Confused about Annapurna Circuit Trek Vs Manaslu Circuit Trek! You have decided to hike in Nepal one of the many treks in the impressive Himalayas. Congratulations, you will not regret it! Now you just have to decide on a trek.
And that is far from easy, as we know from personal experience. Annapurna Circuit or Manaslu Circuit, Mount Everest Base Camp Trek, Langtang Trek. To name only the better known of the Nepal Treks.
Today we want to dedicate ourselves to the choice between Annapurna Circuit or Manaslu Circuit. We both did treks and can help you with your decision. Both treks are often called in the same breath as they are both circular walks and are similar in length and altitude.
Many say the Manaslu is the new Annapurna Circuit. Nevertheless, they differ from each other in many points, which we would like to break down below. Incidentally, you will find more information about the Annapurna Circuit in this article.
Table of Contents
How long do I need for the Annapurna Circuit?
The Annapurna Circuit has long been known by tourists from all over the world and is one of the most popular treks in Nepal and the world. Today, there is a fairly good infrastructure here, which means that you can complete the trek in various lengths (12-21 days).
He used to last at least 21 days. Meanwhile, there is the possibility to go by jeep to Manang at 3.500m. And after crossing the Thorong La Pass, you can either fly back from Jomsom or drive on the jeep.
Remember during the flight, however, that here often unfavorable winds prevail and then the small machines can not start. Expect 1-2 days for arrival and departure, then you are on the safe side if something unforeseen happens.
How long does the Manaslu Circuit take?
We needed 16 days for the Manaslu Circuit and a detour to the Tsum Valley. For the Tsum Valley, we needed 5 extra days.
This means that you can hike the Manaslu Circuit in 11-12 days. For arrival and departure, you have to expect 2-3 days. Depending on whether you get a connection to Kathmandu or Pokhara on the departure in Besisahar or you can continue traveling the next morning.
Annapurna Circuit Trek Vs Manaslu Circuit Trek – Different!
This is, of course, a very subjective feeling but maybe our judgment will help you in your decision-making anyway. First of all, the landscape of the Himalayas is simply breathtaking and incomparably beautiful everywhere! No matter which trek you choose, you will be amazed!
Special features of the Annapurna Circuit Trek
The Annapurna Circuit offers wide landscapes and great views along the way. You’re not in forests for so long, and if rhododendron trees predominate here.
There is much more going on here than on the Manaslu Circuit, especially in the high season it can get crowded. There is a correspondingly larger choice of accommodation and you will meet many interesting people along the way.
We hiked the Annapurna Circuit in the off-season in April and found it very pleasant from the crowd of hikers.
Special features of the Manaslu Circuit Trek
We found the Manaslu Circuit to be rougher and wilder as you wander through deeply cut valleys and dense jungles. It takes quite a long time to get into the alpine landscape. You pass unbelievably many gigantic waterfalls and run along raging rivers.
The mountains seemed to us rugged and the mountains are much closer than the Annapurna Circuit. In Sama, you are directly at the foot of the Manaslu with 8.156m the 8th highest mountain in the world!
If you have enough time, you can make a detour to the base camp there in one day and absorb the adventure of the expeditions into you there.
A significant difference to the Annapurna Circuit is the frequenting of the trek. We were at the beginning of the season and we met for days no other tourists. But you do not have such a wide choice of accommodation and comfort.
Therefore, the two treks are also very different. We first thought about doing a different kind of trek than the Manaslu, because it was always said in advance that Annapurna and Manaslu Circuit are so similar.
But you can do both treks without thinking “oh, I already know that”. So you do not have to decide: just walk both treks!
Which trek is more physically exhausting?
Both the Annapurna Circuit and the Manaslu Circuit are considered moderate. We found the Manaslu to be more exhausting, which is only a subjective impression.
Although our trekking agency also says that the Manaslu is more demanding. On the Manaslu Circuit, you have to climb a lot more stairs and negotiate steep, narrow passages. Many steep valleys are crossed. Through the up and down you put down many vertical meters.
