This time we are back with our series Winter in Manang, Nepal. The main motive of this travel series was to show that traveling to Manang is possible in the cold season.
Actually, the best time to travel to Manang is Autumn (September – November) and spring (March-May). In these seasons, the weather will be more clear and temperatures are normal too.
To cut this pattern, we went to Manang in January- February.
Manang lies in between the lap of the Annapurna range and Gangapurna mountain. Situated at 3519m above sea level, it lies in Manang Neyshang Municipality. And this Municipality is home to villages like Mananag, Ghyaru, Khangsar, Tanki Manang, Ngawal, Bhraka, and Pisang. It is a crucial point of the Tilicho Lake Trek, Mesokanta La Pass, and Annapurna Circuit trek.
Home to 7000 people, their culture and tradition largely reflects a Tibetan influence.
To expand tourism there has been the development of roadways up to the lower Manang region. Since they are in contact with the outside world by the roadways, the lower Manang region has facilities like grocery shops, stores with outdoor equipment, ATMs, and cinema.
Manang has so much to offer to visitors, snow-covered peaks, glacial lakes, and steep slopes. Some of the best attractions of Mananag are Ice lake, Tilicho lake, Gangapurna Lake, Landslide area, Praken Gompa, Braga Gompa, and Milarepa’s Cave.
Winter in Mananag – They journey to the land of Tilicho Lake and Thorong La Pass
The winter in Manang can go up to -15°C. During this time Manangi people migrate to Beshi (lower region) along with their domesticated animals.
Day 1 Kathmandu to Besisahar to Nagdi
Our journey started early in the morning from Kathmandu. After meeting Soman dai, Pemba dai, and Munna dai we headed towards the Besisaar. We were very excited that we are going to Manang in winter. More than that we are expecting to have some snowfall there in Manang.
As we left Kathmandu city, we went towards Prithivi Highway. Riding a bike on the highway was always thrilling. The excitement of exploring new places always keeps me energized.
We stopped at Muglin for a lunch. There we had delicious fish curry. I am drooling now. So, again we went back to our destination. We reached Dumre and headed towards Beshisahar, our tire got punctured. It took around 15 to 20 minutes to repair. Meanwhile, we had a little chat with locals. Travelling is all about meeting new people, talking and laughing.
Saying goodbye to them, we head towards Besisahar, and it was dark when we reached Besisahar. Besisahar is 176 km far from Kathmandu. There we took a quick coffee break at Gangapurna Hotel in Besisahar. We planned to move to Ngadi village, our stop point of the day, which was just 1.5 hours away from Besisahar.
Taking a right from the Manang Chautara, we hit the road to Manang. The road further to Manang was completely off-road.
We crossed the tunnel road, the only operated tunnel road in Nepal. Finally, we reached Ngadi village. There we had a locally grown finger-licking meal and camped fired before closing our eyes.
Day 2- Ngadi Village-Pisang-Manang
Ngadi Village is a small settlement in the lower Mustang region. People over there follow Buddhism and were very friendly. Crossing Ngadi bridge we moved towards Chame Village. Having boiled egg and black tea at Falaraj Dai’s cottage, we moved forward. The landscape was very beautiful. We were awestruck by the view of the waterfalls.
After crossing the Myardi Khola, Lamjung, and Manang Intersection, we reached Tal Gaun (Village). The scenery of the Tal Village was beautiful; rice terraces, waterfall, Myasyandi river, and small settlements.
We reached Khotra after 3-4 hours ride from Ngadi. Usually, it takes 2 hours, but we were capturing landscapes and scenes on the way. So far we have traveled 223 km. The locals said that it takes around 3- 4 hours to reach Manang.
Since it was freaking cold and we were hungry, we had a noodle without wasting another minute. We moved ahead.
The road to Manang was off-road and bumpy. Beautiful small waterfalls and perilous rocky stretches welcomed us, which also helped us forget our tiredness. We met people and all of them were very friendly.
