Rara National Park is situated in the North-Western high mountains of Nepal. This park was established in 2032 B.S. (1975 AD.) to conserve the unique beauty of Lake Rara and to protect the representative flora and fauna of the Humla-Jumla region. It is situated nearly at an altitude of 1800 meters to 4048 meters.
This park lies in the northwest of Nepal. It is spread from Mugu to Jumla district. The total area of this park is 106 square kilometers. The main attraction of this park is Rara Tal (lake) which is the biggest lake in Nepal.
It is the smallest park and protected area of the country. The park includes two villages Rara and Chhapru. The residents of these two villages were resettled in Banke district, outside the park.
The main feature of this park is Rara Lake (Mahendra Tal) located at an elevation of 2990 m. The lake is oval-shaped with an east-west axis surrounded by a green forest, which adds extra beauty to this park. It is the biggest lake (10.8 sq. km) of Nepal with a depth of 167 m.
There are Chuchura peaks in the south and Rum Kandha, Mallika Knadha peaks in the north of this lake. They have made natural sites more beautiful and attractive. Common plant species of this national park include fir, pine, and birch, rhododendron, oak, hemlock, juniper, and spruce.
There are about 20 different species of mammals like Himalayan black bear, Wild dog. Yellow-throated marten, Otter, Common Langur, Jackal, Himalayan Thar, Leopard, Rhesus macaque, musk deer, Ghoral, and red panda are found in this park.
There are about 214 species of birds like coots, snow cock, pheasants, grebes, mallard, common teal, red-crested pochard, and gulls, etc are found in here.
Coniferous forest is all around the lake. This area is a suitable habitat for a great number of birds. Birds from Siberia and Mansarovar visit this area in winter.
The climate of this park in summer is pleasant but in winter it is quite cold. The best time for visiting this park is September/October and April to May.
Rara National Park is located in the high mountains of north-west Nepal. The Park was established in 1976 to preserve the unique beauty of Lake Rara and protect representative flora and fauna of the Humla-Jumla region.
It covers an area of 106 km² in the Mugu and Jumla districts. Rara National Park is located in northwestern Nepal, about 371 km away from Kathmandu.
In September 2007, a Ramsar site was declared, covering 1,583 ha (6.11 square miles), including the surrounding wetland. The park headquarters is about 32 km north of Jumla.
The Park is the smallest protected area in Nepal, with an area of 106 km2. There were two Rara and Chhapru villages within the Park.
Residents of the two villages were resettled in the Banke district, outside the Park. However, it has the largest lake in Nepal, with an area of 10.8 km2. It could be the lake with the most beautiful scenery in Nepal, located at an altitude of 2999m. The National Park protects the diverse vegetation that is representative of the central Himalayas.
In 2006, an area of 198 km2 surrounding the Park was declared a buffer zone. The Park and the local population jointly initiated community development conservation activities and managed natural resources in a buffer zone.
The National Park Wildlife Conservation Act of 1973 stipulated the return of 30-50 percent of the Park’s income to community development and the conservation of the buffer zone.
The Park’s buffer zone is in the Mugu and Jumla district. The buffer zone’s total population is 13,876 (10,617 in Mugu and 3,259 in Jumla district). The total number of households in the buffer zone is 2,548 (2,028 in Mugu and 520 in Jumla).
According to geographic characteristics, the buffer zone has been divided into ten user committees (7 user committees in Mugu and 3 in the Jumla district). The closest town to Lake Rara and the park headquarters is Murma. Most people belong to the Hindu religion, and the main ethnic groups are Chhetri, Thakuri, and Dalits.
The main economic activities of people are agriculture and livestock. There are several ancient temples and shrines of local importance within the Park, viz. Rara Mahadev, Thakurnath Mahadev, Chhapru Mahadev, Lauda. Mahadev and Dopheswor Mahadev, while Chhayanath, Rinmokshhya are other famous religious places in this region.
Summer is pleasant. However, winter is quite cold. The Rara National Park has an alpine climate with very cold winters from December to March. From December to March, temperatures drop below freezing, and heavy snowfall occurs up to a meter, shutting off high passes.
It is warm from April to June, but the season gives way to the monsoon season: from June to August. Temperatures remain predominantly below zero degrees Celsius, and heavy snowfalls occur that block high passes.
From April to June, the temperature increases and the high passes become accessible again, until the Monsoon begins from June to August. September and October offer an excellent climate to visit the Rara National Park.
Rare is small but still houses 11 ecosystems ranging from subalpine forest to temperate forest. The vegetation consists of 69 vascular plants and trees such as Chir pine, Nepalese alder, walnuts, oaks, cypresses, spruces, blue pine, and rhododendrons.
