Rara National Park is located in the North-Westem high mountains of Nepal . The park was gazetted in 1976 to conserve the unique beauty of Lake Rara, and to protect the representative flora and fauna of the Humla-Jumla region. The park is Nepal’s smallest protected area, comprising an area of 106 sq. km. There were two villages Rara and Chhapru within the park. The residents of the two villages were resettled in Banke district, outside the park.
The park contains mainly coniferous forest. The area around the lake is dominated by blue pine (Pinus excelsa) up to 3200 m, Rhododendron (Rhododendron arboretum), black juniper (Juniperus wallichiana), west Himalayan spruce (picea smithina), oak (Quercus semecarpefolia) and Himalayan cypress (Cupressus torulosa) are other species. Above this elevation the vegetation is replaced by a mixed coniferous forest of pine, spruce and fir. At about 3350 m pine and spruce give way to fir, oak and birch forest. Other deciduous tree species found in the park are Indian horse-chestnut (Aesculus indica), walnut (Junglans regia) and Himalayan poplar (Populus ciliata).
A small portion of the park serves as an ideal habitat for musk deer. Himalayan black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), leopard (Panthera pardus), musk deer (Moschus moschiferous), goral (Nemorhaedus goral), jackal (Canis aureus), Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), yellow throated marten (Martes flavigula), wild dog (Cuon alpinus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), common langur (Presbytes entillus), rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) and common otter (Lutra lutra) are other species found in the park. The resident Gallinaceous birds and migrant waterfowls are of interest to park visitors. Coots (Fulica atra) are plentiful in the lake, many staying year-round. Great-crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), common teal (Anas crecca), merganser (Mergus merganser) and gulls are seen during winter. Other common birds in the park are snow cock (Tetraogallus himalayenis), chukor partridge (Alectoris chukor), Impeyan pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus), kalij pheasant (Lophura leuco elana) and blood pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus).
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.
Flora & Fauna:
The reserve 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.
It is advisable to bring a comprehensive first-aid kit since there is no health post in the area. Arrangements should be made through a trekking agency. There are no accommodations within the park. Trekkers must be self-sufficient in all means.
Best time to Visit Rara National Park :Summer is pleasant, however, the winter brings cold temperatures and heavy snowfall (up to one meter). The best time to visit is October to December or March to May. The winter is quite severe with ground frost occurring from October.December through March is the time of snowfall with the temperature dropping to below freezing point. High passes remain closed by heavy snowfall during this time. The month of April brings the warmer weather and monsoon season is June to August.
Rara National Park Tourist Attraction: It is no doubt that Rara lake is the most beautiful and interesting site of the park. Bird lovers enjoy winter with the migratory birds. Conventional currents do not allow the lake to freeze in winter. Chuchemara Peak (4048 m) on the southern side of lake presents a magnificent scene with the gleaming blue water within a basin of well forested hills. Other summits are Ruma Kand (3731 m) and Malika Kand (3444 m) to the north of the lake. From these peaks one can enjoy the view of the lake, peaks to the south and beautiful Mugu Karnali River valley to the north.
How to get there:
Rara National Park is 2.5 days trek via Jumala or 10 days trek from Surkhet.