Kanchenjunga Conservation Area

Name: Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (IUCN Category: VI)

Established: 1998

Area (km2): 2035.00


Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA) derives its name from Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586m), the second-highest mountain in Nepal and the third-highest globally. Established in March 1998, it spans an area of 2035 sq. km in the Taplejung district, situated in the northeast corner of Nepal. Renowned for its high peaks, including eleven exceeding 7,000m, and glaciers, the conservation area features unique mountain ecosystems. Conceptualized as a tri-national peace park, it shares borders with the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China to the north and Sikkim, India, to the east. Sikkim already hosts the Khangchenzonga National Park adjacent to KCA, and efforts are underway to extend the Qomolungma Nature Reserve in TAR to cover the land bordering KCA from the Chinese side. In April 1997, the Government of Nepal declared the Kanchenjunga region a “Gift to the Earth” as part of WWF’s Living Planet Campaign 2000.

Heritage Significance:

The Kanchenjunga Conservation Area in the eastern Himalaya boasts some of Nepal’s most stunning scenery. Home to the third-highest peak globally, Mt. Kanchenjunga, this region is a global hotspot for plant diversity. Botanists have identified twenty-three species of rhododendrons in the area. Glacial streams cut through high ridges, creating remote and steep valleys where traditional farming practices are integral. Rich forests support over 250 bird species and endangered wildlife. High-elevation pastures with grazing yaks and vibrant alpine flowers add to the area’s natural beauty. The KCA is also a cultural tapestry, with various ethnicities practicing traditional lifestyles, contributing to the region’s rich cultural heritage.


Subtropical Evergreen Forest (800-1,200m): Characterized by evergreen tree species like schima wallichii, engelhardtia spicata, and castanopsis indica. However, much of the natural forests have been converted into agricultural land.

Lower Temperate Forest (1,200-2,500m): Also known as Lower Temperate Mixed Broadleaf Forest, it features deciduous trees dominated by quercus, castanopsis, rhododendron arboreum, and members of the laurel family.

Upper Temperate Forest (2,500-3,500m): Also called Upper Temperate Mixed Forest or Temperate Cloud Forest, this zone exhibits a floristic influence from both lower and higher zones. Deciduous oaks, maples, laurels, and birches intersperse with evergreen firs, magnolias, junipers, and rhododendrons.

Sub-alpine Zone (3,500-3,900m): Mostly evergreen conifers interspersed with a few cold-hardy deciduous species. South-facing slopes are tree-less or contain pure stands of stunted rhododendrons, while north-facing slopes feature juniper, fir, willow, birch, and rhododendrons.

Alpine Zone (3,900-4,600m): Woody vegetation in this moist alpine scrub consists of stunted junipers, roses, rhododendron, gentian, and saxifrage. Alpine grasses include carex, juncus, and poa. Blue sheep and snow leopards are characteristic of this zone.

How to get there:

By air: Kathmandu to Suketar

By bus: Kathmandu to Birtamode-Illam-Phidim-Taplejung Bazar

Note: The KCA is a treasure trove of natural and cultural heritage, offering breathtaking landscapes and diverse ecosystems. Visitors are encouraged to tread responsibly, respecting the rich biodiversity and traditional practices of the region. Shershong (4600m), regulate the impact on vegetation, landscapes, and waste management, ensuring responsible tourism practices.

Some Related links with Nepal Tour and Trekking:

Best of Nepal Tour

Everest Base Camp Trek

Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek

Mardi Himal Trek

Kanchenjunga Trek

Island Peak Climbing

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