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Chitwan National Park Tourism And Travel Guide
15.3° C / 59.5° F
October to April
2 to 3 Days
Bharatpur Airport (14 kms)
International Nepal Railway Station Janakpur
Chitwan National Park is Nepal’s first wildlife reserve and was established in 1973, and was eventually declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. It is located in the Terai region of Nepal and is spread over an area of over 930 sq. metres covering the districts of Makwanpur, Parsa, Chitwan and Nawalpur.
Chitwan is associated with an ancient history; in the early 19th century, it was a popular hunting ground for Nepal’s ruling class. By the 1950s, it had been opened up to human settlement, which saw the influx of indigenous communities in the area that can still be seen today. With increasing human interference though, the native animal populations were drastically affected, especially the rhinos. The official area for the Chitwan National Park as we know today was eventually delineated in 1973 and then further increased to almost double its size in 1977. Today, Chitwan National Park is one of the top regions contributing to tourism in Nepal. It mainly focuses on the preservation of the one-horned rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal Tiger, making it a favourite among nature enthusiasts. Read on to know more about Chitwan National Park with the help of this travel guide.
How to Reach
The closest airport to Chitwan is located in Bharatpur, Nepal, which connects to all major domestic terminals in the country with a number of airlines operating back and forth. The most common route taken to reach Bharatpur is via Kathmandu, which involves a flight duration of just under 30 minutes. Once in Bharatpur, you can take a taxi to Sauraha directly, the closest town on the borders of Chitwan.
Bus services run regularly from both Pokhara and Kathmandu to Bachhauli, a village located right on the outskirts of Chitwan National Park. The journey takes about 5-7 hours from either city. Visitors coming in from India are required to first reach the city of either Varanasi or Gorakhpur, and proceed towards to the Sunauli border crossing, from where they can catch a bus or taxi to Narayanghat, followed by another taxi from Narayanghat to Sauraha.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Chitwan National Park ideally falls under the selective months of October, November, March and April.
Overall, winters are a good season to explore the park, especially during the initial days; January and February tend to be the coldest months with temperatures dipping to freezing point sometimes. Afternoons are pleasant and dry and form an ideal time to observe the wildlife and go sightseeing.
The month of May gets exceptionally hot and humid, and traveling during summer can get uncomfortably tiring. It is advised to limit the stay to the earlier months of summer.
The monsoons are an off season for Chitwan as the rains remain very heavy throughout the season and the animals are rarely seen out in the open. Even when it is not raining, the humidity is too high to enjoy any outdoor activities.
Things to Do
Chitwan National Park is the premier spot for all your jungle safari whims, and can be explored through numerous ways, via jeeps or on foot. The Bengal Tiger is the chief attraction in the park, but remains a rare sight; even the guides will probably come across an encounter once every couple months. Nonetheless, there is still a whole lot to experience in these forest greens in the form of majestic elephants, the occasional rhino, sloth bears, and marshlands with intimidating sights of crocodiles.
Elephants are one of the most common sights you will encounter in Chitwan. Elephant safaris are gradually being discontinued due to animal-rights concerns, but you can still take a walk along the jungle with these mighty creatures by your sides and get a one-on-one experience of what life in the jungle is like for these animals. Chitwan also offers a number of elephant-related activities like Sundowners where you get a chance to watch elephants bathe themselves; and the elephant breeding program where you can observe baby elephants at play and take a look at how adult elephants live, breed and eat.
The 20 Hajar Tal, or the 20 Thousand Lake, is renowned for being a bird watching sanctuary with over 800 identified species of birds spread across the region. With the help of an expert guide, you will get the chance to explore the different habitats occupied by these birds that vary from forests, grasslands, and even aquatics, and even try your hand at recognizing their whistles and calls.
Chitwan also features tourist sightseeing spots in the district that are definitely worth visiting once you’ve had your fill of wildlife and nature. There are a number of histo-religious sites within proximity of the park like Bikram Baba and Devghatdham, the stunning waterfall at Lamo Jharana, and a number of lakes like Lake Lamital, Lake Devital and the most famous among them, the Bish Hajar Tal.
Entertainment and Food
The town of Sauraha that houses majority of the tourists who visit Chitwan has plenty of options for accommodation, and the food you have access to in these lodgings is usually the best option you will come across here. The main attractions of Chitwan National Park are the wildlife and its scenic beauty, so it may not be the best place to look for an extensive variety of cuisines. The private resorts and lodges do have in-house dining and entertainment options, which depend on your choice of accommodation. The best kind of entertainment is provided by the native Tharu people, who regularly put up cultural performances for the tourists.
If you are looking to shop, you will come across some places in the town market that sell souvenirs and other related items, but nothing that you won’t find at a better bargain in the markets of Pokhara or Kathmandu.