Manaslu Circuit Region
Manaslu Region Trekking is one of the most beautiful and interesting trekking in the northern Himalayan range of the west-central part of Gorkha District within the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. It has widely varied geographical terrains ranging from its lowest point of 228m to 8,163m of the world's eighth-highest mountain Mt. Manaslu. Manaslu Region is divided into 2 major regions, the northern region (Upper Manaslu and Tsum valley) and the mid-region (Lower Manaslu). Manaslu Trek is about 177 kilometers in total distance. The highest point of the Manaslu trek is the Larkya la with an elevation of 5,106 meters (16,752 ft). Manaslu trek is popular among trekkers because that provides numerous views of snow-capped mountains and close interaction with the different ethnic groups and their different cultures and traditions who live in hill villages scattered along the trek routes. It offers a rare combination of historical, archaeological, religious, and cultural of different ethnic communities. Manaslu Circuit Trek follows an ancient salt-trading route along the Darundi River Valley and Budhi Gandaki River valley. Along this route, Boudha Himal, Sringi Himal, Ganesh Himal range, Langtang Himal Ranges, Cheo Himal, Himlung Himal, and Kang Guru Himal are seen, along with Annapurna massif. While trekking in the Manaslu region, ten peaks of over 6,500 meters (21,300ft) in height are visible, including peaks of over 7,000 meters (23,000ft) elevation.
Manaslu region, which is also termed the Manaslu Conservation Area, comprises sub-tropical Himalayan foothills to arid Trans-Himalayan high pastures bordering Tibet. Starting from Gorkha or Arughat and extending into the Larkya La pass, the area covers six climatic zones:
- Tropical and sub-tropical zone, elevation varies from 228–2,000 meters (748–6,562 ft)
- Temperate zone (within elevation range of 2,000–3,000 meters (6,562–9,843 ft)
- Sub-alpine zone elevation range of 3,000–4,000 meters (9,843–13,123 ft)
- Alpine zone, a range of 4,000–5,000 meters (13,123–16,404 ft))
- Meadows; and the arctic zone (lying above 4,500 meters (14,800 ft)).
- The zones coalesce with the variation of the altitude from about 600 meters (1,969 ft) in the tropical zone to the 8,163 meters (26,782 ft) summit of Manaslu in the arctic zone.
Manaslu region is known in the Tibetan language as "Kutan l", in which "tang" means the Tibetan word for a flat place. Mt. Manaslu is the highest peak with an elevation of 8,163 meters (26,782 ft) (the world’s eighth highest mountain). In view of its favorable topography of long ridges and glacial valleys, the Manaslu region offers several routes to mountaineers. Manaslu region is surrounded by Mt. Manaslu including Ngadi Chuli, Himalchuli, and Boudha. A glacial saddle known as Larkya La with an elevation of 5,106 meters (16,752 ft), lies north of Manaslu. The peak is bounded on the east by the Ganesh Himal and the Budhi Gandaki River gorge, on the west by the deep fissures of the Marysyangdi Khola with its Annapurna range of hills, to the south is the Gorkha town at the foot of the hill (from where trekking operates during the season), which is an aerial distance of 48 kilometers (30 mi) to the peak. There are six established trek routes to the peak, and on the mountain, the south face is reportedly the most difficult for climbing.
The permanent snow line is reckoned above 5,000 meters (16,404 ft) in elevation. Precipitation in the area is both from snowfall and rainfall; the average annual rainfall is about 1,900 millimeters (75 in) mostly during the monsoon period, which extends from June to September. The temperatures in the area also vary widely with the climatic zone: in the subtropical zone, the average summer and winter temperatures vary in the range of 31–34 °C (88–93 °F) and 8–13 °C (46–55 °F) respectively; in the temperate climatic zone, the summer temperatures are 22–25 °C (72–77 °F) and winter temperatures are −2–6 °C (28–43 °F) when snow and frost are also experienced; in the subalpine zone, during December to May snowfall generally occurs and the mean annual temperature is 6–10 °C (43–50 °F). The arctic zone is distinct and falls within the permanent snow line; there, the temperatures lie much below freezing.
Unlike many other regions, this valley is a sanctuary for many highly endangered animals, including Snow leopards and Pandas. Other mammals include Lynx, Himalayan Black Bear, Grey Wolf, Dhole, and Assamese Monkey, Himalayan Musk Deer, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Tahr, Mainland Serow, Himalayan Goral, Wooly Hare, Horseshoe Bat, Himalayan House Hare, Black Lipped Pika. Over 110 species of birds, 33 mammals, 11 butterflies, and 3 reptiles have been recorded. Conservation of wildlife in the area has been achieved by monks of the monasteries in the area by putting a hunting ban in place. This action has helped wildlife to prosper. The area is now an important habitat for the snow leopard, grey wolf, musk deer, blue sheep, and the Himalayan Tahr.
Three main categories of vegetation have been identified in the area. These are categorized on the basis of altitude as Low hill, Middle mountain, and High mountain types with their exclusive types of dominant forests and other associated species. The types of vegetation, however, tend to overlap the adjoining ones at places. Depending on the microclimate and other aspects, an overlap of vegetation is noticed in adjacent areas. However, the forest types are fairly well-defined. The flora in different forest types also does not show much variation. The valley basin has a rich ecozone diversity and includes nineteen different types of forests, most prominently Rhododendron, and also Himalayan blue pine, which is flanked by Ganesh Himal and the Sringi ranges. Medicinal herbs and aromatic plants have also been recorded in different forest types and adjoining vegetation. Overall, the presence of 19 types of forests and other forms of dominant vegetation have been recorded from the area. An estimated 2,000 plant species grow here.
There are two ethnicities mainly inhabiting this region; Nubri and Tsum. The branching off of the river at Chhikur divides these two ethnic domains. While Nubri has been frequently visited since Nepal opened itself for tourism in 1950, Tsum still retains much of its traditional culture, art, and tradition. In the central hills of the region, Gurungs are the main ethnic group who have joined the Gurkha army in large numbers. Closer to Tibet, the Bhutias (also spelled Bhotias), akin to the Sherpa group, of Tibetan ethnicity dominate the scene as can be discerned from their flat-roofed houses, and they are distinctly Buddhists. The region is dotted with austere monasteries, mani walls, chortens, and other Buddhist religious landmarks. The traditional faith of non-violence and compassion augments the wildlife diversity of the region.