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   National Parks in Nepal


Bardiya National Park


The Bardia National Park is situated on the eastern banks of the Karnali River, about 400 kms west of Kathmandu. The park is 968 sq kms in area and extends from the Churia hills southward to the gentle slopes of the "Bhabhar'. The higher grounds of the Churia have dry deciduous forest of mostly hardwood sal. The porous slopes of the Bhabhar support large open grasslands known locally as 'Phantas'. These are some of the last remaining grasslands that once covered much of the Gangetic plains.

The western end of the Bardia is bounded by numerous waterways of the Karnali that have created many large and small gravel islands. These islands and much of the lower ground area covered by a mosaic of grassland and riverine forest of acacia, sisam and the large buttressed silk cotton trees. In spring, the silk cotton blooms and the forest come alive with scarlet flowers.

Bardia is the home of a wide variety of animals, many of which live in and around the Phantas. These open grasslands such as Baghora and Lamkoili are the best places to view animals. The most conspicuous of which is the spotted deer. Other ungulates include black buck, hog deer, samber deer, wild boar and barasingha or swamp deer. Two species of monkeys, the langur and the rhesus macaque are also present. The park is famous for its small herds of wild elephants that are rarely seen. The park also boasts a small population of the rare gharial, the marsh mugger crocodile and the Gangetic dolphin. The island of the Karnali River harbours the sub-continent's largest antelope species, the nilgai or blue bull. The Karnali and Babai rivers attract a large number of wintering waterfowl along with resident species such as herons, kingfishers and wall creepers. More than 350 bird species have been recorded in Bardia, truly a bird watcher's paradise.

Access:
To reach Bardia, take the daily flight or public bus from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, from where it is a 5 hours drive to the park office at Thakurdwara. This nature sanctuary is best visit form October to April.


Chitwan National Park


Chitwan National Park, situated in southern central Nepal, covers an area of 932 sq. kms. It is 146 kms from Kathmandu and is covered with deciduous forests overlooking the floodplains of Narayani, Rapti and Reu rivers. There are many resorts, hotels and jungle lodges in the park for accommodation. This park was declared UNESCO Natural Heritage Site in 1979.

This famous park offers a wilderness of rich ecosystem that includes mammals, birds, reptiles and water animals of several kinds. The main highlights of this park are the Asian one-horned rhinoceros and some hundred nocturnal Royal Bengal tigers that live in the dense forests of the park. You will discover a lost world of towering trees and twisting vines, pre-historic rhinos and lumbering elephants, crocodiles, pythons and deer; brilliantly colored birds and if you are fortunate - the superb Royal Bengal Tiger. Sharing home with these are other animals like rhesus monkey, grey langur, deer, leopards and wild cats etc. Another most important factor adding to the Park experience is the colorful Tharu Culture, their way of living, tradition and heart-touching Tharu Dance. Here you can experience many jungle activities likes Elephant Safari, Jungle/Nature Walk, Bird Watching, Camping & Hiking, Fishing, Visit to Crocodile Breeding Center, bird-watching, Boating/Canoeing Trip,etc.

Access:
Chitwan is easily accessible from Kathmandu, being well connected by a national highway to Bharatpur and to Sauraha. There are daily fights from October through May to Meghauli airstrip just outside the park boundary. Another exciting alternative is a two to three day raft trip down the Trishuli River to Narayanghat or directly into the western edge of the park.
Visitors can stay in one of the several lodges and camps inside or outside the park. Visitors can actively participate in exciting stalks through the forest looking for animal’s signs. One unique Chitwan experience is elephant back safaris in search of the one-horned rhinoceros, leopard, deer, bear, monkey and crocodile. Few visitors can ever forget the excitement of crashing through 20 feet high elephant grass and sightseeing wildlife. Apart from elephant safaris, the traveler will be happily occupied for several days with nature walks, canoe rides down the Park Rivers, and land-over drives through the forest.


Khaptad National Park


Khaptad National Park in west Nepal is home of Late Khaptad Swami, the renowned scholar and hermit. The park with rolling hills of grasslands and forests of subtropical, temperate and sub alpine vegetation is also a rich natural habitat. The park boasts of 224 species of medicinal herbs and offers excellent bird watching opportunities, with 270 species of birds, the common ones being different varieties of impeyan 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. The 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 Sahashra Linga at 3,200 m, 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. Towards the northeast of the park is Khaptad Lake where a festival is held every August and September.

