Chitwan National Park located at the foothills of the Himalayas was established in 1973 becoming the first national park in Nepal and granted a UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1984. Today the park holds endangered species such as the Great One Horned Rhino, Royal Bengal Tiger and the Gharial Crocodile.The national park covers over 92,000 hectares stretching into four districts Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Parsa and Makwanpur. Discover the culture of the Tharu people, the first inhabitants of Chitwan until the 1950’s. With Nepal voted one of the top best value destinations to visit in 2017, here’s what not to miss when visiting Chitwan National Park.
What You Need To Know About Visiting Chitwan National Park
Getting To Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park a top destination for wildlife holidays and experiences, can be reached from both Kathmandu and Pokhara by a number of tourist bus companies. I travelled with Mountain Overland from Pokhara to Chitwan taking 7.5 hours, and returning to Kathmandu took 8 hours. Travel time can increase dramatically depending on road conditions. The cost of the ticket includes a bottle of water and WiFi. On arrival at the Chitwan Bus Park we were greeted with a keen group of hoteliers eagerly awaiting to assist, but thankfully there was also a very helpful tourist policeman, that kindly called the hotel for pickup. The bus park is only 10 minutes away by auto rickshaw from the main street. If on a budget, it could easily be reached on foot.
There is ample accommodation available to suit all budgets. I stayed at the Hotel Orchid located on the main street. It was a good standard hotel with breakfast included, ideal for a couple of days to explore the small town, culture and Chitwan National Park.
Chitwan National Park Activities
There are a number of activities available to explore the park including Elephant Safari, Jeep Safari, Canoe Safari and Jungle Walks/Treks. When entering/participating on any of the activities you have to purchase a park visitor pass. This is valid for two days, but you can only access the main part of the national park on the first day and only once. The pass is purchased at the same time as the activities. I organised all the trips and national park pass at the hotel, but there are many vendors throughout the town. It is also worth considering booking your visit to Chitwan as a package, as it could be less expensive.
Being an enthusiastic photographer I love capturing moments during the golden hours, which can also be the prime time to spot wildlife! One of the park’s highlights is to see the endangered Gharial Crocodile, so I opted to take the Canoe Safari at 7 am on the Rapti River. It was a brisk atmospheric morning with steam fog rising from the water. The birds were in full song, some racing back and forth to feed their chicks. It was beginning to feel warmer sitting in the dug out tree canoe. Gently we glided along the water, almost eye level, alongside the Crocodile laden banks as well as spotting kingfishers, eagles, peacocks, herons and more. A photographers dream!
The Highlight of Visiting Chitwan National Park
With there being a number of activities available to visit inside the national park, I wanted to make the best possible decision to see the Great One Horned Rhino but also being mindful of animal welfare. The best option for me (I had too little time to do the walk or treks) was the 4 hour Jeep Safari tour. It’s amazing how close you are to the actual park! A 10-minute walk along the main street and you have arrived. The national park and town are divided by the Narayani/Rapti River (a different location from the morning canoe safari) you climb aboard another dug out tree canoe to cross the river before boarding the 9 seater jeep. The vegetation can be thick and high in places, but the guide and driver are on the look out to give you the best possible experience. Traveling at a good steady pace there were 4 species of deer spotted at different locations, monkeys, birds including an eagle, and of course the Great One Horned Rhino. During the trip, you also get the opportunity to visit the crocodile breeding centre for a short time. It was a great trip! One I would highly recommend.
Discover more about the Tharu people and their culture by visiting the Tharu Culture Program Centre on the main street. Every evening from 7 pm for a small fee, you can enjoy the captivating and entertaining dance displays. To discover more you can also visit the small Tharu Culture Museum, located 20 minutes walk from the town centre.
What To Wear
It can be challenging travelling light when visiting a country with different climate zones. Nepal is a great country to visit throughout the year. I’ve visited both in March and on this latest trip in November. If visiting Chitwan in November, it can be quite cool in the mornings and early/late evenings. I would highly recommend a good fleece! I don’t know about you, but mosquitoes just love me. Becoming more aware and mindful of what I put on my skin and not wanting to carry a pharmacy. I was really excited to discover Craghoppers. They produce outdoor/travel clothing with permanent insect repellent. On my trip I took both the Nosilife Long Sleeved Tee Soft Navy and the Nosilife Trousers Platinum (can be seen wearing during canoe safari) which are light weight and very comfortable, not to mention a huge success No Mosquito Bites!
I wasn’t sure what to expect but was surprised to see how close everything is in relation to nature and the national park. Truly an unforgettable experience! I hope you have enjoyed reading about – What you need to know about Chitwan National Park. If you have, don’t forget to share! As always we would love to hear from you. Please leave any comments/questions below. Happy Travels!:) x
Thank you to Massif Holidays and Craghoppers
Disclaimer: All the above opinions and comments are my own.