Rara Lake - Classic trekking in Western Nepal

A fascinating circuit trek to Rara, the largest lake in Nepal




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Holiday Overview


  • Authentic culture, abundant wildlife and uncrowded trails
  • Spectacular setting of Rara Lake beneath snow-capped Himalaya
  • Pristine forests, high ridges and alpine meadows
  • Trek in Nepal`s wild west country

Rara Lake is Nepal's largest body of water and lies in the remote Karnali region of the Western Himalaya at an altitude of almost 3000 metres. Ringed with pristine forests of pine, juniper and spruce and flanked by the high ridges of the middle hills to the south and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalaya to the North, the setting for Rara Lake could not be more spectacular. Designated a national park in 1976, the environs of Rara Lake are also home to several rare and protected species including Himalayan black bear, musk deer, goral, Himalayan Thar and wild boar. This trek is truly off-the-beaten track, well away from the crowds of the Annapurna and Everest regions. From the high airstrip of Jumla, our circuit trek to Rara Lake travels by way of Sinja the ancient winter capital of the Malla Kingdom and across the Chuchuemara Danda, returning across the Danphe Lagna. For a different and refreshing aspect of Nepali culture quite unlike other parts of the country, this short circular trek to one of the Himalaya's most beautiful and unspoilt lakes, will delight both the first time trekker and the seasoned veteran of Himalayan travel.

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Is this holiday for you?

This is a camping trek, as the lodges in this region are few and far between. The itinerary has been arranged to allow everyone to acclimatise easily, although you will find walking at these elevations to be considerably tougher than at sea-level. We will be walking for around 5 to 7 hours each day and the nature of the terrain means that there is a fair amount of ascent and descent. For the most part during the trek, we are following good tracks and trails between villages. On the approach to the lake we will encounter narrower forest tracks, but nowhere are the conditions underfoot difficult. The grade given to this trek also reflects its remoteness and the fact that we must cross passes of 3500 metres-plus elevation to reach Rara Lake. This trekking holiday is suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness used to walking in the hills.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Transfes from Kathmandu Airport are provided.
  • Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj close to the Indian border.
  • Fly to Jumla. Trek to Charya Chaur high above the Karnali River.
  • Trek through forest of birch and pine tover the saddle of the Jaljila Ridge (3700m).
  • Trek via Sinja to the village of Botan (2680m).
  • Trek to Ghorasain (3190m), at the entrance to the Rara National Park.
  • First views of Rara Lake on descent from the Chuchemara Danda (3765m).
  • A day for exploration of the area around Rara Lake.
  • Follow the Jhyari Bira Khola to a confluence where we set up camp.
  • Trek to Chauta via the Ghurchi Lagna Pass (3460m).
  • Cross the Sinja Khola River and trek to Tharamara.
  • Cross the Danphe Lagna Pass (3720m). Descend to Jumla.
  • Fly from Jumla to Nepalgunj and then take a second flight to Kathmandu.
  • Free day in Kathmandu to explore or relax.
  • Departure day. Kathmandu Airport transfers provided.
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Kathmandu on the dates shown above. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Kathmandu Airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to the 'Joining arrangements & transfers' section in the trip notes for further details. Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and this trip is showing the 'Guaranteed to Run or Limited' symbol. If your trip is still showing 'Spaces', we will contact you as soon as it has reached the guaranteed status.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee

We have undertaken to guarantee that all of our Land Only prices will not change once you have booked your holiday. Unlike some of our competitors we have decided never to surcharge, whether you are booking for this year or the next.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • pass
  • pass
  • trip direction
  • trek
  • internalflight

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Transfes from Kathmandu Airport are provided.

    Rendezvous at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Complimentary airport transfers are provided. KE Land Only package services begin with the evening meal.

    • Accommodation Hotel With Swimming Pool

    • Meals d

  • Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj close to the Indian border.

    Today, we take a short flight along the south side of the Nepal Himalaya, with great views of the Annapurnas in particular. Arriving in Nepalgunj, a town in the 'Terrai' on the border with India, we check in at the group hotel. Nepalgunj is a commercial centre of the western Terai and was ‘given’ to Nepal by the British East India Company as a reward for Nepal staying neutral during the uprising in India. Technically part of the great Gangetic plains this region is very hot and humid with average day time temperatures above 35 Degree Centigrade. Consequently we will take things easy today.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Meals bld

  • Fly to Jumla. Trek to Charya Chaur high above the Karnali River.

    We have an early morning transfer back to the to airport for the half hour flight over the Himalayan foothills with sensational views of the distant snow capped peaks. Landing in Jumla, the commercial hub for north-western Nepal, we meet out crew who will look after us on the trek to Rara Lake. Jumla is the largest upland town in the Karnali District, Nepal's most sparsely-populated administrative zone with very few roads. We will have time to explore Jumla’s bazaar and the temple dedicated to Chandan Nath, a mythical saint who defeated a serpent demon and emptied the lake which flooded the valley. Setting off on the first leg of our trek we pass the small village of Micha where, in a small walled enclosure, stand a number of stone stupas erected in memory of important dignitaries of the region dating back to the late 15th century. We climb away from the Jumla Valley, walking for 3.5 – 4 hours to reach our first campsite at Charya Chaur high above the Karnali River.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3

  • Trek through forest of birch and pine tover the saddle of the Jaljila Ridge (3700m).

    Setting off in the cool of the morning we climb through delightful woods of birch and pine. As the walk progress the views open up and the peak of Kanjiroba Himal with its distinctive twin peaks can be seen to the east. We reach the grassy saddle of the Jaljila Ridge at around 3700 metres and in the afternoon we descend around 870m through beautiful forest before finding a suitable spot for our overnight camp in a shepherd’s clearing.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5

  • Trek via Sinja to the village of Botan (2680m).

    This morning we complete our descent, following the Jaljala Khola down through forests with immense gnarled pines and through terraced farmland. Just before the final descent to Sinja the trail passes the 300 year old Kanaksundari Temple where ancient stone lions guard the inner sanctum. Sinja was once the ancient and thriving winter capital of the Malla kings and a few Malla stones dating from the medieval Khasa kingdom can still be seen alongside the trail. The trail passes the white temple and descends to the main river, crossing a plank bridge at a narrow gorge. Sinja village now sits on a small alluvial plain on the west bank of the river but the remains of the old town with sculptured and scribed stones can still be seen on the east bank. Having crossed the river, we now follow its course upstream passing the small village of Ganj and climbing through a spectacular gorge to our next campsite at the village of Botan (2680m).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 6

  • Trek to Ghorasain (3190m), at the entrance to the Rara National Park.

    We have a much shorter walk today to the entrance of the Rara Lake National Park. The trail leaves the valley of the Sinja Khola and follows the tributary Ghatte Khola northwards and then turning north-east as we ascend through farmland passing primitive water-powered flour mills. At the boundary of the Rara National Park at the place known as Ghorasain (3190m), there is a police check post where our permits are inspected. We will make camp here and there should be plenty of time for short walk around or to catch up on some laundry or to simply enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3

  • First views of Rara Lake on descent from the Chuchemara Danda (3765m).

    Leaving the Ghorasain campsite our route now begins a long climb to the final ridge protecting Rara Lake. It will take around 2 hours to climb up to the Chuchemara Danda (3765m) where we have an excellent panorama of Himalayan Peaks. The lake remains hidden at this point but soon comes into view as we descend. The trail enters bamboo and birch forests before crossing the Khatyar Khola which we follow upstream to our overnight camp near the northern shore of Rara Lake at 2980 metres.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 6

  • A day for exploration of the area around Rara Lake.

    We have a complete day to explore the lake shoreline and its environs. We can visit the National Park headquarters and climb up to the wooden observation tower for fine views of the lake and surrounding hills. Swimming is allowed in the lake but be warned that at this altitude it will be quite refreshing! We spend a second night at the lake.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Follow the Jhyari Bira Khola to a confluence where we set up camp.

    We follow the shoreline back to the south and leaving Rara Lake, we begin our walk-out to Jumla on an alternative trail which climbs to cross a ridge and then descends to the village of Jhyari. We follow the Jhyari Bira Khola downstream to a confluence with the Dhauligar Khola valley where we make camp beside the river amongst terraced hillsides. Altitude at camp: 2400m.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4

  • Trek to Chauta via the Ghurchi Lagna Pass (3460m).

