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National Parks in Nepal To Explore The Wild Side of The Himalayan Country

Are you wondering about what to do on your next globe-trotting trip? Do you want to cross an adventurous wildlife expedition off your bucket list? Has it been your long-unfulfilled dream to unwind and relax at the lap of nature? Look no further than Nepal, for all these woes of yours! Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, this country offers a bountiful range of activities and sites to visit that are sure to wow you. Imagine tall mountains, sloping valleys, green grass, blue skies and exotic animals prancing around you - Nepal will give you all that and so much more.

One of the best trips in Nepal is a visit to the many national parks it boasts of. Home to a variety of flora and fauna due to its unique geographical location, Nepal offers a range of budget-friendly and amazing options for nature tourism. If you're confused on where to go in Nepal, don't worry! We've compiled a list of the top ten national parks in Nepal that are must-visits. Go explore!

1. Chitwan National Park

Formerly known as the Chitwan National Park, this is the first national park to be established in Nepal. Spread over four entire districts, this unique location is first on our list because it contains some fabulous animals and birds. It is acclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which draws in many tourists all year round. Located in the Terai region which has unique biodiversity, the site has various activities for visitors.

Crocodile at Chitwan National Park, National Parks in Nepal
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Flora and fauna: 
The Park has 68 species of mammals, 544 bird species, 56 herpeto-fauna species and 126 fish species. The pride of this park include the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, the Royal Bengal Tiger (which is the National animal of neighbouring India) and the Gharial crocodile. It also houses elephants (the world's largest terrestrial mammal) and the pygmy shrew, which is the world's smallest terrestrial mammal. Talk about polar opposites! Exotic birds like the slender-billed vulture, white-rumped vulture, Bengal Florican and the red-headed vulture fly over the park.

Location: 
Chitwan is located 100 kilometres from Kathmandu, the state capital. The nearest airport is at Bharatpur, from where you can take a bus or taxi to Sauraha, the village next to Chitwan National Park.

Activities: 
Tourists can choose over a wide variety of activities including jungle treks, walks, canoeing, jeep safaris, elephant safaris, bird watching, elephant bathing, traditional shows and cultural exposures. The Visitor Centre also offers information on conservation initiatives and conservation. A unique experience of bonding with the animals is encouraged here. Family fun is guaranteed! Make sure you visit the Elephant Breeding Centre nearby, at Khorsor! You can also visit the Gharial Breeding Centre near the headquarters of the park. You can also stay inside the park, at seven resorts of park concessionaires.

Timings: 
It is best to exit the park by 6:00 PM unless you are staying in the park. Guides and locals tweak the timings depending on the weather and other criteria.

Best time to visit: 
Although the park is open throughout the year, the best time to visit it is from October to December, when most animals venture out. From June to September, the monsoon may trouble tourists.

Entry fee: 
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 1500 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 750 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: NPR 100 + 13% VAT/day
Children below 10 years: Free
 

2. Bardia National Park

Described as Chitwan of the yesteryears, this idyllic park could be just what you were looking for a perfect blend of calm, quiet and excitement. Not as flooded with tourists as Chitwan, Bardia offers the thrill of rafting and camping along with the serenity of being along and one with nature.

Deer at Bardia National Park, National parks in Nepal
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Flora and fauna: 
This park boasts of the one-horned rhinoceros, Asiatic elephants and the King of Bardia, the Royal Bengal Tiger. There are 50 species of mammals in Bardia, including the leopard, swamp deer, grey langur monkeys, marsh mugger crocodile and the Gharial. If you're lucky, you can even spot Gangetic river dolphins! The Park also houses 400 species of birds, like the Saruc crane and the Bengal Florican. The Babai, Bheir and Karnali rivers are home to 125 species of fish.

Location: 
The Park is 367 kilometres from Kathmandu. The nearest airport is at Nepalgunj, to which there are daily flights from Kathmandu. From Nepalgunj, buses or jeeps take you to the park.

