For a small country, Nepal is incredibly diverse. It has the greatest range of altitudes of any nation on earth, ranging from the earth's highest mountains to subtropical river plains. And as the trading ground and meeting place among several cultures, dozens of different languages are spoken by even more ethnic groups. In general, Nepali parks are not "untouched" environments, but have a long history of use by humans. Many national parks incorporate grazing, farming, wood gathering, survival hunting, and human habitation into their boundaries, as well as tourism and trekking. These uses are not without their tensions and environmental stresses. But there's also something wonderful about this close association of humans and the natural environment; a trip to a Nepali national park always involves interacting with other cultures as well as with the raw stuff of nature.
Khaptad. In western Nepal. A gentle landscape of rolling plateau clothed in grasslands and mixed forests. Known in Nepal for its medicinal herbs.
Langtang. A wonderfully varied park near Kathmandu. Home to several cultures.
Makalu-Barun. Huge park encompassing several ecological zones. Some of the best mountain landscapes in Nepal.
RaRa . Named after RaRa Lake, the largest in Nepal. Because of this park's remoteness and high altitude, it's a challenge both to reach and to explore.
Royal Chitwan . In the lowland jungles. Created just in time to save the last wild Bengal tigers and rhinos in Nepal. Take a ride on an elephant's back, then bivouac in utter luxury or simple comfort.
Royal Bardia . Another lowland jungle park famous for its wildlife, hiking and rafting. More off the beaten track than Chitwan.
Sagarmatha. Mount Everest on the right—along with several other famous peaks. This park features HIGH mountains, deep gorges, and amazing bird and animal life. A World Heritage Site.
Shey Phoksundo. Largest national park in Nepal, this park takes in the Shey monastery and Lake Phoksundo. Remote and rarely visited.
Wildlife Reserves & Conservation Areas
Kosi Tappu Wildlife Reserves. A flood plain in the Terai, or Nepali lowlands, that's home to the last surviving wild water buffalo.
Annapurna Conservation Area. An experiment in environmental management: how to integrate nature, tourism, and the needs of local inhabitants. The most popular trekking area in Nepal (see "The Height of Stupidity"). Great natural scenery alongside several fascinating cultures.
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. Remote mecca for trophy hunters. Famous for its blue sheep.
Royal Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve. In the southwestern corner of Nepal, a lowland area similar to Chitwan and Bardia.
Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve. Partly deforested, but still home to several rare Nepali bird species.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication