Trek up in the rolling hills of the Khaptad National Park (about 3000m) through the subtropical forest of Chir pine at lower altitudes, and subalpine forests of fir, hemlock, oak, and rhododendron in the higher regions. The national park is described as a living garden of herbs and a museum of natural history for its 224 species of medicinal herbs. It reportedly harbors 567 species which accounts for 11 percent of all the flowering plants of Nepal.
The park offers excellent bird-watching opportunities, with 270 species of birds, the common ones being: Impheyan pheasant, partridges, flycatchers, bulbuls, cuckoos and eagles. Khaptad National Park is also home to a rich variety of wild animals, such as barking deer, wild dog, wild boar, ghoral, Himalayan black bear, yellow-throated marten, rhesus macaque and langur monkey. Other areas of interest in the national park are Khaptad Daha, Nag Dhunga and Upper Tribeni. This national park also offers religious sightseeing.
Khaptad National Park is located in the Far-western region of Nepal. The park was gazetted in 1984 covering an area of 225 sq. km. The area of buffer zone is 216 sq.km. The park is the only mid-mountain national park in western Nepal, representing a unique and important ecosystem. The late Khaptad Swami moved to the area in 1940’s to meditate and worship. He spent about 50 years as a hermit and became a renowned spiritual saint.
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 Saipal Himalayan Ranges- In the other direction the vast green mid-hills of Nepal can be seen clearly. There are 22 open patches of Patans (pastureland) mix together with the forests inside park. 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 called Purnima celebrated here.
Flora & Fauna:
The flora of the park can be divided into three basic vegetation zone’s-subtropical, and temperate. 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 dominates the landscape. The forest there are comprised of lower temperate mixed broad-leaved species (Lindera nacusua, Cmnamomum 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 (pastureland) with beautiful flowers (about 135 species) that bloom in the summer and late spring. The grassland flowers consist of primulas, buttercups, and wild berries. A wide variety of medicinal herbs (about 224 species) are occurr inside the park The park is reported to have 266 birds 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 are also forming a part of the Khaptad ecosystem. The park provides habitat for some 20 different, species of mamals. Common ones include barking deer, wild boar, goral, Himalayan black bear, Yellow-throated Marten, and Rhesus and Langur monkey. Other includes leopard, wild dogs, jackal and musk deer.
ASHRAM OF KHAPTAD BABA
The Ashram (hermitage) of Khaptad Baba as the name proclaims is the area where the famous Khaptad Baba (Late Swami Sachchidananda) resided. The Ashram located at Tribeni is an important destination for pilgrims and tourists visiting Khaptad. The meditation area includes temples of lower Tribeni. There are no restrictions for visitors. In the core zone, however, grazing animals, cutting firewood and activities like drinking alcohol, smoking and slaughtering animals are prohibited.
Saileswori is one of the most famous religious stops on the way to Khaptad from Attariya Chowk, Kailali. The temple of Goddess Saileswori in Sigarhi, Doti, is comprised of temples dedicated to Ganesh and Masto. Silgarhi Bazaar, which is a historic town, is the main business center for far west Nepal.
Ramaroshan in Achham district is also called Pancha Pura (five cities) in Hindu scriptures and is attached to the stories of Pauranic Age. The site is famous for the five historical cities connected to stories of Goddess Parvati. There are 12 lakes in Khaptad National Park that are good bird watching sites. There are also ruins of old historical buildings that make this region important from an archeological point of view.
From Badimallika, there are enchanting views of the Himalayas and the ideal time to visit is from April to October. One can reach the area from Khaptad National Park by trekking for 8 to 10 days through remarkable landscapes of verdant forests and pastures. Badmallika houses the temple of Mallika Devi (4,153m) in Bajura district. It is believed that Goddess Sati, Shiva’s consort was reborn as Parvati in this holy site.
BEST TIMES TO VISIT THE PARK
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.
Khaptad National Park is in Seti zone and is surrounded by Doti, Bajura, Bajhang and Achham districts.
The gateway to Khaptad is Silgarhi Bazaar in Doti district, from where the park headquarters is 50 km and almost a 2-day trek. The best way to reach Silgarhi is via Attariya Chowk in Kailali district. Silgarhi Bazaar is a 9-hour drive from Attariya Chowk. Buses to Attariya Chowki, Kailali, are available at the Central Bus Station, Gongabu, in Kathmandu and transportation to Silgarhi is available from Attariya Chowk. Another option is to catch a flight to Dhangadi from where one can drive on to Silgarhi Bazaar.Khaptad National Park can also be reached quite easily from the western entry point to Nepal from India at Gadda Chowki, Mahendranagar. Silgarhi Bazaar is approximately a 10-hour drive from Mahendranagar, while Mahendranagar is only a 30-minute drive from the Indian border town of Banbasa, from where buses depart for Delhi every hour of the day.
