RARA, Why do we Travel?

Keshav Dulal
May 13 · 9 min read

RARA, it’s a four letter word. It's a place.
Precisely it’s a lake. Biggest in fact.
The biggest lake in my country which is situated in the Far-western Development Region

Last month we went on a ride to RARA on our Bikes.
It wasn’t obviously the easiest and shortest ride, in fact, it was just the opposite. It took us 5 days of a continuous ride to reach there and we travelled approximately 910 kms to reach there from Kathmandu.

We were a group of 4 people who had never been there before.
Hemanta — The entire Project Manager & Bike No 1 Rider
Sujan — The Writer & Narrator
Saurav — The Cinematographer
& Myself — The Droner, The Travel Vlogger & Biker No 2 Rider

We had one goal.
Collect stories on our way to Rara and make the most epic travel documentary of Rara.

Day 1 | Kathmandu — Butwal

We managed to cross approx 250 kms of pitched road by the end of D1 and we were at Siddartha Cottage, Butwal.

It was quite a long ride but we were so full of energy and excitement that we weren’t bothered much.

Day 2 | Butwal — Surkhet

D2 began early as we had to travel nearly 350kms that day on bike. I have faint memories of running between 90 ~109 km/hr on those lengthy straigt roads of Terai.

On our way to Manma, we encountered a small accident, Bike 1 skidded off the road.
Saurav’s leg was hurt, we did an x-ray.
The x-ray reader said — it looks like a hairline fracture.

We were in dilemma what to do!
We left the decision to Saurav and he decided to return back to his home “Kohalpur” the next day.
So we bid farewell to him and continued our journey to Rara without him.

Day 4 | Paltada — Shinja

Now it was 3 of us & As Saurav wasn’t around I was taking shots on camera and drone.
As we went further in our journey, the landscapes started to take our breathe even more away.
We made our lunch stop at Manma, the place where we were supposed to reach & stay yesterday.
We were told that the next stop is NAGMA which is 50kms away & from there its 90kms of pure OFFROAD to Entrance of RARA National Park.
By the end of day, we managed to reach SHINJA and decided to stay there.
Rara was still far by approx 66kms.

Day 5 | Shinja — Rara

We left Shinja bit late. It was 11.
In hindsight, I think we should’ve left earlier but its cold as ice in the morning so We were waiting for the sun to come up and then we just goofed up around for a while.

Once we left, we were confident that we would reach Rara “Instantly”, coz hey… its just 66kms away right?
Which I think was our biggest mistake and led to a lot of other things that day.

It was 5 o’clock and we finally managed to reach the outer-entrance of Rara’s militarized zone where we had to do our entries.
The National Park’s Actual Entrance was still 25kms away from the entry check post.

I was wondering, what the fuck did we do all day long.

But Hey once we entered the militarised zone and crossed the very first hill, I was hoping to see Rara Lake from Road itself. Silly me!
Instead, the Himalayas covered in snow and shining with that golden glow welcomed us.

I was getting goosebumps and was so freaking excited that we were finally there and we would possibly get to see the sight of RARA any time soon.

And that’s when…

*Muffled Disturbed Sound*

I fell of off-my-bike and injured my left hand pretty badly despite of wearing gloves. My outer jacket was torn in 2 places and the helmet did a great job saving my face. My left hand was immediately swollen to a shape of an orange. It looked like internal damage, a fracture maybe. But there wasn’t any time to think coz I was miles away from the nearest health post.
Bike 1 was ahead of me So I had to catch up with them as we were losing light very fast.

And just over 50m ahead on turning, they were waiting for me, all this time. After briefly explaining what happened we continued to ride, coz we had to reach Sallery — the entry point of Rara National Park.

Both bikes did slip additionally one time each on ice although at different places. In both instances, we were riding on a layer of Ice frozen nearby passages of water.
It was just a cherry on top.

I cannot explain how we managed to ride an additional 20 km in such an unforgiving road on blistering cold weather, getting darker and darker every minute.

I was getting skeptical and began asking to myself, “Is there even a lake or not in this middle of nowhere?”

And two hours later, we were there at Salleri - the entrance of Rara National Park where we had to park our bikes. It was 7 PM in the evening and the locals told us that it would take us 2 to 3 hour to reach the Hotel which is situated on the other side of the lake.

We knew we had to reach the hotel anyhow.
We estimated to reach the hotel by 10 PM if we started just then.
We bought the entrance tickets and headed off without making any delay.

A big challenge that was ahead of us was that we have to walk an unknown road through the middle of the forest to reach one shore of the lake and then circumvent it clockwise to reach to the hotel on the other side of the lake.

Two of our phones had already died on us. Both of them were android.
My iPhone was still holding up pretty good at 60%

Then I did the stupidest thing possible.
Instead of using my emergency torchlight which was in my backpack, I used the flash of off my iPhone.
All of us were wearing our gloves and didn’t realize actually how cold it was outside.

