Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park has long been regarded as Nepal's third biggest attraction after trekking and the Kathmandu Valley. This huge and beautiful nature reserve protects 932 sq km of sal forest, water marshes and rippling grassland. The park is one of the last refuges of the endangered one-horned Indian rhino and there are sizeable populations of tigers, leopards and rare Gangetic dolphins. Many people visit Chitwan on package tours arranged through travel agents in Kathmandu, Pokhara or overseas. This is by far the easiest approach if you plan to stay at one of the upmarket lodges inside the park. A small but lively tourist centre has grown up along the river bank about 6km south of Sauraha Chowk (Tandi Bazaar) on the Mahendra Hwy, with hotels, restaurants, bars, moneychangers, travel agents, Internet cafés and dozens of shops selling the full range of Nepali souvenirs, from pirate CDs to tiger pugmark ashtrays. An incredible range of jungle activities can be arranged and the surrounding countryside is a peaceful patchwork of rice fields and Tharu villages. In fact, there's probably more to do here than at the big, expensive lodges inside the park.
Sagarmatha National Park
Sagarmatha National Park is located to the north-east of Kathmandu in the Khumbu region of Nepal. The park includes the highest peak in the world, Mt. Sagarmatha (Everest), and several other well-known peaks such as Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho Oyu, Pumori, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Kwangde, Kangtaiga and Gyachung Kang. The park was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. The mountains of Sagarmatha National Park are geologically young and broken up by deep gorges and glacial valleys. Vegetation includes pine and hemlock forests at lower altitudes, fir, juniper, birch and rhododendron woods, scrub and alpine plant communities, and bare rock and snow. The famed bloom of rhododendrons occurs during spring (April and May) although other flora is most colorful during the monsoon season (June to August). Wild animals most likely to be seen in the park are the Himalayan tahr, goral, serow and musk deer. The snow leopard and Himalayan black bear are present but rarely sighted. Other mammals rarely seen are the weasel, marten, Himalayan mouse hare (pika), jackal and langur monkey. The park is populated by approximately 3,000 of the famed Sherpa people whose lives are interwoven with tlle teachings of Buddhism. The main settlements are Namohe Bazar, Khumjung, Khunde, Thame, Thyang boche, Pangboche and Phortse. The economy of the Khumbu Sherpa corn munity has traditionally been heavily based on trade and livestock herding. But with the coming of international mountaineering expeditions since 1950 and the influx of foreign trekkers, the Sherpa economy today is becoming increasingly dependent on tourism.
Langtang National Park
Situated in the Central Himalaya, Langtang is the nearest park from Kathmandu. The area extends from 32 km north of Kathmandu to the Nepal-China (Tibet) border. Langtang National Park encloses the catchments of two major river systems: one draining west into the Trisuli River and the other east to the Sun Koshi river. Some of the best examples of graded climate conditions in the Central Himalaya are found here. The complex topography and geography together with the varied climatic patterns have enabled a wide spectrum of vegetation type to be established. These include small areas of subtropical forest (below 1000 m), temperate oak and pine forests at mid-elevation, with alpine scrub and grasses giving way to bare rocks and snow. Oaks, chir pine, maple, fir, blue pine, hemlock, spruce and various species of rhododendron make up the main forest species. Along with the existing forest cover, approx. 25% of the total area provides habitat for a wide range of animals including wild dog, red panda, pika, muntjack, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan tahr, ghoral, serow, rhesus monkey and common langur. The Trisuli-Bhote Koshi forms an important route for birds on spring and autumn migration between India and Tibet. About 45 villagse (846 households=ca. 4500 people) are situated within the park boundaries, but they are not under park jurisdiction. In total, about 3000 households (ca. 16,200 people) depend on the park resources for wood and firewood. Culturally the area is mixed, the home of several ethnic groups which have influenced the natural enviroment over the centuries.
Royal Bardiya National Park
Royal Bardiya National Park is situated in the mid far western Terai, east of the Karnali River. The park is the largest and most undisturbed wildreness area in the Terai. About 70% of the park is covered with dominantly sal forest with the balance a mixture of grassland, savannah and riverine forest. The approximately 1500 people who used to live in this valley have been resettled elsewhere. Since farming has ceased in the Babai Valley, natural vegetation 15 regenerating, making it an area of prime habitat for wildlife. The park provides excellent habitat for endangered animals like the rhinoceros, wild elephant, tiger, swamp deer, black buck, gharial crocodile, marsh mugger crocodile and Gangetic dolphin. Endangered birds include the Bengal florican, lesser florican, silver-eared mesia and Sarus crane. More than 30 different mammals, over 200 species of birds, and many snakes, lizards and fish have been recorded in the park's forest, grassland and river habitats. A good number of resident and migratory birds are found in the park
Shey-Phoksundo National Park
Shey-Phoksundo National Park is situated in the mountain region of western Nepal, covering parts of Dolpa and Mugu Districts. It is the largest national park in the country. The park contains luxuriant forests, mainly comprised of blue pine, spruce, cypress, poplar, deodar, fir and birch. The Jugdula River valley consists mostly of Quercus species. The trans-Himalayan area has a near-desert type vegetation of mainly dwarf juniper and caragana shrubs. The park provides prime habitat for the snow leopard and the blue sheep. Other common animals found in the park are ghoral, Himalayan tahr, serow, leopard, wolf, jackal, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan weasel, Himalayan mouse hare, yellow-throated marten, langur and rhesus monkeys. The park is equally rich in many species of birds, such as the Impeyan pheasant (danphe), blood pheasant, cheer pheasants, red and yellow billed cough, raven, jungle crow, snow partridge and many others.
