Nature Tours @ RhododendronRhododendrons
During spring March to may Rhododendron blooms can be seen in all the hilly regions of Nepal above 1,200 m altitude. More specifically, the mid mountain vertical belt between 2,000 and 4,000 m serves as the wild preserve of the rhododendron, or GURANS and GHIMAL, the two words used in Nepal.There are four major areas for Rhododendron treks-1. Milke Danda- Jaljale Himal, a transverse mountain range which separates the two river systems of the Tamur and the Arun2. Upper Tamur River valley3. Makalu Barun National park and conservation area and4. closer to Kathmandu the langtang valley inside langtang National park.Nepal has 30 indigenous species of Rhododendron, and one which is endemic to Nepal and not found elsewhere, is R lowndesit. It has lemon or creamy yellow flowers, which are short well shaped and are solitary or in pairs on the stem. It grows in the drier areas of western Nepal near Muktinath and Phoksundo.A Rhododendron trek to the Upper Tamur River would consist of a flight to Bhadrapur then a drive to Ilam. Ilam is the well known tea production centre and could include some interesting side trips to tea plantations. From Ilam a trek can start to the south west side of the Kanchanjunga area and the system. Very grand sightings of Rhododendron can be assured in this region.And closer to Kathmandu, dhunche at 2,000 meters is a 5/6 hour drive away. Trekking can start here to the upper areas of the langtang valley. Nine species of Rhododendron can be seen in this region.The best time is late march to mid June, and in addition to the Rhododendron, spring blooms of wild poppy, angnolia and primrose will make the trek a memorable one. Botany or flora trekking requires the same exuipment, guides, porters and fitness as normal trekking in Nepal. The usual precautions need to be taken, and respect for the environment needs to be uppermost in the minds of the trekkers.