After walking for about half an hour or so in the blistering cold, we reached a very wide and open space surrounded by forest.
And guess what happened.

My iPhone restarted.
It was down from 55% to 9% all of a sudden.
Guess that’s for not caring my phone.

We switched to my emergency light and oh boy it did last forever.

After walking far around one and half hour we did we cross the forest and reached to the shore of the lake and although it was pitch dark night, I was able to see the lake and feel the gigantic-ness mass of the lake in the dark and oh the sky with the countless amount of stars was shining so bright in the sky.

It was the most beautiful sky that I had ever seen in my whole life
I can never forget that immensely gratifying feeling watching starry night next to the lake.

After enjoying the sight for a while we began to notice some lights on the other side of the lake. We assumed it to be the presence of some civilization.

We did call our hotel to send someone to pick us up on our way to the hotel and the help was arriving.

It made us so happy to finally arrive at our destination.

Once we were at the hotel we had our dinner and promptly went to our rooms to sleep coz we were tired as hell.

Day 6 | Rara

Bright sunlight hits our doors and we were awake

We could see a portion of the Lake from the hotel so we quickly had our breakfast and rushed to see the lake closely.
And oh boy, we spent that day shooting and fumbling around the lake.

I found the most enticing factor of the lake to be its purity.
It was so clean and transparent and beautifully coloured, it just made you happy looking at it.

Oh did I forget to say that we Nepal is a landlocked country & we don’t have the luxury of visiting beaches whenever we want.
Or it may well be that happy, serene, calming feeling that you get when you are close to something so natural and pure.
Maybe everyone does feel that way.

And before we knew it was already the end of the day.
It was getting colder outside so we headed back to the hotel.
We waited for the stars to come and took some time lapses but it wasn’t as bright as the night before

Day 7 | Murma Top

Next day we had our boating session in the morning after having our breakfast.

We came to know that boating was relatively a new thing to that place, as it wasn’t available a couple of years ago.

The word that I am looking for to describe RARA is “CALM”. I think I hear calmness in it and it just gets transferred to you in ways you don’t know.

it took us three hours off straight uphill trek to reach to the top

I did have trouble hiking for such a long time.
In fact, to the point where I almost gave my wish to go to the top, after reaching a place from where the lake was completely visible, although it wasn’t the top of the hill though.
It was Sujan who didn’t give up on going up and kept me pushing and bearing all the drama that I was doing. If it wasn’t for him then I would have never reached to the top.
The more we struggled the more it became easier to climb, relatively. It was around 4 PM that we made it to the to.
It was a blazingly windy yet we managed to shoot.

Rara for us became a sign of challenge and adventure.
The journey to the lake was already difficult in so many ways and reaching to the top of that hill to see that entirety of lake was just mesmerizing and challenging in so many levels.

I did not only got to explore Rara, people, places, food but I also got to know my inner side, my own strength and weaknesses

On the one hand, I was amazed, happy and intrigued to see the landscapes, the places, the people, the food and the RARA itself.

And on the other hand, I was fascinated getting to know my own strengths and weaknesses and parts of me that I never knew before.

I guess that’s why we travel, not only to just explore the world but also to explore our inner demons and conquer them.

Our zeal to find out on our own surpasses what we have been told by others.

Check out the film below if you liked reading the journey.

Film’s Voiceover

Dec 25th, 2018, the day when we began our 11 days long motorcycle road trip from Kathmandu to the biggest and one of the most beautiful lakes in Nepal, Rara.

Next day we headed towards Surkhet.
As we went further in our journey towards the hilly region of Nepal, the landscapes started to take our breathes away.
& We were doing our best capture to them all along.
Everything was going well, up until…

The Roads of the hilly region in Nepal aren’t very friendly for these kinds of long road trips.
The journey was already getting pretty difficult & challenging without one of our team-member.
Despite the difficulties, we somehow managed to reach the Rara lake by 10 PM on the 5th day but with some consequences.

It was around 5 pm on Day 5 & we were only 25kms away from our destination.
All 3 of us were excited and were riding down while enjoying the view of sun-lit golden mountains.
I stopped to take some photographs.
Got a little behind but was still riding looking at those mountains.

And all of a sudden I lost control over my bike & fell uncontrollably with a nasty head-bang onto the ground while sliding to the edge of the road only not to fall off hundreds of meters below.
It was nerve-wracking at first.

But while facing some of mankind’s deepest fears and realizing how fragile life can be, I was somehow able to get a hold of myself, calm my self down, pick the bike up and get back onto the road.

That night when we were by the lake, I saw the most beautiful piece of sky that I ever saw in my life.

I guess that’s why we travel, not only to just explore the world outside us
but also to take a look into the abyss inside us, to get a little scared at first but then eventually overcome those fears in order to enjoy this thing we call life.

Our zeal to experience all these feelings on our own surpasses what we’ve told by others.

I think that’s why we travel & I also think that’s why I travel.

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