The Betana Wetland Area, also known as Betana Simsar, is a popular regional tourist attraction of Eastern Nepal located on Belbari municipality in Morang district. It is about 15 km from Itahari and can be easily reached by local vehicles or auto-rickshas. Betana wetland is at an altitude of about 123 meters above sea level and has a land coverage of 5.5 ha. This wetland features a scenic landscape including a lake, saal (shorearobusta)trees, and also is a habitat to various endangered flora and fauna of Nepal. This place is famous mainly among the local people as an ideal destination for spending some peaceful time in nature, carrying out refreshing recreational activities, boating, as a picnic spot and is also favored by couples for spending some moment together.
This wetland is designed and managed in a very attracting and captivating way to attract a same visitor more than once. Betana wetland region is also rich in its biodiversity and is home to many endangered plants and animals such as tortoise, fishes, variety of birds, and a collection of indigenous and rare flora and faunas. A zoo has been constructed inside the area and other statues and structures like bridges have been added to make the whole area more attractive. The forest area of this wetland is around 175 ha and it is a part of the popular Char Kose Jhadi jungle. The major portion of the forests is covered by saal trees, khair-sisoo trees and a mixed forest. A small portion of the forest area is filled with tombstones of the Kirati people. The huge forest area is home to different species of flora and fauna including some species that are rare in the whole world.The pond’s depth varies from 0.5 to 1.5 m during the dry season to 1 to 2.5 m during the monsoon season. Fishing is strictly banned inside the terrain and feeding fish for fun is a common practice here. A glimpse of rare tortoise can be seen sometimes, if one gets too lucky. Similarly, the marshland region is home to a variety of birds species including migratory birds. A total of 49 different species of birds have been said to be reported from this wetland area. This profusion of green lush vegetation along with beautiful lake and wetland herbs and shrubs creates a captivating view while adding to the ecological importance of the region.
The opposite side of the entrance of Betana wetland houses various small food shops that provide a variety of local and delicious food items such as buff sukuti, pork sekuwa, thukpa, locally crafted beverages, etc. Inside the wetland area certain portions are divided into picnic spots, perches and restrooms. The wetland can be easily assessed as its entry ticket price costs Nrs 20 and other amenities such as boating and picnic spots reservation can also be under a fair amount not exceedingly more than five hundred.
Local people, community forests groups, civil authorities are committed in creating a more widely recognized image of the wetland as a tourism hub and a conservation site for flora and fauna and aims to get explored by a greater number of national as well as international tourists. Their wish has been fulfilled to a certain level as it was visited by an average of 1500 people per day generating an average income of Nrs 1.5 crore. However, they believe that more efforts should be given in order to identify unrecognized flora and fauna and introduce research and expansion programs. Taking this into account, the local as well as provincial government has been planning and implementing various techniques and ideas to form a more attractive tourism spot while creating a ecosystem rich in biodiversity.
-Article written by: Ujjwal Bhetwal for Land Nepal
Ant statue on Betana wetland