Activities: 
Tourists can indulge in half day or full day jungle walks, jungle treks, river rafting, fishing and other adventurous activities. Junkies can also opt to camp in the Park or sleep in a tree house! You can also follow the Bheri River through the park, rafting and camping in the process. Make sure you visit the Blackbuck Conservation Area as well. Guides and agencies provide all necessary equipment. Try to visit nearby villages to experience the unique local culture of the Tharus.

Timings: 
There are a variety of options to camp inside the park, and we recommend that you make full use of these opportunities. You can also opt for a one-day tour from sunrise to sunset.

Best time to visit:
  The Park sees most animals from September to December, and February to May, after which the monsoon may make trekking difficult.

Entry fee: 
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 1000 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 500 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: NPR 50 + 13% VAT/day
Children below 10 years: Free
 

3. Khaptad National Park

This unique destination offers the twin delights of spirituality and natural wonder, as it is the home of a famous religious leader of the region, fondly called Khaptad Baba. Spread over four districts, this Park boasts of a unique collection of flora and fauna, much to the delight of the botanist and the zoologist. If quiet contemplation and meditation in the lap of nature is your thing, you are sure to fit in here!

Khaptad National Park, National parks in Nepal
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Flora and fauna: 
The Park houses exotic flora, with forests of montane Sal, pines, and alders. Higher up, you can find buttercups, primulas and wild berries, ripe for the picking. 224 species of medicinal herbs make a place a botanist?s delight. Evergreen spruces, firs, rhododendrons, birches and oaks are also found. The plateau also has 135 species of flowering plants, which bloom in summer. Khaptad contains 23 species of mammals, 287 species of birds and 23 species of amphibians. You can spot the Himalayan black bear, wild dog, musk deer, barking deer, wild boar, yellow-throated marten and leopard here. Bird-watching is rife here, with common guests being the peregrine falcon, the white-rumped vulture, the Impeyan pheasant, cuckoos, flycatchers, partridges and bulbuls.

Location: 
The Park is 450 kilometres from Kathmandu. The nearest airport is at Dipayal, from where you can catch a bus to Silgadhi in Doti district. A six-hour trek leads you to the park entrance. Or, you could catch a flight to Accham, followed by a two-day trek.

Activities: 
While adventure junkies can indulge in daylong treks, bird watching expeditions and animal spotting, the contemplators can visit the Khaptad Baba Ashram nearby to meditate and pray. Cultural tours are also organized to get an insight into the life of the locals.

Timings: 
There are no places to stay inside the park, so your best bet is to carry camping equipment you can get on rent.

Best time to visit: 
The months between March and May, and October and December provide the best weather and temperature to make the best use of the park.

Entry fee: 
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 3000 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 1500 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: Free
Children below 10 years: Free
 

4. Shey Phoksundo National Park

This location is Nepal's largest national park, covering 3555 square kilometres! The Park houses eth Kanjiroba Himal which is a mountain range of 6000 metres and the Shey Monastery. The Phoksundo Lake and the Langu Gorge are added attractions. This is the only trans-Himalayan National Park in Nepal.
Phoksundo Lake, Shey Phoksundo National Park, Nepal
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Flora and fauna: 
The Park is full of trees like pine, walnut, willow, poplar, cypress and oak. Pines, junipers, spruces, birches and other trees dominate the higher altitudes. Wild rose, caragana, dwarf juniper and barberries are also found here. The park boasts a unique hill ecosystem, which houses animals like blue sheep, wild dog, wolf, weasel, mouse hare, langur monkey, rhesus monkey, marmot, leopard and snow leopard. 200 species of exotic and rare animals like the Tibetan sheep, Tibetan wild ass, gazelle, wild yak and wild antelope also reside at higher altitudes. Beautiful birds like the Tibetan snow cock, brown dipper, Himalayan griffon, Impeyan pheasant, cheer pheasant, and the Tibetan twit nest here. 29 species of butterflies are found here,

Location: 
The park is 315 kilometres from Kathmandu. The nearest airport is at Juphal, which leads to the southern entrance.

Activities: 
One can go camping or trekking here. The snow-capped mountains are breathtaking to watch from the seclusion of the Park. Tourists can also take cultural tours to the villages in the park, in Ringmo, Pugmo and Kugun. These villages follow Bon religion, which originated before Buddhism, and is truly exciting to discover. We recommend a butterfly spotting expedition too!

