Which is harder Mount Everest Base Camp Trek vs Manaslu Circuit Trek?

Nepal is a trekkers' paradise. As a mountainous country, full of fold mountains, you will find hundreds of trek regions within Nepal. Due to altitudinal differences and diverse geological folds, the Nepali mountainous regions are unique and filled with natural beauty, enhanced by the snow peaks on the top. 

Two prominent trek regions in Nepal include Everest Region and the Manaslu region. Though both treks will take you to high altitudes with alpine climates, these treks are distinctly different and provide different trek experiences. 

If you are trying to choose between the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek vs Manaslu Circuit Trek, this article should help you.

Introduction: Everest and Manaslu

Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world, standing tall at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level. It is located on the border between Nepal and Tibet (China) in north-eastern Nepal and is a part of the Mahalangur mountain range in the Khumbu region of Nepal.

The Mahalangur Himal range includes four of the six highest peaks on earth - Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu. 

On the other hand, Mount Manaslu, at 8,163 meters (26,781 feet), is the eighth-highest mountain in the world. It is located in the Mansiri Himal range of the Himalayas in north-central Nepal. 

The mountain is located in the Gorkha district of Nepal and is a popular destination for trekking and mountaineering. Mansiri Himal range is separated from the Annapurnas by the Marsyangdi River. 

Differences: Mount Everest Base Camp Trek vs Manaslu Circuit Trek 

1. The destination

The major destination of the Everest Base Camp Trek is the Everest Base Camp. It is a campsite at an altitude of 5,364 meters (17,598 feet) on the south side of Mount Everest. Mountaineers use this camp as a starting point for their climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

Thousands of mountaineers and nature lovers trek to Mount Everest Base Camp every year, mainly during spring (March, April, and May) and autumn (September, October, and November).

The Everest Base Camp is surrounded by several towering peaks, including Lhotse (8,516m), Nuptse (7,855m), Cho Oyu (8,188m), Makalu (8,485m), Ama Dablam (6,812m), Thamserku (6,623m) and Pumori (7,165m). It is also the perfect region to witness the unique culture of the Sherpas living in this region for centuries. 

Sherpas are world-renowned for their mountaineering skills. You must have heard of the Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, one of the first persons to summit Mt. Everest. Several gifted Sherpas have been able to establish world records in mountaineering. 

The Manaslu Circuit Trek takes trekkers around the base of Mount Manaslu, offering stunning views of the mountain and the surrounding landscapes. The trek is known for its remote and rugged terrain, diverse flora and fauna, and unique cultural experiences.

If you're looking for a challenging and rewarding trek in Nepal, both Mount Everest Base Camp Trek and the Manaslu Circuit Trek offer stunning views and unique experiences. 

However, here are details about the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek vs Manaslu Circuit Trek that should help you choose between these treks.

2. Getting to the trek regions

The Manaslu Circuit trek difficulty is as challenging as the Everest Base Camp trek. To start your Manaslu Circuit Trek, you need to take a bus or private jeep from Kathmandu to Soti Khola (730m/2896ft), from where the trails begin.

The journey takes approximately 7-8 hours and passes through scenic landscapes and traditional villages. Since the mountainous roads might not be in good condition and the bus is mostly crowded. For comfort, you might consider hiring a private Jeep from Kathmandu. 

To trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, trekkers take a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (2,850m / 9,350ft), a small town in the Everest region. The flight usually takes around 30 minutes and is considered one of the most scenic flights in the world.

After arriving in Lukla, trekkers begin their trek toward the Everest region, passing through various villages and settlements. Most trekkers will trek to Phakding after landing in Lukla. The next day, they will head to Namche Bazaar -the gateway to the high Himalayas. 

You can easily observe that the Manaslu trek starts in a lower region and gradually progresses to higher altitudes, providing enough time for acclimatization as you pass through varieties of flora and fauna.

3. Landscape differences

Both treks offer stunning views of the Himalayas, but the sceneries are slightly different. The trek to Mount Everest Base Camp starts from Lukla, at 2,850m/9,350ft, through the Khumbu Valley and offers views of Mount Everest and other iconic peaks such as Lhotse, Nuptse, and Ama Dablam. However, the highest point you will reach in the EBC trek is Kala Patthar, at 5,555m. 

