You might already be familiar with Lakes and the beauty of these natural water reservoirs. It seems like as we get closer and closer to the natural sources, we get a different sense of fulfillment. Such is the case with mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, or anything sculpted by Mother Nature herself. Does that mean we don't get relaxation from man-made things? Of course not, there are several wonders created by mankind that still awes us in so many ways. But have you given a thought about the term "natural beauty?" Why is it that we value beauty when it is natural? Needless to say, people can enhance their beauty artificially too. Well, you can definitely understand the meaning behind my words, don't you? It is the pure and clean part of the naturally blessed things that really attract us. Okay, enough on the philosophical side of the beauty.
The main reason behind my emphasis on the beauty measures is to introduce the concept of relaxation via observation of lakes. I had to go around the concept of natural beauty to get your attention towards the importance of lakes on tourism. Since we are talking about Nepal, lakes are not something you will have a hard time finding here. Our country has a lot of Himalayan peaks and with those comes a whole lot of glacier. A glacier is basically frozen water that melts during summer to bless us with hundreds of rivers. Sometimes these water sources do not flow downhill but get stuck in a bowl-like structure. Such water sources are called lakes and the word "natural" in front of lakes mean they came in existence naturally.
The abundance of high altitude geography in Nepal has given birth to thousands of lakes to this day. In fact, there are 5,358 lakes in Nepal recorded to this date. People often do not believe this data because Nepal is such a small country and most of the lakes lie in the northern part of our country. After they get their hands on trusted sources, they get excited to see these water sources with their naked eyes for the purpose of entertainment and fulfillment. Such behavior has given rise to a different form of trekking among visitors which is Lake visiting. Yes, all you have to do is get a map and explore the thousands of lakes in the country. You might think that all the lakes are typically the same and one might get bored after a couple of locations, but trust me, a different lake means a different kind of satisfaction and enthusiasm. There are several tour packages that involve lake sighting and exploring. Some of these are easy to trek, but some are extremely hard for inexperienced travelers. Having a guide with you will definitely help in most of the situations and there are things like availability, weather favoring, health, altitude, and finances that often restrict adventurers.
Provided that you have all the favors on your side and are ready to tackle the trails to explore the lakes of Nepal, here are some recommendations from our side. Mentioning all the lakes in the country will probably rip the keys out of my keyboard so we are going to focus on some of the highly recommended ones. Along with the physical details, we will try to educate you on some of the interesting facts about the lake. We might suggest to you some of the things that will multiply your experience so stay with us.
1. Rara Lake: While we are at the topic of lake education, why not start with the biggest of them all? Yes, the famous Rara Lake is the biggest lake in our country and lies at the altitude of 2,990 meters. Looking at its actual dimensions, statistics reveal that the lake has a total length of 8 kilometers, spreads at a breadth of 1.5 kilometers, and has a depth of 167 meters. The numbers might not surprise you, but once you get in front of the lake, you will feel the vastness of this natural water tank. Rara Lake is also called Mahendra Daha so, do not get confused when people call it otherwise.
The beauty of Rara is hard to describe in words as the article might seem over exaggerating on the actual thing. But, it is what it is and the lake provides you with one of the finest sights of your life. The whole water circumference is surrounded by dense green forest and most of the trees are Juniper. Another thing that fascinates most tourists is that the Rara Lake lies inside the Rara national park. This is the smallest national park and considering it holds the biggest lake in the country, one cannot avert their mind from the irony here. But, as small it might be, the park is the ultimate destination for anyone who loves tranquility and relaxation. When you stop talking and the only noise you hear is the chirping of birds and the blowing of the wind, then my friend, you have experienced true and natural peace.
The whole national park lies in the far northwest region of Nepal in the Jumla and Mugu districts. As you will notice when you visit the place, the lake flows through Nijar River and goes with the current to mix with the Karnali streams. The best place to view the whole scenario is undoubtedly Chuchemara Hill. With the elevation of 4,087 meters, the place comes first on the recommendation for sightseeing. You can see the snow-covered hills, the wooded hillsides and of course, the beautiful Rara Lake. The adventure does not end there as we have some other suggestions for our visitors. After you have successfully reached the lake, rent a boat and relax your mind enjoying a long trip around the lake. One can also hike to a nearby viewpoint which is called Murma and click interesting photos. As for the daredevils, try horse riding around the tracks and if you feel like experiencing the raw nature, set up a hammock and sleep in a tent near the lake.
