Sitting in front of the computer and preparing this blog, it still feels like a dream of the moments I was able to experience in July. Rara National Park and Khaptad National Park in the far west of Nepal, was on my travel list for a while and in July it became a reality.
Rara Lake was the venue for a wilderness first aid class and as a part of the instructor team from Himalayan medics, I along with the team flew to Talcha, Mugu. As we walked towards Rara lake, wildflowers, green meadows, and lush forests of pine, juniper and spruce became a sight to behold. Being the biggest and deepest freshwater lake in Nepal, the habitats in it included Nepalese snow trout and Rara snow trout. With an area covering 106 sq. km, this Rara National Park definitely instilled the desire in me to come back again to document the flora and fauna.
As the three-day training finished, a couple of us instructors then started our journey to Khaptad National Park. This was an epic trek of 190km as we, crossed valleys, gained and lost a lot of elevation, saw massive changes in vegetation, saw the mighty Karnali river roaring through, new roads constructed but obstructed by landslides, goats used for transporting rice, the influx of house flies in human settlements, and many more. As our visual sensation was being overloaded, we reached Khaptad National Park. Again the amazing change in the terrain, vast expanses of meadows, and rolling hills dominated the landscape with trees like Rhododendrons, Chir Pine, Birch, Mapel, etc. The national park covered 225 sq. km and even though we covered some of it, the flora and fauna were a pleasure to see and document.
As we descended down to the plains there was a unanimous decision to finish the trip with a visit to Bardiya National Park. This was my second visit and even though we had a time constraint we managed to pull off a three-hour safari through the Sal forest and tall grasslands. Bardiya national park as always has been amazing and my second visit being in monsoon, got me to an understanding of how the vegetation and the landscape would look like compared to the dry season.
With three weeks on the road and seeing a lot of flora and fauna, I’ve been able to take pictures and identify some of the species listed below during this trip.
Birds: Black-and-yellow Grosbeak, Green Bee-eater, Scaly-breasted Munia, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, White-winged Grosbeak, White-capped Water Redstart, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Ashy Drongo, Spotted Dove, Oriental Turtle Dove, Mistle Thrush, Striated Laughingthrush, Serpent Eagle, Lesser Whistling-duck, Black-throated Tit, Blue Whistling Thrush, Pitpit, Purple Sunbird, Long-tailed Shrike, Crested Bunting, Black-tailed Shrike, Asian Pied Starling, Emerald Dove, Nepal Sunbird, etc.
Mammals: Golden Jackal, Terai Grey Langur, Spotted Deer, Hog Deer, Wild Boar.
Reptiles: Bull Frog, Rock Agama, Oriental Lizard.
Insects: Millipede, Paris Peacock Butterfly, Indian Cabbage White Butterfly, lots of moths and beetles.
Flora: Thermopsis, Euphorbia longifolia, Geranium, Buttercups, lots of fungi, Walnut tree, Nilkanda (Euphorbia royleana) and various other trees.
As in every trip as a wildlife photographer, I did miss or ended up taking bad pictures of Skink, Monitor lizard, Swamp deer, Verditer Flycatcher, Speckleted Wood Pigeon, Egyptian Vulture, Himalayan Langurs, Dragonflies, snake, etc.
This trip showed me how intensely beautiful, remote, the far west of Nepal is and also got me excited about the possibility of exploring other areas and documenting the flora and fauna. I will be sharing the photos of various species of flora and fauna with you in the days to come so please do visit the site again. Also please do provide your valuable comments and creative feedbacks so that I could improve the blog.
Wishing you all a very good month ahead.
Ajay Narsingh Rana