We stopped for a meal at Timang village and had amazing vegetarian food. You do not have to worry about tea houses in Manang. There are plenty of them.
While our way to Chame, my bike got slipped. It was nothing. That’s the beauty of a journey and traveling on a bike. Finally, we reached Chame. The higher the altitude we moved, the temperature was getting colder. Since we are expecting snowfall, I left my bike Hondo XR 190L in Chame and joined my teammates.
We move our way towards the Pisang. The road was dangerous as it was narrow, unpaved, and had open edges over rocky mountains. The road to Manang is carved out of a sheer rock mountain.
We reached Swarga Dwar/Swargadwari monolith, the “Gateway to Heaven”, in Pisang. Swargadwari is a huge bare-rock formation. People believed to be a path to heaven. Locals also consider Swargadwari as a holy mountain and also worship it. Since it is a sacred place it is restricted to set foot upon it.
We spend some time over there gazing upon its beauty and enormity.
After reaching Humde, we saw a glimpse of snowy mountains. It was so chilling and I still got chills remembering it. We had milk tea and it warmed our bodies. Not so much, but well it kept us warm for a bit.
Humde is a popular village in the Manang region as it is the home to the only airport of Marshyangdi valley. It is the place where you can see the amazing mountain peaks as well. Many stops Humde for acclimatization. You much visit the longest Mani walls, which consist of 266 wheels running through the center of the village.
Finally, after a bumpy and adventurous ride, we reached Manang. We went to Alpine Homes, our home for the day.
Alpine Homes is famous for its colorful cottages. From here you can see Mt. Annapurna and the snow-capped peaks of Manang. The location is quite popular among several backpackers looking for an authentic local stay.
After having a meal and hoping for snowfall we went to sleep.
Day 3- Gangapurna Lake, Manang
Due to tiredness, we woke up a little late. But the sky was clear and we saw an Annapurna and surrounding peaks from the Alpine Homes. The trans-Himalayan land was shining bright and locals were back to their business.
After sun basking, we had talked with Tourist Management Sub-Committee, Manang to know what could be done during winter in Manang. We went towards Gangapurna lake. After walking alongside Marsyangdi River for minutes, we reached Gangapuna Lake.
Situated at the height of 3,540m, Gangapurna Lake is a glacier lake that is formed from the glaciers from Mt. Gangapurna, Annapurna IV, Glacier Dom, and Kangsar Kang. During summer and autumn, it lake appears cyan, white during monsoon, and gets covered with ice and snow in the winter season.
It was covered with ice when we reached there. We could walk from one end to another. The picturesque view of Lake Gangapurna made us forget who we were. And it indeed made us realize that Nepal is heaven.
Day 4 – Camping at Gangapurna Lake
If you want to see the never-seen beauty of Manang then spend your winter in Manang. The rays of the sun kissing the snowy mountains, and smoke coming from the burning black juniper made you feel like you are in some other planet.
Locals were busying praying and leaving for grazing their animals. Apart from tourism, most of the people’s income source is Sheep and Mountain goats farming.
We could not forget the beauty of Gangapurna Lake. So we decided to do camping over there a day earlier. After packing the heavy load of needful things for camping, we headed our way towards Gangapurna Lake, our home away from home for that day.
When we reached there, the sun was hidden behind the rocky mountains. So, the surrounding was pleasant, silent and not to forget cold, freezing cold. Then, we started to set the camp, tents, firewood and made tea (I just love tea).
The sound of our guitar, clam Gangapurna lake, vegetables BBQ, and whiskey to adapt to the cold environment, was making us forget every tiredness. We were so enjoying that I felt like I am born to travel and to roam around. And it also made me realize that I have amazing teammates too. To my surprise, we saw Milky Way Galaxy too. That day, we slept under the billion stars.
Day- 5- Gangapurna Lake- Bhraka village
When we woke up, we saw an amazing sunrise and amazing surroundings. For the adventure seekers, if you’re planning for the Manang trek, then I recommend you camping in Gangapurna lake.