Timings: 
You can stay here overnight or stay at the villages down below after sunset, by 7:30 PM in the summer months.

Best time to visit:
  The period from April to November is best for tourists.

Entry fee: 
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 3000 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 1500 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: Free
Children below 10 years: Free
 

5. Makalu-Barun National Park

This gorgeous Park is at the foothills of the Makalu range and nestles the raging Barun River. The unique biodiversity is fortified by the fact that this is the only Park in the world to houses snow-capped mountains. This is every adventure junkie's dream come true, as you can have access to the most pristine forests (after a challenging trek, of course!).

Makalu-Barun National Park, National Parks in Nepal
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Flora and fauna: 
The Park has about 3000 plant species, 441 bird species and 88 species of mammals that include the red panda, snow leopard, clouded leopard, Himalayan wolf, red fox, black bear, otter, flying squirrel, wild boar, Asiatic golden cat, Assam macaque, Himalayan tahr, musk deer, barking deer, golden jackal, Hanuman langur and the Himalayan Goral. The Park also hosts 315 species of butterflies and 43 species of reptiles. Among the bird species, eagles, raptors and sunbirds are a sight to behold. Rose-ringed parakeets, Blyth;s kingfisher, blue-naped pitta and other brilliantly coloured birds make Malaku an ornithologist's delight. The flora includes rhododendrons, junipers, aromatic herbs, wildflowers, primroses, orchids, bamboos, oaks and other herbs.

Location: 
Makalu-Barun is 500 kilometres away from Kathmandu. There are daily flights to Tumlingtar from Kathmandu. From Tumlingtar, you can hire a jeep or even trek your way to the Park.

Activities: 
Being the only Park to house snow-capped peaks, you can go trekking and hiking to the summit when the weather is favourable. You can also enjoy bird watching and butterfly spotting sessions while basking in the glory of the unique environment. Rafting and boating trips are also arranged. One can camp at the foothills and trek up the range in the day, to enjoy the spectacular views. The park provides shelters, gasoline and other camping essentials on a rent basis. You cannot enter the park without a guide.

Timings:
  You can stay in the park overnight if accompanied by a guide, and at designated campsites and shelters. You are prohibited from wandering outside the trail, to conserve biodiversity.

Best time to visit: 
The monsoon from June to September ensures heavy rain in the region. In December and January, there is heavy snowfall. The interim periods between March to May and October to December are the best times to visit this Park.

Entry fee: 
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 3000 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 1500 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: Free
Children below 10 years: Free
 

6. Langtang National Park

Spread across three districts, Langtang National Park is closest to Kathmandu and is easily accessible. This place is unique in the fact that almost half of it is a buffer zone, offering maximum protection to the biodiversity with the cooperation of the local community. This means that tourists also have an important responsibility in conserving resources. This trekker's delight is a must visit for adventure enthusiasts!

Trekking at Langtang National Park, National parks in Nepal
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Flora and fauna: 
The Park flaunts more than 18 ecosystems, which make for a wonderful diversity of flora and fauna. Chirpine, rhododendron, alder and oak give way to silver fir, hemlock and larch as the altitude increases. Alpine meadows that could put Switzerland to shame are also plenty here. Langtang is famous for its bird population - more than 250 species roam the park, in addition to red pandas, black bears, serows and snow leopards. 46 species of mammals can be spied here, including the Tibetan sheep, the Himalayan tahr, cloudy leopards, the Himalayan black bear, wolves and foxes. The Park houses 12 species of threatened birds which ornithologists try to spot the yellow-rumped honey guide, wood snipe, red-headed vulture, greater spotted eagle and the imperial eagle, among others.

Location: 
The park is just 50 kilometres away from Kathmandu. You can catch a bus or even trek to Langtang.

Activities: 
You can trek up three routes - Langtang, Helambu and Gosaikunda. These paths are recommended for experienced trekkers, as they are quite challenging. But the views are definitely worth it. Bird watching and camping are also allowed here.

