About 218 square miles of land located at 1300m/4300ft above sea level with three historic, artistic and cultural towns called Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. These three small old towns together form what is known as the Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu is a centre for Nepal’s traditions, culture and arts. Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal which has many facilities including international airport, international airline offices, tourist hotels, restaurants and travel/trekking agencies. Kathmandu itself consists of 7 World heritage sites which are Swoyambhunath, Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square and Changunarayan. There are some day hikes available in the Kathmandu Valley. Nagarkot and Dhulikhel are the best view points for those who like to see the mountains while add on to Namo Buddha would be worth visiting from Dhulikhel.
Pokhara is a significant tourism destination in Nepal that lies between the Great Himalayas and Mahabharata Range. It is situated in the central region of Nepal about 200km west of the capital city Kathmandu. It is the only place in the world from where one can enjoy the magnificent view of the mountains having elevation above 8000 meters while sitting below 1000 meters from the sea level. Out of the 14 highest mountains in the world which are above 8000 meters namely Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu can be seen from Pokhara. It is an enchanting city nestled in a tranquil valley, which is also a gateway to the world famous Annapurna Circuit trekking trail. Pokhara is also a centre of adventures. Trekking, Mountaineering, Hiking, Paragliding, Ultra Light Flights, Mountain biking, Cave and Museum trips are available in Pokhara. A short drive to Sarangkot would be an extra advantage in your Pokhara stay.
Gorkha – the historic town:
Gorkha is situated at about 140km west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1,135 meter from the sea level. Gorkha's small town is perhaps one of the most important historical towns of Nepal. Gorkha has its hilltop forests to the raging rivers. The British term "Gurkha" evolved from the name Gorkha, referring to the famed fighting soldiers of the region. Gorkha has a great historical importance. Gorkha offers a panoramic view of snow-fed mountain, the Mansalu range. Gorkha Durbar, Gorkha Bazaar and Gorakhnath Cave are the major attractions of Gorkha. Gorkha has always been a popular destination with its great ancient history.
Lumbini – the birth place of Lord Buddha:
Lumbini is situated in the Southern Terai region of Nepal about 300km west from the capital city Kathmandu. It is the birth place of Siddhartha Gautam, the Shakya Prince and the ultimate Buddha who was born in 623 BC. The sacred place, marked by a stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka of India in 249 BC is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Lumbini is being developed as the holy site for Buddhist pilgrimage and a symbol of world peace. The shrines and monasteries built many countries are reflecting the architectural traditions of the respective countries to give a message of universal friendship and brotherhood. About 30km east of Lumbini is the village of Tilaurakot which is believed to have been the location of the Kapilvastu royal palace where the Buddha was grown up. The Prince left the palace in search of enlightment at the age of 29. The main attraction at Lumbini is the Sacred Garden. Ashoka pillar having an inscription identifying the holy site as the birthplace of Lord Buddha is situated nearby the Sacred Garden. To one side of Ashoka pillar is the Mayadevi Temple. Recent excavations have turned up a stone bearing a "foot imprint" indicating the exact place of birth of Lord Buddha. The Puskarini pond where Queen Mayadevi (the Buddha's mother) had taken a bath before giving birth to him lies to the south of the pillar. There are also three museums in Lumbini: The Lumbini Museum, Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI) and the Kapilvastu Museum. Today Lord Buddha is known as the "Light of Asia".
Janakpur lies in the eastern Terai of Nepal about 20km north of the Mahendra highway. This small bordering town to India is famous for Janaki Temple which is connected to Hindu epic of Ramayana and rich for historical and cultural heritage. Legend tells that it is the place where Sita was born and she was married to Ram. In the heart of Janakpur city, Janaki Temple is established- the finest pieces of architecture. Sita is believed to be a daughter of King Janak who found her during ploughing. Janaki Temple and Bibaha Mandap are the important attractions of Janakpur. The other attraction in Janakpur is its Mithila culture. Ram Navami, Chhath, Holi and Deepawali are the major festivals celebrated with great fun in Janakpur.
