Mount Everest (8848m), the highest peak in the world lies at Northeast Nepal in Sagarmatha District. Everest base camp trekking trail is one of the popular trekking routes in Nepal. It is around 14-day long trip if it begins with the flight to Lukla and hikes thereafter, but the duration can elongate if the trip begins with the drive to Jiri and hike thereafter. Depending on one's level of fitness, the trek's difficulty can become moderate to strenuous.
Trek includes passing through subalpine conifer forests, precarious glacial streams, Sherpa communities, Buddhist Monasteries and beautiful mountain vista of Mahalangur Himalayan Range. This trek is suitable for someone with some experience in trekking but with enough preparation and proper acclimatization anyone can successfully complete the trek.
Mount Manaslu (8156m), an 8th highest peak of the world, is located in North West Nepal in Gorkha District. Manaslu Trekking is popular among more experienced and intrepid trekkers. It is around 16-day long trip beginning with 9 hours of drive from Kathmandu to Gorkha and then a hike either from Arughat or Sotikhola. The trek is physically more demanding with lots of ascents and descents through the rugged landscapes of remote Manaslu area; cardiovascular exercise is recommended beforehand. In addition, Trekking here requires the special permit from government and a guide is a must.
A highlight of the trek includes passing through a diverse ecosystem, raging river, Gurung communities, Monasteries and beautiful mountain vistas of Mansiri Himalayan range and then some. This trek is suitable for those who are willing to experience wilderness more than anything else. Although trail goes through the secluded remote area of Manaslu and Larkya la pass which some belief to be technical, Success rate in trek is remarkably high.
Key features of Everest Base camp Trek and Manaslu Trek
There are some common and some contrasting features between Everest base camp trekking and Manaslu trekking. As for common features, both treks offer bio-diverse ecosystem with a range of floras and faunas. Majestic view of different Himalayan ranges is one of the primary attractions for trekkers in both the treks.
Cost of trekking and the duration to complete the trek are virtually the same. Both treks promises the encounter with mesmerizing Nepali ethnic culture and customs. Since both trekking involves hiking in pretty high altitude, altitude sickness can present itself any moment anywhere. Proper acclimatization and hydration en route should help most of the time. Cardio exercise to build endurance is recommended few weeks prior to the actual trek to reduce the chances of altitude sickness.
As for contrasting features, Everest base camp trekking is more commercial than Manaslu Trekking. Although number of tea houses have risen in recent years, Manaslu trekking still doesn't attract as many trekkers as Everest Base camp trekking does. Tea houses in Everest base camp trekking provides more comfortable accommodations and better amenities. While Tea houses along the trails in Manaslu trekking aren't as great as those found in lower altitudes of Everest base camp trekking trails, they are definitely more convenient than having to carry tents and food supply and utensils for 2/3 weeks. One of the main reasons why Everest Base camp trekking is more popular can be associated with the fact that trekking in Manaslu area was opened only in 1992. In addition, Trekking in Manaslu region requires acquiring special permit as Manaslu Conservation area is categorized under one of the few restricted areas. A guide is a must; Trekkers cannot travel alone in this region. On the other hand, most of the Everest Base camp trekking happens within the perimeter of Sagarmatha National Park which is also a UNESCO natural world heritage site. This alone contributes a lot on attracting thousands of new trekkers every year to Everest base camp trekking. But above all, willingness to behold the mighty Mount Everest first hand is the reason why Everest base camp trekking is popular among trekkers of all demographics. After all, choosing a trek to behold the highest mountain over the 8th highest mountain in the world is understandably a reasonable decision.
Although both Everest base camp and Manaslu trekking promise the stunning mountain vistas, Mahalangur Himalayan Range visible on Everest base camp trekking includes 4 of the TOP 6 highest mountains: Mount Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8516m), Makalu (8485m), Cho Oyu.(8188m). Manaslu trekking also provides an opportunity to view equally mesmerizing Mountains on Mansiri Himalayan Range namely Mount Manaslu (8163m), Himchuli (7893m), Ngadi Chuli (7871m) and other mountains like Siringi Himal (7187m), Pangboche Himal (6,620m), and Ganesh Himal (7163m) Saula Himal (6236m) etc.
