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, the Royal Chitwan National Park offers one of the finest wildlifes experiences in Asia. Lying in the Terai belt, encompassed by the Churia Hills and flanked by the Rapti, Reu and Narayani rivers, the park covers an area of 932 sq. km. It was established in 1973 and is 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 the Rana Prime Ministers. In 1911, King George V led a hunting party to Chitwan and 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 in1973 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 of Nepal’s national parks.
The park’s vegetation is dominated by sal forest, open grassland sand riverine vegetation. There are also flowering species of trees like the 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 the great one- horned Indian rhino, the world’s third largest land mammal. They feed large on grass which is also their normal habitat and move alone or in groups. The elephants seen frequently at the park are trained and tamed. The tamed elephants are used for elephant rides as well as to carry heavy loads in Chitwan. The Royal Bengal tiger, the most glamorous and elusive of 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, crocodiles, called gharial, which feeds on fishes and the marsh mugger. 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 the traditional elephant ride. Taking an elephant ride to the jungle is an experience not to be missed. The lodges inside the park have their own elephants. Three or sometimes four people can ride atop an elephant. Elephant safaris usually start in the early morning or late afternoon .There are also jeep tours available inside the park. The best months for this are from mid-February when the elephant grass has been cut, allowing unobstructed views. It is also possible to take a walk inside the park, provided you are accompanied by at least two guides. Canoeing along the Rapti or Narayani rivers is the most restful way of watching the wildlife especially the acquatic 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 the Nepalese 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, due to the rainy season.
Distance from Kathmandu to Chitwan national Park
By Road: 6/7 hours drive from Kathmandu.
By Air: 20 Minutes flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur Airport.
Following Jungle Safari package is designed for the customers who are interested for Jungle Safari tour with full day safari activities. The safari tour activities are designed for 4 days and daily outline programs are as below: