Manaslu is the world’s eighth highest mountain and is the highest in the district of Lamjung. It is part of the Mansiri Himal, which is a subrange of the Himalayas found approximately 100 kilometers from Kathmandu. The mountain stands at 8,156 meters above sea level. The first persons to climb the mountain were Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu who were part of a Japanese expedition. The successful climb was done on May 9, 1956. The second climb was done by another Japanese expedition in 1971. In 1997, the first American, Charlie Mace, climbed the mountain.
As of 2008, only 297 climbs had been made on this mountain, and 53 of these ended up in fatalities, making it the fourth most dangerous peak in the world after Annapurna I. Many people consider the mountain’s south face as one of the world’s most difficult climbs.
The geographical features of Manaslu make it possible to climb it from various points, offering many routes for trekkers. The most popular trekking circuit in the region, the Manaslu Circuit Trek, was opened in 1991. It goes around the mountain toward Besisahar, following the old salt trading route. The circuit then goes to Budhi Gandaki River and Deng. The circuit then proceeds to Syala village. It continues to Samagaon village and heads toward Samdo village in Budhi Gandaki valley. From here, the route leads to Larkha La valley and Bimtang meadowlands. It then cuts through Dudh Khola and Marsyangdi River, and then proceeds to Bhulbule. The circuit goes to Tarukha Ghat, Chepe Khola, and Dorandi Khola and finally goes to Gorkha.
To enter the Manaslu Circuit Trek, trekkers need to get a restricted area permit that costs $50 per week. Trekkers need to travel in groups of at least two and should hire the services of a registered guide. The entire trekking expedition, starting from Kathmandu and back, takes up to 60 days. The Manaslu Circuit Trek alone can take 35 to 40 days. Larkha La is the highest elevation in this trekking circuit at 5,235 meters. The best time to trek the Manaslu region is in April and May, before the monsoon rains come, and in late September to October, after the monsoon season.
Aside from the Manaslu Circuit Trek, there are two other routes in Manaslu that have become popular to trekkers. One of them starts at Annapurna and goes to Dharapani toward Manang. It crosses Thorong La and Jomsom valley, from which trekkers go back to Pokhara, usually by plane. The other route starts at Bhulbule and crosses Marsyangdi toward Kurdi. It then heads to Annapurna and goes to the town of Sisuwa. The route then leads to Pokhara.
The region’s unspoilt beauty is covered by the Manaslu Conservation Area, which was established to conserve the natural resources to create sustainable management practices. The Nepalese government has set up the Manaslu Ecotourism Development Project through funds from the Asian Development Bank. This project, which is now being implemented, aims to help Manaslu boost its tourism industry while protecting its environment at the same time.