The ideal habitat for diverse species of mammals, birds, reptiles & insects!
With its lush forests and exotic fauna which include the rare one horned rhino, the Royal Bengal tiger, crocodiles, elephants, deer and over four-hundred species of birds, Chitwan National Park offers one of the finest wildlife experiences in Asia. Lying in the Terai belt, encompassed by the Churia Hills and flanked by Rapti, Reu and Narayani rivers, the park covers an area of 932 sq. km. Established in 1973 as the oldest National Park in Nepal, the park became a World Heritage Site in 1984.
During the late 19th century, Chitwan was the private hunting reserve of Rana Prime Ministers. In 1911, a hunting party to Chitwan led by King George V, is said to have shot thirty-seven tigers and eight rhinos. Between 1933 and 1940, the King and his guests, is said to have killed four hundred and thirty-three tigers and fifty-three rhinos. By the late 1960s the population of rhinos and tigers in Chitwan had dwindled drastically due to indiscriminate hunting and poaching. The declaration of Chitwan as a national park in 1973 and the imposition of strict measures against poaching and unauthorized conversion of forest to farmland have helped in increasing the wildlife population. At present Chitwan National Park is regarded as one of the most developed and most frequently visited National Park in Nepal.
The park’s vegetation is dominated by sal forest, open grassland sand riverine vegetation. There are also flowering species of trees like sissoo, silk cotton tree and flame of the forest. These trees bloom from January to early spring and fill the forest with their colorful flowers. The tall elephant grass dominates the grass grassland and gives it a savanna like appearance.
The park is the home of great one- horned rhino, the world’s third largest land mammal. They feed on grass which is also their normal habitat and move alone or in groups. Elephants are seen frequently at the Park. The Royal Bengal tiger, the most glamorous and elusive of all Chitwan’s animals, is estimated to number just about a hundred in Chitwan. They are by nature reclusive and do not attack unless provoked or hunting for food. There are four different species of deer living in the park – the barking deer, the hog deer, the sambar deer and the spotted deer. Over 400 different birds have been recorded here, including the Indian peafowl, the tuneful blackheaded oriole and the openbill stork. The park’s rivers and the swampy areas are home to various reptiles like the pythons, marsh mugger and gharial which feed on fishes. The common leopard, langur and rhesus monkey also make up the park’s wildlife population.
Things to do & Places to Visit
The greatest thrill while at Chitwan is jungle walk. However, you need to be accompanied by at least two guides. Jeep safari is another exciting thing to do. Canoeing along the Rapti or Narayani rivers is the most restful way of watching the wildlife especially the aquatics birds and crocodiles. Several lodges arrange visits to nearby Tharu villages. Tharus, the original inhabitants of Chitwan, have their own culture, language and customs which are quite different from that of Nepali hill people. A visit to the elephant breeding camp and the gharial breeding centre can also prove to be informative.
The Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the park from October to February. Many of the park lodges are closed between May to August, the rainy season.
Where to Stay
At Chitwan, a variety of lodges are available, from multi-starred to basic but comfortable. There are no campgrounds for campers inside the park. Sauraha has a wide range of options. Meals are provided either by the lodges, or you can have something at the restaurants.
WILDLIFE SAFARI PACKAGE TOURS
The itineraries and activities of the Chitwan and the Bardia national parks are almost similar in character, but activities may vary between seasons. The number and course of your safari activities are determined by the number of nights you book for. Two nights – three days programs could include activities like jeep safari, jungle walk, bird watching, dugout canoe rides on the river. In the evening a cultural show of the traditional Terai dances are a must. By booking three nights – four days program you could add up a few more specialized excursions like a jungle jeep drive and a visit to the elephant breeding centre. Unlike African animals, those in Chitwan tend to be rather solitary and shy. There are also boat trips arranged to see the crocodiles and other aquatic animals.
GETTING TO CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK
It is a pleasant scenic 5/6 hours’ drive by a tourist coach or a private vehicle from Kathmandu on Prithivi Highway along the banks of Trisuli River. En route you drive past several traditional Tharu villages and eventually reach the pickup point at the fringe of national park from where you will be escorted to your lodge.
It is a 20-minute pleasant flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur airport (near Chitwan National Park). Upon arrival at Bharatpur air strip, a representative from the lodge you are booked in will escort you to Chitwan National Park.
Explore Himalaya organizes a day rafting trip on 2-4 class Trishuli River. You can combine rafting trip and Chitwan Wildlife tours. After concluding rafting trip, a further 2 hrs’ (approx.) drive will take you to the park.
WHAT TO BRING
In case of rafting and jungle afari tour combination, please visit ‘rafting in Nepal’ section for more details on Rafting and its essential information.