Timings: 
Do not stay in the park without a guide present. A day trip can be over by 7:00 PM depending on sun conditions, and sunset time.

Best time to visit: 
In October, November, April and May, the weather is ideal as the days are warm, and the nights are cool.

Entry fee:
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 3000 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 1500 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: Free
Children below 10 years: Free
 

7. Rara National Park

Nestled in the Himalayas, this Park is known for its heavy population of migratory birds in the winter months. The grasslands around the lake are breathtakingly beautiful and are postcard-worthy indeed. The Rara National Park holds the fascinating position of being the smallest national park in Nepal, housing Nepal?s biggest lake! How's that for trivia?

Rara Lake, Rara National Park, National Parks in Nepal
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Flora and fauna: 
The area around the like boasts of blue pine, rhododendron, black juniper, birch, oak and Himalayan cypress. Horse chestnut, walnut and Himalayan poplar are also present here. Rara houses 20 species of mammals, like musk deer, Himalayan tahr, jackal, leopard, otter, langur, Rhesus macaque and the red panda. There are records of more than 210 species of birds, including common teal, coots, snowcocks, gulls and mallards. The great crested grebe, black-necked grebe, red-crested pochard and the common teal migrate to the lake in winter.

Location: 
The Park is 350 kilometres away from Kathmandu. The nearest airstrip is at Jumla, from where you have to trek for a couple of days to reach the Park.

Activities: 
Rara Lake does not freeze at all, which means that you can camp by the lakeside or watch birds all year long. Bird watching is a favourite activity here. You can also camp and trek in pre-designated areas within the Park. The pine forests offer breathtaking views and stark visuals. During the summer months, there is a carpet of colourful flowers in the valley which is a must-watch.

Timings:
  It is prohibited to move within the park before sunrise and after sunset. You can either exit the Park or camp inside during the night. Trekkers must arrange their own equipment through agencies, as the Park does not provide any equipment.

Best time to visit:
  While the summer months of April and May are more pleasant, the winter months offer the best bird watching opportunities. Beware the freezing nights during winter though!

Entry fee: 
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 3000 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 1500 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: Free
Children below 10 years: Free
 

8. Shivpuri Nagarjun National Park

Regarded in the ancient Sanskrit text Skanda Purana as the holy abode of Shiva which is full of Lingam (Shiva's phallic form), this Park can double as a biodiversity conservation area and a religious site. Full of beautiful flora, fascinating fauna, sacred sites and streams gurgling about, this Park is sure to fulfil all your expectations and enrich your Nepali experience.

Shivpuri Nagarjuna National Park, National Parks in Nepal
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Flora and fauna: 
The vegetation includes pine, oak, rhododendron, laurels and firs. The Park houses 318 species of birds, including the Eurasian eagle-owl, the barred cuckoo-dove, the golden-throated barbet, the white-gorgeted flycatcher and the slender-billed scimitar-babbler. Amphibians and reptiles also frequent this site, with the monocle cobra, the Himalayan keelback, the olive slender snake, the yellow-bellied worm-eating snake, the Oriental garden lizard, Sikkim skink, the long-legged cricket frog and others. Four species of bats have also been spied here. Animals like the Indian leopard, jungle cat, civet, golden jackal, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan goral, barking deer, wild boar, Chinese pangolin, Indian crested porcupine, Himalayan pika, hare, Himalayan squirrel, brown-toothed shrew and small Asian mongoose can be seen here. The Park is also home to 129 species of mushrooms!

Location: 
The Park is just 11 kilometres away from Kathmandu and can be reached by bus, jeep or trek.

Activities: 
The Park is famous for its various trekking paths, namely Panimuhan, Nagigumba, Kakani, Jhuje and Sundarijal. There are picturesque streams and waterfalls on the way as well. The Park nestles the starting point of the sacred Bagmati and Bishnumati rivers, which are revered by the locals. There are many sacred Hindu and Buddhist shrines within the Park. You can also indulge in self-guided walk tours too.

