There are 16 national parks, wildlife reserves and conservation areas in Nepal, occupying over 16% of its total area. Visitors have to pay an entrance fee of Rs. 650 per person to enter a protected area (Annapurna Rs. 1000 and Shivapuri Rs. 250). Trekking permits are necessary to trek in the national parks located in the mountains (see separate section on trekking elsewhere in the magazine).

Annapurna Conservation Area Project - ACAP (7,629 sq km) encompasses forested middle mountain, high Himalaya and trans-Himalayan desert plateau ecosystems. The area is dominated by Annapurna I (8,091 m), the 10th highest mountain in the world. Schima and chestnut trees are found in the subtropical forests between 1,000-2,000 m which give way to rhododendron, oak, hemlock and silver fir as you ascend to the temperate zone (1,700-3,000 m). Rhesus monkeys, yellow-throated martens and Himalayan weasels are some of the wildlife commonly encountered. Birds include the Himalayan griffon, lammergeier, forktail, redstart, thrush and kingfisher. Gurung, Magar, Thakali and Brahmin villages dot the lower elevations. The Tibetan cultural influence becomes stronger as you go north.

Activities: Trekking, mountaineering

Accommodation: Resort hotels, lodges, camping

Access: From Pokhara which is 202 km by road or 30 minutes by air from Kathmandu

Best season: Spring and autumn in the southern region and summer in the northern region

ACAP headquarters: Hariyo Kharka, Pokhara; Tel: 061-21102


Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve (1,325 sq km) extends from the middle mountains to the high Himalaya. Pasturelands cover the higher elevations while fir, pine, birch, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, juniper and spruce are found in the lower elevations. The reserve attracts sports hunters for the blue sheep and Himalayan tahr. Other animals found here are the leopard, ghoral, serow, Himalayan black bear, barking deer and wild boar. Pheasants and partridges are common here. The majority of people in the region belong to the Magar, Thakali and Gurung ethnic groups.

Activities: Trophy hunting, game viewing

Accommodation: Camping

Access: Four days’ walk from Baglung which is 72 km from Pokhara by road

Best season: Mar-Apr, Oct-Nov; Jul-Sep (monsoon), Dec-Feb (cold, windy, snow)

Reserve headquarters: Dhorpatan


Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (2,035 sq km) includes middle mountains and the high Himalaya. It offers high alpine vegetation and a variety of rhododendron, fir, hemlock and oak trees. The area is rich in wildlife, notably the snow leopard, clouded leopard, blue sheep, Himalayan tahr, marmot and weasel. Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world at 8,586 m, straddles the border between Nepal and India. This region is the home of the Limbu people.

Activities: Trekking, mountaineering

Accommodation: Tea houses, camping

Access: From Taplejung which can be reached by air from Kathmandu

Best season: Spring and autumn

Park headquarters: Lelep


Khaptad National Park (225 sq km) consists of middle and high mountains with an average elevation of 3,000 m. The vegetation ranges from sub-tropical forests at lower altitudes to grasslands and oak and coniferous forests on the uplands. The fauna includes the leopard, yellow-throated marten, black bear, musk deer, ghoral and Himalayan tahr. Some of the birds of the area are pheasant, partridge, red- and yellow-billed blue magpie and Himalayan griffon. The ashram of Khaptad Swami is located inside the park.

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)

Park headquarters: Khaptad


Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (175 sq km) is situated in the Terai lowlands. The vegetation here is mainly wetland grassland, scrub and deciduous forests. The reserve is unique for its wild arna buffaloes. Other mammals are the hog deer, wild boar, spotted deer and blue bull. Over 350 species of birds including ibises, storks, egrets, herons, swamp partridges and Bengal floricans are found here. The endangered gharial, marsh crocodile and Gangetic dolphin are also recorded in the Koshi river.

Activities: Game viewing, bird watching

Accommodation: Tented camp

Access: One-hour drive (40 km) from Biratnagar which is 50 minutes by air or 541 km by road from Kathmandu

Best season: Oct-Mar; Apr-Jun (hot), Jul-Sep (rainy)

Reserve headquarters: Kusaha; Tel: 025-21488


Langtang National Park (1,710 sq km) encompasses high mountain and high Himalaya terrain. About one-fourth of the park is forest - oaks, maple, rhododendron, chir pine, fir, blue pine, hemlock and spruce. The holy Gosaikund lake is situated here. The animals found here are the wild dog, Himalayan red panda, pika, muntjack, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan tahr, ghoral, serow, rhesus monkey and the common langur. This region is also an important route for migrating birds. The majority of the local inhabitants here are Tamangs and Sherpas.