2. Phewa Lake: The Phewa Lake does not chart itself in the largest or deepest category, but when it comes to the scale of popularity, no other lake holds the candle. I would not say Phewa is small because it still holds its position as the second-largest lake in Nepal. Part of Phewa Lake that makes it so popular definitely revolves around the fact that it likes in the Pokhara valley. While some lake visit requires days of trekking and preparation, you can enjoy the vastness and magnificence of Phewa Lake after a short trip from Kathmandu. The lake is not surrounded by mountains or rocky hills instead; you will find the lake in between the city chilling out. Due to its easy availability, Phewa Lake gets thousands of visitors every year be it national or international. As it happens, the Pokhara valley is a magnet when it comes to tourist attraction. From families going to vacation, business dealings, students going on vacation to honeymoon plans for a married couple, Pokhara is an easy and cheaper way for relaxation.
Phewa lakeside is a popular destination in Pokhara. With hundreds of business depending on the flow of tourists in the lakeside, you will most likely find the place very lively. The upper southeastern coast of the lake consists of a forest with vibrant birdlife whereas the lakeside as I mentioned before, is pretty crowded. This means hiring a boat and getting to the center of Phewa will provide you a chance to see the huge contrast between natural beauty and man-made wonders. The boat renting is pretty easy and you will find it much cheaper here than any other lake. There are different kinds of boats like the traditional rowing ones or the ones with mechanical paddles as engines. As you quietly drift along the lake water, you will have the opportunity to observe the colorful Queen's forest (Rani Ban), the Annapurna range in the far distance, and the water that reflects sunlight like a huge wavy glass. One can also rent a boat to stop at the temple that lies in the middle of the lake called the Tal Barahi Mandir. There is also another destination in between the boat ride which includes watching a small waterfall.
3. Begnas Lake: While we are at the topic of Pokhara, why not get informed on another lake that lies in the area. Begnas Lake comes just after Phewa Lake when we go back to the whole dimension comparison. It typically lies in the southeastern part of the valley and is equally beautiful. For those who like to enjoy the lake in a peaceful environment, I would recommend Begnas Lake rather than Phewa Lake. Since the lake lies a bit away from the typical tourist area; it has a more natural vibe to it. Unlike Phewa which is more popular for boating and relaxation experience, Begnas attracts its visitors with the fishing sport.
The southern part of Pokhara where Begnas lies has a cultural touch to it with settlements and terrace farming. Of course, you can enjoy boating too. Another thing you can do in this area is cycling or lakeside cycling as the service providers say. As you wipe the sweat from your forehead after a good cycling experience, rest your legs at the nearby cafes with a coolade of your choice. You could also visit the market near the lake which promotes the finest homemade products. Your small contribution and praise can uplift the enthusiasm of the locals. The settlements and shelters around Begnas Lake will also help you observe the lifestyle of the local people up close.
4. Rupa Lake: Rupa Lake is the twin Lake to Begnas Lake and holds its beauty for the vast amount of freshwater it holds. Like its twin, it protrudes the natural beauty sitting far from the crowded city of Pokhara. The lake lies 10 kilometers away from the city crowds and provides its visitors the most important thing they want from a natural source; peace and calmness. Due to the less number of visitors, the lake has maintained its cleanliness and freshness for all these years.
Asides from the water pleasantry, this lake is home for almost 36 species of water birds. A side note: Nepal has good climatic conditions that attract thousands of birds every year during their migration period. If you are lucky enough to go at the right time, you will see hundreds of species of birds chilling near the freshwater sources. The view surrounding the lake is also very majestic. You can see the flourishing flora and fauna and the beautiful range of Himalayas.
5. Tilicho Lake: Put your jackets and gloves on because we are about to explore the lake which lies at the altitude of 4,919 meters above sea level. Yes, the lake is literally surrounded with snow-covered mountains and is just 45 kilometers away from the warm and pleasant Pokhara we discussed earlier. Over the years, Tilicho's popularity and the number of visitors it attracts have skyrocketed and we can clearly understand this rise in charts. Once you see the view of the lake, you will not regret the hard climbing and the problems during your journey.