Rara National Park
Rara National Park is located in north-west Nepal about 371 km air distance from Kathmandu. Most of the park, including Lake Rara, lies in Mugu District; a small area is within Jumla District of Karnali Zone. This is the smallest park in Nepal, containing the country's biggest lake (10.8 sq kms) at an elevation of 2990 m. Park elevations range from 1800 m to 4048 m. The park contains mainly coniferous forest. The area around the lake is dominated by blue pine, black juniper, West Himalayan spruce, oak, Himalayan cypress and other associated species. At about 3350 rn, pine and spruce give way to fir, oak and birch. Deciduous tree species like Indian horse-chestnut, walnut and Himalayan popular are also found. A small portion of the park serves as an ideal habitat for musk deer. Other animals found in the park include Himalayan black bear, leopard, ghoral, Himalayan tahr and wild boar. Snow trout is the only fish species recorded in the lake. Resident Gallinaceous birds and migrant waterfowl are of interest to park visitors. The great-crested grebe, black-necked grebe, and red-crested pochard are seen during winter. Other common birds are the snowcock, chukor partridge, Impeyan pheasant, kalij pheasant and blood pheasant.
Makalu-Barun National Park And Conservation Area
The Park and Conservation Area are situated in the Sankhuwasabha and Solukhumbu Districts, bordered by the Arun River on the east, Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park on the west, the Nepal-China border on the north and the Saune Danda (ridge) to the south. This is the only protected area in Nepal with a strict nature reserve. The park has some of the richest and unique pockets of plants and animals in Nepal, elsewhere lost to spreading human habitation. Stepping up the slopes are a series of vegetation zones starting with tropical sal forests below 1,000 m elevation; subtropical Schima-Castanopsis forests at 1,000-2,000 m, fir/birch/rhododendron forests in the sub-alpine (3,000-4,000 m); and herbs, grasses and rhododendron/juniper shrubs in the alpine pastures (4,000-5,000 m). There are 47 varieties of orchids, 67 species of economically valuable medicinal and aromatic plants, 25 of Nepal's 30 varieties of rhododendron, 19 species of bamboo, 15 oaks including Arkhoulo, 86 species of fodder trees and 48 species of primrose. Over 400 species of birds have been sighted in the Makalu-Barun area, including two species never before seen in Nepal, the spotted wren babbler and the olive ground warbler. Wildlife includes the endangered red panda, musk deer, Himalayan black beer, clouded leopard and possibly the snow leopard, in addition to more subtantial populations of ghoral, Himalayan tahr, wild boar, barking deer, Himalayan marmot and weasel, common langur monkey and the serow. The Arun River system contain 84 varieties of fish. Some 32,000 people inhabit the conservation area.
Royal Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
The Royal Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve is situated in the southern part of Far-Western Nepal in Kanchanpur District. Predominant sal associated with asna, simal, karma, khair and sissoo are found along the riverside. Main grass species of the phantas are Imperate cylindrica and Saccharum heteropogon, used extensively by the local people for thatching. The reserve provides prime habitat for swamp deer. An estimated population of 2,000 to 2,500 of this species is found in the reserve. Other wild animals in the reserve are the wild elephant, tiger, hispid hare, blue bull, leopard, chital, hog deer, and the wild boar. A total of 200 species of birds have been recorded in the reserve. Many grassland birds along with the rare Bengal florican can be seen in the phantas. Marsh mugger, Indian python, monitor lizard and snakes like cobra, krait, and rat snakes are recorded in the reserve.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve lies on the flood plains of the Sapta-Koshi in Saptari and Sunsari Districts of Eastern Nepal. The reserve is defined by the eastern and western embankments of the river. Rapid and complete inundation of the reserve to depths ranging from 10 to 300 cm occurs during the monsoon. The Sapta-Koshi river also changes its course from one season to another. The vegetation is mainly tall kharpater grassland with a few patches of khair-sissoo scrub forest and deciduous mixed riverine forest. The reserve offers important habitat for a variety of wildlife. The last surviving population (about 100) of wild buffalo or ama are found here. Other mammals are the hog deer, wild boar, spotted deer, and the blue bull. The reserve also assists the local economy by providing fishing permits and allowing the collection of edible fruits and ferns in season. A total of 280 different species of birds have been recorded in the reserve. These include 20 species of ducks, two species of ibises, many storks, egrets, herons and the endangered swamp partridge and Bengal florican. The Koshi Barrage is extremely important as a resting place for migratory birds. Many species recorded here are not seen elsewhere in Nepal. The endangered gharial crocodile and Gangetic dolphin have been recorded in the Koshi River.