The Park is characterized by subalpine and temperate vegetation. The reserve is characterized by subalpine and high-temperature vegetation. Fir, pine and birch, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, juniper, and spruce are the common plant species found in the Park.
Surrounded by blue pines, oaks, rhododendrons, black juniper, western Himalayan fir, and Himalayan cypress, it’s a remarkable natural experience!
Blue pines and different rhododendron species dominate most of the vegetation in the Park. The other main species include the Himalayan fir (Picea smithiana), the oak (Quercus semicarpifolia), the Himalayan cypress (Cupressus torulosa), the birch (Betula utilis), the desodo (Cedrus deodara), the salla (Taxus wallichiana), walnut (Juglans regia) and Himalayan Poplar (Popolus ciliata).
Grasslands are dominated by grasses and grass species such as Carex atrofusca, Juncus himalensis, Kobresia duthei, Parnsia nubicola, Polygonum spp. Juniperus indica, J.lindleyana, and Aletris pauciflora.
The main non-wood forest products (NWFP) and medicinal plants include; Kutki (Neopicrorhiza scrophulariflora), Panchaunle (Dactylorhiza hatagirea), Jatamansi (Nardostachys Grandiflora), Satuwa (Paris polyphylla), Sugandhwal (Valeliana jatamansi), Attis (Aconitum heterophyllum), Padmica (Gumcha) and Rum.
The Park’s rich vegetation supports diverse wildlife species, including the endangered red panda, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, leopard, jackal, Himalayan tahr, yellow-throated martin, wild dog, wild boar, common langur, rhesus macaque and common.
Otter Of 210 mammal species registered in Nepal, 52 species have been registered in the Park. The Park is home to musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster), Himalayan black bear (Ursus thibetanus), the red panda (Ailurus fulgens), leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), Himalayan ghoral (Nemorhaedus goral), Himalayan Thar (Hemitragus jemlahicus), wild dog (Cuon alpines) and Wild boar (Sus scrofa).
Of the 778 birds registered in Nepal, 272 species have been recorded in the Park. Lake Rara serves as an important transit point for migratory waterbirds through the Himalayas. Coots (Fulica atra) abound in the lake, and several of them remain even throughout the year.
The tufted duck (Aythya fuligula), the mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos), the created grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), the red-crested beetle (Netta ragina) and the gulls (Larus spp.) Visit the Park during winter.
Other common birds in the Park are Cheer Pheasant (Catreus wallichii), Snow cock (Teragallus himalayensis), Chukor partridge (Alectoris chukor), Impeyan Pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus), Kalij pheasant (Lophura leucomelana) and Blood pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus).
During the winter, the Park abounds with varieties of birds such as coots, great-crested grebe, black-necked grebe, red-crested pochard, mallard, common teal, water chicken, and seagulls. Migratory waterbirds and gallinaceous birds can also be seen during certain seasons.
The Park is also home to 51 different mammals species, including musk deer, Himalayan black bear, leopard, jackal, Himalayan tahr, yellow-throated marten, otter, wild dog, common langur, rhesus macaque, and red panda.
There are 272 species of birds including coots, snow cocks, and different pheasants, loons, mallards, teal, red-crested pochard, and gulls. During the winter, many migratory birds join residential birds.
Areas of interest
The Landmark of Rara National Park is the large 15 square kilometer Rara Lake at 2990 meters. The oval-shaped lake has a maximum depth of 167 meters and is home to the endemic snow trout. A circular trail around the lake has been developed for visitors, as well as a navigation facility.
Best time to visit
Being high in the mountains, Rara National Park generally has very low temperatures. Therefore, according to preferences, travelers can visit from April to June for warm weather and from September to October for cold weather. It is recommended not to visit Rara from December to March, since during that season the snowfall is intense and the roads are blocked.
Summer is pleasant. However, winter is quite cold. The best time to visit the Park is from September to November and from March to June. The average annual temperature in the last ten years is a little more than 11 ° C. The average maximum and minimum monthly temperature is 27 ° C and 4 ° C in June and December, respectively.
From December to February, the temperature drops to freezing, and occasional heavy snowfalls build up to 3-4 feet in height. The rain falls from June to August, and the Park looks more beautiful this season due to the flowering plants. In April, the warmest season normally begins, increasing steadily until reaching a pleasant temperature until September.
Rara National Park tourist attraction
Lake Rara is such a beautiful and peaceful lake. Bird lovers enjoy winter with migratory birds. In the summer season, hundreds of varieties of ground flowers form a colorful carpet. Pico Chuchemara (4048m) on the south side of the lake presents a magnificent scene with brilliant blue water within a wooded basin.