Talking about its actual location, the lake lies in the Manang district of Nepal. As I have personally reached the destination, I will suggest you the route to one of the most beautiful lakes in Nepal in detail. First, you take a ride from Kathmandu to Besisahar. Don't worry, you can find plenty of local vehicles for the journey and if you have any trouble you can always rent one. After you reach Besisahar, I would recommend staying the night and wear off your tiredness from the whole day of traveling. The next day, search for a transportation service that will take you to Manang. The fee is not that expensive, but the ride is a little bit bumpy. You will most likely travel in a 4 wheeler pick-up. Although the pickup will take you to Manang, I would recommend getting off at a place called Chame and then hike for the rest of the journey. This way, you can savor all the flavor of the environment and the localities that have adapted to this extreme lifestyle. After reaching Manang, take a good night's rest and head towards the Tilicho Base Camp the next day. You will most probably find other mates along the trail or you could just share your experiences with your guide.
After you reach the Base Camp, you have to spend the night there as the people do not recommend hiking to the lake after 11 am in the morning due to unpredictable weather. Just rest and take the road the next day. You will leave your backpacks in the hotel and only carry essentials to the top. Let me tell you, the road from the Base Camp to the lake will almost rip off your calves, but it is definitely worth it. The Tilicho trekking is actually a long circuit expedition which includes going to a further higher point called Thorangla Pass. You can either visit the lake and return to Manang or go even further and complete the whole trek route. The choice is entirely yours by the way. Along the whole circuit, you will find other interesting places like Yak Kharka and Thorong Phedi. I will not spoil further details, but I highly recommend this trip.
6. Khaste Lake: Another freshwater lake to secure its position in the famous lakes of Nepal list is the Khaste Lake. This lake also lies within the territories of the Pokhara region. Well, you might be wondering why is it that Pokhara has so many lakes and to that question, I can say there is not a definite answer. Pokhara is blessed when it comes to the natural beauty that is it. I don't know if it relates to the fact but Pokhara is the place that gets the highest amount of rainfall in Nepal.
Anyways, Khaste lies in Pokhara Lekhnath metropolitan town and has a total area of 24.8030 hectors. One thing that is particularly famous about this lake is the Pisciculture which has been going on for several years. We have already discussed the favorable climatic condition of Nepal or Pokhara for the migration of birds, right? Well, this is the main spot for watching the whole phenomenon. For this reason, the place is also known as the "Bird Wetland" and the ideal place for bird-watching entertainment. If you are a bird lover or a researcher, this might be the place for you. From Siberian, Indian to Afghani, you can find different types of birds who have flown thousands of miles to escape from the claws of winter.
7. Gokyo Lake: The name Gokyo Lake comes with another attachment to it. It lies near the sixth-largest mountain of the world which is the Cho Oyu. I know, you might have never heard the name of this peak, but it is really worth knowing. And if you are one of the lucky ones to visit this peak, you will definitely come across Gokyo at the altitude of 4700 to 5000 meters. In fact, there are multiple lakes near the main Gokyo Lake and they are collectively the highest freshwater lake sets in the world. I mean, what else do you need to plan your next trip to this amazing place?
As for the geographical position, the lake lies in the Khumbu region inside the Sagarmatha National Park. In case you don't know, Sagarmatha is the original name of Mt. Everest. The main composition of Gokyo Lakes is the Ngozumpa Glacier.
To further dissect the surrounding lakes, the whole package comprises of lakes like Thonak Cho which is the largest, Gokyo Cho or the Dudh Pokhari, Tanjung Cho, Gyazumpa Cho, Ngozumpa Cho, and the Longbanga Cho. Trust me, I am a Nepali and even I can't pronounce these names. The main lake is called Dudh Pokhari because the water appears milky due to the extreme cold temperature and Dudh means milk in Nepali. The Ngozumpa Glacier flows to the right of the lakes and is the longest Glacier of Nepal. Interestingly, it is the origin of the lake. I don't know the connection, but the Gokyo lakes have been associated with ecological and spiritual importance for a long time.
Imagine going to such an exotic place in the Nature surrounded by multiple glacier lakes oozing with the natural beauty of Mother Nature. I have nothing else to say than just enjoy the whole scenario to your fullest and come back with memories.
