekking routes in Nepal, including the Manaslu Circuit Trek, are spring (March to the end of May) and autumn (September to the end of November). The saying may be ‘time and tide wait for no man,’ but here in the Nepal Himalayas, we can say that ‘time and great weather wait for no man.’

In other words, the best time to trek does not usually correlate with when it is summer holidays in the Northern Hemisphere or winter holidays in the Southern Hemisphere. No, Mother Nature is a world unto herself!

So, When is the best time to trek Manaslu Circuit. Let’s find it out in detail.

Best Time to Trek: Spring (March to May)

Weather Conditions: Overall, the temperatures at the lower altitudes will be warm: 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F). At higher altitudes, the temperature will drop to around 0°C (32°F), with colder nights. It is unlikely to rain at all during this time. March will still be pretty cool while hiking, and therefore, so at low altitudes, it is very comfortable to trek in this month. By May, the temperatures will rise, and in the lower altitudes, it may become a bit hot and sweaty while hiking.

Evenings will still be cool. Scenery and Landscape: As ice begins to melt and water bodies begin to thaw out, the rivers become more impressive, and waterfalls roar back into life. Also springing back to life is the vegetation. Spring is the time to see the rhododendron forests.

With their red blooms, it is no wonder the rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal. The mountain views are clear – white snow-caps set against a blue sky. This season is a photographer’s dream! At the beginning of the spring, there may be still snow in some places, particularly the high passes and high-altitude settlements.

This adds to the beauty of the season. There are more chances to see wildlife during the spring as the mammals also come out of hibernation or their winter retreat. It should be noted that Tibetan New Year falls in February or March (it’s a lunar new year so it varies). At this time, there will be much celebration in and around the monasteries which will enrich your cultural experience.

Trekking Difficulty and Safety Considerations in Spring:

At the beginning of the spring, it may not be clear which trails are open and which are still closed due to snow and/or ice. For this reason, your guide will check with the locals who will be familiar with the current situation. The same can be said for the bridges you need to cross. Some may have been damaged by the winter snow and frost and still under repair. Again, your guide will check with the locals regarding this.

Being unprepared for snow could lead some trekkers into difficulty; therefore, it is wise to discuss this with us to ensure you have the correct equipment and gear with you. At the start of the spring season, it might be an idea to have waterproof footwear and carry a waterproof coat/poncho.

Rivers will be running high as the snow melts upstream. Extra care must be taken when crossing smaller streams/rivers where there is no proper bridge but just by using boulders. Boulders will be slippery, and for those not used to crossing rivers in this way, it can be a challenge.

With the teahouses newly opened after their winter closures, it could be that those in more remote areas have not yet restocked their supplies fully. Local dishes, however, are always available and sometimes the best option.

Pros and Cons of Trekking the Manaslu Circuit Trek in the Spring:

Pros: Best time in terms of weather. Not too hot, not too cold, and clear skies. Excellent mountain views. Flora in bloom. Wildlife easier to spot at this time of year. You may get to witness Tibetan New Year celebrations.

Cons: This is a popular time on all treks, and with limited accommodation in this area, teahouses may be busy. There may still be snow at higher elevations making trails more difficult. High running rivers may present a challenge when crossing.

Best Time to Trek – Autumn (September to November)

Weather Conditions: Much like spring, autumn is a fabulous time to visit the Manaslu region. The daytime temperatures vary from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F) at the lower altitudes, while at higher elevations they average 0°C to 10°C (32°F to 50°F). The skies are clear on the majority of days, and it is a very popular time to trek in Nepal. In September, you may still get the lingering rains, and it may be humid.

By October, it is much drier, and the trails dry underfoot. November begins to get a bit cooler, colder in the evenings and night. But this is also a very popular trekking month for good reason, and we cannot really fault the weather. Bring warmer clothing and a woollen hat!

Scenery and Landscape: After the monsoon rains, Nepal looks refreshed and clean! Waterfalls and rivers are once again running at capacity, making for beautiful pictures and memories. Vegetation is lush. It is a beautiful time of year to visit this region.

The mountains will be clear, and the skies, in general, blue. Please be aware that Dashain and Tihar, the two biggest Hindu festivals, are in this season – usually October and November. While the Manaslu region is heavily Buddhist in culture, there are many Hindu communities also. It can be exciting to witness some of the celebrations, and the Hindu communities will be even more cheerful than usual.

On the other hand, some trekking personnel, i.e. porters, teahouse owners etc., will be busy with their celebrations. Public transport may be more difficult to get at this time also. Please discuss timings with us when making inquiries. Trekking Difficulty and Safety Considerations: In September, some of the trails may still be muddy after the monsoon.

There may have been landslides during the rainy season which are blocking the trails. Your guide will make any adjustments to the route because of this. By mid-autumn, there should be no real problems regarding the trails. Rivers will have settled down a bit.