Sagarmatha National Park:
Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park is extended over an area of 1,148sq.km. It lies in the Solukhumbu district of Nepal. The Park is largely composed of rugged terrain and gorges of the high Himalayas ranging from 2,845m to the top of the world's highest mountain - Sagarmatha at 8,848m (29,028ft) above the sea level. Other peaks above 6,000m include Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Thamserku, Nuptse, Amadablam and Pumori. The famed Sherpa people live in the region. The renowned Tengboche and other monasteries are the gathering places to celebrate religious festivals such as Dumje and Mani Rimdu. Apart from Tengboche; Thame, Khumjung and Pangboche has some other famous monasteries. UNESCO has listed Sagarmatha National Park as a World Heritage Site in 1979A.D. for its super natural characteristics. The vegetation found at the lower altitude of the park includes pine and hemlock forests, while fir, juniper, birch and rhododendron, scrub and alpine plant communities are common at the higher altitude while the park is home to the red panda, snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan tahr, marten, Himalayan mouse hare (pika) and over 118 species of bird including the Impeyan pheasant, snow cock, blood pheasant, red billed cough etc. Everest Base Camp and Gokyo trekking are the popular treks in the National Park.
Langtang National Park:
Langtang National Park was established in 1976A.D. to conserve the unique flora and fauna of the region. The park is extended over parts of Nuwakot, Rasuwa, and Sindhupalchok districts of Nepal. Sub-tropical vegetation characterized by Sal (Shorea robusta) forest in the southern section of the park is gradually taken over by hill forest (2000-2600m) consisting of Chirpine, Rhododendron, and Nepalese alder. The temperate zone (2600-3000m) is covered mainly by oak forest fading to old growth forest of silver fir, hemlock, and larch in the lower sub-alpine zone (3000-3600m). Langtang National Park's extensive high meadows provide summer habitat for numerous ungulate species such as musk deer and Himalayan tahr. The park is also well known for its populations of red panda, Himalayan black bear, snow leopard, wild dog, ghoral, serow and more than 250 species of birds. Treks to Kyanjin Gompa through Langtang Valley and Gosainkunda, the Frozen Lake are available as popular trekking routes.
Chitwan National Park:
Chitwan National Park is situated in the south-central part of Nepal. It covers an area of 932sq.km. UNESCO declared Chitwan National Park as a World Heritage Site in 1984A.D. In 1996, an area of 750sq.km. surrounding the park was declared a buffer zone, which consists of forests and private lands including cultivated lands. The Chitwan valley consists of tropical and subtropical forests. Sal forests cover over 70 percent of the park. Sal leaves are used locally for plates in festivals and religious occasions. Grasslands cover 20 percent of the park. There are more than 50 different types of grasses including the elephant grass (Saccharum sp), renowned for its immense height. It can grow up to 8m in height. The park is home to more than 50 mammal species, over 525 birds and 55 amphibians and reptiles. The endangered fauna found in the park are: One-horned rhinoceros, Gaur, Royal Bengal tiger, Wild elephant, Fourhorned antelope, Pangolin, Golden monitor lizard, Python, Bengal florican, Lesser florican, Giant hornbill, Black stork and While stork, etc. Jungle Safari adventure trips are operated in the National Park for two, three and four nights.
Rara National Park:
Rara National Park is located in the North-Western high mountains of Nepal situated at an elevation of 2,980m (9,777ft). The park is Nepal's smallest protected area, having an area of only 106sq.km. The lake is oval shaped with an east-west axis and has a maximum length of 5km and a width of 3km. It is surrounded by magnificent conifer forests; it is Nepal's biggest lake (10.8 sq.km.) with a depth of 167m. Its radiant blue water is home to the snow trout (Schizothorax oreinus sinuatus), the only fish recorded in the lake. The reserve is characterized by sub-alpine and high temperate vegetation. Common plant species include fir, pine, and birch, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, juniper and spruce. The park is home to around 20 different species of mammals. They include Musk deer, Himalayan black bear, Leopard, Jackal, Himalayan tahr, Yellow throated marten, Otter, Wild dog, Common langur, Rhesus macaque and Red panda. The park has recorded 214 species of birds. Some of the important species include coots, snow cock, and different species of pheasants, grebes, mallard, common teal, red-crested pochard and gulls. During winter, many migratory birds join the residential gallinaceous birds. Popular and classic treks are offered to the Lake Rara.