    From the campsite on the Dhauligar Khola, the trail passes through terraced farmland to the village of Pina where there is a police post and a small local hotel, before climbing to the Ghurchi Lagna pass (3460m). The long climb from Pina is mostly through forests with occasional clearings giving fine views to the north. The pass is marked by several chortens and prayer flags and from the top the trail descends through alpine pastures and then through walnut groves. Finally, a steep narrow valley leads to the village of Chauta (2770m), where there are several shops and tea-houses. We make our camp here.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5

  • Cross the Sinja Khola River and trek to Tharamara.

    We follow the northern bank of the Sinja Khola through Bumra which has a health clinic. We pass beneath a massive overhanging rock at Kamra, one of the main sources of the important medicinal mineral, Silaji, which for centuries was the main economic driver of the region. The trail runs through the village of Nyawre (2660m) and on to a bridge across the Sinja Khola. On the other side we begin the long climb up to the Danphe Lagna Pass, stopping after some 600 meters at Tharamara (3280m).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5

  • Cross the Danphe Lagna Pass (3720m). Descend to Jumla.

    Our last day of trekking begins with the final part of the climb to the Danphe Lagna Pass (3720m). From the pass we now begin a long gradual descent into a delightful valley passing from high alpine pastures, through magnificent forests and eventually into a fertile farmland and through pretty little villages such as Padmara. The trail is not too steep as we follow the Jugad Khola all the way down to Jumla.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5

  • Fly from Jumla to Nepalgunj and then take a second flight to Kathmandu.

    We take the early morning flight from Jumla to Nepalgunj, where we connect with our onward flight to Kathmandu. Arriving in the city we check into our hotel and this evening we will go out to enjoy a celebratory dinner in one of Kathmandu’s excellent restaurants.

    • Accommodation Hotel With Swimming Pool

    • Meals bld

  • Free day in Kathmandu to explore or relax.

    This is an important contingency day in case of delays to our flight from Jumla. If we have already flown back to Kathmandu, there is an optional complimentary half-day guided sightseeing tour of the city. Alternatively, especially if you have been to Kathmandu before, you can wander through the bazaars, perhaps do some shopping for souvenirs or you can make your own independent sightseeing tour either in Kathmandu or one of the outlying towns such as Bhaktapur or Patan. This evening we have our ‘end of holiday’ dinner and our final night in Nepal.

    • Accommodation Hotel With Swimming Pool

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day. Kathmandu Airport transfers provided.

    KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. Complimentary airport transfers are provided.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • An experienced English-speaking local leader
  • Kathmandu Airport transfers
  • Internal flights and all land transport involved in the itinerary
  • All accommodation as described in the trip notes
  • All meals
  • Rara Lake trek permits
  • National Park entry fee
  • Guided sightseeing tour of Kathmandu
  • Full trekking service including all equipment (excluding personal equipment)
  • Travel insurance
  • Nepalese Visa
  • Tips for porters and other trek staff
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc.

The food served during the trek is a mixture of local and international cuisine, cooked by our highly trained trek cooks. The emphasis is on providing a high-carbohydrate and largely vegetarian diet, which we have found to be easily digestible at high altitude. Breakfasts will normally consist of porridge, toast and jam, eggs and pancakes with tea, coffee and juice. Lunches may be a hot meal or a packed lunch of sanwiches, fruit and biscuits. Dinner is a three course meal served in the dining tent with a soup to start, a main course which might be pasta, stew, curry, fish or pizza, followed by a desert. All meals while on trek and in Kathmandu are included in the holiday price.

All meals are included in the holiday price from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 15.
All clients travelling to Kathmandu will be met at the airport by a KE representative who will arrange the transfer to the group hotel. Clients MUST provide the KE office with full details of their flights and should let us know if Kathmandu Airport transfers are not required. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with your booking confirmation.
During this trip the group will spend 3 nights in Kathmandu at a centrally-located tourist-class hotel. There is also a single night at a comfortable hotel in Nepalgunj. While on trek there are 10 nights camping. All accommodation is on a twin sharing basis. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. It is possible to hire a single tent while on trek for an additional cost. Please note single tent hire does not include single rooms in hotels. For the 4 hotel nights single rooms are available for a supplementry cost. Additional hotel nights in Kathmandu are also available. For Hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the dates and prices page of the trip on our website. Hotels are subject to availability and prices may vary.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

