Rara National Park

Situated 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.

CLIMATE
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.

FEATURES
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 Gallinaceous birds.

FACILITIES
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.

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