Bardia National Park:
Bardia National park is the largest national park in Nepal covering an area of 968sq.km. The park was established in the Western part of Nepal to protect representative ecosystems and conserve tiger and its prey species. The park offers a variety of experiences in its vast undisturbed wilderness. About 70% of the forest consists of Sal trees with a mixture of grassland and riverine forests. The park is home to endangered animals such as the Royal Bengal tiger, wild elephant, Greater one-horned rhinoceros, swamp deer and black buck. The other endangered species include gharial-crocodile, marsh mugger and Gangetic dolphin. Endangered birds found in the park are Bengal florican, Lesser florican and sarus crane. More than 30 different mammals, over 230 species of birds and several species of snakes, lizards and fishes have been recorded in the park, grassland and river. In addition to the resident species, several migratory birds visit the park in different seasons. An elephant ride provides a different view of the park as one can go off the main trail. Morning and late afternoon is the ideal time to go on a ride. Karnali River is the suitable home for Gangetic dolphin. Babai valley is a majestic place to visit where flagship Rhino, tiger, elephant can be observed in the wilderness site. The whole things can be organized in a package as Jungle Safari trip which is a unique safari in the world.
Dolpa and Shey-Phoksundo National Park:
Shey-Phoksundo National Park is situated in the Dolpa district of Trans-Himalayan region of north-west Nepal. It is Nepal’s largest National Park covering an area of 3,555sq.km. It was established in 1984A.D. to preserve a unique Trans-Himalayan ecosystem with a diversity of flora and fauna. Shey Phoksundo National Park provides a diversity of spectacular landscapes. Phoksundo Lake is famous for its magnificent turquoise color and the spectacular scenery clearly rank it with the most scenic mountain parks in the world. Ringmo, a typical Tibetan village is scenically nestled in the area. The Park consists of many Gompas (Monasteries) and religious shrines. The most famous, Shey Gompa was established in the 11th Century. Hence the national park is named after the famous Shey monastery and the Phoksundo Lake. The northern Himalayan region of the park seems barren while the Trans-Himalayan slope lands consists of some rhododendron, caragana shrubs, Salix, Juniper, white Himalayan birch and the occasional silver fir. Blue pine, spruce, hemlock, cedar, silver fir, rhododendron and bamboo are found in Suligad valley. The park also contains 286 species of ethno botanical importance. The park is an important habitat for endangered species like the snow leopard, grey wolf, musk deer, blue sheep, goral, great Tibetan sheep, Himalayan tahr, jackal and Himalayan black bear. The park is home to six reptiles and 29 species of butterflies including the highest flying butterfly in the world. The park provides habitat for over 200 species of birds, including Tibetan partridge, wood snip, white-throated tit and wood accentor. There are popular treks available in the region of upper and lower Dolpa.