Activities: Trekking
Accommodation: Camping
Access: Fly to Dipayal from Nepalgunj and then a three-day walk
Best Season: Mar-May and Oct-Nov (10-20 degrees Celsius); Jun-Sep (rainy),
Dec-Feb (snow)


Langtang National Park


Langtang is one of the most unspoiled national parks of Nepal. Situated North of Kathmandu, it is the most easily accessible highland sanctuary from the capital. Langtang covers 1,710 sq. km. forming the upper catchment areas of two of Nepal's largest river systems - the Trishuli and Koshi. There is great latitudinal variation, starting at 1,500 m. and ascending to the top of Mt. Langtang Lirung at 7,234 m. As a result the park has immense ecological diversity. Some of the most attractive areas of the park include the Langtang Valley, the holy lakes at Gosainkunda, and the forested hillsides above the village of Helambu.

The deep gorges of Bhote Koshi and Langtang Khola are thickly forested with rhododendron, oak, maple and alder. The red panda, a rare and threatened symbol of a healthy Himalayan ecosystem, inhabits the stretch of forest around Ghoda Tabela in the lower Langtang Valley and below Gosainkunda. Other animals, common to these forests are wild boar, Himalayan black bear, ghoral, grey langur monkey and leopard. The rare Himalayan hony guide has been sighted here and the park is also the home for Impeyan, Tragopan and kalij pheasants among others. Larch, a rare deciduous conifer, is also found in the forest of lower Langtang Valley. Further up, Himalayan tahr, musk deer and snow leopard can be found. The upper Langtang Valley is one of he few known breeding grounds of the ibils bills besides the Tibetan snow cock and snow partridge.

Like other Himalayan nature parks, Langtang has to be explored on foot. There are several possible trails to choose from depending on preference and time available. The langtang Valley is easily approached from Dhunche town and park office, which is a day's drive from Kathmandu. The upper reaches of Langtang can be reached in four days of easy walking, however, it is advisable to spend a few days around the forest at Ghoda Tabela to watch for the red panda. Once above Langtang village and the monastery at Kyangin, visitors can explore the high valley of Langshisa Yala peak and Tsero, Ri. People of Tibetan descent inhabit these and other villages of upper Langtang whereas the villagers of Dhunche, Bharkhu and Syabru further down are home to the Tamangs of Nepal's middle hills.

Access:
The high pass out of Langtang, Gang la (5,132m), can be negotiated only by well-prepared hikers with guides, food and camping equipment. The Gosainkunda can also be reached in a few days from Dhunche, making it possible to visit both areas in the same outing.

Alternatively, trekkers can hike to Gosainkunda from Sundarijal in the Kathmandu Valley via the picturesque villages of Helambu. The richly forested route that climbs steeply from here to Thare Pati and Gopte Cave is alive with birds and flowering rhododendron and orchids in the spring. Tourists can visit the Langtang National Park anytime from March to November but it is best to avoid the monsoon season because of rains and overflowing rivers. The nature enthusiast on the other hand might find the rainy season ideal because of the profusion of plant life.


Makalu Barun National Park


The park and conservation area is 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-Tibet border on the north and Saune Danda (ridge) to the south. The Park covers 2,330 sq. km

This is the only protected area in Nepal with designation of a Strict Nature Reserve. It has some of the richest and most 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 forest below 1,000 m. elevation: subtropical schimawalchhi forest at 1,000-2000 m. fir, birch, rhododendron forests in the sub-alpine (3,000-4,000 m); and herbs, grasses and rhododendron/juniper shrubs in the alpine pas trues (4,000-5,000 m). There are 47 varieties of orchids, 67 species of bamboos, and 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 wrenbabbler and the olive ground warbler. Wildlife includes the endangered red panda, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, clouded leopard and possibly snow leopard, in addition to more substantial populations of ghoral, thar, wild boar, barking deer, Himalayan marmot and weasel, common langur monkey and the serow. The Arun river system contains 84 varieties of fish.

Access:
To reach Makalu-Barun National Park & Conservation Area, take the daily flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, Phaplu, Lamidanda, Bhojpur and Tumlingtar. Visitors choice to fly any one-air link airports then trek or drive by private vehicle or public bus to Dhankuta Hile.