While still beautiful, they should not present any problems when crossing them. In settlements or teahouses which are Hindu, they may be occupied with celebrations. While they will still be operating, and may welcome you to join the celebrations, they may seem a little preoccupied!

This is also Manaslu Expedition season so the trails and teahouses may be a bit busier than usual as mountaineers arrive and depart the area on their way to climb Mt Manaslu and other peaks.

Pros and Cons of Trekking the Manaslu Circuit Trek in the Autumn:

Pros: Perfect weather and trekking conditions. Neither too hot or too cold. Fantastic mountain views. High passes will be open. Local celebrations to see and enjoy.

Cons: Despite being much quieter than other trekking routes in Nepal, there may be more trekkers on the trails at this time of year. Plan ahead regarding porters as they will also be celebrating the festivals. The same can be said for transport – plan well ahead. Magical Nepal, of course, will handle this for you!

Best Time to Trek – Winter (December to February) Weather and Conditions:

The temperatures in winter at lower elevations are 0°C to 10°C (32°F to 50°F), while at higher elevations, it can be -10°C to -20°C (14°F to -4°F), particularly at night. December weather is not dissimilar to November and can be quite pleasant. January and February are the real winter months in Nepal. If you don’t mind the cold and are dressed appropriately, you will enjoy the magnificent mountain views at this time of year.

Unless it snows. Snowfall will restrict the views. But that’s not all – snowfall, more common in January and February, will mean the Larkya Pass will be closed and other routes may also be blocked because of heavy snowfall.

This makes the trek much more demanding, logistically and physically. In addition, some of the teahouses will be closed during the winter season and there is an added risk of avalanches. This is where a guide experienced in both this region and in these types of conditions will make or break your trip.

Packing for winter conditions is a must as is being mentally prepared. Trekking in the winter is not for beginners, but if you are experienced and confident, talk to us. Scenery and Landscape: Frozen lakes and streams and ice forming on waterfalls are some of the beauties of winter. Prepare to catch sight of various frozen lakes, streams, and waterfalls throughout the circuit. An occurrence of snowstorms is also not rare during this season. The overall landscape views will be of snow and snow-covered mountains.

Stunning! Trekking difficulty and safety considerations: Snow conditions will cause headaches for several reasons. Trails may be hard to spot if they are under snow or if it is snowing heavily. Existing trails may be impassable due to the snow or to minor avalanches.

Larger avalanches are possible at higher elevations. It is extremely cold and damp. Even with good winter gear, you run the risk of getting wet and with no heating in the trekking lodges (except the dining room) you may get a chill. It will not be possible to cross the Larkya Pass when it is under snow. Thus, the route will have to be adapted according to the conditions. Trekking through snow involves more physical effort and is more exhausting. Remember you are going to be hiking for 6 or 7 hours on some days.

As far as safety is concerned, those avalanches are something to look out for. Getting lost is another danger, and you should strictly follow your guide’s advice. In turn, he will be following the advice of locals who are more familiar with the conditions. It may be difficult to recognize the trails, making it more dangerous when hiking on ridges or over very rough ground. In this remote area, even a simple twisted ankle can cause major problems. Pros and Cons of Trekking the Manaslu Circuit Trek in the Winter:

Pros: The air is crisp and clear. The mountains will be at their snow-covered best. There will be very, very few other trekkers around. Cons: It is much more logistically tricky. It is much more dangerous in general at this time of year. The cold! Outside and inside. Some teahouse accommodation will not be available. The gompas may be closed also for the winter. Not suitable for those without prior experience.

Monsoon: (June to August) Our recommendation is to NOT trek during the monsoon season!

Weather Conditions:

In a word, wet! Even if you are lucky and it is not raining during your time on the trek, it will be damp; muddy in parts, and slippery in others. The temperatures average, at lower elevations 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), and at higher elevations, 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F).

So, it is by no means cold. But the wet, damp, and humidity will make it feel colder. It will be cloudy! Mountains will be obscured by clouds for a lot of the time. Scenery and Landscape: Raging rivers and waterfalls will be enchanting, and dangerous. Pastures will be greener, and the rocks washed clean of the spring dust. If not raining, it will be a wonderland of freshness.

While the scenery and landscape are unique and wonderful at this time of year, along with that come many difficulties and dangers, and that is why we recommend not to trek the Manaslu Circuit Trek in the monsoon. Trekking Difficulty and Safety Considerations: All that we said above is applicable here too. You may not get the mountain views to justify the hardship and dampness of the season! The rivers will be high making them difficult to cross. The trails will be slippery, making a really good pair of, waterproof, trekking boots essential. Your trekking poles may slip on the wet rocks, so you need to take extra care.

Some routes may also have to be changed if there are landslides or river overspills. Once again, listening and following your guide is the key to a safe trek. Bugs! Leeches are guaranteed! They tend to get in under your trousers and boots and even drop from branches into your shirt!

