No trip to Nepal is complete without a visit to one of the national parks or wildlife parks. Nepal is well known for the magnificent Himalayan peaks in the north of the country, but the tropical forests of the Terai region in the south are equally fascinating and deserving of a visit. Ideally, anyone taking a trip to Nepal should try to experience these two extremes. The Terai has some of the best preserved wildlife habitat in the subcontinent, and in the north, the mountains rise majestically to their high snow-capped peaks, silently affirming their greatness. By traveling between the two, by going on a jungle safari as well as a trek into the mountains, you will get a fully rounded picture of Nepal in all its splendor.
Nepal’s 16 national parks, conservation areas and wildlife parks occupy 16% of its total area. The lowlands of the Terai are characterized by a belt of flood plains stretching north from the Indian border to the foothills of the Siwalik and Bhabhar mountain ranges. This is Nepal’s richest habitat, which includes areas of elephant grass interspersed with hardwood forests. Jungle safaris by jeep or on elephants are offered in the Terai at the Royal Bardia National Park, the Parsa Wildlife Reserve, the Royal Chitwan National Park and the Royal Sukhlaphanta Reserve. Besides an elephant safari, jungle activities on our tour of the Chitwan National Park include a jungle walk, a canoe trip and village tour.
In the heart of the forest you can observe many species in their natural habitat, including rhinoceros, tiger, crocodile, leopard, red panda, gharial, musk and axis deer, several species of monkeys, peacocks and hundreds of other species of birds and butterflies. Rare and endangered species to be found in Nepal’s national parks include the gaur, pangolin, sloth bear and the elusive snow leopard, which inhabits the higher altitudes of the Himalayas. The Arun Valley in the Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area, one of the most diverse habitats in Nepal, is home to over 650 bird species and over 800 butterflies—the largest population of birds and butterflies in the world.