A next major destination for tourist to visit, “Rara Lake” is the biggest and the deepest fresh water lake in the Himalayas of Nepal. Located in the Jumla and Mugu Districts the Rara Lake is the main centerpiece of Rara National Park.
Rara National Park
Rara National Park covering 106 sq. km is Nepal’s smallest and most scenic national park. Established in 1976, most of the park remains at the altitude of about 3,000 meters. The park with the country’s biggest lake, also protects and inhabitants’ the most beautiful alpine and sub-alpine ecosystem of the Himalaya. Established for the protection of the unique flora and fauna of the Humla-Jumla region, the park is managed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
Rara Lake also known as ‘Mahendra Tal,’ lies at the an altitude of 2,990 m above sea level and having water surface of 10.8 square km, with a maximum depth of 167 meters. Oval in shape the Rara Lake is 5.1 km in length and 2.7 km in a width. Chuchemara Peak (4,039 meters) on the southern side and on the northern side, the peaks of Ruma Kand (3,731 m.) and Malika Kand (3,444 m) frame the alpine freshwater Rara lake making it the biggest lake in Nepal.
Due to the altitude factor, the climate is much more pleasant during summers, but becomes very cold during the winter. The best time to visit the lake is in September/ October and April to May. December to March is the cold, where the temperatures go down below freezing point, blocking ways due to heavy snowfall. The Monsoon season which falls from July to October is short, but the period between June to August is regarded as summer where the weather conditions gets hot making the Rara National Park Trek difficult.
Flora and Fauna
Rara comes within the area of the Karnali River, one of the three main river systems of Nepal. The habitat supports unique flora and fauna with rare and vulnerable species. As per the numbers and statics the park consist of 1074 species of flora among which 16 are common in Nepal, whereas the fauna includes 51 species of mammals and 214 species of birds.
Rhododendron, fir, brown oak and birch species are mostly found in the sub-alpine region, whereas Blue Pine,Rhododendron, West Himalayan Spruce, Black Juniper and Himalayan Cypress are mostly found below 3200 meter altitude. 51 species of mammals including animals like the red panda, black bear, yellow-throated martin, ghoral, serow, snow leopard, wolf and musk deer have also been reported sightings.
The lake magnetizes migrant birds like teals, pochards and mallards, other birds seen frequently include the Himalayan Snowcock, Chukar Partridge, Himalayan Monal, Kalij Pheasant and Blood Pheasant.
About Rara Lake Trekking
Starting from a beautiful town in western Nepal named Jumla, the trek trail proceeds following the north bank of the Tila Khola River crossing the Chaudhabise Khola passing and ascent up the Padmara valley. You trek through unrivaled natural beauty to reach Daphne Langa Pass at an altitude of 3,500 m (11,480 ft).
The path then continues climbing gently to Ghurchi Lagna pass 3450m/11316ft which is covered with round stone Buddhist monuments and prayer flags along a range of majestic Himalayan peaks and the daunting terrain of Dolpo region with a complete day exploring the Rara lake before end our adventure in Nepalgunj.
The trek, at times, can be strenuous and requires trekkers to camp in many parts. The sight of culture and landscape on the way is somewhat different from the rest of Nepal.