Protected Areas: A Haven of Biodiversity and Adventure
Nepal's extensive protected areas play a crucial role in preserving the nation's beautiful natural landscapes and cultural heritage. As of 2021, there are 20 protected areas throughout the country, featuring 12 national parks, one wildlife reserve, six conservation areas, and a hunting reserve. Spanning nearly 28,000 square kilometers or roughly 23% of Nepal's total land area, these protected areas provide a sanctuary for diverse flora and fauna.
Home to a wealth of biodiversity, Nepal's protected zones harbor many rare and endangered species. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation reports that approximately 185 mammal species, 900 bird species, 125 reptile and amphibian species, and 6,500 plant species call Nepal home.
Travelers visiting Nepal's protected sites can discover various experiences tailored to their interests. Wildlife lovers often flock to Chitwan National Park in the Terai lowlands. The park boasts an impressive array of rare and endangered wildlife such as the one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tiger, and Asian elephant. As per the census taken in 2018, Chitwan National Park hosts as many as 605 one-horned rhinoceroses—a significant global habitat for this extraordinary species.
Bardia National Park, nestled in Nepal's western lowlands, also attracts wildlife enthusiasts with its population of tigers, wild elephants, rhinos, and numerous deer and antelope species. A recent report from 2021 indicates that Bardia is home to around 87 Bengal tigers—making it an ideal destination to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
For those interested in immersing themselves in local culture and traditions, the Annapurna Landscape Conservation Area is an excellent choice. A blend of ethnic groups including Gurung, Magar, and Thakali communities inhabit this region. Visitors can learn about local customs while taking in breathtaking mountain vistas and exploring exciting trekking routes.
Adventure-seekers will find a thrilling range of activities in Nepal's protected areas—from trekking and mountaineering to rafting. For avid trekkers, Langtang National Park offers a spectrum of routes classified by difficulty, along with peaks towering over 7,000 meters. Makalu Barun National Park, known for its rugged terrain and awe-inspiring mountain views, entices adventure enthusiasts of every stripe.
In essence, visitors to Nepal's protected areas can find a remarkable variety of experiences suitable for all ages and pursuits. Whether wildlife spotting, cultural exploration, or adrenaline-pumping adventure is on the agenda, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
NepalDesk classifies protected areas into three categories based on accessibility: lowland tarai, mid-hills, and High Himalayas. The lowland tarai is generally more accessible by vehicles; however, the mid-hills are somewhat less so. The High Himalaya region proves difficult for prospective explorers to traverse due to its challenging terrain and limited transportation options.