Manaslu is the eighth highest mountain in the world, and 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 Lamjung 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. Enroute, 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 5,235 metres (17,175 ft). As of May 2008, the mountain has been climbed 297 times with 53 fatalities.
The permanent snow line is reckoned above 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) elevation. Precipitation in the area is both from snowfall and rainfall; the average annual rainfall is about 1,900 millimetres (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 zone.
Unlike many other regions, this valley is a sanctuary to many highly endangered animals, including Snow Leopards and Pandas. Over 110 species of birds, 33 mammals, 11 butterflies and 3 reptiles have been recorded. Conservation of wild life 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 the wildlife to prosper. The area is now an important habitat for the snow leopard, grey wolf, musk deer, blue sheep and the Himalayan Thar.
Three main categories of vegetation have been identified in the area. These are categorised on the basis of the altitude as Low hill, Middle mountain and High mountain types with its 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 ecotone 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 forests types and adjoining vegetation. Overall, the presence of 19 types of forests and other forms of dominant vegetation have been recorded from the area.
Trekking In The Manaslu Region:
The Manaslu region offers a variety of trekking options. The Manaslu Circuit Trek now usually starts in Arughat Bazaar and ends two to three weeks later in Besisahar, the starting point of the Annapurna Circuit Trek. Until recently the trek used require camping, but building of tea-houses means the trek can be completed using local accommodation. The trek requires a Restricted Area Permit of $50 per week and that trekkers travel in a group of two with a registered guide. The trek lies on the newly developed Great Himalaya Trail.
Two alternative routes are also popular. One is on the Annapurna trail but leaves it at Dharapani to reach Manang, crossing Thorong La and Jomsom (Kali Gandaki valley). From Jomsom flights depart to Pokhara. The other alternative route is from Bhulbule, crossing Marsyangdi to Khudi, divert from Annapurna trail and trek cross country through valleys and ridges to Sisuwa town on the bank of Begnas Tal. From here a road approach is available to Pokhara.