The Himalayas - A remote adventure around Manaslu
The Manaslu Circuit is one of the most beautiful but the least visited in Nepal. Have a look at this blog and discover the Himalayas with me. It will take you to the rugged Nepalese mountains and diverse vegetation, along with you ascend to Larkya La Pass at 5125 m.
I went to Nepal at the end of March this year. It was one of the most unforgettable and roughest journeys in my life.
I chose Trek Manaslu Circuit for several reasons. It is one of the least explored routes in Nepal, it is physically demanding and requires a special permit. Due to its close proximity to Tibet, the whole area has been closed to tourists for a very long time and today the trek is only accessible with a local guide. This distinguishes it from many other local treks. Only less than 2% of all tourists visit Manaslu Circuit every year. Most of them go to Everest Base Camp or to Annapurna Circuit. Trek goes around Mt. Manaslu (8163 m), the eighth highest mountain in the world and it is undoubtedly one of the most adventurous journeys in the Himalayas. The highest point of the trek is Larkya La Pass (5125 m), one of the most dramatic passes in Nepal.
My camera gear to Nepal
Before traveling, it is important to keep in mind that if you do not pay for the carrier (sherpa) but only the local guide, you will carry all the equipment on your own back. A 6-7-hour walk in challenging terrain awaits you daily. Most tourists carry about 12 kg, but the profession of photographer brings extra kilograms. Consider that only a tripod weighs almost 1.5 kg. I had Sony A7Rii with only one lens, an excellent Sony 16-35 f/2.8 GM. I had also new Huawei P30 Pro that offers a system of four Leica cameras with 5x optical zoom so I didn't have to carry several other lenses with me. The next 7 photos below this paragraph were shot on this phone.
I have often photographed even at temperatures -12°C and this is not, of course, good for all batteries. High in the mountains there is a problem to charge anything. It is essential to keep your phone and all batteries at your fingertips, warm, during the trek.
The beginning of the journey
The adventure begins with an 8-hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Sotikola. With a greater dose of imagination, the road can be called a road. In Sotikole we start out on a walking path. For the first few days, it slowly rises through a deep valley upstream of the Buri Gandaki River. The appearance of nature changes rapidly, the green vegetation ends and you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a landscape full of glaciers and massive walls of seven thousand peaks. In the village of Shyala, breathtaking snowy scenery finally opens and you see the peak of Manaslu.
The highest point - 5125 m
Really difficult part of the trek starts from the village of Samagoan (3450 m), where you can see the frozen lake Birendra. The biggest challenge comes on the day of the ascent to Larkye La Pass (5125m), the highest point on the trek. Much of the pass is covered with ice and snow all year. It is necessary to come before the wind rises and the summit suffers from fog or snow. But it is not the only thing. Sunlight also increases the risk of avalanches falling. The guide said that there was the most snow in the past 20 years.
The alarm clock rings at 3 o'clock, at half-past four, we head towards the pass. Three hours in the dark with a headlamp, in the snow and up to a steep hill. When I think my adrenaline can no longer rise, there is a roaring sound of a falling avalanche about 200 m ahead. It is an unforgettable feeling of fear, but a great sense of happiness. The white snow dust has covered the pass. Our guide again considers returning, but this time we decide to continue. The fog is denser and denser, and we approach the summit of 5125 m. On the way, I take some pictures of the sunrise, but then I concentrate on walking and keeping my hands warm.
After less than six hours we reach the summit, unfortunately, the fog is so dense that it is impossible to see one step. We are incredibly lucky, the next day the pass is snowed and closed to all hikers. A very steep descent of a snow-covered path awaits us down the pass. The rocky landscape turns into subtropical vegetation. You walk through the beautiful forests of rhododendrons, pines and junipers. As you descend, you pass terraced rice fields, wild horse meadows, and deep bamboo forests. The journey ends in the village of Dharapani, after that we have almost a 9-hour drive along the dirty road back to Kathmandu.
Back to reality
We made the Manaslu Circuit in 10 days, climbed 8000 meters and saw some of the most beautiful sceneries along the way.
After so many days we are back in civilization. You enjoy the feeling of happiness from a hot shower, and you are not able to respond to dozens of messages and e-mails after connecting to wi-fi. You find yourself back in a reality full of rush and worry.
For me personally, it was one of the longest and toughest journeys in my life. „The way is the destination“ had the right meaning here. I had the opportunity to see the peaks of snowy mountains, massive waterfalls, suspension bridges and the diversity of untouched nature. But it was not just about the natural beauty of the Himalayas. Staying in Nepal has shown me a hard-to-understand lifestyle for Europeans.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, but people still look happier there than most people in Europe. However, happiness is very relative in Nepal. I've met the friendly villagers, many amazing people and I really wish them all the best in their lives. Living in Nepal is not easy.
In mountain villages, you feel that the time stands still, the values and priorities flip upside down and the majestic mountains enchant you with their power and energy.
See you the Himalayas! It was a great honor.