The geography of Nepal can be divided into mountains, hills and plains. A wide range of the earth’s topography and climate zones are found within its area of 147,181 square kilometers including in it a wide range of ecosystem from subtropical jungles of the Terai to the arctic conditions of Himalayan highlands. Nepal’s rich bio-diversity renders it ideal as an eco-tourism destination. Almost 19 percent of the country’s total land accounts for its sixteen protected wildlife areas across the country. Among these nine are designated as national parks, three are conservation areas, three are wildlife reserves and one is a hunting reserve.
Shivapuri National Park:
Popular as trekking, hiking and recreation area, the Shivapuri National Park offers the nearest retreat away from the hubbub of city life. The park was established as a Watershed and Wildlife Reserve in 1976. The park was declared as a national park in 2002 for the protection of its unique natural adornments. Vegetation varieties in the park include its 129 species of mushrooms while animals include 19 species of mammals including beer, leopard, deer, wildboar, wildcat and langur monkey. The park also boasts of 177 species of birds and 102 species of butterflies. Ideal for short Trekking from Kathmandu and Nagarkot.
Sagarmatha National Park:
The prime object of attraction in the Sagarmatha National Park is Mt. Everest, the peak of the world. The park was added to the list of World Heritage Site in 1979. The park is in Sagarmatha district in the northeastern part of the country. The park, a part of the Himalayan ecological zone, has several other prominent peaks most of which are above 6,000 meters. With most of the park above 3,000 meters, Sagarmatha is full of rugged terrain with deep gorges, glaciers and huge rocks. With its Himalayan terrain and its unique culture, the park offers a blend of natural and cultural tourist products here. The vegetation at lower elevation is dominated by pine and hemlockforests, while above 3,500 meters the forest is dominated with silver fir, birch, rhododendron, and juniper trees. During spring and monsoon the varieties of rhododendron flowers are seen. The common wildlife in the park are Himalayan Tahr, ghoral, musk deer, pikka (mouse hare) weasel, jackal. Other rarely seen animals are Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx, and snow leopard. Birds inhabiting the park are of over 118 species. Common ones among them are the impeyan pheasant (Danphe), blood pheasant, red billed cough, yellow-billed chough, snow cock, snow pigeon, Himalayan griffon, and lammergeyer. The national park also showcases the cultural trophies with the warm Sherpa hospitality and its many monasteries and cultural landmarks. The best time to visit the park is during autumn months October and November and from March to May in summer when the days are warm and clear. Ideal for Trekking, Peak Climbing and Major Climbing Expedition.
Langtang National Park:
Langtang National Park is situated in the Central Himalayan region in Rasuwa district. The highlights of this park are the Langtang range in the north and several lakes in the south. High altitude jungles with diverse vegetation and wildlife, scenic lakes, glaciers and Himalayan peaks combine to make Langtang an attractive destination for visitors. Twenty five percent of the park’s total area is covered by forest, starting at sub-tropical forests below 1,000 meters giving way to alpine scrubs and grasslands toward higher altitude, Animals seen here are wild dog, red panda, pika, muntjac, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan Tahr, ghoral, serow, rhesus monkey, common langur, snow leopard among others. Common birds seen here are tragopan, impeyan, and pheasants(kalij). The Langtang Valley is also renowned its holly Lake Gosainkunda. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit the lake area every year, especially during the Janai Purnima festival every August. Ideal for Trekking, Peak Climbing and Major Climbing Expedition.
Chitwan National Park:
The Chitwan National Park offers a wilderness of rich ecosystem that includes mammals, birds, reptiles and water animals of several kinds. It is little surprising therefore that this is one of the most popular and most frequented parts of the country. Owing toi ts rich adornment of nature the park was declared UNESCO Natural Heritage Site in 1979. The park that includes in its area a part of the Shivialik Hills, is covered with deciduous forests overlooking the flood plains of Narayani, Rapti and Reu rivers. There are around 600 plant species, 50 mammals, 526 birds and 49 amphibians, reptiles found in the park. The highlights, of course, are the 500 Asian one-horned rhinoceros and some I00 nocturnal Royal Bengal tigers that live in the dense forests of the park. Sharing home with these are other animals like rhesusmonkey, grey langur, deer, leopards, white stockinged gaur, wild boar, wild dogs and wild cats. Among reptiles are different kinds of snakes including the python, while the river areas breed amphibians like the endangered snouted gharial popularly known as Gangetic Crocodile and marsh crocodiles. The forest is alive during summer with the arrival of migrant birds paradise flycatcher, lndian pitta and parakeets, while winter birds include waterfowl, Brahminy ducks, pintails, bar-headed geese, cormorants and migratory birds from Siberia. Other bird varieties are woodpeckers, hornbills, peacocks, peahens, floricans and redheaded trogons. A rare attraction of the park is the world’s fresh water dolphin variety sometimes seen in River Narayani. Another factor adding a distinct touch to the Chitwan experience is the colorful Tharu culture. There are also sites of religious and historical importance at Devghat, Pandavnagar, Balmiki Ashram and Kapilaspur. The best time to visit Chitwan is September to March. Ideal for Jungle Safari.
