Preparations are being made to accomodate domestic and foreign tourists, who visit Rara Lake, in villages located inside the buffer zone of Rara National Park, as Karnali Province struggles to prolong the length of stay of visitors in the tourist attraction of Mugu district due to lack of standard hotels.
The flow of tourists to Karnali Province, especially Rara Lake, is expected to surge, as the provincial government has declared 2075 BS as Karnali Rara Tourism Year.
Karnali Rara Tourism Year District Committee informed that it is making preparations to accommodate tourists in 12 villages in buffer zone of Rara National Park, including Murma, Jhayari, Majhghatta, Sigadi, Topla, Pina, Lamachaur, Salleri, Kotila, Talcha, Mathitum and Talitum.
The committee also informed that traditionally built houses with amenities such as light, toilets and water, are being chosen as lodging facilities for tourists. Houses built using traditional stones and soil are being prioritised.
Purna Bahadur Rokaya, coordinator of the committee said, “Tourists will be accommodated in villages located in the national park’s buffer zone, as hotels in the vicinity of Rara Lake will not be able to cater to all visitors.” He also said that the committee will soon hold discussions with representatives and party officials to select houses with adequate facilities for tourists.
According to Rokaya, tourists staying in villages will be served local food. Hari Chandra Shahi, Ward Chairman of Chanyanath Rara Municipality-7, said that at least 10 houses from each of the 12 villages will be selected to provide lodging facility to tourists.
Shahi said that the income of locals would rise as tourists stay in the villages, as they can sell local produce such as honey, ghee, beans, buck wheat and potatoes.
Karnali Province is relying on a stop-gap measure to accomodate tourists after tourism entrepreneurs complained that the state is not in a position to prolong the length of stay of tourists due to lack of standard hotels, good roads, electricity and communication facilities even though the planned tourism year is only a week away.
The two hotels with decent tourist facilities, Danfe Guest House and Village Heritage Resort, are operating near Rara Lake, but they cannot accomodate more than 100 people. There are more than two dozen hotels at Majhghatta and Lamachaur, but tourists do not like to stay there due to their substandard service. While home-stay facilities are available in Manjhghtta, they can only serve a dozen visitors.
Another problem is that there are only three rubber rafts available at Rara Lake. This means that tourists have to wait for hours for their turn to go rafting. It is also difficult to reach the tourist destination. Currently, tourists can choose to take a plane or drive to the destination. A flight from Nepalgunj to Mugu takes 35 minutes while the driving option takes nearly two days over bad roads. Proper hotels and other facilities are also lacking along the route.
Rara Lake, situated at an altitude of 2,990 metres (9,810 feet) above sea level, has a surface area of 10.8 square kilometres, making it the largest lake in Nepal. The chief attractions of Rara Lake are scenic surroundings, pristine water and various indigenous fish species.
Tourism is flourishing in Karnali Province in recent years. Domestic visitors, in particular, are flocking to the region, attracted by its stunning scenery and unspoiled environment. Rise in domestic arrivals has boosted the region’s tourism industry, despite meagre arrivals of foreign tourists due to lack of proper infrastructure.