If you then make a detour to Tsum Valley, this trek is, in any case, more exhausting than the Annapurna Circuit. But it’s worth it!
The Annapurna Circuit is not physically demanding in our eyes like the Manaslu Circuit. It keeps rising so you do not have to get off and on as often. You can see that quite well with the height profile (see point 1 above).
How do I reach Annapurna and the Manaslu Circuit?
You can reach both treks with various means of transport from bus to taxi to the private jeep. Each variant can be booked through your trekking provider. The type depends on your budget. In our comparison, we assume the cheapest means of transport, the public bus.
Getting to Annapurna Circuit
The roads to the starting point of the Annapurna Circuit in Besisahar or Bhulbhule are well developed compared to the Manaslu Circuit. Not that we misunderstand now: they are still miles from our street standards!
We were told at the time that the journey takes about 5-6 hours. One thing we have learned: this information never votes! Expect more with 10 hours, depending on the traffic and the number of stops. By the way, you will find more details about our journey to the Annapurna Circuit in this article.
Depart Annapurna Circuit to Pokhara
After we actually wanted to travel by public transport bus from the end of the circuit to Pokhara but it was totally crowded, we took a taxi. And we were glad not to spend hours on a crowded bus in stifling heat. Especially after a 10-hour hike and 1790 vertical meters from Poon Hill to Nayapuhl.
So we were already in Pokhara after an hour. From Pokhara, you can travel quite comfortably in so-called tourist buses back to Kathmandu. Depending on the traffic situation, the journey takes 6-8 hours but is also much more bearable thanks to the better infrastructure.
Getting to Manaslu Circuit
So much to say: this was the busiest bus ride we have ever made ( here you can find the video on it ). And we have already experienced some crazy rides around the world. The journey to Soti Khola took twelve hours.
And of that, just 3 hours went on the concrete road, the rest on moguls with deep blow and mud holes, river crossings and too often dangerously close to the abyss.
The bus often rocked so hard that it almost toppled over. Once we were stuck and the bus driver was always backrolling, then with a lot of runs through the mud to rush. At the fifth start, it worked. It was mid-September to 36 degrees.
When you open the window, you are dusted from top to bottom. If you let it, you’ll suffocate after two minutes.
Depart Manaslu Circuit to Pokhara
The Manaslu Circuit concludes with the beginning of the Annapurna Circuit in Dharapani. From there you can either hang on to the Annapurna Circuit, continue on foot to Besisahar (2-4 days) or take the jeep to Besisahar.
We decided to go by jeep, as this part of the trail often runs along the road and is therefore not so nice.
Comfortably it is not really in the jeeps, you’ll shake through for 5 hours and you’re afraid to fall down one of the steep abysses ( watch the video here ). The jeeps are partly in questionable condition.
From Besisahar you can then travel to Pokhara or Kathmandu by public bus or minibus. If you are too late, you may have to stay in Besisahar because the buses do not leave until the next morning. From a drive in the dark, we would strongly advise against it, it is already dangerous enough.
Incidentally, the minibusses are not necessarily better than the public bus! People are being picked up here until the bus is at the seams.
Do I need a guide for the Annapurna Circuit or Manaslu Circuit?
Do I need a guide for the Annapurna Circuit?
At the Annapurna Circuit, a guide is currently NOT required. You can do the tour without a guide. But you should at least be in a group of three people on the way. High alpine terrain should not be new territory for you, you should be familiar with maps and compass and at best have a satellite phone for emergencies.
And honestly, we really recommend having a guide with you. He knows the trek like the back of his hand, can assess the weather, and knows what to do even in emergency situations such as earthquakes. And for you, it is much more relaxed!
Do I need a guide for the Manaslu Circuit?
Yes! Unlike the Annapurna Circuit, a guide is required at the Manaslu Circuit. That’s because the trek is not as busy as the Annapurna Circuit. We did not meet anyone for days on the trails and only met locals in the villages.
What are the accommodations at Annapurna Circuit and Manaslu Circuit?
