There are a great number of National Parks in Nepal which are definitely worth a visit. The country has an abundance of wildlife which will appeal to all – snow leopards, Indian rhinoceros, barking deer, bears and tigers – and that's not all! Many a Nepali legend has incorporated these stunning creatures, and life in Nepal would not be quite the same without them. The best way to view animals is by visiting Nepal's National Parks where all kinds of animals are protected in their natural habitat.
The Shey-Phoksundo National Park
Established in 1984, this national park is situated in the mountainous regions of Western Nepal. It is the largest national park in the country and features luxuriant forests, snow leopard and blue sheep. Besides having a wide variety of trees and plant life, the park has a great variety of animals. Himalayan tahr, toral, serow, leopard, wolf, jackal, black bear, weasel, mouse hare, rhesus monkey, langur and yellow-throated marten. It also has a great many birds. Because of the number of potentially dangerous animals, strict attention should be given to the guides in charge of the safety of visitors to the Shey-Phoksundo National Park.
Khaptad National Park
Also established in 1984, this park is situated in the mid-mountain region of Nepal's far-western region. The park features a unique mid-mountain ecosystem and is situated at roughly 300 m above sea level. Noted geographically for it's beautiful rolling forests and plateaus, the park has a great variety of vegetation. If you're an animal lover, you will find leopard, yellow-throated marten, tahr, Impeyan pheasant, chkor partridge, monal, griffin, red and yellow-billed blue magpie and kalij pheasant. The park also has a number of butterfiles and moths. At the center of the park you will find the beautiful Ashram of Khaptad Swami. Because the park has religious significance, drinking, smoking and violence in the park are prohibited.
Bardiya National Park
This park was first established in 1976 and as such is not only one of the older parks but also one of the most undisturbed. It is situated in the mid-Far Western Terai, near the Karnali River. Roughly 70% of the park is covered with sal forest. The rest enjoys a mixture of grassland, savanna and riverine forest. There are no people living in the valley and all farming that once occurred here has ceased. As a result, there is a lot of regeneration of vegetation which means the habitat is excellent for wildlife. The park features a number of endangered animals such as the wild elephant, the rhinoceros, tiger, black buck, swamp deer, gharial crocodile, marsh mugger crocodile and Gangetic dolphin. It also features a number of endangered birds. There are more than 30 types of mammals, 200 bird species and a variety of reptiles and fish in the park.
Rara National Park
Located in North-West Nepal, most of the park lies in the Mugu District. It is the country's smallest park but contains the country's biggest lake. The majority of the park is coniferous forest but deciduous trees like Indian hours-chestnut, walnut and Himalayan popula are also found. Musk deer, black bear, gorla, tahr, leopard and wild boar are common. Snow trout is the only recorded fish species in the lake. The extensive variety of birds found in the park include a large number of waterfowl.
Sagarmatha National Park
This park is located to the North-East of Kathmandu in the Kumbu region. It includes the legendary Mt Everest as well as several other well-known mountains. The park has been a World Heritage Site since 1979 and features a stunning variety of glacial valleys, deep gorges and heavy forestation. You are most likely to spot tahr, goral, musk deer and serow. The park also has snow leopard and black bear but these are seldom seen. You might also be fortunate enough to spot weasel, maren, mouse hare (pika), langur monkey and jackal. The Sagarmatha National Park is also home to a population of roughly 3000 Sherpa who trade livestock and herd animals.
Parsa Wildlife Reserve
The park extends over parts of the Chitwan, Parsa, Bara and Makawanpur districts in the center of the country. It features sub-tropical-type forests and Churiya hills. The flora is varied and home to a good number of wild elephant, tiger, sloth bear, leopard, gaur, wild dog and blue bull, to name just a few. There are also a great number of birds and snakes, including the king cobra, which enjoy the hot tropical climate.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
The Koshi Tappu is situated on the flood plains of the Sapta-Koshi in the Saptari and Sunsari districts of eastern Nepal. The reserves boundaries are defined by the river and the reserve area is subject to flood during the monsoon season. The river often changes it's course from one season to another. The reserve is mainly filled with grassland and scrub forest but also has some riverine forest. It serves as an important habitat for wildlife – most notably the wild buffalo. There are only about 100 buffalo living in the areas and this is purported to be the last surviving population of these creatures in the wild. The reserve is also home to a great many fish, birds and other wildlife.
Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
Situated in the southern part of Far-Western Nepal, the reserve falls mainly in the Kanchanpupr District. The reserves most outstanding feature is it's large population of swamp deer of which there is an estimated 2000 to 2500 members of the species in the area. Besides a variety of wildlife and birds, the reserve is also home to the rare Bengal florican. You may also spot Marsh muggers, Indian python, monitor lizards, cobras, rat snakes and kraits but these are seldom seen.
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve
For those who love testing their hunting skills and increasing the trophies on their wall, this is the only hunting reserve in the country. It serves both Nepalese and foreign sports hunters with a variety of game animals and it is carefully managed. This is the only place in Nepal where hunting is allowed and permits and permission must be obtained before attempting to participate in the sport. The reserve is home to a great number of blue sheep which are considered to be a highly coveted trophy. You may also find leopard, goral, serow, tahr, black bear, barking deer, langur, mouse hare, wild boar and rhesus macaque as well as a number of bird species, deer and wolf.
As with other national parks around the globe, the flora and fauna in Nepal's wildlife reserves are protected by law. Littering, hunting and the general damaging of the environment is prohibited and may even carry a fine. We strongly recommend that you follow the advice of your guide when viewing animals and that you refrain from damaging the environment in anyway. If you only leave footprints and shoot pictures, the legacy of Nepal's National Parks will hopefully survive long into the future.