Rara National Park was declared in 1976 and situated in north-western high mountains of Nepal. Rara National Park area is 106 km2 which extends in Mugu and Jumla districts. It is the smallest National Park in the country but holds the biggest lake, Rara, at an elevation of 2990 meter in Mugu district. This beautiful natural lake is oval in shape with the longest length 5.1 km, a maximum width of 3 km, surface area 10.8 km2 and 167 m in depth. The highest point of the Park is Chuchemara peak which is at 4097m elevation. The unique landscapes and the Rara lake are major attractions of the Park for foreign and domestic tourists. Rara Lake in Rara National Park was declared wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 2007.
Rara lake is surrounded by magnificent conifer forests. The lake is fed by around 20 small tributaries coming from all around the lake watershed and drained to Mugu–Karnali river to the south through only one outlet called Nijar. The color of the lake depends upon the sky that’s why lake color looks like changing time to time. The lake water is so clean and resembles the freshwater ecosystem with three endemic species of snow trout and little vegetation around the lake edges. The snow trout (Schizothorax raraensis) is endemic to this lake. During winter, about 49 species of migratory birds can be seen in the lake. The elevation of the park ranges from 1800m to 4097m.
In 2006, an area of 198 km2 surrounding the Park was declared as a buffer zone. The Park and local people jointly initiated community development conservation activities and manage natural resources in a buffer zone. The National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act 1973 has made provision of plowing back 30-50 percent of the Park’s revenue into community development and conservation of the buffer zone.
The buffer zone of the park lies in Mugu and Jumla district. The total population of the buffer zone is 13,876 (10,617 in Mugu and 3,259 in Jumla district). The total households in the buffer zone is 2,548 (2,028 in Mugu and 520 in Jumla). The buffer zone has been divided into 10 user committees (7 user committees in Mugu and 3 in Jumla district) based on geographic features. The nearest village from the Rara lake and the park headquarter is Murma. Majority of the people belongs to Hindu religion and major ethnic groups are Chhetri, Thakuri, and Dalits. The major economic activities of the people are agriculture and animal husbandry. There are several ancient temples and shrines of local importance inside the park viz. Rara Mahadev, Thakurnath Mahadev, Chhapru Mahadev, Lauda. Mahadev and Dopheswor Mahadev whereas Chhayanath, Rinmokshhya are other famous religious places in this region.
Rara National Park Major Flora and Fauna
The majority of vegetation in the Park is dominated by blue pine and different species of rhododendrons. The other major species include Himalayan spruce (Picea smithiana), Oak (Quercus semicarpifolia), Himalayan cypress (Cupressus torulosa), Birch (Betula utilis), Deodar (Cedrus deodara), Lauth salla (Taxus wallichiana), walnut (Juglans regia) and Himalayan poplar (Popolus ciliata). Rangelands are dominated by herbs and grass species like Carex atrofusca, Juncus himalensis, Kobresia duthei, Parnsia nubicola, Polygonum spp. Juniperus indica, J.lindleyana and Aletris pauciflora.
Major Non–Timber Forest Products(NTFPs) and medicinal plants includes; Kutki (Neopicrorhiza scrophulariflora), Panchaunle (Dactylorhiza hatagirea), Jatamansi (Nardostachys grandiflora), Satuwa (Paris polyphylla), Sugandhwal (Valeliana jatamansi), Attis (Aconitum heterophyllum), Padmchal (Rheum emodii) and Guchi Chayau (Morchella conica).
Out of 210 mammal species recorded in Nepal, 52 species have been recorded in the park. The Park is home for Musk Deer (Moschus chrysogaster),Himalayan Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus), 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).
Three endemic species of Snow Trout viz. Schizothorax macropthalus, Schizothorax nepalensis and Schizothorax rarensis have been recorded in the lake (BPP, 1995). Schizothorax rarensis is endemic to this lake.
Out of 778 birds recorded in Nepal, 272 species have been recorded in the park. Rara lake serves as an important transit point for migratory waterfowls across the Himalayas. Common Coots (Fulica atra) are plentiful in the lake and several of them stay even for the whole year. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Great-created grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), Red-crested pochard (Netta ragina), and Gulls (Larus spp.) visit the park during winter. Other common birds of 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).
Rara National Park and Buffer zone
|National Park Declared Year||1976 AD|
|National Park area||106 km2|
|Location||Karnali province (Mugu & Jumla district)|
|Bio-climatic zone||Temperate to Alpine|
|Elevation||1800m to 4097m above mean sea level|
|Major peaks||Chuchemara (4039 m), Murma Top (3726m) and Ruma Kandh (3645m)|
|Main mammals||Moschus chrysogaster, Ursus thibetanus, Ailurus fulgens, Prionailurus bengalensis, Nemorhaedus goral, Hemitragus jemlahicus, Cuon alpines and Sus scrofa etc.,|
|Main birds||Lophophorus impejanus, Catreus wallichii, Lophura leucomelana, Teragallus himalayensis, Fulica atra and Anas platyrhyncho etc.|
|Major tree species||Picea smithiana, Quercus semicarpifolia, Cupressus torulosa, Betula utilis, Cedrus deodara, Taxus wallichiana, Juglans regia and Popolus ciliata.|
|Buffer zone declared||2006 AD|
|Buffer zone area||198 km2|
|Municipality||1 (Chhayanath Rara)|
|Rural Municipalities||3 (Soru, Khatyad and Kanakasundari)|
|Buffer zone user
|Major castes||Brahman, Chhetri, Kami etc.|
|Economy||Agriculture, animal husbandry, trade and labor|
Rara National Park Major Attractions
- Rara lake (largest lake of Nepal)
- Chuchemara peak (4097m), Murma top (3726m) and Ruma Kandh (3645m).
- Snow leopard, Musk deer, Red Panda and Himalayan Monal
- Himalayan flower at summer and snow falling at winter
- Chhapru Mahadev and Rara Mahadev (Temple)
- Local culture
Summer is pleasant. However, winter is quite cold. Best time to visit the park is from September to November and March to June. Average annual temperature in the last 10 years is a little over 11°C. Monthly maximum and minimum mean temperature is 27°C and 4°C in June and December respectively. From December to February, the temperature drops down below to freezing point, and occasional heavy snowfall accumulates up to 3-4 feet high. Pretty rain fall occurs in June to August and the park looks more beautiful in this season due to flowering plants. April normally sees the start of the warmer season which steadily increases to a pleasant temperature until September.
Accommodation and Facilities in Rara National Park
There are two hotels just near the park headquarter for visitor’s accommodations. Also, few hotels and tea-shops are at 30 minutes walking distance from the headquarter. The camping site is available just near the park headquarter for visitors. There is a health post located at 30 minutes walking distance from the park headquarters for medical facilities but a comprehensive first aid kit including medicines for intestinal disorders is advised. Tea-shops and hotels are available in different places along the Jumla-rara trekking route. There are fairly good trails around the most part of the park. Few view towers (Machan) are there to have a beautiful view of the lake and surrounding landscapes. There is Murma Top viewpoints at 3-4 hours trek from the Rara lake from where the complete view of the Rara lake and beautiful landscapes of the surroundings can be viewed.
How to get into Rara National Park
The park can be reached by air and road. There is a regular air flight from Kathmandu to Nepaljung and Nepaljung to Talcha (Rara) every day. From Talcha airport, it is 2-3 hours compulsory trek to reach Rara lake and the park headquarters. Visitors also can take a vehicle, four-wheel drive is preferred, from Nepaljung to Talcha. It’s around almost two days drive by own vehicle. Visitors who prefer to trek are advised to take air flight from Nepaljung to Jumla and then trek 3-5 days to reach Talcha.
High altitude sickness can affect you if elevation is gained too rapidly and without proper acclimatization. The symptoms are -headache, difficulty in sleeping, breathlessness, loss of appetite and general fatigue. If someone develops the symptoms, stop ascending immediately. If symptoms persist, the only proven cure is to descend to a lower elevation. Medical advice can be sought at the Murma health post, near the Park headquarters and district hospital at Gomgadhi.
General Code of Conduct
Follow the minimum impact code while trekking so that you and your host (local nature and people) benefit for indefinite years to come. Because what you benefit from a particular tourism destination at present and future largely depends on how you impact the local environment and culture.
- The use of firewood is prohibited.
- Don’t light campfire.
- Cook with kerosene or gas and take sufficient warm clothing.
- Choose lodges that use alternatives to wood for cooking and heating.
- Carry out what you carry in.
- Buy only what won’t pollute, or carry it out.
- Use safe drinking water or purify water yourself.
Rara National Park regulations to follow
- An entry fee of Rs. 3,000 (foreigners), Rs. 1,500 (SAARC nationals) and an additional 13% VAT must be paid at the designated ticket counter per person.
- Valid entry permits are available from the National Parks ticket counter at the Nepal Tourism Board, Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu or park entrance gate Talcha, Bhulbhule, Gorusaina, and Lamachaur.
- The entry permit is non-refundable, non-transferable and is for a single entry only.
- Entering the park without a permit is illegal. Park personnel may ask for the permit, so visitors are requested to keep the permit with them.
- Get a special permit for documentary/filming from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
- Do not injure or kill animals and uproot plants. All flora and fauna are fully protected and must not be disturbed.
- Rubbish must be placed out, buried or disposed off in designated areas.
- No one should walk within the park between sunset and sunrise.
- Do respect the cultural and religious sites.
- Camping inside the park should be made only in the designated areas.
- Carry out non-biodegradable items such as batteries, plastic bags, and bottles.
- Never trek alone.