In contrast, Manaslu Circuit Trek starts from Soti Khola, at (730m/2896ft), and reaches 5,106m (16,752ft) at the Larkya La Pass - one of the longest passes in the Himalayas. Manaslu Circuit trek difficulty peaks at Larkya La.

Most trekkers spend their nights at Dharmasala, cross Larkya La Pass very early in the morning, and reach Bhimtang. From Larkya La pass, you can see several snow peaks, including Himlung Himal, Cheo Himal, the great Annapurna II, and Kang Guru. 

Due to the altitudinal difference, the vegetation you will be passing is more diverse in the case of the Manaslu Circuit compared to the EBC trek. The elevation gain is more pronounced in Everest Base Camp treks.

4. Culture

The two treks also differ in terms of cultural experiences. The Everest Base Camp trek takes you through the Sherpa villages and offers an insight into their unique culture and traditions.

In the Manaslu Circuit trek, you will come across many remote villages that differ ethnically. You will find Gurungs, Tibetans, Tamangs, Brahmins, Nubri, and Tsum, inhabiting the Manaslu region.

5. Religious diversity

The Everest region is predominantly Buddhist, and most locals follow the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Sherpas, the largest ethnic group in this region, practice a form of Tibetan Buddhism with some alterations that suit their local culture and traditions.

The Manaslu Circuit region, on the other hand, is inhabited by a mix of ethnic groups, including Tibetans, Gurungs, and Tamangs, who practice a variety of religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism.

The dominant religion in the higher Manaslu regions is Buddhism and most locals follow the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism. However, Hindus inhabit the lower altitudes within the Manaslu trek regions. 

6. Trail crowd

The Everest Base Camp trek is more popular and crowded than the Manaslu Circuit trek. While both treks offer opportunities to get away from the crowds and experience remote wilderness areas, the Everest Base Camp trek can be busy during the peak trekking season. If you are searching for inner peace far from modern influences, you will love the Manaslu Circuit more than Everest Base Camp. 

Which to choose: Mount Everest Base Camp Trek or Manaslu Circuit Trek?

We are sure you now have a good idea of the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek vs the Manaslu Circuit Trek, but which should you choose?

The Manaslu Circuit Trek and the Everest Base Camp Trek are both challenging treks, but the difficulty level varies due to the trek length, altitude, terrain, and weather conditions. 

The classic Manaslu Circuit Trek is a bit longer at 177 kilometers, compared to the Classic Everest Base Camp trek at 130 kilometers. 

If we compare the altitude, you can find that the highest point on the Everest Base Camp trek is 5,555 meters at Kala Patthar, while the highest point on the Manaslu Circuit trek is 5,106 meters (16,752 feet) at the Larkya La Pass. So, you will be ascending much more rapidly during the Everest Base Camp trek than Manaslu Circuit Trek. 

However, the Manaslu Circuit Trek also throws a lot of physical challenges during the trails, such as its steepness, rocky trails, and narrow mountain paths.

Weather conditions also play a significant role in trek difficulties, with both treks experiencing extreme weather conditions in different seasons. The Everest Base Camp Trek can be particularly challenging during the winter months, with harsh winds, cold temperatures, and heavy snowfall while the Manaslu Circuit Trek can be challenging during the monsoon season due to heavy rain and landslides.

It is not easy to distinguish difficulty levels easily. Manaslu circuit trek difficulty is comparable to the trek to Mount Everest Base Camp. Each individual is unique.

For the same task, one person might find it easy while another can consider it hard. We have provided insight into what it is like to trek to Everest Base Camp and Manaslu Circuit, but we leave you to decide the trek difficulty according to your preferences and strengths.

Trek with Discovery World Trekking

Discovery World Trekking is a leading Nepali trekking/adventure company focusing on enhancing trek experiences in the Nepali Himalayas. We have been conducting Himalayan treks for over a decade. You can book the Everest Base Camp or Manaslu Circuit treks with us.

Paul Gurung

Paul has an extensive experience in the tourism industry. Through his blogs, he shares his deep knowledge about the stunning trek regions in Nepal, inspiring trekkers worldwide to explore these regions and enrich their lives. In addition to geography, his writings delve into the human side of the trek regions, including culture, traditions, religions, and etiquette, offering a comprehensive and enriching perspective on the Himalayan trekking and expedition experience.