Khaptad National Park

  बैशाख २७, २०८१

Khaptad, Nepal’s newest park area, is in the middle hills of the Far-West of the country. The 225 sq kms. area of the park is situated where the districts of Bajhang, Bajura, Doti and Achham meet. Khaptad is plateau of grassland and forest cover at an elevation of about 3,000 meters. The mixed conifer and broad-leaf forests are an excellent example of the vegetation that once covered much of west Nepal’s middle hills. The forest consists of a mixture of tall fir, yew, rhododendron, oak, dense strands of bamboo and smaller shrubs. This habitat provides good cover for bear, leopard, barking and musk deer, as well as birds like the Impeyan, koklas and kalij pheasants. This park is special because it represents one of the few remaining mid-mountain ecosystems in Nepal Himalaya. At the north-eastern corner of the park, a small serene lake and swampy area called Khapted Daha is religious site where Hindu pilgrims come to worship Shiva on the full moon of July-August each year. Here lived the ascetic, the Khaptad Baba, who was known and revered throughout Nepal.

The Park offers a challenging yet rewarding experience unlike any other protected area in Nepal. The Khaptad Baba Ashram is located near the Park headquarters.

The Tribeni confluence made by three rivers, and a Shiva temple are on the way to Park Headquarters. Ganga Dashahara is celebrated here during Jestha Purnima and many pilgrims visit the park during the festival. Sahashra Linga is another religious site situated at 3,200 m above sea level which is the highest point in the Park. Other religious places include Ganesh temple, Nagdhunga and Kedardhunga. These areas are considered as places for meditation and tranquillity and should not be disturbed. Tobacco products, alcohol, and sacrificing of animals are prohibited in these areas.

There is a small museum and a view tower at the park headquarters. To the north one can see the Api and Saipal Himalayan Ranges- In the other direction the vast green mid-hills of Nepal can be seen clearly. The Park contains 22 open patches of grasslands or patans interspersed with the forests. These patans consists of gentle rolling hills. The local people graze their livestock in the Patans during the summer season. In the north-eastern part of the Park, there is a lake called Khaptad Daha. During the full moon of August – September a festival is held here.

The seasons of spring (March-May) and autumn (October-November) are the best times to visit the Park. The temperature ranges from 10°c to 20°c offering pleasant trekking weather. The monsoon begins in June and last until September during this time paths become muddy and slippery. From December to February winter brings snow and chilling winds.

The flora of the Park can be divided into three basic vegetation zone’s-subtropical, temperate and alpine. In the lower altitudes (1000 – 2000 m), subtropical vegetation dominates the landscape; Forest mainly consists of Montane Sal, Pines and Alder species. From 1800 – 3000 m temperate type of forest dominates. The forest there are comprised of lower temperate mixed broad-leaved species (Lindera nacusua, Cinnamomum tamca. etc), temperate mixed evergreen species (Spruce, fir, hemlock, oak. etc), and upper temperate broad-leaved species (Aesculus indica, maple, etc.) Fir oak, birch, and rhododendron arc the major species found there. Intertwined into the landscape of the Khaptad plateau are the Patans with beautiful flowers (about 135 species) that bloom in the summer and late spring. The grassland flowers consist of primulas, buttercups, and wild berries. Also occurring inside the park is a wide variety of medicinal herbs (about 224 species).

The Park is reported to have 266 bird species with migratory birds joining the residential ones. It supports about 175 breeding birds’ species. Some of the common ones are the Impeyan pheasant (Dhanphe), Nepal’s national bird, and many types of partridges, flycatchers, bulbuls, cuckoos, and eagles. A wide variety of butterflies, moths, and insects also form a part of the Khaptad ecosystem. The Park provides habitat for some 20 different species of mammals. Common ones include barking deer, wild boar, goral, Himalayan black bear, and Yellow-throated Marten, and Rhesus and Langur monkey. Other includes leopard, wild dogs, jackal and musk deer.

Currently there are no lodges or hotels in the park. Trekkers must be self- sufficient in tents, food, fuel and all other supplies. Make sure to bring a first-aid kit because there are no medical facilities available within the Park.

The best way to reach the Park area is to fly to Nepalgunj or Dhangadi. From Dhangadi direct buses are available to Silgadhi, Doti. From Silgadhi Bazar one has to hike 6 hours to the Park entrance and another 7-8 hours to the Park Headquarters. Other options are- take a flight from Nepalgunj to Dipayal and proceed to Silgadhi or fly to Achham or Bajhang followed by a two-day walk, or flight to Bajura followed by a four-day walk.

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