Manaslu Circuit vs Annapurna Circuit

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  • Last Updated on Jul 10, 2024

Nepal, the majestic nation nestled in the Himalayas, is popular for incredible Himalayan adventures. Home to eight out of fourteen 8,000-meter mountains, including the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest (8,848.86 meters), this is undoubtedly one of the top destinations across the globe for incredible trekking experiences. Besides the famous classical base camp adventure, Nepal is also famous for its thrilling circuit trekking prospects. Among the list of incredible circuit trekking endeavors, the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek are two of the most prominent explorations that promise wonderful memories. So, if you are here, then you are somewhat familiar with both of these exciting trekking routes in the Himalayas and may be curious about what the Manaslu Circuit Vs Annapurna Circuit would be like.

Well, in this article, well will cover every aspect related to these two of the most beloved circuit trekking experiences in Nepal. So, even if you are in a dilemma about which would be the most ideal journey for you among the two, this Manaslu Circuit Vs Annapurna Circuit will help you reach a clear verdict to decide on your next big adventures in the Himalayas.

Table of Contents

Annapurna Circuit Vs Manaslu Circuit General Comparison:

annapurna circuit trek manaslu circuit trek

Which Trek is More Difficult, Manaslu Circuit or Annapurna Circuit?

In this Manaslu Circuit Vs Annapurna Circuit comparison, let’s get started with the overall trekking difficulty level of each of these Himalayan trekking adventures. Both the difficulty level of Manaslu Circuit Trek and Annapurna Circuit Trek are moderate-level explorations in the central part of the Himalayas. In both of these trekking adventures, trekkers don’t need to overcome any technical segments along the trail, nor is the journey as physically draining as a mountain expedition. So, from a difficulty level prospects, both of these incredible Himalayan journeys are on a similar level.

Still, what you need to understand is that the Annapurna Circuit Trek takes place in a mainstream region of the country. Whereas the Manaslu Circuit Trek is more of an off-beaten trekking experience. So, even though the trekking difficulty level has been evaluated to be on the same level, there might be some slight difference in the overall experience. You will traverse across more isolated parts of the west-central Himalayas, where the trekkers follow the remote regions that have still preserved the Himalayan wilderness.

What Are the Main Differences Between the Manaslu Circuit and the Annapurna Circuit?

In this Manaslu Circuit Vs Annapurna Circuit comparison, for you to have a better grasp on the main difference between these two most popular circuit trekking routes in Nepal, we have drafted the major differences you can feel.

Location and Accessibility: The Annapurna Circuit Trek, which takes place in the mainstream Annapurna region, is one of the most popular and easily accessible trekking routes in the Himalayas. The driving trails in this region are well-developed and can easily access both sides of the circuit route. As for the Manaslu Circuit Trek, it is more remote and less accessible in comparison to the Annapurna circuit. You will mostly navigate the off-beaten sections of the Himalayas and explore some of the most isolated regions in the country.

Popularity: Naturally, the second most popular trekking region in the Himalayas takes the first spot in popularity in this Manaslu Circuit Vs Annapurna Circuit comparison. Annapurna Circuit Trek is the second most popular trekking destination in Nepal and a world-renowned Himalayan endeavor, thus, it attracts a large number of trekkers across the world. In comparison, the Manaslu Circuit is a lesser-known trekking adventure that is considered an off-beaten trekking experience.

Culture: The Manaslu region, which is closer to the Tibetan border, is heavily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. Thus, during your off-beaten Himalayan journey, you will have the chance to explore the unique and fascinating culture of the traditional Buddhist settlements. As for the Annapurna region, it has mixed influenced of both Buddhist and Hinduism culture. So, you will witness the unique blend of both of these religions and settlements while doing the mainstream trek in the Annapurna region.

Scenery: In this fascinating Manaslu Circuit Vs Annapurna Circuit comparison, it would be a waste not to talk about the breathtaking scenery of both these circuit treks. Annapurna Circuit takes you on an iconic journey of the north-central Himalayas, so the views of Annapurna I, II, IV, Nilgiri, Annapurna South, Lamjung Himal, Machhapcuhhre, Dhaulagiri, etc are exceptional from the trekking route. As for the Manaslu Circuit, the journey to the west-central Himalayas will reward you with views of Manaslu, Himlung Himal, Annapurna II, Ganesh Himal, Larkya Peak, Shringi Himal, and others.

Altitude and Distance: During the Annapurna Circuit Trek, you will walk a trekking distance of around 160 km to 230 km (100 miles to 145 miles). The highest point you will reach in this mainstream circuit trek route is 5,416 meters (17,769 feet) at Thorong La Pass, one of the highest passes in the Himalayas. As for the Manaslu Circuit Trek, the overall trekking distance is approximately 180 km (110 miles). Like the Annapurna Circuit, you will also reach the highest point of this trek at the top of the Himalayan pass, Larke La Pass (5,106 meters).

Is the Manaslu Circuit Less Crowded Than the Annapurna Circuit?

In comparison, yes, the Manaslu Circuit Trek route is less crowded than the Annapurna Circuit Trek route. This is due to the fact that the Annapurna Circuit Trek takes place in the second mainstream trekking destination in Nepal. This region is popular across the world for its stunning scenery, natural wonders, and immersive cultural experience. Thus, it is a complete journey that doesn’t lag behind on anything and rewards the trekkers with an unforgettable experience. In comparison to that, the Manaslu Circuit Trek is an off-beaten trekking experience that mostly navigates the isolated part of the Himalayas.

Manaslu region is popular for the off-beaten experience and for the exploration of the raw and untampered Himalayan wilderness. So, as the trails pass across the remote and less-developed part of the Himalayas, the available facilities are not on par with the mainstream trekking destinations. Thus, trekkers who are looking for an overall comforting journey tend to avoid the wilderness route of the Manaslu circuit. However, at the same time, trekkers who are eager to explore the Himalayan region at its raw state find solace in the isolated trails of the Manaslu Circuit Trek, which is more connected to nature and offers an authentic Himalayan trekking experience.

Can I Trek Both Circuits in One Trip?

Yes, if you are looking forward to experiencing both of these incredible trekking routes in a single itinerary plan, it is also possible. You don’t have to do both of these iconic circuit trekking experiences separately and can enjoy them in one single trip. Explorer Adventure also offers a thrilling combination of both of these popular circuit trekking experiences in central Himalayas in a single itinerary plan with our 25 Days Manaslu and Annapurna Circuit Trek package. This exhilarating combination of two of the most popular circuit trekking experiences in Nepal starts with the exploration of the Manaslu Circuit route. Then, after completing the journey, you will then head toward the mainstream routes of the Annapurna.

Thus, this is a truly remarkable journey for the trekkers who are looking forward to an extensive journey in the Himalayas. In this combined trekking experience, you will have the opportunity to explore the remote and wilderness-strewn trail of the Manaslu and then head toward the popular route of the Annapurna Circuit.

Which is Better, Manaslu Circuit or Annapurna Circuit?

Both of these circuit trekking are incredible Himalayan journeys that circumnavigate two of the most iconic peaks in the 8,000-meter class. So, if you are wondering which one of them is best, well, it depends on the experience you are looking for. The Annapurna Circuit Trek takes you across one of the major trekking destinations in Nepal. As it is a mainstream destination, during your trek, you won’t be that far off from the availability of modern facilities. There are also luxurious trekking options on this route if you are looking for a comfortable trekking experience. However, in comparison to that, the Manaslu Circuit Trek route is an off-beaten experience that navigates the remote and untouched part of the Himalayan region.

Thus, if you are looking for a journey in solitude away from the mainstream crowd and explore the sections with raw Himalayan wilderness, Manaslu Circuit Trek is a perfect fit. This trekking experience also introduces you to the beautiful high-altitude settlements that have preserved their culture and traditions from ancient times. So, if you are curious about which trekking route is better, the answer depends on your preference. If you are looking for a tranquil experience away from the hustle and bustle of modern life to reconnect with nature, you should go for the Manaslu Circuit Trek. However, if you are looking for a remarkable experience without comprising a quality and a mainstream experience, you can go for the Annapurna Circuit Trek.

Permits and Regulations

What Permits Do I Need for the Manaslu Circuit?

During your Himalayan exploration in the Manaslu Circuit Trek route, you will need to collect a long list of permits as this circuit trekking route also touches the Annapurna region. There are generally three permits that you will need to collect for this off-beaten trek.

