The Annapurna Himal region of Nepal encompasses 2,600 sq. km. of mountainous terrain, containing some of the world's highest peaks and deepest river valleys. The area has been widely recognized as a naturalist's paradise. The upper sub-alpine steppe environment harbors one of the rare snow leopards and blue sheep. Other areas of the region protect bird species such as the multi-colored Impeyan pheasant (or danphe, Nepal's national bird), koklas, blood pheasants among a multitude of other birds, butterflies and insects.
Many plants native to Nepal are found in this forest. The conservation area has 100 varieties of orchids and some of the richest temperate rhododendron forests in the world. For thousands of years people of diverse ethnic backgrounds have scratched a livelihood out of its steep hillsides. The advent of tourism and the phenomenal rise in human population has triggered a process of environmental deterioration.
In 1986 Nepal's King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation launched the Annapurna Conservation Area Project. With international help, the project aims to integrate environmental conservation with development that can sustain the area's reserve base. The project aspires to improve local living standards, protect the environment and develop a more "sensitive" form of tourism. One of its most important functions has been to develop and teach courses on environmental education in local schools.
The Annapurna Conservation Area covers the entire Annapurna Massif, including the famous Annapurna Sanctuary, Marshyangdi and Kali Gandaki river valley, Manang, Thorung La, Muktinath and Jomsom.
For best wildlife observation, wildlife enthusiast should avoid most of the popular trekking route and opt for less frequented areas such as the well-forested Siklis ad Pipar hills, and the high-altitude alpine areas around Muktinath and Manang. Higher altitude can be visited in the spring and autumn, although lower altitude can be explored even during winter.
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Home page designed by Charles Lin ©1996
All photographs by Charles Lin ©1996