Sagarmatha National Park


Unique among natural heritage sites worldwide is the Sagarmatha National Park, which includes Mt. Everest (8,848 m) and other high peaks such as Lhotse Shar, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Pumori, Kangtega, Gyachung Kang, Thamserku and Kwangde. Located North-east of Kathmandu, Sagarmatha National Park is 1,148 sq km. in area and consists of the upper catchments area of the Dudh Koshi, Bhote Koshi and the Imja Khola (stream). Much of the park lies above 3,000m. Sagarmatha is rugged, with deep gorges, glaciers and nonnegotiable ice and rock faces. Locally known as the 'Khumbu', it is the home of the famous Sherpa people. The Sherpas make a living by farming barley and potatoes and graze their yaks in high altitude pastures. Young Sherpas have also made their name in mountaineering and the trekking industry has of late become the community's economic mainstay. In 1979 the park was declared a World Heritage Site.

Trees such as rhododendron, birch, blue pine, juniper and silver fir are found up to an altitude of 4,000m. Above which they give way to scrub and alpine plants. In late spring and summer, the hillsides around the villages of Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Thyangboche and Thame are a riot of colours with several species of rhododendon in bloom. Wildlife most likely to be seen in Sagarmatha is the Himalaya tahr, ghoral, musk deer, pikka (mouse hare) weasel and occasionally jackal. Other rarely seen animals are Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx and snow leopard. Birds commonly seen are Impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, snow cock, snow pigeon, red billed and yellow billed chough, Himalayan griffin vulture.

Access:
All of Khumbu is road-less, all travel and exploration must be undertaken on foot. Quick access is by helicopter at the Syangboche and via the Lukla airstrip from where the park head-office at Namche Bazaar is a two-day walk. Alternative approaches are from Jiri in the southwest and through Arun Valley in the southeast. Namche is 10 to 12 days trek on both these approaches. The best time to visit is in October and November and from March to May when days are warm and clear. However night temperatures can reach zero levels. A two to three-week stay in the park is ideal and the best areas to visit are Gokyo Valley, Lobuche-Kala Pattar-Base Camp, Chukung Valley and Thame valley. Travellers should come with camping, food and fuel support to enable them to move freely although room and board are available in most villages. To enjoy the visit thoroughly it is best to arrange services of guides and porters with government registered outfitters in Kathmandu.


Shey Phoksundo National Park


Shey Phoksundo is Nepal's largest national park and covers 3,555 sq. km. Sitting astride the Dolpa and Mugu districts of western Nepal, the park was established to protect the trans-Himalayan ecosystem found only in few areas of the Kingdom. The unique park includes the Kanjiroba Himal, with many peaks of over 6,000 meters, as well as the famous Shey Monastery, the Phoksundo Lake and the Langu Gorge.

The floras of the area include pine, walnut, willow, oak, poplar and cypress in the lower southern parts. In the higher reaches, pine, spruce, juniper and birch pre-dominate. The alpine areas are vegetated by berberries, wild rose. The trans-Himalayan mountains and grassy alpine meadows to the north are almost devoid of trees but have caragana and dwarf juniper.

The wildlife of Shey Phoksundo includes good inhabitants of blue sheep and ghoral, musk deer, leopard, wild dog, wolf, marmot, weasel, mouse hare, rhesus and langur monkeys. The adjoining Tibetan region is home to such rare animals as the great Tibetan sheep, Tibetan wild ass, Tibetan gazelle and antelope, and wild yak. Bird species of the park include the Impeyan and cheer Pheasant, chough, raven, Tibetan snow cock, Tibetan twit, brown dipper, Himalayan griffon and lammergeier. People of Tibetan descent who follow the pre-Buddist Bon religion inhabit the park and some of the main villages are Ringmo, Pugmo, Salclang, Kugun, and Tatgaun. On the august full moon all Dolpa villagers converge on the Shey (Crystal) Mountain in a festival to walk around the holy peak three times in as many days.

Access:
The nearest airstrip is at Juphal, south of the park. Visitors can also fly to Jumla from where it is a 10-day hike to the Phoksundo and Shey areas. The best time to visit this park is from April to November.


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 national ark in 2003 AD 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 include beer, leopard, deer, wild boar, wildcat, wild pig and langur monkey. The park also boasts of 177 species of birds and 102 species of butterflies.

Access:
Only 12 kilometers away from Kathmandu, the gateway to Shivapuri National Park is Budhailkanta, which is 15 to 20 minutes drive away from the city. Another option is via Sundarijal, which is about 30 to 45 minutes drive from Kathmandu. From both Budhanilkantha and Sundarjal, the park equires tekking uphill. Yet another way to reach Shivapuri is by driving till Kakani from where the park is an hour's trek away.





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