NOTES: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.
Here are some of the Trekking accessories that you require for the easy and convenient journey-
In general you will need four sleeping bags (we could provide you one for the trek), a duffel or a trekking bag of 70-80 liters (we can provide one), down jacket (this too we can provide one if needed for the trek) and a normal travel bag of 25-30 liters.
For clothing, you will require the following-
Upper body- For this-shirts, waterproof jacket, fleece jacket or pullover, water proof jacketare needed. Wind proof jacket are optional but preferred. For T-shirts, baggy cotton T-shirts are the best especially for warm days in lower altitudes. Moreover, we recommend synthetic T-shirts as they quickly absorb the moisture. Then, for the waterproof jacket, we recommend you to have nylon which is light.
Lower body- For this, you need hiking shorts, trekking pants, soft shell and hard shell pants, cotton pants or jeans. For hiking shorts, buy the fabric which dries quickly. For trekking pants, go for the ones which have zipper in the middle of the knees so that you can take off the bottom part when necessary. Forsoft shell pants, buy a synthetic fiber. Then, for hard shell, buy a waterproof one. Full zipper from top to bottom is preferred for both soft and hard shell pants. For extra wearable, have a pair of jeans or cotton pants.
Inner wears- Regarding inner wears, you need lightweight underwear which is preferably made up of synthetic. For women, own synthetic sports bras. You could also have swimsuit if you would like to.
Footwear- For this, you need a trekking boot, gaiters and sandals. For Trekking boots, get a hard sole lug-cleated boots for good performance for every kind of landscape. We then recommend you to have a pair as it helps keep your feet dry quickly and keeping dust, rocks and snow out of your shoes. We also suggest you to have a pair of sandals as it helps while you are in the lodge. Then, for socks, you require 4 pairs of synthetic and 3 pairs of woolen socks.
Hand wears- The hand essentials are gloves, mittens and hand warmers. For warm weather, buy synthetic or thin woolen gloves. For cold weather, buy a woolen or fleece gloves. While for mittens, Gore-Tex mittens are the best. Regarding hand warmers, it’s completely your choice whether you want to have or not.
Face protection- For protecting the face against the snowfalls, heavy wind, direct sun, etc. we recommend you to have a cap or a hat, a synthetic woolen hat, a lightweightedbalaclava, glacier glasses having 100% UV protected lens with side shields and hard-sided storage, headlamp, ear muffs, neck warmer, etc. Ear muffs and neck warmers are not necessary but are up to your choice.
First Aid Kit– Though the trekking guides will be carrying a first aid kit box, we suggest you to have one as well. So, for this, you will need to have basic emergency equipment. You can discuss with us regarding what all to take along with you.
Personal care- The personal care products that you will require while trekking are tooth brush, tooth paste (biodegradable is preferred), towel, soap, hand wash, sanitizers, wet wipes, deodorants, crèmes, etc. along with your other needs.
Miscellaneous but important- These include valid passport, passport size photos, airline ticket (and its copy), luggage locks, thick garbage bags, water bottle, small bag for travel documents, passport, wallet/purse, etc., pocket knife, sunscreen lotion (SPF 40 recommended) and lip balm of at least SPF 20.
Extras- The extras include trekking poles, snacks, books, games, chargers, binoculars, batteries, camera, guide book, extra glasses (if you wear), notebook/pen, sleeping bag liner, hydration bladder with drinking tube, pee bottle for men and pee funnel for women, thermos, etc.
Note- Tight fitting clothes especially made out of fabrics like lycra, especially to women can be offensive to the local villagers. So, make sure that you pack something to wear on top of them if you want to pack them.
Day 01: Fly Kathmandu – Nepalgunj (198m) – 1 hr flight and drive to Buditola
Day 02: Drive Buditola to Silgadhi (1330m) – 6 hrs drv
Day 03: Trek to Jhigrana (2300m) – 7 hrs walk
Day 04: Trek to Bukipani (3080m) – 6 / 7 hrs walk
Day 05: Trek to Khaptad (3010m) – 2 hrs walk
Day 06: Explore Khaptad National Park and stay overnight
Day 07: Trek back to Jhigrana – 7 hrs walk
Day 08: Trek from Jhigrana to Silgadi via Uditola (1790m) – 5 hrs walk
Day 09: Drive to Dhangadhi and stay overnight
Day 10: Drive or fly back to Kathmandu – 1 hr 20 minutes flight, 6 hrs drv