The Park and Conservation Area are situated in the Sankhuwasabha and Solukhumbu Districts, bordered by the Arun River on the east, Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park on the west, the Nepal-China border on the north and the Saune Danda (ridge) to the south.
This is the only protected area in Nepal with a strict nature reserve. The park has some of the richest and unique pockets of plants and aniinals in Nepal, elsewhere lost to spreading human habitation.
Stepping up the slopes are a series of vegetation zones starting with tropical sal forests below 1,000 m elevation; subtropical Schima-Castanopsis forests at 1,000-2,000 m, fir/birch/rhododendron forests in the sub-alpine (3,000-4,000 m); and herbs, grasses and rhododendron/juniper shrubs in the alpine pastures (4,000-5,000 m). There are 47 varieties of orchids, 67 species of economically valuable medicinal and aromatic plants, 25 of Nepal's 30 varieties of rhododendron, 19 species of bamboo, 15 oaks including Arkhoulo, 86 species of fodder trees and 48 species of primrose. Over 400 species of birds have been sighted in the Makalu-Barun area, including two species never before seen in Nepal, the spotted wren babbler and the olive ground warbler. Wildlife includes the endangered red panda, musk deer, Himalayan black beer, clouded leopard and possibly the snow leopard, in addition to more subtantial populations of ghoral, Himalayan tahr, wild boar, barking deer, Himalayan marmot and weasel, common langur monkey and the serow. The Arun River system contain 84 varieties of fish. Some 32,000 people inhabit the conservation area.