Both the Annapurna Circuit and the Manaslu Circuit are Teahouse Treks. You wander from village to village and spend the night in small guesthouses. You do not need a tent or food. At the Annapurna Circuit, the choice of accommodation is significantly greater than on the Manaslu Circuit. That’s simply because of its popularity.
So you’ll find everything here, from simple accommodations to mid-range to luxury lodges. Once upon a time, you could negotiate with the owners of the guesthouse to stay for free when you take your meal with them. Unfortunately, I do not know if this is still the case today. Do you know it? Then leave a comment!
The Manaslu Circuit is much less frequented and thus there are fewer accommodations so far. But when we were on the road, many of them built heavily so that the offer will change here in the next few years.
The accommodations were always very neat and clean on both treks. On the Manaslu, you have rather less comfort in the form of a bath directly in the room or a warm shower. But it is all clean and mostly very comfortable.
How is the food and the food on the trek?
On both treks, you can enjoy the local specialties like Momos, Dhal Bat, and Samosas as well as different noodles, rice, and potato dishes. Even burgers and pizza are there. But we advise against that.
The local food is of course much cheaper. However, we only lasted four days to feed only Dhal Bat, the staple food. After that, we had to change to other dishes.
Snacks in between you get on both treks. There’s everything your heart desires: Coke, Sprite, Snickers, Chips, etc. Where on the Manaslu not so often the opportunity to shop as on the Annapurna Circuit.
You can fill the water everywhere. Either at rivers or the wells in the villages. For safety’s sake, you should sterilize the water with a UV water sterilizer or Micropur tablets. The disadvantage of the tablets is the chlorine taste. But you got used to it after two days at the latest.
What highlights await me at the Annapurna Circuit and the Manaslu Circuit?
Do not worry, no matter which of the two treks you decide on, you’ll definitely experience highlights in any case. If it is not the landscape itself that will surprise you every day, it is the numerous waterfalls, monasteries and villages and the wildlife that will meet you along the way.
The landscape is simply gigantic on both treks. And with luck, you’ll meet at lemurs.
Highlights at the Annapurna Circuit
You wander through the forest and traverse a barren rocky landscape. Many suspension bridges want to be crossed. The detour to Tilicho Lake should be very worthwhile. Unfortunately, we could not do it in time. You can reach the lake from both Manang and Jomsom via the Tilicho Trek.
On an acclimatization day in Manang, you can make a detour to a beautiful vantage point on the opposite side of the village. Otherwise, you often find little gumbas (monasteries) or other holy cities along the way.
There is even a small movie theater in Manang, where you can watch films like “Into thin Air” or “Touching the Void” with popcorn (!) And hot tea.
The absolute highlight is, of course, the Thorong La Pass at 5416m altitude. After the pass, you can make a detour to Poonhill to enjoy the mountain panorama. That was the crowning glory for us.
Highlights at the Manaslu Circuit
You wander through huge gorges and cross countless suspension bridges. Past waterfalls and hot springs. Since the Manaslu Circuit is a little quieter, you have a better chance of meeting a group of lemurs here. We were able to watch the animals playing for hours!
The first big highlight awaits you in Lho. There, majestically located on a hilltop is a large monastery, the Ribung Gompa. And in good weather, the Manaslu towers behind it gigantic.
We arrived in the evening in bad weather and did not trust our eyes the next morning when we saw this colossus standing there. The visit to the Gumpa is worthwhile in any case.
In Sama, you have many options for day trips. You can hike to the beautiful Glacier Lake (Birendra Valley) of Manaslu or Pung Gyan Gompa. There you have a fantastic view of the mountain panorama. You can not get closer to the mountains here.
Sama is also the starting point for the ascent of Mt. Manaslu with its 8163 meters. So you’re bound to meet a lot of climbers. You can also try mountaineering yourself and take a trip to the base camp.
The absolute highlight is, of course, the Larke Pass at 5106m altitude.
How do I pack for the Annapurna Circuit Trek Vs Manaslu Circuit Trek?
