Current Conditions and Trail Assessment of the Manaslu Circuit – April 2016
Richard Goodey has just come back from recceing the Manaslu Circuit in Nepal. This is his first hand summary and assessment of a safety inspection and evaluation of trails, accommodation and bridges conducted in April 2016 exactly 1 year after the April 2015 earthquake.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had lifted the advisory against visiting Manaslu and Langtang in February and none other than Prince Harry was trekking part of the Manaslu Circuit, so things were looking good so far. Prior to the recce I’d also been in touch with the Nepal Tourism Board and the Himalayan Rescue Association whom advise the FCO and both organisations stated they were encouraging visitors to visit the Langtang and Manaslu regions. As of December 2015, over 1200 trekkers had completed these routes.
Whilst trekking I specifically looked at and inspected: the trails, the lodges, bridges and evidence of landslides. John Cambridge, a former client whom had visited the Manaslu region 18 months before had joined me as well. John is an architect from Manchester, and whilst not working in an official capacity, was able to provide insight and expertise into what damage to look for in the buildings we came across.
- A visual inspection of all bridges and their materials along the trail
- Inspected the cables and concrete for cracks or deformation
100% of all bridges encountered and crossed were in great condition, safe to cross and continue to use.
- Inspected every guesthouse on the circuit for damage
- Made an assessment (of the method) of the construction of the building
- Graded buildings based on what type of method would be most earthquake resistant
- Listed and graded all buildings in order of overall safety, so that we have an accurate list for future expeditions.
- Assessed their positioning within the landscape: specifically looking for risk of rock fall and landslips. Fortunately Nepali’s know where landslides most likely will occur and build lodges away from these areas.
Overall the majority of buildings that did see damage have been repaired and there is little evidence of the earthquake.
Most of the damage occurring throughout the region was from falling rocks. Landslides are a common occurrence during the monsoon months of June to early September where huge rainfall dislodges rocks and saturates the land causing it to slide. This is why we do not recommend trekking in this region during the monsoon.
As previously mentioned above, extensive trail maintenance and repairs have taken place over the past year. The Nepalese Army, hundreds of locals as well as outside NGO’s have made the trails safer, wider and better than before the earthquakes.
Historically, Nepal has suffered from major earthquakes every 80-100 years. Statistically now is a very good time to go. The locals haven’t felt an aftershock in months so now the risk would be comparable to a tsunami hitting the beaches of Thailand. With the new wider paths, cleaned hillsides and with few tourists right now, I’d say this is the best time ever to explore this region.
The lodges on the Manaslu Circuit have significantly improved in recent years and I have collated all their contact numbers so that we can be sure to book the best ones in advance.
After a thorough trail assessment we are pleased to be running all trips to the Manaslu Circuit as normal for 2016 and 2017.