Located in the Chitwan District in south-central Nepal, Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 and granted the status of World Heritage Site in 1984. Covering an area of 932 sq km, its altitude ranges from 330 feet to 2,674 feet.

Chitwan National Park Image Credits: johntyman.com
Chitwan National Park
Image Credits: johntyman.com

Literally translated, Chitwan means Heart of the Jungle. It was a favorite hunting ground for the royals of Nepal since the end of the 19th century. During the winter seasons, comfortable camps were set up in the area for the hunters and their entourage and hundreds of tigers, rhinos, leopards and sloth bears were hunted.

Chitwan’s forest extended beyond 2,600 sq km in the 1950s and was home to more than 800 rhinos. But the area was gradually opened for settlement and unrestrained poaching of the wildlife started. Edward Pritchard Gee surveyed the area and recommended that a protected area and wildlife sanctuary be created north and south of the Rapti River respectively.
By the end of the 1960s only 95 rhinos were left and thousands of people had settled in the area. This striking decline in the wildlife propelled the government to form the Gaida Gasti – a rhino recon patrol of 130 armed men and a network of guard posts all over the area. Following this the National Park was gazetted in 1970 with an area of 544 sq km. and enlarged to its present area in 1977.

Being a part of the central climatic zone of the Himalayas, Chitwan has a tropical monsoon climate with high humidity throughout the year.

Uttarakhand literally translates to the abode of the Gods. It is considered a paradise for trekkers, adventure buffs and nature lovers. Whether one is an experienced trekker or a first timer, there is a trek for everyone.

For all those who love the beauty and tranquility of the mountains and crave to reach new heights of adventure, here is Adventure Nation’s pick of the best Himalayan treks in Uttarakhand:

  1. Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib Trek – Duration – 06 days
    The base camp for this trek is at the small village of Ghangariya which is located by the river Lakshman Ganga. The Valley of Flowers is approximately 5 kms from this village. There is also the famous Govind Ghat that got its name from the time Sikh Guru Guru Gobind Singh meditated here. A steep trek from Ghangariya leads one to the heavenly Hemkund Lake that stays frozen for almost 8 months in a year. Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara and Lakshman Temple are built on the banks of this lake. This trek is particularly popular for the variety of flowers one gets to witness in the valley.

    Valley of Flowers
    Valley of Flowers
    Image Credits: bharatrawat641.blogspot.in

  2. Har Ki Doon Trek  – Duration – 08 days
    Considered a haven for bird watchers and nature lovers, Har Ki Doon trek gives one a great opportunity to explore the remotest parts of the Garhwal Himalayas. The base camp for this trek is Sankri which is about 37 kms from the highest camp on this trek. Har Ki Doon literally means the Valley of Lord Krishna and is surrounded by dense forests of pine, deodar and conifer. It is believed that the Pandavas camped here on their final journey.

Situated in the Western Himalayas, Kedarnath Sanctuary is located in the Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand. A part of the Himalayan Highlands, it has an elevation ranging from 3,810 ft to the Chaukhamba peak at 23,189 ft. It gets its name from the famous Kedarnath Temple that was built in the 8th century AD. It is just outside the northern border of the sanctuary.

Kedarnath Temple Image Credits: photos.wikimapia.org
Kedarnath Temple
Image Credits: photos.wikimapia.org

Covering an area as 975 sq km, it is the largest protected area in the Western Himalayas. It was formally established in 1972, primarily to protect the Himalayan musk deer and because of that it is also called the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary. It has been designated a “Habitat/Species Management Area” by the IUCN.

It is popular for its great biodiversity, picturesque snow-covered mountains, lakes, glaciers, valleys and the glistening Mandakini and Alaknanda Rivers. It’s often called one of the most beautiful sanctuaries in India. The density of the flora changes with the elevation – from sub-alpine forests to alpine shrubs, Himalayan flowers to permanent snow lines with little or no vegetation.

When the continents were joined as western Gondwana, Amazon flowed west from the interior of the present day Africa. 15 million years ago, the rise of the Andes Mountain range blocked the river and caused the Amazon to become a vast inland sea. Gradually it became a massive freshwater lake.

Amazon River
Amazon River

The Amazon River is said to have come into being as a transcontinental river approximately 11 million years ago, when the waters worked through the sandstone from the west and the Amazon began to flow eastward. It led to the emergence of Amazon rainforest. During the Ice Ages, sea levels dropped and the Amazon Lake speedily drained and became a river.

During the wet season (December – June), the Amazon River reaches over 190 kilometers in width. It is the second longest river in the World at approximately 6400 kilometers (only the Nile, in Africa, is longer). Because of its vastness, it is sometimes referred to as The River Sea. It has over 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which are over 1,500 kilometers long.

Clockwise (L-R) - Black Caiman, Giant Otter, Poison Dart Frog and Green Anaconda
Clockwise (L-R) – Black Caiman, Giant Otter, Poison Dart Frog and Green Anaconda