NATIONAL PARKS, WILDLIFE RESERVES & CONSERVATION AREAS


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 sub¬tropical jungles of theTerai 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 wildlife reserves, three are conservation areas and one is a hunting reserve.



ANNAPURNA CONSERVATION AREA



The Annapurna Conservation Area has been claimed as one of the best trekking areas in the world. lt is also the most visited trekking area in the country. The area spreads around Kaski, Mustang, Manang and Lamjung districts of Central 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 100 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 mid west Nepal. Pokhara is easily accessible by air or by land from Kathmandu, All tourist facilities like food and accommodation are available at Pokhara.

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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 West 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, Himalayan Tahr, 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.The reserve headquarters Dhorpatan is a three-day-trek away from Tansen. The best time to visit the reserve is in the spring months of March and April.

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KANCHANJUNGA CONSERVATION AREA



Kanchanjunga Conservation Area belt lies below Mt. Kanchanjunga. The region with its alpine grasslands, rocky outcrops, and low river valleys, temperate and sub¬tropical forests is situated in Taplejung district that borders with the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. The KCA has been selected as one of the 200 Global eco regions recognized by World Wildlife Fund. 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 Lmpheyan pheasant, red-billed blue magpie, and shy drongo are found in the area. The region can be reached via Basantapur in Dhankuta district or Birtamod in Jhapa district. The area can also be reached through Dharan, which is 40 kilometers north from Biratnagar. Yet another option is to fly to Biratnagar and then to Sukhetar in Taplejung district from where the region can be trekked. Tourist facilities are available in Dharan, Dhankuta and Siratnagar

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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 grass lands and forests of subtropical, 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 head quarters. There are several historical temples surrounding this area and an annual celebration of Ganga Dashhara is held here every Jestha Purnirna. 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. The easiest way to reach Khaptad National Park is via Nepalgunj in West Nepal. Daily buses and airplanes to Nepalgunj are available from Kathmandu and other cities. From Nepalgunj one can drive to Silgadhi in Doti district, from where the park entrance isa six-hour hike from this area.


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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 all 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. Regular bus services are available from Kathmandu and other major cities. The reserve can be accessed from Laukahi on the East West Highway. From this point the park headquarters at Kusaha is only three kilometers away. Another option is to fly to Biratnagar and then drive to Laukahi or Prakashpur.


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LANGTANG NATIONAL PARK



Langtang National Park is situated in the Central Himalayan region in Rasuwa l 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. I 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, pica, 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. The easiest way to reach Langtang National Park via Dhunche in Rassuwa district, which is a six to seven hours drive away from the capital. From Dhunche. It takes about three days of trekking to reach Langtang Valley. The Park is also accessible from Sundarijal toward the east of Kathmandu and Melarnchi Pul, about three-hour drive from Kathmandu.


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MAKALU BARUN NATIONAL PARK



I the specialties of the Makalu Barun National Park are the Himalayan endowments l 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. The best way to reach the park from Kathmandu is to fly to the airstrip nearest to the area and then trek onward. Nearby airstrips are at Lukla. Phaplu, Bhojpur, Lamidanda and Tumlingtar.The park is about 4-6 cays trek from almost all here places. Another option is 10 drives to Jiri and then trek to Makalu Barun Park through Sagarrnatha National Park,


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MANASLU CONSERVATION AREAS



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 I 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 Tahr. 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. The entrance to Manaslu Conservation Area is at Arughat between Gorkha and Dhading. Arughat can be reached by bus or car in about five to seven hours from Kathmandu. Another entrance is at Daraundi in Gorkha from where the normal route can be reached hiking via Sirdiwas.


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PARSA WILDLIFE RESERVE


I The Pars Wildlife Reserve provide 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 oftheChuria Hills of Central Nepal also falls in the region lending it an air of a more diverse terrain. The vegetation is tropical and I sub tropical mostly covered with Sal forests, while the hills are covered with chir pine. Khair, sissoo 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, chital, hog deer, barking deer, langur monkey, rhesus macaques, striped hyena, rat, palm 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. Parsa Wildlife Reserve is one of the easiest places to reach. The reserve headquarter Adhabar is and eight-hour drive from the capital city and falls on the East-West Mahendra Highway. Another option is to fly to Simra in Bara district, from where the reserve headquarters is only seven kilometers away.


