Nepal and the Manaslu Trek
3rd October – 1st November 2017
Nepal was a bit out of the way when we were planning our route round South East Asia however we both confidently agreed straight away that this was a country we had to visit. We spent one month in Nepal which we split into three parts.
The first stage was planning the trek. After short listing some companies from online reviews we visited them all in person in Kathmandu. After a great discussion with the owner Raj and meeting our potential guide we decided to go with NEST Adventures. We then started our 15 day trek circumambulating the eight highest peak in the world, Manaslu. The route is lesser known due to its slightly higher permit costs and because you must have a guide however this makes it noticeably quieter. The trek was even better than we expected. The scenery was stunning from day one and it was fascinating to learn and see rural Nepalese life in the mountains. After the trek we spent ten days relaxing and exploring Pokhara, Bandipur and Kathmandu. This meant we could see a side to Nepal that was not just trekking.
We can now both say we have trekked the Himalayas and I must recommend it to anyone who can. We will be posting more information on the trek in particular as soon as possible.
Food and Drink
This traditional Nepalese dish is made up of rice with a potato curry, lentil soup and seasonal vegetables. It is eaten by locals at least daily and loved by trekkers due to its limitless refills. Perfect to help you get up the mountains. The same dish varies at each tea house as every local prepares and seasons it slightly differently.
These South East Asia style dumplings can be found across Nepal. They can be either steamed, fried or kothey (half steamed/ half fried) and filled with vegetables, cheese or meat. Our favourite was vegetable fried chilli Momo’s.
Veg Spring Roll
Nothing like the Chinese spring rolls you might expect from its name. These are doughy, deep fried, vegetable filled creations. Their shapes varying from to pasty to roll to lump depending upon the chef.
Pungyen Monastery (4010m)
You are advised to do acclimatisation days when doing a long trek to high altitudes to help your body adapt to the lack of oxygen. This is when you trek up to a higher altitude but come back down to sleep at the same altitude as the night before. We did an acclimatisation trek to the Pungyen Monastery.
The walk takes you steeply up a valley off from the main trail for about two hours. At the top you suddenly appear on a vast large flat plain at about 4000m elevation. From this flat spot you have amazing views of the mountains particularly Manaslu, the peak we were circumambulating. In the far distance you can see prayer flags fluttering in the wind. This is the remote Pungyen Monastery.
We walked all the way to the empty monastery. It is basic consisting of only a couple of buildings, a chorten and prayer flags that weave up the mountain side. In the shadows of these snowy giants I can understand the meditative power of having a religious building in such a remote and beautiful location.
We arrived in Shyla on day 8 of the trek. It was cloudy and grey and as the sun went down we spent the evening tucked away next to a fire in the guesthouse dining room. Our guide had told us that Shyla was one of the most beautiful towns on the trek due to its mountain views. We went to bed praying for clear weather tomorrow.
Luckily our prayers were answered and when we rushed out next morning we could see clear blue skies and snow topped mountains in every direction. Suddenly it felt like we were truly in the Himalayas. The sun then hit the snow peak of Manaslu first turning it bright orange as if it was on fire. We watched the sun line slowly illuminate our surroundings and soon we too could feel it’s warmth. This place was magical.
Bandipur is a small town between Pokhara and Kathmandu. It sits on the hillside giving it great views of the snowy peaks of the Himalayas on a clear day. Although it was very hazy when we visited we still enjoyed walking through this old Newari settlement. The main pedestrianised bazaar in particular is lined by beautifully crafted wooden houses.
Things we learnt
- Up in the depths of the Himalayas are remote mountain villages. In the Manaslu region many of these people fled over the border from Tibet and settled in these extreme locations. During our trek we saw a variety of communities which lived multiple days walk from the nearest road and survive off what they harvest and produce locally. Some of these small villages also survive from the income of tourism.
- The local bus system in Nepal is an interesting experience. There is no timetable or name. The way it works is to stand at the side of the road and wait for a passing bus. When it appears there will invariably be a small boy hanging out the open door, you shout out where you want to go, he will shout back where he is going, if they match he’ll hit the side of the bus to stop and on you get.
- Hiking the Himalayas is more achievable than you may first think. When we first discussed a 15 day trek I thought I should do some kind of training as this could be very extreme. I worried about how many hours we would be walking and about how much my legs would ache. However what we found whilst trekking was that the pace of the trek was very flexible. The shortest recommended length for the Manaslu circuit is 14 days however there is nothing to say you cannot take longer. Your body also quickly adapts to walking every day. You do of course get tired however it’s definitely not as hard as I expected.
Top three phrases/words
- Hello – Namaste ( नमस्ते ) Nepali
- Hello – Tashi delek Bhutanese
- Let’s go – Jum jum Nepali
Travel Statistics for Nepal
Beers drank: 11.5 (each)
Beds slept in: 18 (each)
Bribes paid: 0
- Plane: 2
- Bus: 14
- Minibus: 3
- Boat: 1
- Taxis: 4
- Car: 1
Spending in Nepal
Currency: Nepalese Rupee
Currency Conversion: £1 = 136 NPR
Number of days in country: 29
Note: costs include our 15 day Manaslu trek with guide and porter
Breakdown of spending (together) –
Food & Beverage: £592.56
Total (together): £2,599.92
Total (per person): £1,299.96
Average Daily Spend (together): £76.16
Average Daily Spend (per person): £38.08
Note: ADS excludes all flights into and out of Nepal
Photos by Rich Grundy