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Rara Lake – A wonderful travel experience to western Nepal

By Sindhu Bhattarai

I love to travel and explore. My bucket list consists of many places home and abroad; mostly places from my native country Nepal. I recently had a wonderful experience of traveling to Rara Lake, the largest lake of Nepal. From Kathmandu it took us four days’ drive to reach a place called Talcha, the last bus stop before the walk to Rara. After reaching Talcha, we walked for around four hours to finally reach the lake. We were greeted with herbal tea, commonly available in and around the region. We had a three day plan of staying at Rara. The very first day we went for a walk around the lake. The beautiful trail by the lake shore was very pleasant and psychologically soothing. It helped me think and reflect upon my life and my future. The next day we went to Murmatop (3,630m), which was a four hour hike from our hotel, to see a complete view of the lake. The view from Murmatop was mesmerizing. I was glad that I made it to the top.

View of Rara Lake from Murmatop
View of Rara Lake from Murmatop
I believe that traveling can teach you a lot. For me it has become a major source to find peace, a source to learn new culture, and a source of adventure and fun. Although I had a lot of new experiences at Rara, horseback riding and hiking were among the best. Rara is not just another lake. It is guarded by thunderous mountains, and has wealth of secrets hidden inside it. Rara is a treat to all five senses in the human body, and the trek there would make anybody proud.

Sunrise at Rara
Sunrise at Rara

Living in Kathmandu, I only get to witness the usual hustle of a big city and a much polluted environment. But Rara made me see something different, a blissful life. The pristine natural beauty is something we don’t get to see every day. Those elegant mountains embracing the clouds and the lake reflecting the sky is truly magical. Along with the beauty of Rara, I also learned the lifestyle of people there. During my visit to Murmatop, I passed through a village called Murma where I got to interact with locals. I also came to know about the real state of the rural part of Nepal. I could see how people were living there even without much modern development. A part of me was hoping to see development over the place but the other part of me longed to see the place untouched and unexploited.

Lifestyle

A typical household kitchen in Rara
A typical household kitchen in Rara

The people who live around this area are the poorest in the region. People are very dependent on cattle and handicrafts for a living. Food has to be imported via aircraft to Talcha, and donkeys are used to deliver to farther places. Most travelers I found were locals carrying sacks of rice on their backs or donkeys carrying food and supplies. Due to infertile land people cannot depend on agriculture for livelihood. Their staple food is barley bread, red rice, local beans, and local cabbage. I found that women at Rara generally wear ‘Sari cholo’ and men wear ‘Daura Suruwal’, which are typical Nepali dresses. I found their singing and dancing very fascinating. Deuda is the folk song of western Nepal, especially popular in the rural villages. Although most people speak Nepali, they had a very unique tone.

Hardships

Animals

While I was there I saw that people of Rara were craving for development. Goods are hard to deliver there because of lack of proper transportation, which makes it expensive for the people living there. The quality of education is also very poor at Rara. Because of that the children there do not get the better opportunities. They have to walk for hours to reach the nearest schools. Only few families can afford to send their children for higher studies. And for those who can afford it, they have to send their children to major cities since higher education is not accessible for people living there.

Tourism is a major source of income since a lot of people come to visit and enjoy the beauty of Rara. During my visit, I found out that there were only two hotels to accommodate all the tourists who come for a visit. So improving the quantity and the quality of hotels can be the first step to attract more tourists. I believe that investing in the tourism in Rara can prove to be a good investment for potential investors. They can help expand hotels and create more jobs.

During my last day at Rara I woke up with a beautiful sunrise view from my hotel room and a cup of local herbal tea. At that time I was a little sad because it was time for us to leave this place and head back to Kathmandu. I took a short walk and tried to embrace the wind and the beauty, and with this in mind, the memories I created here will accompany me for life. I enjoyed each and every aspect of my experience while I was at Rara. I also saw a lot of potential areas like education, transportation, and tourism, where major work could be done. I found solace and peace escaping from the hustle of Kathmandu city and spending some quality time in Rara with my friends. And given a chance, I will do that again.

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