Bardia National Park:
The Bardia National Park is the largest and most undisturbed protected area in the Terai and is home to the endangered Royal Bengal tiger and Nepal’s famous one-horned rhinoceros. The national park located in the far western district of Bardiya, is bordered by River Karnali in the west, the Churia range in the north, while the River Babai flows right through the park. The varied geographical factors together with the thick cover of Sal, savannah forests and grasslands render this region ideal as wild animal habitat. The park hosts 30 different mammals, more than 250 species of birds, and several varieties of reptiles and water animals. Some of the other animals found here are elephant, swamp deer, blackbuck, gharial crocodile and marsh mugger crocodile. The exotic Gangetic Dolphin is also sometimes seen in River Karnali. Birds include endangered varieties of Bengal florican, lesser florican, silver-eared mesia and sarus crane. The park offers the rare opportunity of fishing at River Karnali and River Babai. The best time to visit the park is autumn, winter and early summer when the weather is warm and dry. Ideal for Jungle Safari.
Makalu Barun National Park:
The specialties of the Makalu Barun National Park are the Himalayan endowments of culture and nature. One of the prime attractions for visitors to the park is its offer to experience the unique Himalayan bio diversity. The park spreads over the districts of Sankhuwasabha and Solukhumbu in northeast Nepal and is marked by the Nepal Tibet border in the north. The vegetation range from sub-tropical forests to sub alpine and alpine as altitude increase. The park boasts of 47 species of orchids, 67 species of medicinal herbs, 25 of Nepal’s 30 varieties of rhododendron, 19 bamboo species, 15 oak species, 48 species of primrose and 86 species of fodder trees. The park also offers bird-watching opportunities with its 400 species of birds, including the rare spotted wren babbler and the olive ground warbler. Wildlife include the endangered red panda, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, clouded leopard tops, ghoral, tahr, wild boar, barking deer, Himalayan marmot, weasel, langur monkey and serow. River Arun that flows through the park has 84 varieties of fish including salmon. Ideal for Trekking, Peak Climbing and Major Climbing Expedition.
Shey-Phoksundo National Park:
The Shey Phoksundo National Park is the largest national park and one of the few areas protecting trans Himalayan ecology. With diverse terrain and altitude variation, the park spreads over; Dolpa and Mugu districts and supports a broad range of wildlife and vegetation. Geographical landmarks of the park are the Himalayan peaks in the north and Lake Phoksundo, in the southern region. Vegetation include pine, walnut, willow, oak, poplar and cypress in the lower altitude and pine, spruce, juniper and birch at higher regions. Barberries, wild roses and caragana are seen in alpine areas while the regions higher up are mostly and with grass alpine meadows with barely any trees. The park contains 286 flora species of botanical importance, Animals found in the region are sheep, ghoral, musk deer, leopard, wild dog, marmot, weasel, mouse hare, rhesus and langur monkeys, Himalayan thar, Himalayan black bear and jackals. In the upper reaches is seen the rare snow leopard. Over 200 species of birds including yellow-throated marten, Tibetan partridge, wood snipe, white-throated tit, wood accentor, and crimson-eared rose finch are found in the park. Other species of birds found here are Impeyan, cheer pheasant, chough, ravens, Tibetan snow cock, Tibetan twit, brown dipper, Himalayan griffon and lammergeyer. Apart from these, the park is home to six species of reptiles and 29 species of butterfly. The best time to visit this park is between April and November. Ideal for Trekking.
