Rara Lake is Nepal’s largest freshwater lake located in the far west corner in the Mugu district. Although off the beaten path it is accessible by several modes of transportation with options to fit every time table and trekking desires.
The city of Nepalgunj, a fairly good sized gateway to this area is the beginning point of your adventure, as there is no direct flight from Kathmandu to Rara lake. Below is an outline country map to help orient you.
Kathmandu to Nepalgunj
There are two options for getting to Nepalgunj. The first and fastest would be a one hour flight from Kathmandu. There at least five flights daily via different local airlines. The cost is a little hefty if you are on a limited budget, about USD 180 one way for foreign nationals and anywhere from USD 40 to 70 for Nepali nationals.
Another option is a local or deluxe bus for about USD 15. It is about a twelve hour ride depending on traffic and road conditions and those road conditions can be bad, especially in the rainy season. The optimal time of year to visit rara lake is September and October or April and May. Winter months are too cold and access to the lake may be blocked by heavy snowfall. Buses depart from New Bus Station. There are night buses as well.
Nepalgunj to Rara Lake
From Nepalgunj to Rara there is again options of flights or buses. This bus ride is stunning but not for the faint of heart! Flights leave from the Nepalgunj to either Talcha or Jumla. From Talcha airport it is a four hour hike to the lake. And from Jumla airport you may either take a bus or jeep to reach Gamgadhi, the district headquarters of Mugu, and then from there it is a five hour hike to the lake. It is also possible to trek from Jumla to Rara lake, but allow three days walking. It is a trek of moderate difficulty.
If you choose to bus whole way there is a bus from Nepalgunj to Kalikot, a whole day’s ride, then from Kalikot there is another bus to Nagma , and from Nagma you must take the bus to Gamgadhi after which it is a five hour hike to Rara. The bus travels along the famous Karnali highway.
I recently visited Rara Lake. I only had seven days for the trip, so I flew from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and to Rara by jeep. On the return trip I hiked to Talcha, caught a flight to Nepalgunj and flew back to Kathmandu that day. Check my Rara Lake Trip Report.