Nepal – Mt. Manaslu and Larkya La, Part 2

The trek around Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world, took us from a hot, humid jungle to beautiful alpine forests; through Hindu and then Buddhist villages.Click for (Part 1) By the 6th day we reached the village of Samagoan which is set near the base of Manaslu. We stayed two nights in Samagoan so we could explore this scenic area. The architecture in the village of Samagoan is different from the other villages we had passed. The homes have shared walls, but each has its own roof which makes for an interesting looking village. These homes have their barn on the ground level and a home-made wooden ladder is used to access the living quarters on the second floor. The high peaks of Manaslu tower over Samagoan making the village’s setting even more dramatic.

For details on the trek click here

Chorten at the entrance to Samagoan
Chorten at the entrance to Samagoan
Roof tops in Samagoan
Roof tops in Samagoan
Typical homes in Samagoan
Typical homes in Samagoan
Mani wall in Samagoan
Mani wall in Samagoan
Chortens in the village of Samagoan
Chortens in the village of Samagoan
Houses in Samagoan
Houses in Samagoan
Little boy washing his bowl in a creek in Samagoan
Little boy washing his bowl in a creek in Samagoan

A strange occurrence in this area is the collection of the yarsagumba caterpillar. This caterpillar is infected with a fungus which kills and mummifies it. The fungus is a rigid, thin, black growth coming out of the caterpillar’s rigid corpse. In China, the fungus is believed to be a cure-all for many diseases and so is very expensive and therefore very valuable. In Hong Kong a kilo costs $25,000 USD. It is found only in a few glaciers in Nepal and only for a couple of weeks in the year. One of the glaciers is above the town of Samdo which is a short walk from Samagoan. We were there during the few days that the caterpillars could be collected and many of the villagers from Samagoan went to the glaciers to find them. They are very difficult to find as only the tip of the fungus is above ground, but we met one lady who found 80 that day and 90 the day before. The money made from the yarsagumba will help to support her family for the rest of the year.

Yarsagumba caterpillar
Yarsagumba caterpillar

Above the town is an old Gompa, Kargyu Chholing (Monastery) with great views of the surrounding valley and with Mt. Manaslu towering above. Further from town is the glacier fed lake of Birendra Tal. The Manaslu glacier above it is a steep, deeply crevassed glacier. We sat and watched parts of the glacier break off and crash down to the lake.

Kargyu Chholing Gompa with Mt. Manaslu
Kargyu Chholing Gompa with Mt. Manaslu
Kargyu Chholing Gompa in Samagoan
Kargyu Chholing Gompa in Samagoan
Kargyu Chholing Gompa in Samagoan
Kargyu Chholing Gompa in Samagoan
Birendra Tal (Lake)
Birendra Tal (Lake)

The views of Manaslu in Samagoan and the surrounding valley are spectacular. On our last morning we were treated to an amazing alpenglow on the mountain.

Mt Manaslu at sunrise
Mt Manaslu at sunrise
Mt Manaslu at sunrise
Mt Manaslu at sunrise
View from our guesthouse of Mt Manaslu at sunrise
View from our guesthouse of Mt Manaslu at sunrise

After leaving Samagoan, we trekked up a large, wide valley where we still had beautiful views of Manaslu.

Mountains above Samagoan
Mountains above Samagoan
Mani wall above Samagoan
Mani wall above Samagoan
Mt. Manaslu
Mt. Manaslu
Mt Manaslu
Mt Manaslu
Valley above Samagoan
Valley above Samagoan

At the small village of Samdo we started going up an open valley with alpine flowers such as buttercups, primula and small, flowering shrubs. During many of our treks in Nepal and Bhutan, we heard Cuckoo Birds singing, but were never able to see one. Having never seen one in Canada, it felt like they were taunting us. Finally, as we trekked up the valley to the pass, a cuckoo stopped on a wire in front of us and chirped the famous ‘cuckoo, cuckoo’ song.