8. Phoksundo Lake: If anyone ever asks you about the deepest lake of Nepal, tell them it’s the Phoksunda Lake and also tell them that you have visited the place, hopefully. Phoksundo lies in the remote Dolpa district in the far western side of the capital city. Lake sighting is included in the Dolpo trek and lies at a height of 3,615 meters above the sea level. If I had to describe the experience in watching this beautiful lake, "extraordinary" would be the word that would come across my mind first. The route to the lake is filled with everything you would want on a trekking trip plus the warmth of nature. The spectacular views, stunning forest trails, snowcapped mountains, and biodiversity are just some of the experiences that come in bonus. The lake is surrounded by alpine pine forest and has a blue color to it due to its untouched purity.
Actually, the lake is a part of the Shey-Phoksundo National Park and has a wetland ecological feature. It holds its place as one of the Ramsar sites along with the Gokyo Lakes. Take your time, plan your adventure, gather your closest peers, and head off to the exploration of one of the most beautiful lakes of the world. Phoksundo Lake is a marvel of nature and its best to share this experience with your loved ones.
9. Gosaikunda Lake: Gosaikunda is the lake which is more famous for its religious importance and spiritual values. Of course, the Lake is beautiful naturally but the majority of national visitors it gets are Hindu devotees who have a holy connection with the place and the belief system it holds. The lake sits beautifully at the altitude of 4,380 meters and is surrounded by several mountain ranges. All these structures along with the lake get encircled by the Langtang National Park. The park lies in the Rasuwa District of Nepal and covers almost 3 acres of land area. Just imagine the scale of the awesomeness you will get to see as you reach the final destination.
Gosaikunda also enlists itself in the Ramsar site listing. The topological structure is basically wetland and the area has more than 108 glacial lakes. And I definitely don't have to tell you the kind of view you can see as you reach the lake, do I? When you reach Gosaikunda and you have watched the lake to your heart's content, take a hike for an hour and you will reach another beautiful destination. You will find yourself among Aama Kunda, Suryakunda, and other narrow lakes. If you look down, you will have the spectacular view of multiple lakes and if you look at a distance, the Ganesh Himal and the Langtang Lirung ranges will ease your eyes with their majestic charm.
Asides from the natural scenery, one can get a chance to blend with the people living around the area. The main ethnical groups that live in those places are the Tamangs and they have preserved their traditions to this day. Try to look closely at their lifestyle and compare it with yours. We often complain about poor internet connection, bad quality of food, and other trivial matters and there they are living their lives happily without any internet or any modern world problems. Experiences like these can really help a person to focus inwards and look for true happiness in life.
10. Panch Pokhari: Panch means five in Nepali and the whole term might have already made sense to you. Yes, Panch Pokhari means five lakes in a single spot each one enhancing the beauty of others. These five lakes are some of the highest wetland in the world. Also, they carry high religious importance for the Hindu religion followers. Collectively, they upgrade the natural beauty, biological diversity, and the cultural importance of the Sindhupalchowk district of Nepal. On different religious occasions, one can find many Hindu and even Buddhist followers visiting the lakes for their specific purposes. As popularity increased, the place has started attracting tourists over the years for sightseeing and relaxation.
As you head towards your destination, the biodiversity of the place will really amaze you. Since the lake is surrounded by dense forests, you can experience the evolution of flora and fauna of the place and how they have learned to perfectly balance their lives with nature. When you finally reach the spot, the lakes are there to amaze you along with the view of some mountain ranges. Some of the peaks you will feast your eyes upon are the Phurbi Chhyachu, Madiya, Rolwaling, Jugal, Dorje Lakpa, and the Langtang; all of which are above the 6000-meter range.
So, these are some of our top recommendations in case you are planning to explore lakes this year. The easy part is, you don't have to get confused over the choices. Just randomly pick one of them and start the journey. Conquer one trail, watch the lake and I promise you will want to immediately head towards the next destination. The exploration journey will test you mentally and physically. For those of you who have lost their touch with nature, I would recommend planning your next vacation in one of these locations. Maybe this might entertain and satisfy you more than that expensive Bali vacation you have been planning with your loved one. Let's try a new kind of relaxation this year.