The majestic elephant, the silly monkey and dozens of soaring birds call the Royal Chitwan National Park home. At the foot of the Himalayas, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is 932 square kilometers of animal and plant life preservation in Nepal.
Once the favorite hunting ground for Nepal's ruling class, the area began seeing the endangerment of all the area animals. So in 1957, Nepal passed its first conservation law to protect the rhinos and their habitat. At the end of the 1960s, however, DDT had cleared 70% of Royal Chitwan National Park jungles, thousands of people had created moved in on the land and only 95 rhinos were left. By 1977 the park was under complete protection, enlarged to the present-day size and is one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger.
This park, also known as "the heart of the jungle," provides over 70,000 annual visitors with opportunities to get close and personal with animals they've only seen in movies. Fair warning, however, the weather is quite hot and humid for most of the year.
An Elephant in Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal
With miles of plants, flowers and animals there is no end to the amazing things to see in the Royal Chitwan National Park. There are more than 700 species of wildlife, not including all the unknown butterfly, moth, and insect species. Try going around sunrise or sunset to enhance the majestic views.
For a more nautical view, however, visit the chain of lakes known as Bishajari Tal. You can bike to this beautiful spot covering a huge part of the national park. Plus, the ride is absolutely picturesque.
To get your fill of the beautiful and peaceful elephant, visit the Elephant Breeding Center. Watch the mother and babies interacting and caring for one another. Try to arrive before 10:30 am or after 3:30 pm to avoid missing these creatures during grazing time.
Animals are wonderful, but sometimes you need to be around other people. Take a tour of the small Tharu villages in the area. Stroll through or ride a bike to get a taste of the local culture and heritage. While it may be tempting to give the locals a treat or money, it is suggested that instead you shop at their stores, eat at their restaurants and buy their fine crafts.
There are two famous religious areas in the Tharu villages the Bikram Baba at Kasara and Balmiki Ashram in Tribeni. Both of these areas are pilgrimage spots for Hindus.
In the north and west of the park area the Narayani-Rapti river system creates a natural border to towns and villages. To the east of Royal Chitwan National Park is the Parsa Wildlife Reserve. In the south of the area is Valmiki National Park an area set aside for Indian Tiger preservation. In fact, the entire area of over 2,000 square kilometers is known as the Tiger Conservation Unit including Chitwan, Parsa and Valmiki.
Imagine the adventures you could find in a land where you can roam free with the animals. Hiking, bicycling, motorbiking, kayaking, all of these things are available in the Royal Chitwan National Park.
One of the most popular activities is the Chitwan Safari. It includes wildlife viewing, nature walks, a jeep safari and days are spent wandering the wilderness by foot or in a dugout canoe. Keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles, leopard, sloth bears, tiger, monkeys and more. One-horned rhino sightings aren't too uncommon, either. Avid birdwatchers will be in Heaven at the Royal Chitwan National Park. With dozens of species of birds flying about, you'll have plenty of reasons to look to the sky. This safari is also available on motorcycle.
Food and Dining
For a nice, sit-down meal at the end of your long day visit the Jungle Pub. It's the most popular restaurant in the area and provides a beautiful view of the sunset over the park. Hangout there at the right time of year, and you'll meet the local bikers. Could make for an interesting visit!
Getting around the park is typically set up through your hotel accommodations. Several options include jeeps (belonging to resorts); elephant rides ox carts and pony rickshaws designed for two.