  • Manaslu Conservation Area Permit (MCAP)-- about US$ 30
  • Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP)-- about US$ 30
  • Manaslu Restricted Area Permit– about US$ 100 (in autumn) and US$ 75 in other seasons

As your circuit trail passes through the conserved areas in the Himalayas, you will need to get two necessary permits to enter those regions. As for the restricted area, the region between Jagat and Dharapani has been listed as a restricted area by the Nepali Government to preserve the ancient culture, traditions, and arts, thus, you will need a restricted area permit for exploring this region.

What Permits Are Required for the Annapurna Circuit?

In comparison to the Manaslu Circuit Trek, which explores the wilderness section of the west-central Himalayas, trekkers will only need to collect one permit for the exploration of the mainstream Annapurna region. Just this permit will be sufficient to explore the iconic route of the Annapurna Circuit Trek.

  • Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP)-- about US$ 30

Do I Need a Guide for the Manaslu Circuit?

The need for a government-licensed guide has been made mandatory for the high altitude adventures in the country by the Nepali authority since 1st April 2023. So, yes, you will need to hire a licensed guide to accompany you during your trek. This rule has been implemented for the trekkers in the country to enhance the safety and well-being factors. Due to health and safety risks as a result of unfamiliarity with the region and a large number of missing trekkers, it has been made mandatory by the government to hire guides for treks in Nepal.

Is It Possible to Trek the Annapurna Circuit Without a Guide?

As the high-altitude treks in Nepal have been banned for solo travelers, you will need to hire a guide for the Annapurna Circuit Trek as well. However, instead of taking it as a restriction on your freedom to explore, you need to take it as an informative and safe journey will the guide will oversee every aspect of your adventure so you just relax and enjoy your remarkable Himalayan endeavor.

How Do I Obtain the Necessary Permits for Each Trek?

The permits for both the Manalsu Circuit Trek and Annapurna Circuit Trek can be obtained from the Nepal Tourism Board Office in Kathmandu. As for the Annapurna Circuit Trek Permit, it can also be collected from the board office in Pokhara and the entry counter at Besisahar. For your convenience, Explorer Adventure will collect all the necessary permits no matter which trekking destination you choose. You will just have to submit the required companies of documents and your passport-sized photographs; you will then apply for the permits and collect them on your behalf.

Logistics and Planning

Logistics and Planning during manaslu and annapurna circuit trek

Trekking Length

Both Annapurna Circuit Trek and Manaslu Circuit Trek with Explorer Adventure are a similar-length exploration of the Himalayas. Both of these packages are fully guided trekking adventures in the central Himalayan region and will last about 16 days. The itinerary plans of both of these packages handle your day-to-day plans from the date of your arrival to the international departure date. So, if you are trying to evaluate the length of these different trekking prospects, they both have similar lengths. While surfing for trekking packages on the internet, you may also find longer and shorter trekking prospects, which will entirely depend on the overall walking pace, trekking distance, rest days, side explorations around the region, etc.

Thus, to make sure if the package is most compatible for you or not, you should check overall day-to-day activities. If you don’t want to follow these standard pre-determined itinerary plans, Explorer Adventure also offers a complete customization option to design the exploration as per your needs.

Best Time for Trek

Suppose you have previously done any kind of trekking adventures or traveled in Nepal before. In that case, you may be familiar with the most exciting period for both incredible natural and cultural experiences. Yes, the high seasons, such as autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May), are the most popular periods for an exhilarating experience in this Himalayan country. Besides the favorable climatic conditions, if you set out for your trekking adventures during any of these seasons, you will be rewarded with fascinating cultural immersion as well.

Spring season is famous for its breathtaking natural beauty and stunning visuals. Your trekking trails in the Himalayas will be decorated with colorful dotted flowers, and wherever you look, you will see the bloom of nature. Similarly, the autumn season is famous for the most stable weather, pleasant temperatures, dry trails, clear views, and big cultural celebrations. You can also do these circuit treks in the off-season, such as winter and monsoon, but you will have to deal with a fair share of weather challenges during these off-seasons.

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Manaslu Circuit Vs Annapurna Circuit: Starting Points

Unlike other remote Himalayan explorations, both trekking routes of the Annapurna Circuit and Manaslu Circuit can be reached by land transportation. To reach the starting point of the Manaslu Circuit Trek, you will drive from Kathmandu to Machha Khola (930 meters), and after resting for a bit, you will then start your trek to Khorla Besi during the driving day to reach the region. The total driving distance from Kathmandu to Machha Khola is approximately 160 km (99 miles), and it will take you 6 to 7 hours to reach the trek starting point in this circuit exploration.