Actually, this is very different and depends mainly on the season in which you wander. The onion principle works best, so you can easily layer several layers in cold weather.
Annapurna and Manaslu Circuit Packing Lists
Backpack Martin: Osprey Men’s Aether Ag 60 trekking backpack → super comfortable on the hip
Alternative: Deuter backpack Act Lite 50 + 10 L or Deuter backpack Aircontact 60 + 15L or → very comfortable for traveling and trekking.
Backpack Caro: Osprey ladies Ariel AG 55 Trekking rucksack → super comfortable on the hip
Alternative: Deuter backpack Act Lite 45 + 10L or Deuter backpack Aircontact 50 + 10 L → very comfortable for traveling and trekking.
Protective cover: Osprey protective cover → great for flying and as a protection for bus trips
Alternative: Tatonka Backpack Luggage Cover → as a rain cover and for the long bus rides in the mountains
Hiking shoes Martin: Salewa MID GTX → waterproof and springy, perfect for debris on the trek
Hiking shoes Caro: Salewa MID GTX → waterproof and springy, perfect for the debris on the trek
Sports shoes – Nike Free → after 8 hours of hiking it is pleasant to wear no hiking boots
Flip flops → for showers, … yes, there are some wonderfully refreshing solar showers
Trekking poles Martin: Leki Khumbu Trekking poles → perfect grip and quick adjustment, no annoying turning
Trekking poles Caro: Leki trekking poles Cressida → lighter than the men’s poles; perfect grip and quickly adjustable, no annoying turning
Or wander in classic Annapurna style with a self-carved bamboo stick
COLD WEATHER CLOTHES
Outdoor– and Trunks Men / Outdoor- Travel Trunks Women → perfect for hiking and traveling, as with zipping
Water repellent Pro Shell Jacket – Mammut Albaron Jacket / Adamello Jacket
Lightweight down jacket → we bought locally in Kathmandu
Functional shirt long
Ultrasport Men Thermal Underwear / Ultrasport Women Thermal Underwear → kept us warm in the mountains
thin functional hat by Odlo → in Kathmandu there are great homemade wool hats, which you can still cover
thin functional gloves from Odlo → in Kathmandu there are great homemade wool gloves that you can still cover
Neckerchief → as a scarf, as a dust cover, as a sunscreen, as a scarf on the plane, as a sweatband, and much more usable
Clothes warm weather
Functional shirt / carrier functional shirt
Outdoor- and Trunks Men / Outdoor- Travel Trunks Women → perfect for hiking and traveling, as with zipping
Boxer shorts/underpants ladies
Falke Trekking Socks Men / Falke Trekking Socks Women → perfect for hiking
Caro: bra and sports bra → perfect for hiking. Dries fast.
1 x sleep pants
1 x T-shirt
Sun & lancers
NOBITE insect repellent → with 50% DEET perfect against mosquitoes
Sunscreen → 50s. It is waterproof and does not smear. So that when hiking the sweat does not wash off the cream.
An outdoor hat → that makes you feel like Indiana Jones and the hat is really perfect against the strong sun during hikes
or Basecamp → extremely important for hikes, even base cap with long neck protection look stupid – but works wonders
For the night
Mammut Outdoor Sleeping Bag Compact 3-Season → If you’re not climbing Mount Everest, a 3 season is enough; When it’s colder, you can put everything in your backpack or borrow a warm Inlet. Warm blankets are also often offered in the inns.
Petzl headlamp → so that you can find your way around and make the pass crossing in the morning
Panasonic Lumix G70 (including 14-140 mm) → perfect for portraits, landscape and wildlife photography + video recordings
A telephoto lens (100-300 mm) → the large zoom is perfect for wildlife photography
Super wide-angle lens (14-28 mm) → perfect for landscape photography
Necessary camera accessories
SD cards → important is the specification U3 for storing 4K recordings
Camera bag → nice small and handy; Zipper points to the body to thieves, complicating the work. The camera, another lens, and small items fit into it. The telephoto lens we usually have extra in the backpack.
