Trekker’s Journal: Riding to Rara
By: Saroj Bhurtel July 30, 2016
Rare Lake in the Jumla and Mugu districts; is the biggest lake in Nepal and my dream destination for a very long time. In May 2016 four of us crazy cycling enthusiast decided to make it happen. This is how we did it.
Day 1: Kathmandu to Surkhet by bus – 601 KM
Departing from the Gongabu bus park (the main bus station in Kathmandu) with our cycles disassembled and stowed in the carriage of a Rara Metrobus we started our 19 hour bus ride through the night to Surkhet, about 600 km west of the capital city.
Day 2: Surkhet to Guranse – 25 KM
Reaching Surkhet at noon the next day, we started the day at a slow pace, with a lunch and some rest before saddling up. The ride started with a steep ascent which carried on for most of the 25 km stretch to our stopping point at Guranse in Dailekh. The elevation made the going slow and we had to push really hard to make it to our end point before dark. We were very thankful for the kind truck drivers who assisted in driving our luggage all the way to the hotel.
Day 3: Guranse to Manma – 130 KM
The next day we pushed off toward Manma, the district headquarter of Kalikot, approximately 130 KM from Guranse. The ride from Guranse to Tallo Dhungeswor was a steep spine-chilling descent. Cycling along the Karnali Highway we were obstructed by a landslide at Dahikhola, a few kilometers outside Manma. After a long day riding and the delay caused by the landslide we luckily were able to catch a ride with a bus that drove us the final stretch to Manma. This bus ride from Dahikhola to Manma was one hell of a ride following a narrow mountain road during heavy rain fall. Luckily we arrived safely to Manma by late evening.
Day 4: Manma to Badki Sinja – 50 KM
Getting an early start this morning we cycled on to Pili in Kalikot where we stopped for a cup of tea. Pili was featured a lot in newspapers during the insurgency as a significant number of security forces and Maoist Cadres lost their lives in battles there.
During the day our ride took us through Chilkhaya, Jubitha and Rachuli and we arrived at a place called Nagmaghat by around 1400 hours.
Nagmaghat is a confluence of Tila river coming from Jumla Bazar and Hima River from Sinja Valley. At this point we left the blacktop road and headed off-road towards Sinja Valley. Sinja valley has an historic significance as it was the capital of the ancient Khasa Kingdom. In the fertile plains of Sinja we stopped at Badki Sinja for the night having covered about 50 km of distance.
Day 5: Badki Sinja to Bhulbhule – 50 KM
Our fifth day in the saddle took us along the Hima river with spectacular views ahead. At our lunch stop in Haad Sinja we were surprised to see large apple and walnut orchards. Devdaar trees scattered along the route added more beauty to the scene. A terrible uphill road had us drenched in sweat and with little energy to push forward. Our final resting point for the day was a small village called Bhulbhule.
Day 6: Bhulbhule to Rara Lake – 35 KM
At this point we were quite close to Rara Lake and our happiness knew no limits. We left Bhulbhule in the early morning and cycled along a steep descent and a few gentle ascents before reaching Rara Lake at around 1100 hours. No words here are sufficient to describe the beauty of the lake. The large body of clear blue water was intoxicating and beckoned the four of us for a swim. After settling the accommodation at the only lodge around the lake we took a ride on the path that goes along the shore of the lake. A peaceful environment, huge stretches of forests surrounding the lake, horses and buffalos grazing on the banks made this little corner of the world feel like paradise.
Day 7: Rara Lake to Nyaurighat – 45 KM
After a night spent on the banks of Rara Lake we began our return journey and chose a different route this time heading toward Nyaurighat for a stopover.
Our last day on the trails took us to Jumla where we hopped on a bus to Surkhet.
Cycling such a long distance with such rough terrain was very challenging but nothing can replace the charm of exploring new places on a mountain bike. We all agreed all the effort and pain was worth it once we got a glimpse of Rara Lake. Rara is truly paradise on earth and a must visit for anyone searching for a bit of adventure and tranquility.
(Photo credit: All photos contributed by Saroj Bhurtel. From top: Saroj and his crew arrived to Rara Lake; Saroj passing through Sinja Valley; Rara Lake at sunset.)
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