Makalu Barun National Park is a 1,500 km2 (580 sq mi) national park lying in the Himalayas of Nepal. The Makalu Barun is best known as the world’s only conservational area whose elevation ranges above 8,000 m (26,000 feet).
The forests in the national park are covered with dense tropical forests on the lower regions while the upper half is covered with snow-clad mountains. The Makalu Barun ranges boast of the world’s fifth highest mountain peak Makalu (8,463 m), and other peaks like Chamalang (7,319 m), Baruntse (7,129 m), Mera (6,654 m), and many others.
Where is Makalu Barun National Park in Nepal?
The protected area lies in the Solukhumbu and Sankhuwasabha Districts in the north-eastern Limbuwan region of Nepal. The national park was established in 1992 as an extension of the Sagarmatha National Park in the Khumbu region.
The 1,500 sq km park is surrounded by a buffer zone of 830 sq km in its south and southeast region. The national park extends to over 66 km from its west end to east end and about 44 km from its north to south.
Makalu Barun National Park shares its international border with Qomolangma National Nature Preserve of Tibet which lies in the north.
How can we reach Makalu Barun National Park?
One can reach the national park via a flight which leaves daily from Kathmandu to Lukla, Lamidanda, Tumlingtar, Bhojpur, or Phaplu. You can also catch a plane to these paces from Biratnagar.
Once you’ve reached the high places, the park is accessible via road. However, it is always advisable to go for public transport rather than a private taxi.
After reaching the Makalu Barun Park, tourists from the SAARC countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan) are made to pay a fee of Rs 100/per person. In contrast to this, nationals from other foreign countries pay Rs 1000/-. Nepalese citizens are allowed free entry to the sanctuary.
Best time to visit MBNP
The best time to visit the national park is during the Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September - December) season. It is impossible to camp during the winter because the weather is freezing and during the monsoon which lasts from June to September.
Origins of Makalu Barun National Park
The history of Makalu Barun Park dates back to the 1980s when officials from The Mountain Institue visited the Barun Valley to conduct surveys. The biological and ecological richness of the region created an interest amongst the personnel to start a new conservational area.
Therefore, a respective proposal was forwarded in 1985 by The Mountain Institute and Department of National Parks, which led to the formation of the Makalu-Barun Conservation Area Project in 1988.
The park was gazetted in 1991 and officially opened to the public in 1992. The protected area was later converted into a buffer zone in 1999.
Vegetation and Habitatants of the Makalu-Barun National Park
The vegetation of the national park varies from near-tropical dipterocarp monsoon forest lying in the lower regions (400 m) to sub-alpine conifer forests in the upper section (above 4,000 m).
The forests of the Makalu Barun National Park are classified into five bioclimatic zones. They are:
- Tropical forest: below 1,000 m comprising of Sal (Shorea Robusta) trees;
- Subtropical forest: forests ranging between 1,000 m to 2,000 m of elevation with trees of Castanopsis and Schima;
- Lower and upper temperate forest: forests lying between 2,000 m and 3,000 m, covered with oak, laurel, magnolia, and maple trees;
- Subalpine forest: the area between 3,000 to 4,000 m are covered with thick forests of East Himalayan fir, juniper, and Himalayan birch;
- Alpine forest: the forests above 4,000 m are covered with rhododendron, juniper, wildflowers, aromatic herbs.
Above 5,000 m the Makalu-Barun National Park is mostly covered rocks and ice which favours little vegetation.
According to botanists, the conservation area is reported to have over 128 species of flowers, which includes 30 varieties of Nepal’s national flower (rhododendron), 48 species of primroses, and 47 types of orchids.
The vegetation of the park comprises of 86 fodder trees, 19 types of bamboos, 15 oaks, and about 67 different varieties of economically valuable medicinal and aromatic plants.
Habitants of MBNP
The primary residents of the Makalu Barun National Park belong to the ethnic groups of Limbu, Sherpa, Gurung, Yakkha, Magar, Tamang, Newar, Brahmin, and Chettri. The primary occupation of these people is farming who live in the 12 Village Development Committees of this area.
The forests of this protected area are home to over 88 species of mammals. The national park is best known for housing wild animals like the snow leopard, clouded leopard, Indian leopard, leopard cat, golden jackal, jungle cat, and many other predators.
Elusive Leopard Roams Free
Other animals found in the region are Himalayan wolf, red fox, red panda, black bear, Hanuman langur, musk deer, Assam macaque, muntjac, wild boar, barking deer, Himalayan goral, Himalayan tahr, Himalayan serow, flying squirrel, weasel, and marmot.
Zoologists claimed to have spotted the endangered Asian golden cat wandering at an altitude of 2,517 m in May 2009.
According to ornithologists, the area is recorded to have over 440 species of birds like eagles, raptors, sunbirds, and white-necked storks.
Makalu Barun National Park houses 16 protected and rare species of birds like deep-blue kingfisher, Blyth’s kingfisher, rose-ringed parakeet, blue-naped pitta, sultan tit, pale blue flycatcher, white-naped yuhina, spiny babbler, and silver-eared mesia.
Besides birds and animals, the conservational area is also well known for inhabiting 315 types of butterflies, 78 species of fish in its many ponds, 43 kinds of reptile, and over 16 varieties of amphibians.
Hunting and poaching of the rare and endangered wildlife living in the conservational area are strictly prohibited, except in cases of life-threatening situations.
Top 5 Things to do in Makalu Barun National Park:
- Bird Watching
- Jungle Safari
- Volunteering for Conservational and other vocational programs