Dolpo to Rara Trekking is one of the popular trekking routes of western Nepal, providing an excellent chance of walking through beautiful terrains and valleys, tranquil lakes and adventure pass along with scenic views of the mountains.The major attraction of Dolpo to Rara trek are two major lakes — Rara Lake and Shey Phoksundo
Dolpo to Rara Trekking is one of the popular trekking routes of western Nepal, providing an excellent chance of walking through beautiful terrains and valleys, tranquil lakes and adventure pass along with scenic views of the mountains.
The major attraction of Dolpo to Rara trek are two major lakes — Rara Lake and Shey Phoksundo
The Rara Lake is the biggest and deepest freshwater lake in the Nepal Himalayas. It is the main feature of Rara National Park, located in Jumla and Mugu Districts. In September 2007, the lake was declared a Ramsar site, covering 1,583 ha (6.11 sq mi) including the surrounding wetland. Rara Lake lies at an altitude of 2,990 m (9,810 ft) above sea level, has a water surface of 10.8 km2 (4.2 sq mi), a maximum depth of 167 m (548 ft), is 5.1 km (3.2 mi) long and 2.7 km (1.7 mi) wide. It drains into the Mugu Karnali River via the Nijar River. Its water quality is characterized by high PH, conductivity, and total hardness. It has been classified as oligotrophic as it is slightly polluted.
Rara Lake, being surrounded by Rara National Park, has unique flora and faunal importance with rare and vulnerable species. The park was established in 1976 to preserve the beauty of the lake and protect it from sedimentation and adverse human activities. The Park flora consists of 1074 species, of which 16 are endemic to Nepal; the fauna includes 51 species of mammals and 214 species of birds. Sojourn to the Rara region through thick pine and juniper forests and camp next to the sparkling Rara Lake at 2,990 m, walled by green hills on all sides. Boat in the clear waters, hike to nearby hills for nearer views of the mountains and lake, meet the charming local people, or just take a walk around the lake watching out for a wildflower or a rare bird on the way. The park is surrounded by alpine coniferous vegetation and offers a representative sample of the region’s flora and fauna. More than 500 different kinds of flowers, 20 different species of mammals and 214 species of birds can be observed at Rara National Park. As for water life in the lake, the snow trout is the fish variety recorded so far.
Rara Lake is the biggest lake in the country. The lake is 167 m deep at some places and drains into the rivers Mugu Karnali via Nijar Khola. Chuchemara Hill at 4,087 m is the best vantage point to get the magnificent views of the deep blue clear lake and the forested hillsides as well as the snow-capped peaks around it. Summer is quite pleasant but winter is cold. The best visiting time to the lake is September/October and April to May. From December to March, the temperatures go low below the freezing point, and heavy snowfall occurs up to one meter, blocking the way to the lake. April to June is warm in this region.
The main occupation of the people living around the area is agriculture. People also rear goats and extract medicinal herbs and sell them for their living. Thakur society is dominant in the community. Thakur Baba’s Temple is situated in the southeast corner of the lake. Local people believe that the god Thakur shot an arrow to open the passage of the lake reducing the damage caused by flooding. Rara lake has been a popular destination with a very rough route in Western Nepal for trekkers. The glimpses of culture and scenery on the way is quite different from the rest of Nepal. Situated in high altitude, you can find the lake surrounded by Rara National Park with pine, spruce, and juniper forest. The view of snow-capped Himalayan peaks enhances the attraction of trekkers. The trek begins with a flight to Jumla (over an hour flight from Kathmandu) or from nearer Nepalgunj. Going along the mountain path and some villages one can reach the bank of Rara lake.
Phoksundo Lake is an alpine freshwater oligotrophic lake in Nepal’s Shey Phoksundo National Park, located at an elevation of 3,611.5 m (11,849 ft) above sea level in the Dolpa District. Phoksundo Lake is 494 ha (1.91 sq mi) in size with a water volume of 409,000,000 m3 (1.44×1010 cu ft) and a discharge of 3.715 m3/s (131.2 cu ft/s). In 2004, a survey by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology measured the maximum depth of the lake at 145 m (476 ft).
Trekking in Dolpa is a unique experience. The trails pass through beautiful landscapes, thick pine forests and along wild rivers all the while with spectacular views of beautiful snow-capped mountains. The highlight of the trek is the mesmerizing deep-blue and emerald hues of the deepest lake in Nepal, Phoksundo Lake. This is truly one of the most beautiful natural tourist destinations in Nepal. If time allows it’s worth spending a day or two admiring the views and exploring the lake and surrounding areas. Don’t miss Tshowa monastery on the east bank of Phoksundo Lake where worship still takes place. On the southern bank lies the village of Ringmo where you can get a rare close look into the traditional Bonpo culture.
Shey-Phoksundo is claimed to be the deepest of all lakes in the country, but this is not the only reason for its claim to fame. Surrounded by rocky crags and deep forests, Phoksundo’s color is an exotic turquoise blue. The whole scenic set up is by framed by majestic snow-capped Himalayan peaks, and it is a sight that will remain in the memory for a long time to come.
From this, you will also be able to have your first glimpse of the incredible turquoise blue lake, Phoksundo. At the far end of this lake is Ringmo, a charming village full of chortens, mani walls, and a number of small Buddhist and Bonpo monasteries. You’ll have noticed by now that the whole region is deeply influenced by Tibetan culture and lifestyle. It should perhaps be mentioned here that the valley of Dolpo is one of the most isolated places in the country due to its high mountains and snow-covered passes, and a valley that is a virtual preserve of ancient Tibetan culture. This aside, the sight of the Phoksundo Lake up close will surely make you thank your stars for your good fortune in being one of the select few to feast their eyes on this beautiful lake. Click away, you’ll not find a better scene anywhere else. Spend one of the most memorable nights of your life at Ringmo where you may even have the opportunity, the next morning, of joining the monks at one of the monasteries during their morning prayers.
Dolpo Rara Trek is a wonderful walk from grassy alpine pastures to arid barren landscapes and remote beautiful settlements and villages, visiting several old ancient Buddhist monasteries while the magnificent sight of mountains along the trails keeps the feet moving and soul soothing.