Far Western Nepal

About Far Western Nepal

The Far-Western Development Region is one of Nepal's five development regions. It is located at the western end of the country and had its headquarters in Dipayal. The Far-Western Region covered 19,539 square kilometers. It had nine districts with the regional headquarters at Dipayal, Doti District.
Far West Nepal is home to very colorful and vivid cultures. Visitors can get in contact and experience the unique Tharu culture in the Terai, Hindu culture in the Mid Mountains and Tibetan culture in the northern part of the Far Western Region. People of the Far West live under diverse environmental conditions, from the low plains nearly at sea level along the border of India, northward through the middle hills and up to the flanks of the great Himalayan range, where there are settlements at an altitude of up to 4,800 m.In recent years, most of the different cultures have become intertwined, because of population shifts and migration. People have adjusted their beliefs and cultures according to the place where they are living. So, people from the mountains migrated to the Terai and brought their traditions and festivals with them. As a result, they were adopted by the Tharu communities. Tharu traditions are still an important part of Terai culture.
Khaptad National Park lies in the heart of Far West Nepal. It covers an area of 225 km2. Khaptad National Park offers a wonderful variety of landscapes, from lush forests and green hills to streams and moorland. It is mainly characterized by a plateau of hilly grasslands, the so-called patans, at an altitude of about 3000m. Here, climbing up through the hilly regions, you can feel the chilly winds from the Himalayas. In the morning, the haze mysteriously rises from the plateau’s meadows and treetops, revealing an even more majestic beauty!
The area’s biodiversity of flora and fauna has increased even more since it became a National Park in 1984. It is the habitat of musk deer, wild boar, porcupines, and birds like the Chyakhura, the Kalij, the Titra, and the Danphe. A diverse vegetation of forests and herb filled meadows gives this place its special, calming atmosphere.
The Suklaphanta National Park is named after the dazzling open grassland, which is called ‘Phanta’ in Nepali. The National Park has the largest grassland in the Far Western Terai. It is also home to Nepal’s – maybe even Asia’s – largest population of swamp deer (currently numbering around 2,000). Many more species can be found in the National Park, such as tigers, rhinos, crocodiles, wild elephants, and migratory birds. The park used to be a popular hunting place for the Nepalese royalty before it became a protected area. Even today, it has not yet been explored entirely. This is why researches and zoologists visit the park just as often as tourists.
About 2 kilometers from the National Park, another attraction of the region awaits the Dodhara Chandani Suspension Bridge. The suspension bridge has a span of 1460 m and is the longest bridge of its kind in Asia. It connects the two villages Dodhara and Chandani, separated by the Mahakali River.
Api Nampa is Nepal’s youngest conservation area and maybe also the best preserved. Due to the few numbers of tourists that have reached this area of Nepal, you can experience untouched nature and authentic Nepali traditions. The conservation area is named after Mount Nampa (6757 m) and Mount Api (7132 m), Far West highest mountain. Between these peaks, a central plateau of grassland is located. The grassland has a mixed variety of oaks, pine forests and temperate deciduous forests. The diverse climatic conditions and altitudinal variation of the area have provided habitats for many rare and threatened wildlife species, including the snow leopard and the musk deer.
Also, the local communities have kept their traditional way of life. They mainly live from agriculture, a collection of medicinal and aromatic plants as well as artisan productions. The community of the Byash, for example, still practices a nomadic lifestyle. They move between the high altitude grasslands in the summer months and to the lower valleys, close to Darchula town, in the wintertime.
With an impressive 7031 m, Mount Saipal is the second highest peak of the Far Western Himalayas. Climbers prefer it to the higher Mount Api since the trekking route to the base camp is less strenuous. The trail continues up to the Urai Bhanjyang pass, which is the main gateway to the holy Mount Kailash in Tibet.  There is no fee for trekking and mountaineering in this area.
Southwest of the Mount Saipal range, there is the beautiful Surmasarowar Lake at an altitude of 4300 m. It does not only have natural and historical significance but also offers therapeutic value. It is believed that a dip in this lake helps cure skin diseases. There is also the myth that in doing so, the Goddess Surma will be pleased and she will help fulfill your wishes. Every year, during the end of July, a big festival called Birijaat takes place there. Thousands of pilgrims come here for a ritual bath during this annual event. Apart from the lake, the trekking route to Surmasarowar itself is a major attraction.

Khaptad National Park Entry Fee: US$ 30

Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve Entry Fee: US$ 10
Api Nampa Conservation Area(ANCA): US$ 2(SAARC) and US$ 22(Other)
TIMS Card: US$ 11

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