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RARA NATIONAL PARK


I 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, I and drains into the River Mugu Karnali via NijarKhola. 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, musk deer, 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,

Red crested pochard, mallard, common teal, merganser and 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 so far. The best time to visit the park is autumn, spring and summer. The best way to reach Rara National Park is from Jumla in Jumla district connected to the capital by air. From Jumla the park is a two-and-half days trek away. Another option is via Surkhet which is connected to the capital by air and by road. From here one can drive up to Dailekh and then trek onward.


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ROYAL BARDIA NATIONAL PARK



The Royal 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, black buck, 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. The best way to reach the Royal Bardia National Park is via Nepalgunj in Banke district. Nepalgunj is connected by air and by road to the capital and other cities in the west. The park's headquarters Thakurdwara is approximately an hour's drive away from the Nepalgunj- Surkhet road. Another option to reach the park is from Birendranagar in Surkhet district which is also connected by air; to Kathmandu.


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ROYAL CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK



The Royal 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 to its 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 Shivlalik Hills is covered with deciduous forests over looking the floodplains 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 100 nocturnal Royal Bengal tigers that live in the dense forests of the park. Sharing home with these are other animals like rhesus monkey, grey langur, deer, leopards, white stocking 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, Indian pitta and parakeets, while winter birds include waterfowl. Brahminy ducks. Pintails geese cormorants and migratory birds from Siberia. Other bird varieties are woodpeckers, hornbills. Peacock floricans and redheaded trogons. A rare attract ion of the park is the world's fresh water dolphin variety swim in river Narayani. Another factor adding a distinct touch to the Chitwan experience is the colorful Tharu culture. There are o sites of religious and historical importance at Devghat, Pandavnagar, Balmiki Ashram and Kabilaspur. The best time to it Chitwan is September to March. Chitwan is easy to reach from Kathmandu, Pokhara and from other parts of the country. Daily glights to Meghauli and Bharatpur are available from Kathmandu and Pokhara. It is also connected by road to the capital and other major cities in the country.


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ROYAL SHUKLAPHANTA WILDLIFE RESERVE



The open grasslands and numerous waterholes of the Royal Shukla Phanta render it an ideal setting for game viewing and jungle safari for visitors. The Royal 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

•serve 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, languor id rhesus monkeys. Among birds the reserve provides habitat to sarus crane, swamp francolin, grass owl, warblers, fly catchers, and the endangered Bengal Florican, Reptile species include marsh mugger, crocodile, cobra and python. The reserve can be reached by driving to Mahendranagar, from where the reserve headquarter is only eight kilometers south, another option is to fly to Dhangadi from the capital and then drive to the park via Mahendranagar.


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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 hemlock forests, 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 ire seen. The common wildlife in the park is Himalayan Tahr, ghoral, musk deer, pikka (mouse hare) weasel, jackal. Other rarely seen animals are Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx, and snowleopard. Birds inhabiting the parkare 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. The best way to reach the Sagarmatha National Park is to fly to Lukla from where the national park is only two days trek away. Another opt ion is to go via Jiri or Tumlingtar. From both these places the national park is a 10 to 12 days trek away. Except for a few helicopter landing strips, most part of the national park is inaccessible and can only be explored by walking..


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SHEY-PHOKSUNDO NATIONAL PARK



IT h e S h e y Phoksundo National Park is the largest national I 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 includes pine, walnut, willow, oak, poplar and cypress in the lower altitude and pine, spruce, juniper and birch at higher regions. Berberis, wild rosea and caragana are seen in alpine areas while the regions higher up are mostly arid 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, and rhesus and languor monkeys. Himalayan tahr, 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. The best way to reach the park is through Juphal which is connected by flight from Nepalgunj. The park is a half-day trek away from Juphal. Another option is flying to Jumla from where the park is a 10 to 12 days trek.


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