Other summits are Ruma Kand (3731 m) and Malika Kand (3444 m) north of the lake. From these peaks, you can enjoy the lake’s view, the peaks to the south, and the beautiful valley of the Mugu Karnali river to the north.
There are men’s activities that can be enjoyed here.
- Birdwatching: One of the Rara National Park’s key features is the abundance of birds in the region. This makes bird watching very enjoyable here.
- Trekking: Many treks in Rara National Park take travelers to the top of some of the important summits, like Murma Top. Enjoy these walks and get a panoramic view of the highest peaks of the Himalayas.
- Boating: Go boating on Nepal’s deepest lake, Lake Rara, and enjoy a quiet afternoon in the arms of nature.
Main attraction; Rara lake
Rara Lake (Mahendra Tal)is located at the height of 2990 m, which is the Park’s main feature. The lake is oval with an east-west axis and has a maximum length of 5 km and 3 km.
It is the largest lake in Nepal (10.8 km2) with a depth of 167 m, which is surrounded by magnificent coniferous forests. Its radiant blue waters are home to the snow trout (Schizothorax oremus sinuatus), the only recorded fish in the lake.
During the winter, bird lovers can enjoy many migratory birds. The elevation of the Park varies from 2,800 m to 4,039 m. The highest point in the Park is chuchemara Peak (4039 m). It offers an excellent backdrop for Lake Rara as it is located on the lake’s south side.
The snowy peaks of Ruma Kand (3731m) and Malika Kand (3444m) located on the north side of the lake, offering beautiful views of the lake to the south, and the beautiful Mugu-Kamali River valley to the north. Murma Peak also offers an excellent view of the parking area.
The lake empties into the Mugu-Kamali River through Nijar Khola. Blue pine trees dominate most of the vegetation in the Park. There are several species of rhododendrons which is sandwiched between the pines. Blue pines, grasses, swamps, and tufted meadows inhabit the area surrounding the lake.
In the Nisa Khola valley, pine and fir give way to mixed walnut-bearing forests and the popular Himalayas. Rhododendron, fir, oak, and birch species can be found in the subalpine region.
The grass by the lake in the south gives way to the steep slopes of Gurchi Lekh, its ridge culminating in Chuchemara in a horseshoe-shaped opening to the south drained by the Jiun River. In the west, the river valleys cross a ridge that forms the Park’s natural boundary.
Lake Rara is also known as “The Queens of the Lake.” Lake Rara was declared a Ramsar site in September 2007 and covered 1,583 hectares (6.11 square miles), including the surrounding area.
A Ramsar Site is a wetland classified as internationally significant under the Ramsar Convention. The Park was founded in 1976 to preserve the beauty of the lake and protect it from sedimentation and human activity. It is not only the destination of foreigners but also the favorite place of domestic tourists. There is no settlement within the Rara National Park, except the army camp.
Hills and mountains surround Lake Rara.
Chuchemara Hill is the best place to see the impressive Rara Lake, the lush forest surrounding it, and the top of the snowy mountain that rises to the horizon. The Jumla and Mugu districts are located in a remote area and have fewer inhabitants than other districts.
The Thakur group is dominant in the community. The Baba Temple of Thakur is located in the southeast corner of the lake. Locals believe that Thakur has shot an arrow at God to open the lake passage and reduce the flood’s damage.
All about life;
Agriculture is the main occupation of people. They also sell medicinal herbs and goats for a living. Tourists visiting the area have access to places like Murma, Jhayari, Talcha, and Mathitum, located in the buffer zone of the National Park.
Visitors can enjoy bonfires, regional cuisine, as well as sightseeing and boat trips on the lake. Locals in the area have started raising horses to transport tourists and earn additional income.
Most people write their thoughts and imaginations in words with the peaceful and calm environment of Lake Rara. Walking around Rara Lake takes 3-4 hrs. We can also observe the wild nature of the lake by boat.
There is a good facility for hotels and camping sites for tourists who come to the lake. If the weather is so serene and friendly, camping near the lake is the best way to feel the calm and beauty of Rara.
Although the winter is cold and sees heavy snowfall, the summer around the pristine Lake Rara is quite pleasant. The blue water that reflects the peaks of the show and the surroundings look picturesque and impressive. During the summer and spring, the lake is thickly covered by colorful wildflowers on the banks.
From April to June, it is quite hot in this region, and if you are lucky, you can witness the light snowfall that looks so romantic with the blue mass of the water.
