Jungle Safari in Nepal
Among the 14 national parks and
wildlife reserves in the Kingdom, the Royal Chitwan Nationals
Park (932 Sq Km) is the most popular safari destination. More
than 43 species of animals are found in Chitwan. The endangered
one-horned rhino, Royal Bengal tiger, Gharial crocodile, four-horned
antelope, striped hyena and the Gangetic dolphin are the main
The best part
is that it is close to Kathmandu and easily; accessible (only
165 Km overland) and Bharatpur airport adjoining the park is
mere 25 minute flight away (there are daily flights from Kathmandu).
Many adventures also choose to go down by raft. In whatever
way you go, a jungle safari is an experience you will remember
for a long time.
Chitwan National Park
For a country known for its beautiful
mountains, the Gangetic flat lands of the Terai that stretches
through out the southern part of Nepal provide a wholly different
experience. A visit to Nepal remains incomplete without seeing
the beauty of the Terai.
And Chitwan is the best place
to do so. The Royal Chitwan National Park, established in 1973,
provides a great wildlife experience with its rich flora and
fauna . The wildlife and the landscape are not as breathtaking
as those found in Africa but still, the experience will stand
Chitwan is only 150m above the
sea level. The place gets steamy from March-June, with peak
temperatures reaching 43°C in the shade. Short grass makes
Feb-May the best game-viewing season, but the autumn months
are gorgeous, with Himalayan views, and in winter (December-January),
Chitwan is pleasantly warmed compared to Kathmandu. The monsoon
season (July-August) is intense, with pounding rain, swollen
rivers, and luxuriant vegetation. While the rain isn't constant,
the humidity is all pervasive.
Places Of Interest
Though one can visit neighboring Tharu villages in
Chitwan, the major interesting focus of Chitwan is still the
exploration of the Chitwan National Park.
Flora and Fauna
The flora and fauna of Chitwan makes it a great place
for nature lovers. Chitwan has over 50 different species of
mammals, 400 different species of birds, and 65 different types
of butterflies in its hardwood Sal forests, riverine vegetation,
and "elephant grass" savannah. More than 70 different
species of grass grow here.
The most famous wildlife in Chitwan
is perhaps the single-horned Asian rhinoceros. A few decades
ago, their number had fallen to less than 100, but recent count
puts them at 400. These animals have thick armor like hide that
is hard to penetrate even with a bullet.
A fully grown animal can be as
tall as 180cm. In spite of army protection for these animals
and severe punishment for harming them, rhino poaching is still
a problem as every organ of the animal carries some (probably
superstitious) value. The horn fetches about US$10,000 per kilo
and is believed to be an aphrodisiac. The dung can be a laxative,
the urine cures tuberculosis and asthma. The blood can help
cure menstrual problems. The hide keeps away evil spirits. And
Chitwan has about 150 Bengal tigers
left of the one time 3000 or so. Though poaching is a serious
threat, the real threat for these majestic animals is the gradual
loss of its habitat. A male tiger requires almost 60km space,
and a female one requires a third of it. Chitwan is simply not
big enough to handle many tigers. It is rare for one to actually
see a tiger, though looking for one is an interesting part of
Other wild mammals one may see
are leopards, various types of deer, monkeys, sloth bear, and
Royal Bardia National
The Royal Bardia National Park
is the largest and most undisturbed wild area of the Terai region
of the Nepal Himalayas. Similar to Chitwan park, but with a
drier climate and a more remote location, Bardia encompasses
1,000-sq-kms of riverine grassland and sal forests.
The Terai or lowland hills and
valleys of southern Nepal, nowhere over 1,000 feet in elevation,
extend all along the Indian border. The Terai once supported
a healthy wildlife population in a habitat of 25-foot high elephant
grass and dense hardwood forests, but had very few people, due
to virulent malarial mosquitos.