After completing our camping, visited Buchok Gumba. It is small and filled with Thangkas and prayer flags.
After that, we walked 20min to reach Bhraka village which lies at an altitude of 3400m. This village has a popular Gumba called Bhraka Gumba. Being one of the oldest monasteries in the region, it has been a center of hope for the past 600+ years.
Cyling in Manang/Bike Ride in Manang
Cycling/bike rides in Manang is also a popular and major attraction for domestic and international tourists. Cycling through the rugged mountains, single trail, yak, and sheep trails makes your heartbeat like a drum. One needs to be physically fit and experienced. We met Om Adhikari and Bikash Maharjan, who shows us the potential of cycling or mountain biking around Nepal. There are so many hidden cycling trails all over Nepal, that could uplift the tourism industry in Nepal.
Meeting Nepal Ice Climbing Team
We met the Nepal Climbing team, Bishnu and Manish to learn about ice climbing. Ice Climbing in winter in Manang is one of the major attractions and activities among others.
Day -6 SnowFall at Manang
It was 6 am and there was a snowfall. This was the day that we had been waiting for since the beginning of our winter in Manang trip. We were very excited. It was the first snow of the year, Manang, we saw that day was totally different from what it was yesterday. Cotton like snow, humid sky, gloomy weather, and white Manang was giving me “Winter is here” vibes of Game of Thrones.
Rooftops were filled with snow, the hills, villages, water from the tap all were white. It was like the whole Nepal is covered with snow. It was a different and lifetime experience.
People’s livelihood was completely changed as soon as the temperature fell. Due to excessive snowfall, the people started to clear the snow off from their rooftop, alleys, and roads. It was something that we could see only in winter in Manang.
Prem Khsiring Dai invited us to have Dhinddo with his family. We witnessed his daily life, which is completely different from the urban parts of Nepal. After waiting for some minutes, we had a Dhindo and Yak Sukuti cooked in firewood. Having such warm food when it was snowing outside was a heavenly feeling.
We left for Humde to shoot ice climbing and skiing in the Ice climbing festival tomorrow. We were unable to drive to Humde due to snow. So we walked for 3 hours, enjoyed the beauty of Manang village and reached Humde.
Day- 7 Ice Climbing Festival- Humde
It weather was a bit clear and the mountains were breathtaking and we felt as if we could reach out and touch them. Our plan was to shoot ice climbing. We packed our lunch and headed towards there.
The Nepal climbing team scouted the area. After the inspection, they decided to ice climb at a frozen waterfall situated at a lower altitude.
Ice Climbing means climbing a vertical icy structure such as a frozen waterfall or iced rocked mountains. This adventure sport is done with special equipment like ice axes, rocks, crampons, and special boots designed for ice climbing. This ice climbing festival has been happening in Manang for the past 3 years. It has been one of the major attractions for tourism in winter in Manang especially during the offseason. Both Nepal Mountaineering Association and Nepal Climbing Team work together to make it happen and be successful. Likewise, various committees of the Manang region are also active. Seeing the potential of the Manang village for tourist attractions, locals are planning to create many festivals that reflect their culture and traditions.
As they conducted the ice climbing at Mungji, many locals were presented to learn and experience it.
We also get a chance to experience ice climbing. It was hard and challenging. Obviously was not easy as we thought it would be.
Skiing was also possible over there. So, if you want to experience ice climbing and skiing, then you should definitely go to Manang in winter. I must say, it is a lifetime experience.
I was enjoying the snow much and did not care about getting wet and cold. So, I rushed and began to create “Snow Angels”.
Day 8 – Thorong High Camp
We planned to go up to Thorong La Pass a day earlier. Thorong La pass which is also called Annapurna Circuit Trek is the highest pass in the world. It lies at the altitude of 5416m.
Donkeys and Horses are the major transportations of Manang or the upper Himalayan region of Nepal. We did not have any other choices than riding horses to reach Thorong La village.
