The big mountain scenery of Manaslu and Ganesh is astonishing. There’s the two-horned massif of Manaslu (8156m), the circumnavigation of which is a meditation on the wonders of Himalayan geology. There’s Ganesh Himal (7406m), named for the serpentine southern ridge that evokes the elephant-headed Hindu god of good fortune. And then there’s Himalchuli (7893m), which rises an incredible 7000m from the Marsyangdi River. Nestled in between these Himalayan giants are villages that draw from Hindu and Buddhist influences. Add a sprinking of butterflies amidst forests from sal to pine, and you’ll be convinced you’ll catch a sight of the shy red panda.
The Manaslu and Ganesh region is poised between past and future – the villages still unfrequented, but already welcoming visitors – now is the time to go for a taste of the unbeaten trail in the next trekker’s Mecca.
Manaslu and Ganesh have long been overshadowed by the established trekking regions to either side. But both the ‘spirit mountain’ and the ‘elephant mountain’ are so spectacular, and so easily accessible by bus, it’s a mystery why it’s taken so long for guides and trekkers to discover them.
Manaslu lies north of the historic fortress town of Gorkha, from where the last kings of Nepal ventured forth to conquer the rest of the country in the 18th Century. The Manaslu Circuit has recently become a teahouse trek, opening up the misty wood-shingled villages of the Nupri Valley. But hikers are free to explore the many other trails being forged right now. The Tsum Valley trek has beautiful views of the four 7000m peaks of the Ganesh massif, and visitors can experience the distinct Tibetan-influenced culture of the Tsumba people, who prohibit the slaughter of all living beings.No doubt this enhances the protection afforded to such endangered species as the Snow Leopard and the Red Panda.
You can also enjoy a culturally enchanting homestay with the Tamangs, the original horse traders of Nepal. The adventurous can venture higher for a ‘walk in the clouds’ above Tiru Danda, from where gorgeous views stretch from the Annapurnas to Ganesh Himal.
With a variety to rival the Annapurna region, it’s no exaggeration to say Manaslu’s time has come. Forget the jams of the more established routes. Barring the busy teahouses, you’ll have the trails here mostly to yourself – if you don’t mind sharing it with blue sheep, langurs, yaks andthe myriad butterflies weaving in and out of the thundering waterfalls.
Mt. Manaslu (Nepali: मनास्लु, also known as Kutang) is the eighth highest mountain in the world at 8,163 metres (26,781 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Mansiri Himal, part of the Nepalese Himalayas, in the west-central part of Nepal. Its name, which means "mountain of the spirit", comes from the Sanskrit word manasa, meaning "intellect" or "soul". Manaslu was first climbed on May 9, 1956 by Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu, members of a Japanese expedition. It is said that "just as the British consider Everest their mountain, Manaslu has always been a Japanese mountain".
Manaslu at 8,156 metres (26,759 ft) above mean sea level (m.s.l) is the highest peak in the Gorkha District and is located about forty miles east of Annapurna. The mountain's long ridges and valley glaciers offer feasible approaches from all directions, and culminate in a peak that towers steeply above its surrounding landscape, and is a dominant feature when viewed from afar.
The Manaslu region offers a variety of trekking options. The popular Manaslu trekking route of 177 kilometres (110 mi), skirts the Manaslu massif over the pass down to Annapurna. The Nepalese Government only permitted trekking of this circuit in 1991. The trekking trail follows an ancient salt-trading route along the Budhi Gandaki river. En route, 10 peaks over 6,500 metres (21,300 ft) are visible, including a few over 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The highest point reached along the trek route is the Larkya La at an elevation of 5,106 metres (16,752 ft). As of May 2008, the mountain has been climbed 297 times with 53 fatalities.
Manaslu Conservation Area has been established with the primary objective of achieving conservation and sustainable management of the delimited area, which includes Manaslu.