The porters are given their loads and we start walking in the pleasant cool of the morning. Lunch usually takes an hour or two and again this is normally a cooked meal. Porters and baggage animals usually catch up with the group during lunch and are well on their way to camp as we set off again. The afternoon walk tends to be shorter than the morning session and on arrival at camp, the Sherpas will quickly put the tents up and a hot drink will soon follow. Dinner is ready at around 6 p.m. and is a 3-course meal served in the mess tent. This is a great time of day for reliving the events of the trek so far and for general socialising. After dark, the temperature quickly falls and everyone will soon be tucked up in their sleeping bags.

Internal Flights

Access to the high and remote areas of the Himalaya where our treks start is often only possible using internal flights. The changeable nature of mountain weather makes flying conditions complex. In addition the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal does not operate to the same standards as those of western nations and all airlines in Nepal appear on the European Commission’s list of airlines that are banned from flying into EU member states. Flying in Nepal is an acknowledged risk, and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice provides further details which you can read on their website at: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/nepal/safety-and-security. KE is mindful of its duty of care to clients travelling with us in Nepal and we were stakeholders in a recent independent air audit of Nepal airlines undertaken by UK tour operators during 2013. KE uses only three airlines in Nepal which were approved by this audit as safe carriers. These airlines are: Yeti Airlines, Tara Air and Buddha Air. We continue to cooperate with other tour operators to monitor aviation safety in Nepal and will ensure we remain a stakeholder in any further air safety audits. While we have taken appropriate action to try to minimise the risks of flying in Nepal, you should be aware that flying in mountainous terrain is not without any risk. Please note that poor weather can cause delays on the flights to and from the higher mountain air strips. If flights are cancelled for the day, you will spend an extra night at a hotel near your departure airport. There is enough flexibility in the trekking itinerary to make up 1 or even 2 lost days, but alternative arrangements must be made if your mountain flights are cancelled for a third day. We have included 2 nights in Kathmandu at the end of the trip as a contingency against delay on the flight back from the mountains. Helicopters can sometimes fly when the scheduled fixed wing aircraft cannot. If your group is offered the opportunity to use a chartered helicopter, either flying up to or back from your trekking area, the cost will be shared between those choosing to take this option. In the extremely unlikely event that flight cancellations cause you to miss your homeward international flight, KE will render all assistance, but cannot be held liable for any extra costs incurred. We advise you to take out suitable insurance and to keep your receipts, as you may subsequently be able to make a claim.

The group will be accompanied by an experienced English-speaking local leader throughout the trip. Whilst on trek there will also be a full trek crew, including several Sherpas, a cook team and porters.

Approximately £250 (or equivalent in US dollars, Euros etc.) changed into local currency, should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including porter and trek crew tips, drinks etc. It is not necessary to obtain local currency prior to departure. Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are equally acceptable for exchange in Nepal. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash, since you will exchange the majority of this on the day of your arrival in Kathmandu. If you prefer not to carry all of your spending money in cash, it is possible to withdraw money from ATMs in Kathmandu using your debit or credit card. During the trek it is possible to buy snacks, chocolate, soft drinks and beer on some days.

Tipping is the accepted way of saying ‘thank you’ for good service. Tips do not form part of the wages of your porters and trek crew but they are very much appreciated. It is important to remember that tipping is voluntary and should be dependent on good service. Normally the tips are given at the end of the trek and this is best done as a group. Your trek leader will give you help and advice on this. Most groups will give the tips with a bit of ceremony (or sometimes a party) on the last evening, to mark the end of the trip. As a guide, we recommend that each group member contributes the equivalent of £40 – 50 (in rupees) to these tips. At the end of a trek many people also like to donate various items of their equipment to the porters and trek staff who work so hard to make the trip a success. Boots, gloves, hats, scarves and even socks (clean of course) are always warmly received by the porters. If you think you would like to donate equipment at the end of your trip, your trek leader will make arrangements for a fair distribution among the trek crew.