Kani near the village of Samdo
Kani near the village of Samdo
Samdo villager with a prayer wheel
Samdo villager with a prayer wheel
The village of Samdo
The village of Samdo
The village of Samdo
The village of Samdo
Alpine flowers
Alpine flowers
Cuckoo Bird
Cuckoo Bird

We stopped for the night below the pass at an old run-down stone building called Dharmasala. It is used only by trekkers and offers spectacular mountain views. We also saw herds of friendly blue sheep and yaks near the hut.

Yaks below Dharmasala
Yaks below Dharmasala
Old Dharmasala huts
Old Dharmasala huts
Inside the hut at Dharmasala
Inside the hut at Dharmasala
Blue sheep at Dharmasala
Blue sheep at Dharmasala

The next day we woke to a beautiful red sky before continuing up the valley, across a large moraine to arrive at Larkya La (5105 m). The high pass gave a great panorama of the Annapurna Range and other surrounding mountains.

Sunrise at Dharmasala
Sunrise at Dharmasala
Sunrise at Dharmasala
Sunrise at Dharmasala
Sunrise over Larkya La (Pass)
Sunrise over Larkya La (Pass)
View on the way to Larkya La (Pass)
View on the way to Larkya La (Pass)
View on the way to Larkya La
View on the way to Larkya La
View on the way to Larkya La
View on the way to Larkya La
Himlung Himal Range from Larkya La
Himlung Himal Range from Larkya La
Larkya La (Pass)
Larkya La (Pass)
The Annapurna Range from Larkya La (Pass)
The Annapurna Range from Larkya La (Pass)
The Annapurna Range from Larkya La (Pass)
The Annapurna Range from Larkya La (Pass)

It was a long, steep descent down from the pass, but we were rewarded great views along the way. We descended 2500 m in 2 days and were surprised our knees didn’t give up.  In these 2 days we went from glaciers, to a valley of alpine flowers and junipers to a forest of fir, pine and rhododendrons then one with oak and birch trees, ferns and wild strawberries (which we picked). The villages on this side of the pass are on the very popular Annapurna Circuit trek and the road reaches much further, therefore they have more amenities such as 24/7 electricity, hot water and food prices are much lower.

The village of Bimtang
The village of Bimtang
The village of Bimtang
The village of Bimtang
Phangi Peak on the Manaslu Circuit Trek
Phangi Peak on the Manaslu Circuit Trek
Phungi Peak
Phungi Peak
Phungi Peak
Phungi Peak
Phungi Peak and the Dudh Khola (River)
Phungi Peak and the Dudh Khola (River)
The Manaslu Range on the last day of the Circuit Trek
The Manaslu Range on the last day of the Circuit Trek
The Manaslu Range on the last day of the Circuit Trek
The Manaslu Range on the last day of the Circuit Trek
The Manaslu Range on the last day of the Circuit Trek
The Manaslu Range on the last day of the Circuit Trek

This was the end to our trek around Mt Manaslu and another long, but this time uneventful, bus ride back to Kathmandu where we’re getting ready for our next adventure in Tibet!

Coming up next: our trip to Tibet

To see our pictures from Annapurna click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGL5XQNaWm8

For pictures from Richard’s Everest Summit click  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFmsecd6yN0

For extra pics from this trip go to Gallery/Nepal. For extra pictures from other blogs go to Gallery at monkeystale.ca

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5 thoughts on “Nepal – Mt. Manaslu and Larkya La, Part 2

    1. Hi Mark, Similar to Annapurna, the Manaslu trek begins quite low so is very hot, but at Larke La and the camp below it can get quite cold. It’s a restricted are so you need a guide. January may not be possible, I think the trekking season is spring and fall, but a guide would know. Also, the views are not very spectacular until around day 4 because the valleys are so narrow you can’t see much. The road to the start of the climb is one of the worst we’ve ever been on so try not to go after a rainfall. We did a page on specifics for the trek here: https://monkeystale.ca/treks/manaslu-circuit-trek/ Hope this helps.

      Liked by 1 person

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