To get the perfect and complete view of Lake Rara, we need to walk 3 hours from the shore of Lake Rara to the top of Murma, which is at the height of 3690 meters. The glorious Rara Lake and the view of the snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas enhance the attractions for hikers
Rara National Park facilities
The Karnali region is a potential tourist center. Ecotourism has been a great blessing for this region, as nature has provided it with natural beauties and many means of adventure.
Tourism entrepreneurs and investors should be encouraged to establish hotels and lodges in Majhaghatta (western part of the National Park). Similarly, the practice of staying at home could start as in other national parks.
It is advisable to carry a first aid kit since there is no health post in the area. The arrangements must be made through a trekking agency. There are no accommodations within the Park. Hikers must be self-sufficient in all means.
There are two hotels near the park headquarters for the accommodation of visitors. Also, few hotels and tea shops are within a 30-minute walk of the venue. The campsite is available near the park headquarters for visitors.
A health post is located a 30-minute walk from the park headquarters for medical facilities, but a full first-aid kit, including medications for intestinal disorders, is recommended. Tea shops and hotels are available at different locations along the rare Jumla hiking trail.
There are pretty good trails around most of the Park. Few view towers (Machan) are there to have a beautiful view of the lake and the surrounding landscapes. There are Murma Top views within 3-4 hours of walking from Lake Rara from where you can see the full view of Lake Rara and the beautiful surrounding landscapes.
Trek to Rara lake
Nepal is a country of such diversity, especially geographically. Another part of the country was blinded and amazed by a completely different environment, one of serenity and soft pine forests, wild horses everywhere, and a beautiful unspoiled lake.
This is not a place where you can find electricity like in the Everest, Annapurna, or Kanchenjunga regions. This is a place of calm and peaceful energy, a place to relax and think, sit in a hammock, read a book, or write a newspaper. A place to stop away from the virtual world.
You can realize that Lake Rara is special because of this untouched and natural energy. After an exciting cliff-edge, two-day jeep ride on the lake along Karnali Road, Rara is a dream.
The trail leads through the remote countryside towards the Tibetan border. A trip to the Jumla region and beautiful Rara Lake is probably one of the fascinating excursions in the Himalayas, undisturbed by many hikers, as found on other trails.
The easiest way to get to Rara is to fly from Nepalgunj to Jumla, where your destination is 2-3 days away on foot. You can also start this refreshing hike in the mountain village of Jumla, where apple trees spread out over the hills. The best time to visit the Park is in spring, summer, and fall.
The more people visit the Park, the better the tourist services and infrastructure have developed. However, for a great experience, it is advisable to take care of yourself when traveling alone. Rara Lake is also a popular pilgrimage destination for Nepalese.
The last year of Nepal (2075 BS) was declared “Karnali Rara Tourism Year” by Nepal’s government. This is part of greater efforts to increase tourism in the western part of the country, an area still far from the beaten track.
This wonderful journey begins with a panoramic flight to the warm tropics of Nepalgunj, in the extreme southwest of Nepal. You can take another scenic flight to Jumla, where your trek begins to Lake Rara. The path leads with incredible views of snowcapped mountains.
After a pleasant walk on Lake Rara with time to admire its spectacular landscapes and nature with views of distant mountains, people return after a pleasant moment around Lake Rara to Jumla Pina 2,580 m, Jhyari, Chauta 2,770 m over Ghurchi Lagna, pass 3,460m, the highest point of the trip, and then descend through Tharamara to Jumla (3,270 m high mountain range) for the flight back to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj after a fascinating and wonderful time on Lake Rara with great service and organizing Nepal Base Camp Trek. During a walk to Lake Rara, you will notice these peculiarities of Lake Rara.
Facts about Rara (Mugu)
• Mugu is one of Nepal’s most remote areas and is relatively little researched by foreign travelers and is even mysterious to Nepalese.
• Mugu was part of the ancient Malla Kingdom of the Karnali river basin
• Fascinating combination of religious practices with Buddhist and Hindu practices borrowed from shamanism and the ancient Bonpo religion.
• Most Mugu is in the shadow of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna Himal (Cordillera) rain and is very dry. It is the least developed district in Nepal.
• Lake Rara is the largest lake in Nepal, with a circumference of about 13 km. It is home to the otters and fish that feed them, and an important resting place for migratory waterbirds.
• Mugu has used many different wild herbs used in traditional herbal medicine, such as Caterpillar (yachargumba) mushrooms, to treat amoebic dysentery, including Chyau guchi, which has an anticonvulsant effect, used as a tonic, the antidote Poison Satuwa and Bhutkesh, Kutki and Keshar.