The big mountain scenery of Manaslu and Ganesh is astonishing. There’s the two-horned massif of Manaslu (8156m), the circumnavigation of which is a meditation on the wonders of Himalayan geology. There’s Ganesh Himal (7406m), named for the serpentine southern ridge that evokes the elephant-headed Hindu god of good fortune. And then there’s Himalchuli (7893m), which rises an incredible 7000m from the Marsyangdi River. Nestled in between these Himalayan giants are villages that draw from Hindu and Buddhist influences. Add a sprinkling of butterflies amidst forests from sal to pine, and you’ll be convinced you’ll catch a sight of the shy red panda.
Ganesh Himal have long been overshadowed by the established trekking regions to either side. But both the ‘spirit mountain’ and the ‘elephant mountain’ are so spectacular, and so easily accessible by bus, it’s a mystery why it’s taken so long for guides and trekkers to discover them.
You can also enjoy a culturally enchanting home stay with the Tamangs, the original horse traders of Nepal. The adventurous can venture higher for a ‘walk in the clouds’ above Tiru Danda, from where gorgeous views stretch from the Annapurnas to Ganesh Himal.
With a variety to rival the Annapurna region, it’s no exaggeration to say Manaslu’s time has come. Forget the jams of the more established routes. Barring the busy tea houses, you’ll have the trails here mostly to yourself – if you don’t mind sharing it with blue sheep, langurs, yaks andthe myriad butterflies weaving in and out of the thundering waterfalls.