Best 19 days
In May, my husband and I were finishing a 6 month trip around the world with 1 month in Nepal. We had no plans when we arrived, just an idea that we wanted to go to Mansalu; but we had heard it had suffered significant damage from the 2015 quake and weren't sure if we were going to be able to make it happen. When we arrived in Kathmandu, we decided to go with Himalaya Hub because they had amazing reviews and were the most honest and personable organizer we met with. They made us feel cared for and didn't make us feel like just another sale...And arranged our journey in less than 36 hours!
First, a bit about our guide, the wonderful and kind Babu. By the end of the trip, Babu was more than a guide, he became our friend. Not only did he educate us on the terrain, the names of the glorious peaks, and the animals along the way, but he introduced us to the local people...something that was very important to us because unlike other countries, when you trek in Nepal, you stay in people's homes. Very special people's homes. Babu helped us build a meaningful connection to the community in each village we stayed. In one location, Babu helped us buy potatoes from a local village woman and convinced the tea house owner to let us cook our own food, because my husband likes to cook (lets just say the locals can cook their food way better than we can!). In another case, we sat with Babu in the house kitchen and dined on freshly made momos made by Dai Chen, the "woman of the house." We sat drinking Yak tea (yuck) for an hour, learning what it's like to live so far up (3700 m) in the mountains, how to raise a family there, etc. In another case, Babu helped us literally catch a chicken (aka run around a village looking like a chicken with its head cut off) for dinner, the day after the pass. There were countless experiences that Babu gave us that made our journey that much more personal, meaningful, memorable, forever. He played cards with us. He made us laugh. He took us to the best tea houses to stay in. He made sure we were always comfortable and happy. He picked berries for us to eat (safe berries..the yellow looking rasberry ones - yum!). Babu is simply THE BEST and everyone should request that he be their guide. You won't regret it!
Second, a bit about the journey. Going to Manaslu and Tsum Valley was amazing. From what we understood, there was a lot of damage from the quake, and some was still visible. But the Manaslu trek is definitely open and I highly recommend it, especially with the Tsum addition. Less people I think are traveling here, which is unfortunate because it is so beautiful. But it's definitely not for the faint of heart....be prepared to walk long distances. Tsum Valley is a really special place because the Buddhists there still feel very much attached to Tibet and speak their own language unlike other Buddhists throughout the country. It's like this little magical valley the world forgot about - there are no roads connecting to it...just green fields of wheat (or I guess yellow depending on the season) surrounded by massive peaks. At the top lies an amazing monastery with lovely monks - 1 who is over 70! And there is an amazing nunnery, where many of the women taught themselves English. Manaslu is also amazing. We stayed our first night at the owner's in laws house, which was a lovely experience. In general though, the tea houses are very nice on this trek, many recently rebuilt after the quake. The Larke pass is beautiful. We were "fortunate" to have a snow storm right when we arrived to the camp before the pass (Dharmasala) so everything had a fresh coat of snow on it. But the views are fantastic. The only downside of Manaslu is when you meet up with the Annapurna trek, which only reaffirms why you should pass on that trek and opt for something off the beaten path (literally).
Bottom line, you can't go wrong with Manaslu, Tsum, Himalaya Hub, and most definitely not Babu!