Activities: Trekking, mountaineering

Accommodation: Lodges, camping

Access: From Dhunche which is 117 km by road from Kathmandu

Best season: Oct-Nov and Mar-May (cold at higher elevation); Jun-Sep (monsoon), Dec-Feb (snow)

Park headquarters: Dhunche


Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area (1,500 sq km national park + 830 sq km conservation area = 2,330 sq km) extends from high mountains to the high Himalaya. The elevation ranges from 500 to over 8,000 m. Most of this protected area is remote wilderness. It offers more than 3,000 species of flowering plants. Wildlife includes the endangered red panda, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, clouded leopard and possibly the snow leopard too. Over 400 species of birds thrive here. The majority of people living in the conservation area belong to the Rai community.

Activities: Trekking, mountaineering

Accommodation: Camping

Access: Fly to Tumlingtar from Kathmandu (one hour) and then a six-day walk

Best season: Oct-Nov and Mar-Apr; Apr-May (hot at lower elevations), Jun-Sep (monsoon)

Park headquarters: Seduwa; Tel: 029-60137, 60236


Manaslu Conservation Area (1,663 sq km) is situated in a remote area to the north of Gorkha, home of the original Gorkha soldiers. It encompasses the seventh highest mountain in the world, Mt. Manaslu (8,156 m). The environment is middle mountain to high Himalaya, and supports 2,000 species of plants with 19 forest types. The snow leopard, lynx, gray wolf, musk deer and the Assamese monkey have been sighted here. There are 110 species of birds. The region has strong Tibetan cultural influences.

Activities: Trekking, mountaineering

Accommodation: Camping, lodges

Access: By bus to Dhading (87 km from Kathmandu) or to Besi Sahar (106 km from Pokhara) and then walking

Best season: Autumn and spring

Park headquarters: Prok


Parsa Wildlife Reserve (499 sq km) encompasses hills and Terai flatlands and has a sub-tropical monsoon climate. About 90% of the area is sal forests, with chir pine, khair, sissoo and silk cotton trees and tall grasslands making up the rest. The reserve supports wild elephant, tiger, leopard, sloth bear, gaur, blue bull, wild dog, sambar, chittal, hog deer, barking deer, langur, striped hyena and other animals. Cobras, kraits and pythons are also found here. There are nearly 300 species of birds, including the endangered giant hornbill.

Activities: Jungle safari on elephant-back, jungle walk, jeep drive

Accommodation: Jungle resorts and lodges

Access: Fly to Simara from Kathmandu (15 minutes) and then by road to the reserve headquarters (7 km), or overland all the way from Kathmandu (147 km via Hetauda)

Best season: Oct-Mar; Apr-Jun (hot, 30-35 degrees Celsius), Jul-Sep (monsoon)

Reserve headquarters: Adhabar


Rara National Park (106 sq km) has its gem in Rara, Nepal’s biggest lake (10.8 sq km) at 2,990 m! The park is situated in the high mountain region, much of it at an elevation of about 3,000 m. There are coniferous forests of blue pine, black juniper, West Himalayan spruce, oak and Himalayan cypress as well as Indian horse-chestnut, walnut and Himalayan poplar. It is an ideal habitat for the musk deer, Himalayan black bear, leopard, ghoral, Himalayan tahr and the wild boar.

Activities: Trekking

Accommodation: Camping

Access: Fly to Jumla from Kathmandu via Nepalgunj and then a three-day walk, or by bus from Nepalgunj to Surkhet (114 km) and then a week’s walk

Best season: Feb-Apr and Oct-Nov

Park headquarters: Hutu


Royal Bardia National Park (968 sq km) is the largest and most undisturbed wilderness area in the Terai lowlands. It consists of sal forests and tall grasslands. It is a regenerated habitat for endangered species like the rhinoceros, wild elephant, tiger, swamp deer, black buck, gharial crocodile and Gangetic dolphin. Cobras, kraits and pythons are also found here. Endangered birds include the Bengal florican, lesser florican, silver-eared mesia and Sarus crane. The local people are mainly Tharus.

