Saturday, May 12, 2018

Manaslu/Tsum Valley Updates May 5 2018



A South Col team trekked Manaslu and Tsum valley in April - May 2018. Some updates from this trek which are useful for fellow trekkers in the next season:

Trail Updates
Due to the construction of a new road all the way from Soti Khola up the Tsum Valley to Tibet the existing trails between Lapu Besi and Tatopani which is the approach for both the Manaslu and Tsum Valley treks are in a precarious condition.

The existing road upto Soti Khola from Arughat which now has small buses plying on it has been extended to Lapubesi. However private vehicles have permission to drive only to Hawa Danda which is 30 minutes walk from Lapubesi.

From Lapubesi due to the road construction on the old trail, a newer trail has been made along the river. However due to the blasting of rocks above, parts of this newer trail is only rocks and boulders and walking on this trail is difficult but compared to the trail conditions further up it can somehow be managed.
Short section of trail around 2 minutes between Maccha Khola and Lapubesi
From Machha Khola to Khorlabesi the old trail along the river is totally devastated. The road building along parts of this trail is on in full swing and there is a possibility of rock fall rendering this trail unsafe. We did not find most locals, trekkers and mule caravans using this old trail. There is now a new trail across the river which climbs around 400 metres from Maccha Khola reaches a high point above Khorla Besi and then plummets around 300 metres to the valley to reach Khorla Besi in 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on your walking speed. This is against the normal 1 hour 15 min which it used to take between Machha Khola and Khorla Besi on the old trail.  It is likely that this new trail will continue to be used even for the upcoming October- November season as the monsoon rains will wreak more havoc on the road construction during June to September 2018.

Road timings Khorlabesi to Tatopani
From Khorlabesi to Tatopani the road construction is taking place on the old trail and the Nepal Army only allows the trail to open between 11 am and 12 noon and again between 5 pm in the evening and 7 am in the morning.  Even when the trail is open due to blasting of rocks and debris all over the trail it is difficult to cross many sections where now no trail exists.


Logistically the longer route between Machha Khola and Khorlabesi and the trail open timings between Khorlabasi and Tatopani need to be considered when drawing up an itinerary for this trek. It is now possible to reach Soti Khola on the same day from Kathmandu and stay the night in Soti Khola. If you are in a private vehicle you can drive past Soti Khola to Hawa Danda and reach Lapubesi on the same day from Kathmandu which is what we did. The Hotel Laxmi is a good stop in Lapubesi far better than the lodges of Soti Khola. From Lapubesi it is possible to reach Khorlabesi by around 2 pm but the trail only opens at 5 pm so either you stop in Khorlabesi for the night or hit Tatopani around 6 pm where there are very basic lodges. Continuing on to Dobhan, where there are better lodges, in the dark is not a very good option.
If you are walking from Soti Khola then Khorlabesi on the first day is a hard walk considering the additional climb of 400 metres up and 300 metres down which would be quite exhausting in the mid day sun at this low altitude.
This is the current trail situation – it is possible that timings and routes will change for the autumn season 2018 so try to get local information from the trekking companies in Kathmandu and the lodges en route before planning the trek itinerary.

Mules on the trail





I was quite amazed to see the increase in mule traffic on this trail since my last visit a year ago. The only reason I could find for this increased traffic is the building of new lodges all along the trail and the building materials being carried up by the mules. We also found many houses which had been damaged by the earthquake being rebuilt and this could also be one of the reasons. I estimated around 300 to 400 mules on one day between Tatopani and Jagat and it would be the same or nearabouts on most days. The mules are a constant danger to trekkers – arriving unannounced around a cliff and often at a fast pace. They don’t usually stop so you have to wedge yourself between a rock and the trail to somehow avoid them.  On narrow sections this if often quite difficult. One of our trekkers was kicked by a mule as there was no space for her to get away from the trail.  Mule jams are also not uncommon especially across bridges where sometimes fifty to sixty mules crossing over can cause long delays.  You may need to add forty five minutes to an hour to your trekking day to consider these delays.

Trekking Numbers



We found fewer trekkers in the region this spring compared to the earlier year. Our findings were borne out at the Manaslu Conservation Area Project in Jagat where the officer  in charge informed us that only 2000 or so trekkers had come in so far in 2018 ( upto May 2nd 2018). This is a far cry from the Everest and Annapurna treks where 20,000 to 30,000 trekkers visit each season. One of the reasons for this could well be the poor road condition Dhading Besi/Gorkha to Arughat coupled with this new road building exercise along the trail.

For detailed information on the Manaslu Circuit Trek route do  visit  http://sujoyrdas.blogspot.in/2017/07/manaslu-circuit-part-i-route-and-timings.html

3 comments:

  1. No Trekkers like to walk on roads.
    Probably why Manaslu became more and more popular is that there is almost no road and makes it a bit different to the Annapurna Circuit
    So in my opinion, if they build a road through Manaslu this area will be spoiled.
    And you destroy the nature and porters are not necessary anymore, so just the "rich" jeepowners will make money

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree but the Government is building the road to Tibet - so this trek is also doomed in a few years

      Delete
  2. For more information on our treks in Nepal and the Himalaya do visit www.southcol.com

    ReplyDelete

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