Bardia was a royal hunting reserve
of Nepal's Rana rulers from 1846 to 1950. In Nepal, wildlife
lost whatever protection the royal hunting reserve conveyed
when the Rana rule ended in the 1950's. A well-meaning malaria
eradication program in the 1950's and 1960's opened the terai
for settlement, and transformed about 75% of the native Terai
to agricultural land. Wildlife populations declined with the
combination of increased settlement and widespread poaching.
Bardia was declared a wildlife reserve in 1976, first measuring
134 sq miles and expanded in 1985 to 374 sq miles.
Natural Beauty of Bardia
Today's Royal Bardia National Park is bordered to the south
by the Babai River, to the north by the Shiwalik or Churia Hills,
to the west by the Girwa River (a tributary of the Karnali),
and to the east by a section of the East-West Highway which
bisects the park. The Terai is only in the southwest corner
of the park. Much of Bardia is on the southern slopes of the
Shiwalik Range where the hills rise to over 4,000 feet.
From the base of these hills,
the park slopes gently over highly porous ground for several
miles to the rivers of the Gangetic plain. At Chisopani Gorge,
the swift-flowing Karnali River emerges from the Shiwalik Range
onto the broad plain and flows purposefully through the semi-tropical
jungle. Where the river braids out, small riverine forested
islands form. Wildlife frequent these oases - maybe you'll be
as lucky as we once were to spot a wild Elephant swimming trunk-deep
across the river to reach the island.
Fuana In Bardia National
What makes a visit to Nepal's Royal Bardia National Park particularly
special is not just its large and intact habitat area and its
isolated location, but also the presence here of one of the
last known herds of wild Elephants in South Asia. The herd,
numbering less than two dozen, roams these remote jungles in
The largest of the herd is affectionately
called “Thulo Hati”, which means "Big Elephant" in
the Nepali language. Seeing these wild Elephants greyish-white
bulk rising above the morning mists and hearing them trumpet
across the jungle clearing is one of the most remarkable wildlife
experiences to be had on our planet.
Bardia also boasts the greatest
number of deer species in Nepal. The six deer species found
in the park are: Chital or spotted Deer with its ubiquitous
white spots on a brown coat; Hog Deer; similar to but smaller
than Chital; Sambhar, the largest Deer on Indian subcontinent
with a shaggy coat and thick antlers; Swamp Deer; Barasingha;
and reddish-colored Barking Deer, the park's smallest Deer.
Other large mammals are:
Gaur, the largest wild oxen in world; wild Boar, an omnivorous
black-coated creature with large tusks; the agile sloth Bear,
a shaggy black bear with a distinctive white "V" on
its chest; Blue Bull or Nilgai, the largest Antelope on the
Indian subcontinent; and Himalayan Tahr. Serow and Goral, two
goat-Antelope members, are also found. Small mammals include:
Langur Monkey, Rhesus Macaque, Jackal, three species of cats
(jungle, leopard, and fishing); yellow-throated Marten; Mongoose;
and Indian Otter.
Two species of crocodiles swim
in the Karnali, Girwa, and Babai Rivers - the blunt-snouted
Marsh Mugger and the fish-eating gharial with its long thin
snout. These creatures share the water with the fresh-water
Gangetic Dolphin. The Karnali also supports the great mahseer,
which weigh up to 90 lbs, an angler's prize catch.
Birds are the park's most conspicuous
fauna with over 300 resident and migratory species. Avid bird-watchers
will want to visit the park in November or from February to
April when migrants arrive, depart or pass through.
Jungle Safari In Bardia
To view the wild Elephants, you ride on the backs of specially-trained
elephants, each guided by a driver. As you sit in a padded wooden
platform on the Elephant's back with your camera ready, your
Mahout steers the Elephant through tall grass. Mists rise off
the nearby river, and you spot a mother Rhino leading her baby
down to the river for a drink. Monkeys chatter and birds call
in the nearby trees, signaling that an elusive Royal Bengal
Tiger is stalking Deer through the high grass. It's a very special
experience - a unique experience out at Royal Bardia - unlike
any other wildlife setting in Nepal.