Your baggage on trek will be carried by porters or pack animals. The packed weight of your trek bag whilst trekking should be no more than 15kg (33 pounds). For all flights to STOL airstrips in Nepal, the maximum allowance for hold baggage AND hand baggage combined, is 15 kg. This weight allowance is normally strictly enforced and excess baggage will be charged. Please be aware that you will have to pay any excess personal baggage charges on check in. It is possible to leave clothes or other items not required on trek at the group hotel.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to high altitude. During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 3500 metres. This is not something that you should worry about; the human body is quite capable of adapting to a very wide range of altitudes, but it is important that we follow some simple rules in order to acclimatise successfully. Before coming on this holiday you should read the advice on trekking at high altitude on our website which can be viewed via the link below. You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude. www.keadventure.com/page/altitude.html

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

  • The packed weight of your trek bag while trekking should be no more than 15 kgs./33 lbs.
  • You must bring the following items:

    • Hiking boots
    • Socks
    • Trekking trousers / pants
    • Lightweight waterproof overtrousers / rainpants
    • Underwear
    • Thermal baselayer shirts
    • Casual shirt and/or T-shirts
    • Fleece jacket or warm jumper/sweater
    • Waterproof jacket
    • Sunhat
    • Warm hat
    • Eyewear - Sunglasses
    • Thermal gloves
    • Warm and waterproof over-gloves or mittens
    • Daypack around 30 litres capacity.
    • Headtorch/Headlamp with spare batteries
    • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
    • Water bottles 1 Litre (1 Quart) x2
    • Washbag and toiletries
    • Antibacterial handwash
    • Small towel
    • Selection of dry bags (to keep trek bag contents dry)
    • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)
    • 4 or 5 season sleeping bag*
    • Thermarest or similar sleeping mat*
    • Warm jacket (down)*
    • Basic First Aid Kit including A broad spectrum antibiotic, antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), altitude (Diamox), painkillers, plasters (band-aids) and blister treatment, insect repellent (DEET), and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).

    The following items are optional:

    • Training shoes /Sneakers or similar
    • Gaiters
    • Spare laces
    • Long johns (thermal underwear)
    • Sleeping bag liner
    • Nailbrush
    • Wet wipes
    • Swimwear
    • Travel clothes
    • Trekking poles (recommended)
    • Gaffer tape
    • Camera etc.


    • *Available for hire/rental through KE Adventure Travel
    • Please make all requests at least 6 weeks prior to the trip departure date. Please note all hire / rental equipment is issued in Kathmandu. Please remember to allow room in your trek bag for these items.

      The Nepalese are still traditional and conservative in the way they dress. Therefore to avoid embarrassment on both sides we recommend that you respect this and do not wear revealing clothing or sleeveless tops while visiting Nepal. Shorts are acceptable, but they should reach to just above the knee and be modest and for women it is preferable to wear trousers or a long skirt.

    For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

    A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

    We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:


    It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on a trekking holiday getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. We suggest that you adopt a weekly exercise regime leading up to your trip. Regular hiking in hill country is the best training but jogging, squash and swimming are also good for developing cardio vascular fitness and stamina.

    As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov for essential travel advice and tips.

    KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

    October–December and March-May are the best times to visit Nepal. These months either side of the monsoon are neither too hot at low elevations nor yet too cold at high altitude and as such offer the best conditions for trekking. The post-monsoon months usually offer the clearest skies and the most settled weather. Rara Lake lies in a partial rainshadow and is less affected by the monsoon than treks further to the east in annapurna and Nepal. On this trek you will experience a wide range of temperatures from sub tropical heat in Nepalgunj to night-time temperatures just a few degrees above freezing at rara Lake.

    • Lonely Planet Guide to Nepal.
    • Rough Guide to Nepal
    • Trekking and Climbing in Nepal. Steve Razzetti.
    • Field Guide to Birds of the Himalayas. Bikram Grewa
    • Portraits of People:Nepal Himalayas. Eric Valli
    • Nepal: Lonely Planet Pictorial. Richard I'Anson The High Himalaya.
    • Art Wolfe A History of Nepal. John Whelpton

    Extend Your Holiday


    When booking your holiday, you will be able to 'add an extension option'.

    Once we have received your booking we will contact you to discuss additional services required for the extension and to take any additional deposit.

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