5 National Parks you must visit in Nepal
-   2017-10-23 | nepaltraveller.com
These National Parks and wildlife reserves are home to a variety of mammals, reptiles and birds.
Nepal is home to numerous national parks and wildlife reserves. After years of poaching, now these parks are working very hard towards conservation of wildlife. These places are sure to offer you a unique and refreshing wildlife experience.
Here are a few national parks you should visit if you’re visiting Nepal:
Chitwan National Park
Open in 1973, this was the first area in Nepal to be declared as a National Park. It is spread over 900 kilometres square in the tropical lowland of Terai. The sal forests, grasslands and riverine forests offer excellent habitats for a variety of mammals and birds. It is also one of a few remaining places to observe the Royal Bengal Tiger. Along with the Tiger, the park is also home to elephants and one-horned rhinoceros. A Gharial Crocodile Breading centre has also been established at the park headquarters for maximising the survival of these endangered species. You can take a tour of the National Park on the elephants back but nowadays that is slowly diminishing. Rather than that you can take a walk along with the elephants and tour the jungle on foot which is a really interesting and new idea for jungle safaris. Jeep rides also available that takes you deep into the jungle.
Langtang National Park
Close to Kathmandu and open in 1976, Langtang National Park is situated in the central Himalayan region of Nepal. It contains a great range of vegetation as its area encompasses both subtropical and alpine zones. A total of 1000 plant species, 160 bird species and 30 mammal species have been identified in the park area. The number of tourists visiting this park in increasing every year and is very popular among trekkers as it takes a short time to get there from the capital Kathmandu. The national park is also home to Gosaikunda lake which is considered very holy among Hindus.
Bardiya National Park
Established in 1988, Bardia National Park covers an area of 968 kilometres square and is the largest and most undisturbed national park in Nepal's Terai region. Including a section of the Greuwa branch of the Karnali River and part of the southern face of the Siwalik Hills, the park consists of fairly flat, alluvial land. Over 70% is covered by Sal forest and the rest is open grassland, savannah and riverine forest. This park has the second largest population of tigers and is also home to around 32 species of mammals including the Gangetic dolphin, swamp deer and elephant. If you are a bird lover, there are about 250 species of birds in the area. A small population of Gharial crocodiles still survives in the Karnali River along with the mahseer fish.
Rara National Park
Nepal’s smallest national park lies in the remote North West region of the country. It is home to what is known as the queen of lakes – Rara Lake which is located at an altitude of 2,990m. Trees within the park are mixed, although conifers dominate the forest. Mammals like musk deer, ghoral, serow, wild dogs Himalayan black bear, jackal and yellow-throated marten are found in the park. Many colourful bird species such as the blood pheasant, Kaliz, impeyan pheasant, snow-cock and chukor are also frequently sighted. Taking a flight from Nepalgunj to Kolti or Jumla is the best way to get to the National Park.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
This is Nepal’s smallest reserve covering an area of 65 square kilometres in the Koshi flood plain in eastern Terai. This reserve contains a remnant population of wild buffaloes found nowhere else in Nepal. Dissected by a number of river channels, the landscape is very flat and contains mostly tall grass species and riverine trees species like Khair, sisoo and semal.
The ponds created while constructing the Koshi barrage attracts a lot of fish eating bird to the reserve. On the main body of water, hundreds of migratory waterfowl have been seen near the barrage making it one of Nepal’s best areas for bird life.