Khaptad National Park:
Khaptad National Park in West Nepal has gained religious significance as the home of Khaptad Swami, the renowned hermit. The park with rolling hills of grasslands and forests of sub-tropical, temperate and sub alpine vegetation, is also a rich natural habitat. The park boasts of 224 species of medicinal herbs. The park also offers excellent bird watching opportunities, with 270 species of birds, the common ones being different varieties of Impheyan Pheasant, partridges, flycatchers, bulbuls, cuckoos and eagles. Animals in the park are barking deer, wild boar, ghoral, Himalayan black bear, yellow-throated marten, rhesus monkey and langur monkey. Khaptad National Park also offers religious sightseeing at Tribeni on the way to its headquarters. There are several historical temples surrounding this area and an annual celebration of Ganga Dashhara is held here every Jestha Purnima. Another religious site is Sahara Linga at 3,200 meters, the highest point of the park. Other religious areas in the park include Ganesh Temple, Nagdhunga, and Kedardhunga. These areas, are ideal places for meditation. Toward the northeast of the park is Khaptad Lake where a festival is held every August and September. Ideal for Trekking.
Rara National Park:
The little Rara National Park in the far northwestern part of the country offers a representative sample of the region’s flora and fauna. Sprawled over Mugu and Jumla districts the heart of the park is the country’s biggest lake, Lake Rara, from where the park gets its name. The lake is as deep as 167 meters at some places, and drains into the River Mugu Karnali via Nijar Khola. The park is mainly covered with coniferous forest while the area around the lake is dominated by blue pine. Rhododendron, juniper, spruce, oak and cypress are found around 3,000 meters while at higher altitude pine, spruce and fir are more common. The rich vegetation of the park is a home to the endangered red panda, muskdeer, Himalayan black bear, leopard, jackal, Himalayan Tahr, wild yellow-throated martin, wild dog, wild boar, common langur, rhesus macaque and common otter. During winter the park abounds in bird varieties like coots, great-crested grebe, black-necked grebe, redcrestedpochard, mallard, commonteal, merganserand gulls. Migrant waterfowls and gallinaceous birds can also be seen during certain seasons. As for water life in the lake, the snow trout is the only fish recorded sofar. The best time to visit the park is autumn, spring and summer. Ideal for Trekking.
- Annapurna Conservation Area:
The Annapurna Conservation Area has been claimed as one of the best trekking areas in the world. It is also the most visited trekking area in the country. The area spreads around Kaski, Mustang, Manang and Lamjung districts of western Nepal. Beginning 790 meters, the area reaches as high as 8,091 meters of Mt. Annapurna. Ghandruk is the first experience and further down is Ghorepani that provides fantastic panoramic view of the Annapurna ranges. Equally eye catching are hills of rhododendron that blossom every spring. The turning point of the Annapurna Circuit is Jomsom. The trek southeast from Jomsom, leads to the scenic Tilicho Lake area at an altitude of 4,919 meters. In the circuit route, is the famous Hindu religious sites Muktinath Temple. The vegetation in this region includes various species of orchids and rhododendron. Wildlife includes around I00 different kinds of mammals including rare snow leopards and blue sheep. The region also boasts of around 478 species of birds including multi-colored Impheyan, Koklas and blood pheasants. In addition the region is also home to 39 species of reptiles and 22 species of amphibians. Best time to visit the park is between October and November. The best gateway to the region is Pokhara in Kaski district of west Nepal. Ideal for Trekking, Peak Climbing and Major Climbing Expedition.
- Manaslu Conservation Area:
The Manaslu area in Gorkha district is a classic setting to experience pristine mountain nature and culture. With proposed plans for conserving the heritages of the area, it is also an ideal place for village tourism experience that Nepal is famous for. The conservation area starts at 600 meters and is crowned by the eight highest peak in the world Mt. Manaslu at 8,163 meters. The region is home to 29 species of mammals including snow leopard, musk deer and Himalayan Thar. There are over 20 species of birds and three species of reptiles. Vegetation includes 200 species of plants, more than 50 of which are useful for various purposes. Ideal for Trekking, Peak Climbing and Major Climbing Expedition.
