How to Spot Red Pandas and Dolphins in Nepal

Plataniste or Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangética), Karnaphuli river, Bangladesh Plataniste or Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangética), Karnaphuli river, BangladeshDo you know what makes Nepal one of the most biodiverse countries in the world? Hint: it has something to do with a giant called the Himalayas. The climate range is so broad – from the highest point in the world (Everest) to the tropical lowlands that are engulfed in humidity and home to rainforests – the tremendous geographic diversity plays a part in the range of flora and fauna that exist within the country.

Travel down to the Terai lowlands of Nepal, where the climate is subtropical. The rivers lay a foundation for the abundance of wildlife including a familiar species that we often associate as being the friendliest in the seas. It may seem surprising that the landlocked country of Nepal could be home to a marine creature, but it’s true: dolphins exist in Nepal – the freshwater Ganges River Dolphin to be exact.

Officially discovered in 1801, the river dolphins were once endemic Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. Today, it is estimated that there are less than 2,000 isolated in Nepal. While the government and private conservation efforts are underway, the dolphins are continuously threatened by illegal fishing nets and habitat loss. However, recently locals have reported sightings of the elusive creatures on the Kamali River, close to Bardia National Park. The best way for travelers to not only see dolphins but also support their conservation efforts is by supporting the locals who are at the frontlines of protecting the species. The Community Homestay Networks in Bardia and Dalla, along with resorts in the area offer experiences that include a dolphin sightseeing raft cruise down the Kamali River. By promoting tourism, which supports the local economy, travelers help us send a message on the importance of environmental stewardship. [Contact us for a full itinerary that includes spotting endangered wildlife.]

Embark on the Climate Trek to the snow-covered peaks of Helambu National Park. The area, surrounded by glacial-carved cliffs, creates a stunning backdrop as our next unexpected animal’s home. Langtang – Helambu National Park are protected zones for the Red Panda, a shy, raccoon-like cousin of the Panda Bears. Slightly larger than a house cat, these adorable creatures are under threat from an increased human population that result in habitat loss. Although a rare sight, travelers have the opportunity to meet one face-to-face this Earth Day on a planned climate-friendly trek to promote sustainable tourism. Marvel at the Himalayas and trek through old-growth forests to explore the Red Panda’s habitat and hang out with the locals who are working to make Nepal #1 in sustainable travel. [Contact us to learn more about Climate Trek.]

Other animals to consider when visiting Nepal include the one-horned rhinoceros, Asian elephants, Bengal tigers and a plethora of avian species that would delight birders.

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