Nepal is known to the entire world for its glistening high mountains, lush green forests, exotic flora and fauna and ethnically diverse population. The treasures that lure thousands of tourists to the country every year are now in a dire need for protection.
The political instability of the country along with the sensitive border issues with China had resulted in a number of regions of the country being restricted for tourists. While some have opened after 1990s, there are still some areas that require permits, entry fees, company of Nepali guides and other provisions.
Here is a list of the popular restricted areas of Nepal.
1. Makalu Trekking
The region is home to the fifth highest mountain in the world “Makalu” in the eastern part of Nepal. The rich bio-diversity and the small settlements of the area are the highlights that are being protected by the Makalu Barun Conservation Area. Thirty thousand species of flowers and various endangered animals like the Red Panda, Musk deer, Leopard, Himalayan Thar are being conserved in the area.
The centuries-old communities of Rai, Sherpa, Bhote and other similar groups reside in this area. They remain absolutely untouched by the influence of modernizations. Passing from Arun valley through various landscapes and settlements, the trek reaches Barun valley which conserves the last remaining regions of forests and alpine meadows. The relatively inaccessible place sees tourists every year mainly during the months of October to December.
2. Dolpo Jomsom trekking
This trekking area in the remote part of the mid-western region provides a chance to explore the nature and culture that has been well preserved over the centuries. The region is protected by the Shey Phoksundo National Park with the highlight being the Shey Phoksundo Lake with its color changing waters.
The residents of the region are mostly Tibetans who follow the pre-Buddhist, Bon religion which is believed to have been spread in the region by Guru Ringpoche. The exotic animals like the snow leopard, blue sheep, deer and others and the centuries old monasteries, traditional villages, unique cultures make the trek an enriching experience.
3. Tsum valley trekking
It is another naturally and culturally gifted trek that has been opened by the Government of Nepal for group treks. Located in the Gorkha region, the trek is adorned by the numerous gorges, hamlets, Gompas and the colorful chortens along the trails. The people of the valley are mostly Tibetan with their unique cultures and dialect. With the Ganesh Himal, Sringi Himal and Buddha Himal as the backdrop, the pilgrimage valley is a symbol of ancient art, culture and religion with carvings of deities and prayers in the thousands of stone slabs. The Tsum Conservation Committee has been initiated as a part of responsible tourism to protect the delicate ecosystem and unique culture.
4. Manaslu Larke pass trek
This trek opened in 1992 in the Manaslu Conservation Area that is a rich combination of centuries old Tibetan culture, unparalleled Himalayan beauty and the diverse flora and fauna that makes the trek an unforgettable experience. The trek goes on being difficult as you move from the lowest point in Gorkha to the higher altitudes in Manaslu. This arduous trek along the Budhi Gandaki River is rewarded by the warm hospitality of the Nepali people and their culture and the breathtaking views of the Manaslu region scenery.
5. Upper Mustang
Mustang is known as the Last forbidden kingdom as it was opened to tourism only after 1992 and was ruled by its own king until the Maoist government. The barren desert-like land lies in the border with Tibet, in the rain shadow area of the Himalayas. The ancient art and culture as depicted in the palace, various Gompas and monasteries makes it a cultural treasure. Along with the people and culture, the sights of the Himalayan giants Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, along with others above 6000m make the strenuous trek very rewarding. The trek begins from Jomsom through Kagbeni to Lo Manthang along the banks of Kali Gandaki River and makes one of the top treks of Nepal.
The restricted area had its own touch of uniqueness compared to the unrestricted regions. These regions do not see many visitors because of which the trails are less stridden giving you the ultimate experience of nature in its purest form.
Most of the treks in the restricted regions are also considered to be strenuous. Trekking in these routes demand more than an averagely fit body, experience and a good amount of knowledge about mountaineering.