“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
Rara Taal, the biggest freshwater lake in Nepal is located in the Mugu and Jumla districts of far western Nepal. The lake lies within the borders of Rara National Park, the smallest national park in the nation. And if you want to be awed and dumbstruck by all the hues of blue and green everywhere around you, this is the place that should be on your travel bucket list.
The park ranges has Chuchemara Peak on the southern side of the lake. And on the northern sides lie the peaks of Ruma Kand and Malika Kand that frame the alpine freshwater lake, which drains into the Mugu-Karnali River via the Nijar Khola.
In one of the most remote corners of country was a little hidden spot that was seldom visited by any traveller. But now, Rara is a popular destination among trekkers due to its rough route that remains unseen by the likes of many. For adventure and thrill seekers who don’t really want the usual electrifying high-energy mountain circuit experience, Rara would be an ideal destination. As it is a spot where time slows down for visitors because of its seclusion from the rest of the world, you might just want to sit by the lake and just take it all in- let your trek and all that you observed during the walk sink into your brain. You can rest in the numerous home-stays offered all over the place and enjoy being catered by the warm people of the region who will prepare local cuisine and teach you the ways of their living.
A trek to Rara would usually amount to 11 days, including all the air and road travel and walking. However, one could also simply take a flight from Nepalgunj to an airport located about 4 km away from the lake itself. But if you want to truly experience the wilderness and unearth the unknown, it is recommended that you make your journey on foot.
The entire protected area of Rara is densely occupied by a rather rich vegetation of forested blue pine, black juniper, Himalayan spruce, oak, Himalayan cypress and other related species. The natural light plays with the delicate boughs of these tall trees, forming shadows and spaces that make your trip appear more magical- as if one is passing through an enchanted forest. And if the serenity of the flora wasn’t enough to win you over, the park has over fifty-one species of mammals and two hundred and forty-one species of birds. From what has been recorded and observed, musk deer, red panda, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, Indian leopard, jackal, Himalayan tahr, yellow-throated marten, otter, dhole, gray langur, and rhesus macaque have been found roaming the geographically diverse areas of the park.
Moreover, during the winter season, great-crested and black-necked grebes, red-crested pochards, mallard, common teal, and common merganser have been found in abundance. Other birds seen inside the park often include the Himalayan snowcock, chukar partridge, Himalayan monal, kalij pheasant and blood pheasant. The area is indeed a bird watcher’s paradise.
In 1979, three species of endemic snow trouts: the Nepalese snowtrout Schizothorax nepalensis, the Rara snowtrout, and Nepalese snow trout, were discovered in the taal and described as new species that were indigenous to the water body.
But there are many other activities to do in Rara, most of which involve complete relaxation of the body, mind and the soul. You could obviously choose to go boating on the lake on rafts or paddle boats. The calm lake nestled between great white mountains is devoid of sound pollution aside from the occasional calls and shrills from the water birds. You could also hike to Murma Top, a viewpoint that allows you to see the entire, its surrounding area, and the villages at a distance. Or one can bring out their inner photographer by clicking pictures of the local people who will readily allow themselves to be captured in your cameras by giving you their brightest smiles. The children are known to love showing off when they realize that a camera is being pointed at them. They’ll pose for you and show you their tricks by jumping on one of the horses for a wild bareback gallop. Which brings us to the next activity that you can get involved in- horse riding. Rent a horse, find a trail and you’ll be truly living a fairytale. Or maybe even cycle through the terrain. However, if you really want to become one with the nature, jungle safaris are available to those interested. But perhaps you could take the ultimate siesta with a hammock fixed between two trees next to the lake or inside your tent.
You’ll realize heaven on Earth isn’t just a cliche when you visit Rara.