I was a little scared for a few minutes while riding back on a horse. The trails were ridged and edgy. Once I get used to it, I felt like I was riding a bike.
We were lost in the moment, we were rewarded with some spectacular views and landscapes which always showered for some great photos for winter in Manang.
Crossing the suspension bridge, we reached the deserted land surrounded by the Himalayas. It was right in front of my eyes and I felt I could easily conquer it.
We reached Yar Kharka. It is a small settlement used by the trekkers of Thorong La Pass for rest or acclimatization. We had lunch there and our horses were also resting there nicely. Thanking Furba Dai for the lunch, we again move forward.
Rocky mountains, trans-Himalayan landscape, blue sky, and sunny. I still vividly remember how beautiful the journey was. I was just feeling nature and lost myself in the beauty of Manang.
We saw blue sheep on our way to Thorong La. They are habituated in the upper Manang region.
Talking about the view. It was heaven. I felt like I was on another planet. One side of the mountain is covered with snow and the other was rocky. The river was frozen. I got goosebumps over there and I shouted due to excitement.
Thorong Phedi Or Thorong Base Camp
Situated at 4540m above sea level, the landscapes and the mountains from there were awesome. No words are able enough to express what I saw. You should really see it or feel it out yourself. Mighty Mt. Annapurna was welcoming us.
Resting for a few minutes we head ahead to Thorong High Camp. The trail was steep and uphill.
Thorong High Camp
Finally, we reached Thorong high camp. It lies at an altitude of 4884m. It was surrounded by snow-covered mountains. The weather was so cold.
After having lunch, at Thorong High Camp View, we took our way to Thorong View Point. It is something that you should not miss while trekking Annapurna Circuit. This is the place to see mountain ranges from the viewpoint.
We found that from the Thorong Viewpoint we could see 15 mountains. It took 10 minutes to reach there from Pemba Dai’s Hotel. When we reached there, the viewpoint from the lookout point was magnetic, appealing which had made the steep climb worthy. The amazing 360 degrees panoramic view of surrounding mountains like Annapurna, Nilgiri, and so on from the viewpoint made us go crazy. Beautiful snow-capped mountains just a few meters away, a nearby glacier, and sunrise over the mountains made us indulge in the beauty for a while and witness the world float for minutes. I could not control myself shouted, ” Heaven is Myth, Nepal is Real”. And while witness such serenity of mother nature, Nepal is heaven.
Many trekkers skipped this viewpoint. But we like you to request, if you are planning to visit Thorong La pass, then include this place in your trek itinerary.
We came back to the hotel and had dinner. We slept early as we were so tired.
Day 9 Thorong High Camp to Manang
When we woke, the weather was not clear and good. So it was impossible to go to Thorong top as it was snowing heavily and windy. We as a team did not want to take a risk and going back to Manang. One of our teammates also broke his nail. Evaluating his condition and Pemba Dai advice, we returned back to Manang. I was feeling sad, but at least we reached Thorong High Camp in the harsh weather and condition.
After having breakfast, we returned back to Manang.
We reached Manang saying see you again to Thorong La Pass. Since that was our last day in Mamang, we enjoyed a night fullest with the Nepal Mountain team. The sounds of the guitar and the song made us dance. It was a night to remember and we were living our best lives.
Day 10 Time to Go Home
Our bags were packed. We were ready to return to Kathmandu. Tunsi Funjo Si, CDO of Manang, Pemba Dai, and other locals of Manang people bid farewell to us. We had grown up as a family, so it was a bit hard to say goodbye to them.
We are happy that we succeeded to showcase Manang as a wonderland for tourists even in winter. If you are planning for winter in Manang, then you will witness frozen Gangapurna Lake, Tilicho Lake, snow-covered Manang Village, frozen waterfalls, cycling, been an ice climbing festival, and Yak Sukuti (dry meat) and Dhindo is waiting for you. So please visit Manang in winter, it is waiting for you.