There are sprays you can use or simple salt but usually, you only notice them when they fall off because they leave a trickle of blood as they have injected you with an anticoagulatory serum in their bit! They are not dangerous unless you scratch and infect a bite-site, but they are ugly and unpleasant! Pros and Cons of Trekking the Manaslu Circuit Trek in the Monsoon: Pros: Almost guaranteed no other trekkers on the trail. If not raining, the atmosphere is quite different from normal. If raining, the atmosphere is quite different from normal! Raging river, cascading waterfalls, cloud-covered mountains playing hide and seek.

Cons: If it rains, it will be a miserable few days. Trails can change at any given time. Your gear may get wet, and you be unable to dry it. It’s difficult underfoot with the wet conditions. Leeches!

Other Things to Consider Regarding the Best Season to Trek the Manaslu Circuit Trek Peak Seasons: Spring and autumn are the most popular and peak seasons in Nepal. With the best weather and best views, it’s hardly surprising people want to experience the Nepal Himalayas at these times of the year.

Although this is a remote trek in a restricted area that does not see the same number of trekkers as other more established and accessible areas, it will be busier in these peak seasons. If you love to interact with people in the teahouses in the evenings and don’t mind seeing other foreign trekkers on the trails, then these two seasons are perfect for you.

Should you prefer a quieter time on the trek, please read below. Shoulder Seasons: A shoulder season is considered to be the very start and very end of each season. In the case of spring, we would be looking at the beginning of March and the end of May.

By mid-March and until mid-May

it will be the height of the season. For autumn, we are looking at a shoulder season of the very beginning of September and the end of November until around mid-December (bearing in mind winter does set in during December).

When thinking about the shoulder season for winter, then it would also be until around mid-December and at the beginning of February. Bearing in mind you should still pack and think for the winter season at these times. Although we do not recommend trekking in the monsoon season in the Manaslu region, the beginning of June will see less rainfall and could even be pretty dry. We do not recommend trekking in August as there will be rain, and the trails will be waterlogged and rivers and streams running high.

If you are not tied to a school/college timetable (your own or your kid’s), trekking during the spring or autumn will provide you with the best in terms of weather conditions and clear mountain views. You may be tempted to think ‘it will be okay’ to trek the Manaslu Circuit outside of these times. But we would ask you to think seriously about that. Why? Because it is important to your overall enjoyment and safety to pick the right season.

Monsoon (June to the beginning of September) is the rainy season. Although it may not be quite as you see it in the movies with torrential downpours 24/7 for weeks on end, it is wet, with resulting dangers. Landslides are common due to the loose topsoil of the mountains.

As a result, highways may be blocked for days on end, areas on the trek prone to landslides will become more active, and there is also a risk of avalanches as the rain causes the snow to melt somewhat.

The trail your guide intended to take may be impassable due to a high river, mudslide, or just being too slippery. And of course, who wants to walk in the rain, perhaps getting wet through where trekking lodges do not have the same warm, dry facilities as three-star hotels! The mountain views may be obscured on some days due to clouds, and while this can be very atmospheric, didn’t you come to see the snow-capped mountains? We should add, if you can only get leave during these months, there are areas in Nepal which are in the rain shadow, and you can ask us about those.

Winter (December to February) – Do we need to stress that in the winter there will be snowfall? Even if you have experience in trekking during the winter, we need to point out that in Nepal, many of the mountain communities head down the mountains in the winter due to the cold and snow. Therefore, many of the trekking lodges/teahouses will be closed during this period.

Closure of trails and passes, such as the Larkay Pass, is highly likely, and that, added to a reduced number of teahouses for accommodation, makes the logistics very tricky. Similarly to the monsoon, you don’t want to be hiking in damp clothing and sleeping in chilly accommodation each evening.

Why Trek with US

Our Advantages We are a well-established yet young-minded company with our finger on the pulse of what’s new in the trekking industry and what trekkers want and need. Our guides are well-trained and have the proper Government certifications. Our guides have first-aid training and are versed in what to do in cases of altitude sickness among trekkers.

Our guides have trekked in the Manaslu region in all seasons. Likewise, our porters are familiar with the Manaslu region, some are even native to the area, and have invaluable knowledge to impart regarding the trails.

Our guides can navigate the trails in all seasons, even in harsh winter environments. In the winter, our guides know when it is safe to cross the pass, and other high areas, and when it is not, and can provide alternative routes. Our guides are knowledgeable about the mountains you will see, and about the flora and fauna in the area and can enrich the trek for clients by sharing their knowledge.

They treat our porters with respect and have a good rapport with them. Magical Nepal guides are well-known and well-liked among the teahouse owners, members of the community in all settlements, in the gompas, and among the shepherds and others you will meet on the trails.

As a result of this, they know who to ask for advice, should it be necessary, and get the warmest reception from the locals when in the area. Our clients have many positive things to say about our guides!

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Article by saugat adhikari

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