- Kanchanjunga Conservation Area:
The Kanchanjunga Conservation Area belt lies below Mt. Kanchanjunga. The region with its alpine grasslands, rocky outcrops, low river valleys, temperate and sub-tropical forests is situated in Taplejung district that borders with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The region has been selected as one of the 200 Global eco regions. Ten species among Nepal’s 20 indigenous gymnosperms and 15 among Nepal’s 28 endemic flowering plants are found in this region. In addition, almost 30 varieties of rhododendron species and 69 varieties of orchids are found here. The area is splashed With colors every spring with wild displays of rhododendrons, orchids, lilies, primula and other flowers. Wildlife includes endangered snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, musk deer, red panda, blue sheep and rhesus macaw. About 202 species of different birds including Impheyan pheasant, red-billed blue magpie, shy drongo are found in the area. Ideal for Trekking, Peak Climbing and Major Climbing Expedition.
- Annapurna Conservation Area:
- Parsa Wildlife Reserve:
The Parsa Wildlife Reserve provides a rare opportunity to experience the nature and culture to Nepal’s Terai. Spread over parts of Chitwan, Makawanpur, Parsa and Bara districts, a considerable part of the Churia Hills of Central Nepal also falls in the region lending it an air of a more diverse terrain. The vegetation is tropical and sub-tropical mostly covered with Sal forests, while the hills are covered with chir pine. Khair, sissau and silk cotton are found along water areas. The reserve provides good habitat for animals like wild elephant, tiger, leopard, sloth bear, gaur, blue bull and wild dog. Other common animals in the reserve are sambar, chiral, hog deer, barking deer, langur monkey, rhesus macaques, striped hyena, rat, palrn civet and jungle cat. There are 527 species of birds found in the reserve, one being the endangered great hornbill found in certain parts of the forest. Other bird species include peafowl, red jungle fowl, flycatchers and woodpeckers. Birds and animals apart the reserve also habitats snakes like king cobra, common cobra, krait, rat snake and python. Ideal for Jungle Safari.
- Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve:
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve has carved a place for itself as a birdwatcher’s paradise. The reserve spreads over Saptari and Sunsari districts in East Nepal, defined by the eastern and western embankments of River Koshi, The reserve had been recognized as a Wetland site from 1987. The vegetation of the reserve is mainly grassland with patches of scrub and deciduous reverine forests. What makes Koshi Tappu special is that many birds seen here are not found in other parts of Nepal. The reserve has recorded around 439 species of bird variety, some of which fly aII the way from Siberia during winter. A wide variety of ducks, herons, storks, egrets, ibis are seen on the riverbanks. Koshi Tappu Reserve also has one of the few elephant stables of Asia. Other animals found here are wild buffalo, wild boar, hog deer, spotted deer, blue bell and jackal. Gharial crocodile and Gangetic dolphin are other attractions. The best time to visit Koshi Tappu is between October and March. Ideal for Bird-watching.
- Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve:
The open grasslands and numerous waterholes of the Shukla Phanta render it an ideal setting for game viewing and jungle safari for visitors. The Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve in Kanchanpur district in West Nepal falls on the Indo-Nepal border near Mahendranagar. The park is a vast expanse of plain grasslands and Sal forests, while marsh vegetation is found along rivers and lakes. The park that was originally reserved as a hunting area was later converted to wildlife reserve to protect swamp deer. The reserve now shelters almost 2,000 swamp deer, around 50 wild elephants and 30 tigers. Other animals found here are spotted deer, blue bulls, barking deer, hog deer, wild boars, leopards, jackals, langurs and rhesus monkeys. Among birds the reserve provides habitat to sarus crane, swamp francolin, grass owl, warblers, flycatchers, and the endangered Bengal Florican. Reptile species include marsh mugger, crocodile, cobra and python. Ideal for Jungle Safari.
- Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve:
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is the only area in Nepal where licensed hunting is allowed. The reserve adjoins Myagdi district and Baglung district, just below the Dhaulagiri range in east Nepal. Spreading over an area of 1,325 sq. kilometers the reserve begins at 3,000 meters reaching as high as 7,000 meters. Trees like fir, pine, birch, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, juniper and spruce are available in the reserve. One of the prime attractions for hunters is the blue sheep, which is abundant in the area. Hunters also get pheasants and partridges in viable populations for hunting. Other animals found here are leopard, ghoral, serow, HimalayanTahr, Himalayan black bear, barking deer, wild boar, rhesus macaque, langur and mouse hare. Endangered animals in the reserve are musk deer, wolf, red panda, cheer pheasant and Danphe. The gateway to the region is Tansen in Gulmi district of mid west Nepal. Ideal for Hunting.