about 370 km. north-west of Kathmandu, Rara
is Nepal's smallest and most scenic national
park covers 106 square km. Much of the park
is at an altitude of about 3,000 meters forested
by conifers. The park was established in 1976
and protects some of the most beautiful alpine
and sub-alpine ecosystems of the Himalaya. The
centrepiece is the pristine Lake Rara, also
Known as Mahendra Tal, the biggest lake in Nepal.
The lake is surrounded by richly forested hills,
Chuchemara Danda at 4,087 meters is the best
vantagepoint to get stunning views of the lake
and the thickly forested hillsides and the snow-capped
peaks around it. Other summits in the park area
are Ruma kand (3,731 m.) and Malika Kand (3,444
m.), situated to the north of the lake.
Rara comes within the catchment
area of the Karnali River, one of the three
main river systems of Nepal. The habitat supports
animals like the red panda, black bear, yellow-throated
martin, ghoral, serow and musk deer. There have
also been reported sightings of leopard and
wolf. The lake attracts migrant wildfowl like
teals, pochards and mallards. Resident birds
include the Impeyan, kalij and blood pheasant
as well as others like the chukkor partridge.
Summer is pleasant. However, winter is quite
cold. The best time of year to visit the Park
is September/October and April to May. December
through March, the temperatures drops to below
freezing, and heavy snowfalls occur up to one
meter, closing high passes.
April to June is warm but the season gives way
to monsoon season-June to August.
Rara Lake (Mahendra Tal), situated at an elevation
of 2990 m. is the main feature of the Park.
The lake is oval shaped with an east-west axis,
and has a maximum length of 5 km and a width
of 3 km. Surrounded by magnificent conifer forests,
it is Nepal's biggest lake (10.8 sq . km) with
a depth of 167 m. Its radiant blue waters is
home to the snow trout (Schizothorax oreinus
sinuatus), the only fish recorded in the lake.
During winter, bird lovers can
enjoy good bird watching. In summer, Himalayan
flowers surround the lake creating a colorful
landscape. The elevation of the Park ranges
from 2800 m to 4039 m. Chuchemara peak (4039
m) is the highest point in the Park. Located
on the southern side of the lake, it provides
an excellent backdrop to Lake Rara. The snowcapped
summits of Ruma Kand (3731m) and Malika Kand
(3444m) located on the northern side of the
lake; provide beautiful views of the lake to
the south, and the beautiful Mugu-Kamali River
valley to the north. Murma Peak also provides
and excellent view of the Park area. The lake
drains to Mugu-Kamali River via Nijar Khola.
The majority of the vegetation in the Park is
dominated by blue pine. Interspersed amongst
the pines, are found several species of rhododendrons.
Blue pine, herbs, marshlands, and tussock grasslands
inhabit the area surrounding the lake. In the
Nisa khola Valley pine and spruce give way to
mixed woodland containing walnuts and Himalayan
poplar. Rhododendron, fir, oak, and birch species
can be found in the sub alpine region.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The Park is characterized by, sub-alpine and
high temperate vegetation. Common plant species
include fir, pine, and birch, rhododendron,
hemlock, oak, juniper and spruce. The Park is
home to around 20 different species of mammals.
They include Musk deer, Himalayan black bear,
leopard, Jackal, Himalayan tahr, yellow throated
marten, otter, wild dog, common langur. rhesus
macaque and red panda. The Park has recorded
214 species of birds. Some of the important
species include coots, snow cock, and different
species of pheasants, grebes, mallard, common
teal, red-crested pochard and gulls. During
winter, many migratory birds join the residential
It is advisable to bring a comprehensive first-aid
kit since there is no health service in the
area. Arrangements for travel should be made
through a trekking agency. There are no accommodations
within the Park. Trekkers must be self-sufficient
in all means.
HOW TO GET THERE
During seasons, regular flights are now operational
from Nepalgunj to Talche, which is very close
to the Park. From Talche airport it is 1-2 hours
walk to Park Headquarters. A 2.5 days trek from
Jumla can take you to Rara. RNAC operates regular
flights to Jumla from Nepalgunj.