In terms of Physical exhaustion, the difficulty of completing Everest Base camp trekking is graded as moderate to strenuous whereas, for Manaslu trekking, it is graded as strenuous. Regardless of difficulty grading, the success rate is higher on Manaslu trekking. The major reason behind this could be the significant difference in the highest point of both treks with Everest base camp trekking's highest point being Kalapatthar at 5643m and Manaslu trekking's highest point being Larkya la pass at 5106m. This difference in altitude directly relates to higher chances of suffering from Altitude sickness which can abruptly end the trek anytime. In general, while trekkers from all walks of life embark on a journey to accomplish Everest base camp trekking only handful of experienced and thrill-seeking trekkers choose Manaslu trekking. The disparity in the experience of trekkers could also be a factor contributing to the higher success rate in Manaslu trekking and lower success rate in Everest base camp trekking.
Why choose one over the other?
Manaslu trekking trail is, even in peak season, far less crowded compared to the busy trail of Everest base camp trekking. Manaslu trekking is best suited for those who like isolation over frequent social interaction and nature exploration deep into the wild over encountering teahouses in every other village passing by. But solo travel in this region is prohibited so total seclusion is not possible; trekkers at least need to be accompanied by one guide which is a good idea even in other non-restricted areas. Larkya la pass, not only is it the highest point in the Manaslu trekking but it is also the most technically challenging point in the entire trail, this is generally unheard of in Everest base camp trekking.
Everest base camp trekking trail is relatively more crowded however the teahouses along the way offers way better accommodation, variety in cuisines and necessary amenities at least up to certain altitude. The vantage point of Kala Patthar that presents the stunning view of Mount Everest is unparalleled. There is no such vantage point to view entire Mount Manaslu in Manaslu trekking. Everest base camp trekking is suited for trekkers who are ok with meeting other trekkers, guides, porters and local ethnic groups along the trails. Everest Base camp trekking can be attractive for a number of other reasons like observing the Sherpa culture from up close, acclimatizing in Namche bazar also known as the gateway to Everest, enjoying the floras and faunas of Sagarmatha National park.
Traveling with family and children
Traveling in a group is always more fun than traveling alone. Trekking in either of the locations is the experience of a lifetime and sharing the experience with family means creating a memory for a lifetime. But constantly changing weather, rugged Himalayan terrain, and extreme environment can bring anyone to their knees. When traveling with family, especially with young kids, parents have to take extra precautions.
The success rate is comparatively higher in Manaslu trekking which can be associated to a lower altitude and fewer cases of altitude sickness. However success rate can also be associated with the experience of trekkers; usually intrepid and more experienced trekkers are likely to choose Manaslu trekking over Everest base camp trekking thus, increasing the chance of successful expedition. Tea houses have gradually begun to rise in numbers in Manaslu trekking route however it would be inaccurate to compare it with already well-established tea houses in Everest base camp trekking route. Tea houses in Everest base camp trekking routes have a substantial advantage over tea houses in Manaslu trekking route in terms of amenities they offer which can be a deal-breaker for trekkers with kids. Larkya La pass is comparatively more technical than entire Everest base camp trail. Even in general, Manaslu trekking trail is more remote and rugged. Thus for trekker group with kids are advised to go for Everest base camp trekking. A family group without kids can go either way depending on their previous experience and physical fitness.
It all comes down to individual preference when choosing one trekking destination over the other. While Everest base camp may fulfill the desire of one kind of trekkers, the other may procure the same level of satisfaction from Manaslu trekking. Both treks, in reality, are great choices with the potential of providing a wonderful experience in their own rights. Trekking in Himalaya just once is never enough because it is next to impossible to capture and experience everything that these treks have to offer in one go.
Spring is undoubtedly the second best time to trek in Nepal. Both Everest base camp and Manaslu trekking are selling pretty well in High Camp Adventure. Pick the one that suits your need the best. Click here for trip inquiry about Everest base camp trekking and here for Manaslu trekking.