Manaslu, a mountainous region to the north of Gorkha district, was declared as the Manaslu Conservation Area (MCA) in 1998. It encompasses an area of about 1,663 sq km, and has seven villages. The ecology of the region is diverse and interesting, while its culture is rich.
The area has around 2,000 plant species, including some pretty exotic ones, and 11 types of forest.
As far as wildlife is concerned, there are some 33 kinds of mammals, 3 types of reptiles, 110 bird species (including some high altitude ones), and 11 butterfly species. Since hunting is prohibited, the conservation area is a safe haven for some rare animals like Himalayan tahr, snow leopard, grey wolf, and musk deer.
With high altitude glacier lakes and majestic Himalayan peaks, the scenery, ranging from terraced green fields to lush forests to rugged high altitude landscapes, is spectacular and quite breathtaking. The region has a rich Buddhist heritage, as indicated by the presence many stupas, chaityas, and mani walls, and some important gompas (monasteries) like Mu and Rachen Gompas in Chhekampar and Shringi Gompa in Bihi.
Trekking is a pleasure here, with the three-week-long Manaslu Circuit, from Arughat to Besisahar, being very popular. The trail goes along an ancient salt-trading route besides the Budhi Gandaki River, and on the way you’ll have the opportunity of viewing ten 6,500-meter peaks, as well as quite a few over 7,000 meters.
The view from the Tiru Danda ridge is really fantastic, with Manaslu (eighth highest peak at 8,156 m), Annapurna (tenth highest at 8,091 m), Himalchuli (7,893 m), and Ganesh Himal (7,406 m) standing tall on the horizon. The highest point of the Manaslu Circuit is Larkya La (5,106 m). Manaslu (‘Mountain of the Spirit’) was first climbed by a Japanese (Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu) on May 9, 1956.
Provided you don’t veer off from the main trail, you will be mostly staying in comfortable hotels, homestays, and lodges on the way. Besides convenience, one of the main attractions of the Manaslu Circuit is the relatively fewer number of trekkers you’ll come across. On around the eight day, you’ll reach Samagaon, where you might have a rest day for acclimatization, and you can use the time to visit Manslu base camp.
Around the ninth day of your trek, you’ll be able to have a look at the Tibetan plateau from the border point near Samdo. On the way, a side trip takes you to Tsum Valley, a peaceful region where killing of animals is prohibited. It is a place of discovery and exploration, a hidden valley full of pristine forests. Many of the villages on the route are inhabited by people of the Tamang community, who are known for their hospitality. Tatopani (‘Hot Water’) village is renowned for its hot spring water gushing from stone spouts, a bath under which will surely rejuvenate tired spirits and body.