As for reaching the starting point of the Annapurna Circuit Trek, you will drive from Kathmandu to reach Jagat (1,430 meters) via Besisahar. The overall driving distance you will have to traverse to reach this circuit trek start point is around 185 km (114 miles), and it will take about 7 hours to reach your destination from Kathmandu. Unlike the Manaslu Circuit Trek, there is also a flight option for the Annapurna Circuit, where you can fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara (860 meters) and then drive toward the trek starting point. The flight will take around 30 minutes, and you will reach the starting point much faster with this option.

Accommodation and Facilities

Accommodation and Facilities during annapurna circuit trek and manaslu circuit trek

What Types of Accommodation Are Available?

The trekking adventures in Nepal are famous for the teahouse experience. The teahouses are medium-sized accommodation establishments along the trekking trails that are mostly operated by the natives of the region. Thus, during both of the circuit trekking journeys, you will have the opportunity to experience the cozy environment offered by the teahouses. At the teahouses, the accommodation facilities are of moderate level, and they offer all the basic amenities.

To compare Manaslu Circuit Vs Annapurna Circuit for accommodation facilities, as the Annapurna region is more developed, you will find a good level of accommodation facilities along the trail. In this circuit trekking trail, you will also be able to enjoy a luxury mode of trekking where you can enjoy more personalized amenities. As for the Manaslu region, it is less developed, the accommodation facilities are pretty much basic at the higher altitudes.

Food and Drinking Water

Traditional dishes are the major highlights of trekking adventures in the Nepali Himalayas. You will have the opportunity to relish the different cultural delicacies that comprise tasty dishes from different corners of the country. Besides the traditional cuisine line, you can also enjoy the international dishes, mostly Indian and Tibetan, as well as some of the most popular continental menus. If you are worried about vegetarian and vegan options, don’t worry; teahouses in both regions cater to the specific needs of every trekker.

As for the drinking water, you will be able to buy the mineral water bottles at the teahouses on the trailside. However, using plastic bottles is not eco-friendly, and the cost of the water bottles can be high at higher altitudes; it will be best if you buy boiled and filtered water at the teahouses. There are also clean stations for drinking water along the trail, but make sure to use water purification before drinking it.

Cultural and Scenic Experience


As the Manaslu Circuit Trek route takes you to the border close to Tibet, the majority of settlements here are influenced by Tibetan culture, and the primary religion in the region is Tibetan Buddhism. Although higher parts of the region consist of the Buddhist culture-influenced communities like Bhotias, Nubri, and Tsum, the lower regions are more diverse and are home to different ethnic groups such as Chhetri, Brahmin, Thakali, Magar, and Newar. So, the off-beaten trekking trail is also a cultural exhilarating journey where you will get to experience the fascinating diversity.

In comparison to that, the Annapurna region is largely populated by the Gurung and Magar communities in the south and the Thakali and Loba ethnic groups are dominant on the northern side. One of the reasons why this trekking trail is a mainstream destination for treks in the Himalayas is due to the immense cultural experience this circuit trek route offers to the trekkers. You might be familiar with the bravest army regiment in the world, the Gurkha Army, The majority of the soldiers that serve the Indian and Engish battalion are from this region.

Cost and Budgeting

After exploring several aspects of this Manaslu Circuit Vs Annapurna Circuit, let’s move toward the budget estimation point. If you are considering any of these popular circuit trekking adventures by now, then you might be curious about the overall budget requirement for the trek. Well, rest assured, both of these mid-range Himalayan explorations have similar levels of cost. In general, the cost for Annapurna Circuit Trek is somewhere between US$ 800 and US$ 1,600; the overall cost will depend on the length of the trip. If you are looking for a luxurious experience in this circuit route, it can cost upto US$ 4,000.

Similarly, for the standard duration Manaslu Circuit Trek, the cost range is between US$ 900 to US$ 1,400. These are the standard rates in the market; however, Explorer Adventure offers the best value packages that you will find in the market at a reasonable price. We guarantee a fully immersive journey without compromising the integrity of services and take care of all your activities so you can travel more freely. We are currently offering the 16 Days Annapurna Circuit Trekking package at US$ 899, and for the 16 Days Manaslu Circuit Trekking, you can book this remarkable off-beaten trekking experience at just US$ 1,050. On top of offering the best value price, we also offer special discounts for group bookings, so get in touch with us via our Contact Page for booking or any kind of inquiry.



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