Heaven of the Earth, Rara Lake
Rara Lake is the deepest and biggest lake in the Nepalese Himalayas. It is located in the Rara National Park, the smallest one in Nepal, in the districts of Mugu and Jumla. Situated at an altitude 3000 meters, the heaven of the earth i.e. Rara Lake which is said to have hundreds of blue and green hues is surrounded by serene juniper, spruce and pine forests. Further, behind the lush green hills, the snowcapped Himalayan range ornament the horizon, making it an attractive destination both for passionate trekkers and lovers of nature and the quiet. Due to the area’s relative isolation from the rest of the country, the culture and the scenery are very different from elsewhere in Nepal. The area also boasts a variety of flora and fauna including some endemic species of birds, fish, and frogs.
Before the completion of the Karnali Highway and its extension to the very entrance of the national park; the only way you could reach Rara was to fly from Nepalgunj to Talcha or Jumla airport from where you would have to walk for 3 hours or 3 days respectively. Presently, even though you have to spend 2 long days solely on driving from the capital, Rara Lake can be reached by bus or by a private vehicle.
The cold winters and the wet monsoon season leave September/October and April/May as the best times to visit the national park. At this time the most pleasant weather and splendid views of the Himalayas reflecting in the lake. During the spring, the area is filled with blooming white and red rhododendron bushes that beautifully add on to the otherwise dark green forest surrounding the lake.
Once you are there, it would be a pity to miss the opportunity to stay at least one night on the banks of the lake. There is only two lodges situated at Rara and has an impressive place overlooking the lake and the Himalayas. They offer clean and cozy rooms with or without an attached bathroom. The wooden hotel structures are charming and perfectly fit the environment. The food served at the hotel ranges from local delicacies to continental dishes. If you decide that you want to get even closer to nature; they offer tents located at the hotel’s yard for the ultimate mountain experience.
Things to do
If being mesmerized by the lake’s utter beauty is not enough; you can take a stroll around the lake which usually takes approximately 4 hours. Moreover, if you are looking for a longer day trip; Murma Top offers a spectacular view of the lake from above. Follow the marked trail or ask the hotel staff to show you the way. It takes 6-7 hours to go there and come back to the hotel. Staying around the hotel’s yard or climbing one of the view stations is definitely an option too. The light changes the lake’s hues whose magical transformation won’t leave you bored. The army camp offers short boating trips on a clear day, even though swimming is not allowed.
Rara Lake is the perfect choice for the ones who enjoy the peace and quiet with a hint of adventure. This trip can be easily combined with a trek to the capital of Jumla district, Khalanga; a venture that takes 3 days of walking through isolated villages and untouched nature. Rara as a sole destination or a part of a bigger trip is a journey certainly worth making. The queen of the Himalayan or heaven of the earth will leave you breathless make it hard for you to leave!