The Sudurpaschim province, the far-western region, is one of Nepal’s best-kept secrets. It is raw, untouched and extremely beautiful. This place has it all – from mountains to meadows, from wildlife to wilderness. It is a region that is so underrated that it hardly sees any tourists.
The place has mountains, lakes, temples, jungles and plains. In one province, you get to witness everything that Nepal has to offer. It is an area where time has stood still and if you are a foreigner or a Nepali who likes travelling to new places, this will show you the other side of Nepal that you do not get to see when travelling to Everest, Langtang or Annapurna regions.
Here are some places that you should go visit when you are in the region.
1. Ghodaghodi Lake
Let’s start from the plains. The Ghodaghodi lake is in the southern region of the Sudurpaschim province and is the largest lake in the province. The place is a gem for people who love solitude. It is also an ideal place for bird watching as it is home to around 140 bird species including the crested serpent eagle, grey-headed eagle, pochard and darter. Nearby, there are 13 other shallow lakes and ponds that create a unique landscape. Apart from birds, if lucky, you will get to see other wild animals too like the otter, gharial and the Bengal tiger.
2. Shuklaphanta National Park
West from the Ghodaghodi lake is the Shuklaphanta National Park, which is probably the largest grassland in the Sudurpaschim region. Home to the swamp deers, this national park is one of the prettiest national parks in the country. Like the lake, the national park also sees a lot of migratory birds and is also home to elephants, tigers and gharials.
Back in the 70s, the area was a hunting ground for the royals of Nepal, but things have changed as it is a protected zone now. The jungle and the park are not fully explored, which is why you find researchers and zoologists exploring. Apart from that, the place is also home to Rana Tharus, one of the earliest inhabitants of the Terai. So why not stay at their homestay and learn about their culture?
3. Khaptad National Park
This is the heart and soul of the Sudurpaschaim province. This hilly plateau is the most popular place in the region. The air here is fresh and the terrain is lush green as if it were a carpet. There is a lot of flora and fauna in the Khaptad area as you will probably see musk deer, wild boar, and different birds like the chyakhura, kalij and danphe. A combination of green forest and meadows gives the place a calming atmosphere. Once there, be sure to go to the Khaptand lake and the Triveni Dham.
The best time to go is probably in the winter when there are white patches of snow in the green meadows that add additional beauty to the place.
4. Ramaroshan area
Out of all the places in the Sudurpaschim province, this is arguably the most underrated area. Located in the Achham district, there are 12 lakes in the conservation area along with 18 meadows that give the place a unique landscape. From here, you also get views of mountains like Saipal and Api along with the Budhigankadi river basin. It is also home to tall cliffs that the locals climb to harvest honey.
There is something ancient about Badimalika. Maybe it is the landscape or maybe it is just the fact that it is a holy site, Badimalika is a must-visit place if you ever visit the Sudurpaschim Province. The scenery changes every season too. During the spring and monsoon, it is lush green while during the autumn, the green grass turns brown. In the winter, the place becomes even pretty with patches of snow all over the hills and meadows. There are a few lakes around too. The place is ideal for trekkers.
6. Api Nampa Conservation Area
This is the crown jewel for trekkers as this is one of the prettiest conservation areas in Nepal. Api Nampa is the youngest conservation area in the country and may be due to that, it is one of the most preserved ones. As it is nestled in the northwest side of the country, it is untouched. The valley between Mount Api and Mount Nampa is one of the best parts of the conservation area as it is full of meadows, oak trees and coniferous forests. Animals like the snow leopard are quite common in the area too. You might also see the Byash community that still practices a nomadic lifestyle. The best time to get to this place in the Sudurpaschim province is autumn.
7. Mount Saipal
Mount Saipal in Sudurpaschim is quite popular among a niche group of climbers and trekkers. Getting to the Saipal base camp is not easy, but it is totally worth it. Walking on empty trails with a small group of people and sleeping on tents enjoying the night sky is what you should expect from this trek. It takes you past the Bhajhang district, past dense forests and a few local settlements. The best time to trek this region is between mid of October to the end of November, the festive months of Nepal, as the harvest has cleared fields to camp. The trek is quite challenging because it is less popular among tourists, is raw and unexplored. There are no facilities for lodging, and the trekkers have to be self-sufficient with tents and other logistics so do not venture out there alone.
8. Surma Sarovar
Surma Sarovar is one of the hidden gems in the Sudurpaschim region. Located at an altitude of 4,300 metres, the trail to get there is not easy. You walk past high ridges that you get to by crossing passes and also get to walk past small lakes and ponds along with meadows with mountains like Jethi Bahurani. The lake is quite holy too as people consider it an option to the holy Mansarovar lake in Tibet.
9. Budhinanda Tal
An isolated lake in the middle of nowhere is another trek that is not for the faint-hearted. It takes around 13 days to complete. Walking steep cliffs and the base of hills of Sudurpaschim, this tough trek will test both your body and mind. Every year people get lost here so do not venture out alone and take a local along if you can. That way, you can enjoy the views that the place offers. The best time to go here is during Janai Purnima when a large group of pilgrims from the district go there. But, locals say that visiting the place during autumn is also good given you take a local along.