Annapurna Conservation Area:
The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) consists some of the world’s highest peaks such as Annapurana I (8,091m/26,546ft) and Machhapuchhre/Fishtail (6,997m/22,957ft) etc., the world’s deepest gorge - the Kali Gandaki gorge and the world's highest altitude lake Tilicho located at 4,920m. It is the Nepal’s largest protected area covering 7,629sq.km. of land. It was established in 1992A.D. The nearest town is Pokhara, some 30 km to the south. The ACAP has an entire habitats gradient from sub tropical sal forest to perenial snow harboring 22 different forest types with 1226 plant species including 55 endemics, 30 mammals and 456 birds. The Annapurna area is known as the perfect trekking area and it is also regarded as trekkers' paradise. There are more than 10 ethnic groups (Tibeto-Burmese: Gurung, Thakali, Bhotia, Ethnic Tibetan and Magar and Indo-Aryan: Brahmin, Kshetri, Kami, Damai and Sarki) live in the region. The purpose of establishment of ACAP are to conserve the natural resources of the area for the benefit of the present and future generations, to bring sustainable social and economic development to the local people and to develop eco-tourism that will have a minimum negative environmental impact. The Annapurna Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit trails are the major trekking routes and attract higher number of trekkers in Nepal. The major attraction of Annapurna Circuit trek is the popular high pass called 'Thorung La' (5,416m/17,769ft).
Manaslu Conversation Area:
Manaslu region was declared as “Conservation Area” in December 1998A.D. by the Government of Nepal. It covers an area of 1663sq.km. The region harbors a mosaic of habitats for 33 species of mammals, 110 species of birds, 11 species of butterflies and 3 species of reptiles. There are approx. 2000 species of plants, 11 types of forests and over 50 species on useful plants. The bio-climatic zones vary from sub-tropical to Nival. The altitude rises from a mere 600m. to the summit of Mt. Manaslu (8,163m/26,782ft), the eighth highest peak in the world. There are trekking trips available to Manaslu Base Camp and Larkya la pass (5,135m/16,847ft). The trek can further be extended to Thorung la pass (5,416m/17,769ft) in the Annapurna region or ended at Besisahar.
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area:
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA) is named after the popular Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586m/28,170ft) - the second highest mountain in Nepal and the third highest in the world. Kanchenjunga was designated as a conservation area in March 1998. It covers an area of 2035sq.km. in Taplejung district, in the northeast corner of Nepal. Taplejung district is also famous for high peaks (eleven peaks are higher than 7,000m) and glaciers. The conservation area with unique mountain ecosystems is envisioned as a tri-national peace park with Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China to the north and Sikkim of India in the east. Sikkim already has Khangchenzonga National Park adjoining KCA whereas the extension of Chomolungma Nature Reserve in TAR. Kanchenjunga region was declared as a Gift to the Earth as part of WWF’s Living Planet Campaign 2000 by the Government of Nepal in April 1997. Trekking trips to Kanchenjunga Base Camp are available for the people who like adventure and unspoiled region.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve:
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve lies on the floodplains of the Sapta Koshi River in the south-eastern part of Nepal having an area of 176sq.km. The reserve was established in 1976A.D. to preserve habitat for the only remaining population of Wild buffalo, Arna (Bubalus arnee). The vegetation is mainly composed of tall grasses. Local villagers are allowed to collect thatch grasses once a year which are used for roof thatching and building house walls. There are also small patches of Khair-sissoo scrub forest and deciduous mixed riverine forest. The last surviving population of Wild buffalo is found here. The estimated population of wild buffalo is around 159 individuals is declining. They are distinguished from domestic buffalo by their much bigger horns. The reserve is also home to around 20 other animal species such as Hog deer, Wild boar, Spotted deer, Blue bull and Rock Python. About 441 species of birds (14 endemic species) have been recorded seen here, including 20 duck species, 2 Ibis species, white tailed stonechat, Striated marsh warbler, 30 shore birds, 114 water birds, and the endangered swamp partridge and Bengal florican. The Koshi Barrage is an extremely important resting place for many migratory birds, containing 87 winter and Trans-Himalayan migratory species. The Koshi River is home to 80 species of fish. The endangered Gharial crocodile and Gangetic dolphin have been recorded in the river as well. During winter, many of the migratory birds can be seen on the Koshi Barrage and on the river channel. Migration usually peaks around mid March. Much wildlife visits the area during dusk and dawn. The clear skies allow for beautiful sights of several Himalayan peaks including Mt. Makalu (8,463m/27,767ft), the world's fifth highest mountain. Trips of elephant ride and bird watching are offered in the reserve.