Activities: Jungle safari on elephant-back, jungle walk, boat ride, jeep drive

Accommodation: Jungle lodges

Access: Three hours by jeep (95 km) from Nepalgunj which is 1 hour 10 minutes by air or 531 km by road from Kathmandu

Best season: Oct-Mar; Apr-Jun (hot, up to 45 degrees Celsius), Jul-Sep (rainy)

Park headquarters: Thakurdwara; Tel: 084-29719


Royal Chitwan National Park (932 sq km) is located in the subtropical lowlands and consists of sal forests, tall grasslands, hills, ox-bow lakes and flood plains. Over 50 species of mammals, 55 species of amphibians and reptiles and 525 species of birds are found here. Animals include the one-horned rhino, Bengal tiger, gaur, wild elephant, antelope, striped hyena, pangolin, gharial crocodile and the Gangetic dolphin. Cobras, kraits and pythons are also found here. There are many Tharu villages adjoining the park.

Activities: Jungle safari on elephant-back, jungle walk, canoe ride, jeep drive

Accommodation: Resort hotels and lodges

Access: The park headquarters at Kasara is a 21-km drive from Bharatpur which is 20 minutes by air or 146 km by road from Kathmandu

Best season: Oct-Feb (average temperature 25 degrees Celsius); Mar-Jun (hot, up to 43 degrees), Jul-Sep (rainy)

Park headquarters: Kasara; Tel: 056-21932


Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (305 sq km) was until recently a royal hunting domain. It is dominated by sal trees associated with asna, semal, karma, khair and sissoo sub-species and phanta grasslands. A prime habitat for the swamp deer, it is also home to the wild elephant, tiger, hispid hare, blue bull, leopard, chittal, hog deer and wild boar, along with over 300 species of birds. Reptiles include the marsh mugger, Indian python, monitor lizard, cobra, krait and rat snake.

Activities: Wildlife viewing on elephant-back

Accommodation: Jungle lodges

Access: By road, 8 km from Mahendranagar which is 695 km from Kathmandu; by air from Kathmandu to Dhangadhi and then 51 km by road

Best season: Feb-Mar (22-25 degrees Celsius); Dec-Jan (cold, foggy), Apr-Jun (hot, up to 42 degrees)

Reserve headquarters: Majhgaon, Kanchanpur; Tel: 099-21309


Sagarmatha National Park (1,148 sq km) includes the great Himalayan peaks of Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Nuptse and other giants. It is the land of the Sherpas. Broken into deep gorges and glacial valleys, the park has vegetation graduating from pine, hemlock, fir, juniper, birch, rhododendrons and scrubs to alpine plants and then to bare rock and snow. This is home to the Himalayan tahr, ghoral, serow and musk deer. Common birds are the impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, red-billed chough and the yellow-billed chough. Elevation ranges from 2,845 m to 8,848 m.

Activities: Trekking, mountaineering

Accommodation: Resort hotels, lodges, camping

Access: Two-day walk from Lukla which is 30 minutes by air from Kathmandu

Best season: Oct-Nov and Mar-May; Dec-Feb (snow, daytime temperature 5 degrees Celsius), Jun-Sep (rainy)

Park headquarters: Mandalphu, Namche Bazaar; Tel: 038-40114


Shey-Phoksundo National Park (3,555 sq km) comprises high mountain and trans-Himalayan ecosystems. It covers parts of Dolpa, the famed land of yak caravans and salt traders. The lifestyle and culture of the local people remind one of Tibet. The park’s centerpiece is Lake Phoksundo (also known as Ringmo). Forests of blue pine, spruce, cypress, poplar, deodar, fir and birch are found here. It is a prime habitat for the snow leopard and the blue sheep; so also for ghoral, Himalayan tahr, leopard, wolf, jackal and black bear. The place is equally rich in many kinds of birds.

Activities: Trekking, mountaineering

Accommodation: Camping

Access: Fly to Dolpa’s Jufal airport from Nepalgunj or Pokhara and then a three-day walk

Best season: Mar-May (high passes may still be covered with winter snow) and Jun-Sep (clear weather)

Park headquarters: Sumduwa


Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve (144 sq km) is situated on the hill of Shivapuri to the north of Kathmandu. This is an easily accessible destination for viewing orchids, rhododendrons, pines, utisa trees as well as many medicinal and herbal plants. Rising to a height of 2,732 m, Shivapuri is home to the sloth bear, langur monkey, leopard, barking deer and many species of birds.

Activities: Hiking, rock climbing, bird watching

Access: 11 km to the north of Kathmandu, taxi or bus

Best season: Sep-Jun; Jul-Aug (rainy)

Reserve headquarters: Shivapuri; Tel: 371644


MD Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.,
Tripureswor, P. O. Box 3525, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tel: 260327, 256003 . Telex: 2611 EMC NP. Fax: 977-1-261159.

Design and Maintained by Amaa Network Consultant, Inc.
Last Updated: 24 July, 2000
Comments and Suggestions to: Webmaster