Timings:
The Park is open from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Best time to visit:
The park is relatively pleasant throughout the year, but the best time to visit it would be between March and June. In mid-April, the locals flock to the park for the Nepali New Year festival which is a must-visit

Entry fee: 
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 1000 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 500 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: Free NPR 50 + 13% VAT /day
Children below 10 years: Free
 

9. Banke National Park

One of the newest national parks to be established in Nepal, this Park was started mainly to conserve tigers, and to promote wildlife conservation and tourism in the country. A part of Banke National Park is designated as a buffer zone, to promote a symbiotic relationship and maintain diversity, generating revenue for the local population in the process as well.

Fauna at Banke National Park, National Parks in Nepal
Source

Flora and fauna: 
The Park consists of eight ecosystems, from Sal to deciduous, savannahs and floodplains. Trees indigenous to this region include the Sal, Karma, Khair and Sissoo. 8 species of mammals, 124 species of plants, 300 bird species and 7 amphibian species are housed here. Coveted creatures like the Bengal tiger, striped hyena, four-horned antelope, giant hornbill, black stork, python and Gharial are found in Banke. The Asiatic wild elephant populations in the Park are a delight to visitors.

Location: 
The Park is about 530 kilometres away from Kathmandu. The nearest airport is at Nepalgunj, from where you can hire a jeep, taxi or bus to reach the Park headquarters.

Activities: 
The Park is a delight for trekkers, hikers and walkers. Jeep and animal safaris can be arranged. Self-guided tours are also allowed. The elephant tour is very entertaining for children and adults alike. Cycling and rafting are also encouraged here.

Timings: 
It is prohibited to enter the forest from sunset to sunrise. If you are not staying inside, it is better to leave the Park by 6:00 PM.

Best time to visit: 
From October to April, the days are pleasant and the nights are cool. Then the monsoon sets in, which may make it difficult for trekkers to explore.

Entry fee: 
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 500 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 200 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: Free NPR 20 + 13% VAT /day
Children below 10 years: Free
 

10. Parsa National Park  

This Park is the largest wildlife reserve in Nepal, covering three districts. A former hunting ground for the royals of yore, this Park now houses more than 20 Bengal tigers, the pride of the country.

Elephant Safari at Parsa National Park, National Parks in Nepal
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Flora and fauna: 
The Park is home to Sal, pine, Khari, Sissoo, Sabai grass and silk cotton trees. Animals like the Asian elephant, Royal Bengal tiger, sloth bear, wild dog, Sambar deer, hog deer, striped hyena, jungle cat, palm civet, blue bull, gaur, rat and the leopard are common here. Meanwhile, the Park also nestles 527 species of birds, including the paradise flycatcher, large racquet-tailed drongo, giant hornbill, white-breasted kingfisher, golden-backed woodpecker, red jungle fowl and peafowl. Reptiles like the common cobra, banded krait, rock python and king cobra can be found slithering on the terrain.

Location: 
The Park is 105 kilometres from Kathmandu. The nearest airport is at Simara, from where it takes a maximum of twenty minutes to reach the Park.

Activities: T
he jungle safari at Parsa is a must-visit, for you can spy many animals here. Trekking and hiking are also allowed. A view tower also offers panoramic views of the valley. Kailash Bhata is a sacred site for Hindus. The Park also houses a guest house within its premises. An elephant camp located near Amlekhgunj can also be visited after obtaining permission. Who knows, you may even get a chance to bathe the tuskers!

Timings: 
You can stay overnight in the guesthouse in the Park. If you want to leave, do so before 6:30 PM or sunset, whichever is sooner.

Best time to visit: 
The interim months of October, November and December offer the best weather conditions to visit Parsa and enjoy the natural beauty on display.

Entry fee: 
Foreign national outside SAARC nations: NPR 1000 + 13% VAT/day
Foreign national from SAARC nations: NPR 500 + 13% VAT /day
Citizen: Free NPR 50 + 13% VAT /day
Children below 10 years: Free

Nepal is truly a unique country which is bursting to the seams with biodiversity. The abundance of flora, fauna and natural beauty is truly breathtaking. The forests, lakes and rivers are a must-visit. Which park are you planning on going to? Did you have a memorable experience at one of these destinations? Comment below and let us know, as sharing is caring!

This post was published by Nivedha Narayanaswamy