Microfiber cloth for the camera and the lenses + small brush to remove dust particles + small spray z. From the LCD screen to clean the lens
Waterproof bags for the camera
Noak’s protective covers → offer reliable protection against water, moisture, sand, dirt, snow, and mud
Iphone XS Max → I just always there. Perfect for snapshots and videos. With the iPhone, for example, I recorded the entire trek on video.
Nepal sockets adapters → with some sockets we did not need an adapter, with others already
Multiple plug → when traveling in pairs everyone wants to charge their iPhone and the camera will also be charged. In addition, you only need an adapter
Anker Travel Power Bank → now an integral part of our luggage. Especially on multi-day hikes, she keeps our smartphones alive. So we can easily make videos and photos without end. It is indispensable and enough for ten full battery charges!
First aid kit
A bandage or fixation bandages
KODAN tincture forte → disinfectant for wounds
Sagrotan Hand Disinfection Gel
Charcoal tablets → For diarrhea and poisoning. Has helped us several times well.
Loperamide Acute → If the diarrhea is bad. Imodium acute helps too.
Oralpadon Neutral Powder
neo-angine throat pain pills
COMPEED blister patch medium and COMPEED blister patch small → such good patches are otherwise difficult to find.
Bepanthen® eye drops or VIDISEPT EDO eye drops → for dry eyes from the cold air in the mountains
Laundry & Cosmetics
Hanging Toiletry Bag or just a zip bag (1L)
Travel towel – extra fluffy → size L
A shower gel → small pack is enough. We recommend you rather a solid piece of soap, such as the shower lumps
Deo → should use many more people on the trek * hehe *
Sigg water bottle 1L → we bought in Nepal on-site and gave the guide after the trek
Chlorine tablets for disinfecting the water → you usually get on site
Copies of the passport in the backpack
ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit, costs about $ 20)
TIMS Card (Trekkers Information Management System, costs about $ 20)
3 passport photos and proof of health insurance
Folder for the whole documents
Free money in Nepal
With the free 1plus Visa Card of Santander Consumer Bank, you can withdraw cash for free, not only in Nepal but worldwide!
How much is the Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Manaslu Circuit Trek?
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is a bit cheaper than the Manaslu. That’s because you only need two permits for the Annapurna Circuit Trek: Annapurna Conservation Park Permit (ACAP) & Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS). In addition, you have more variations on the length of the trek, so it is cheaper accordingly. We arrange Annapurna Circuit Trek as per your request with the best services.
The Manaslu Circuit requires more permits than the Annapurna. You need the Manaslu special permit, Manaslu conservation area project (MCAP) Permit, Annapurna conservation area project (ACAP) permit & Trekking information management system (TIMS). We are glad to operate Manaslu Circuit Trek as per your request.
Conclusion and Recommendation Annapurna Circuit or Manaslu Circuit
As you have already read, both treks are absolutely fantastic and worth being hiked. I know that will not help you decide whether to go to Annapurna Circuit or Manaslu Circuit.
The Annapurna Circuit is known worldwide and well-frequented especially in the high season. But you have more comfort and choice in your accommodation, the journey is a bit more relaxed.
You will meet many interesting people along the way. The road is not quite as challenging and the landscape continues. You reach alpine areas faster. Incidentally, you will find more information about the Annapurna Circuit in our blog.
The Manaslu Circuit is less frequented and accordingly has less comfort and choice in the accommodations. The journey is arduous and the trek is more demanding than the Annapurna Circuit. The costs are higher due to the length and additional permits. For that, you have lonely landscapes, wild nature, and the authentic Himalayas.
In my personal opinion, the Annapurna Circuit is a top trek when you first travel to Nepal. The Manaslu Circuit is then the next level for repeat offenders. I liked the Manaslu a bit better than the Annapurna. And above all, he is not as crowded as the Annapurna.
Although you will later reach the high alpine region, it is even more spectacular. But really and honestly, both treks are just great, no matter which one you choose!