Welcome to the jungle

Features Issue 116 Jul, 2011
Text and Photo By Niraj Karki

For those that have been bitten by the safari bug and lived the incredible moment of seeing a tiger in the wild, Nepal with 9 national parks, 4 wildlife reserves and 3 conservation areas is a natural destination. Add to that the amazing diversity of wildlife and birds and Nepal becomes not only unique but a must for visits with chances to see endangered species such as tigers, one horned rhino, leopard, sloth bear, elephants hundreds others.

The most popular safari destination in Nepal is the Chitwan National Park listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site which is located in the sub-tropical inner Terai lowlands of South-Central Nepal about 200kms southwest of Kathmandu. 43 species of animals have been recorded including the protected one-horned Asian rhino, the critically endangered Royal Bengal tiger, leopards, sloth bears, the gharial, marsh crocodiles, the gaur, wild elephants, the four-horned antelope, numerous species of deer, the striped hyena, the pangolin, the Gangetic dolphin, monitor lizards, cobras, kraits, rat snakes and pythons as well as 400 species of local and migratory birds!

Following Chitwan Park, the Bardiya National Park on the western Nepal is also a tropical park sharing its habitat with the India jungles & their beasts with truly wild settings. To get to Bardiya, flights are available from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj from where the Park is a ride away on a jeep or bus. Daylight sightings of predators are more common in Bardiya than anywhere else in other parks and it is home to some of the last wild elephant herds in Nepal, one-horned Asian rhinoceros, the Royal Bengal tiger, wild elephants, mugger crocodiles, gharials and Gangetic dolphins as well as endangered bird species that are given sanctuary such as the Bengal florican, the lesser florican and the Saurus crane. Besides this, the park is a transit for migratory birds which makes it very popular with birdwatchers.

Koshi Tappu region is increasing getting popular for its unique tropical climate on the banks of one of Asia’s largest rivers. There are more than 280 species of birds in the reserve and it is also a resting place for migrating birds that can’t be seen elsewhere in Nepal.

Elephant rides, canoeing and jungle walks
Here’s a special feature - safari’s in Nepal can be done either in jeeps or on elephants! The tall wild grasses make a perfect habitat for the elephants. Most jungle safari consists of canoe rides such as in Chitwan where you glide softly sharing the river with crocodiles! Jungle walks and elephant rides with experienced guides will let you see rhinos, varieties of deer and hopefully the ever-elusive tigers. (Chitwan at present is also home to the only surviving twin elephants which can be found at the Elephant breeding centre .)

Jungle safari’s can be done either as a solo activity or part of a package. The national parks are located in Chitwan and Bardiya which are only about 4-5 hours from Kathmandu and very close to Pokhara which is a stopover for many treks including Annapurna.

The national parks offer a range of accommodations from well-appointed resorts to basic tent style and real jungle themed cottages are available in some resorts. The resorts make a package for you that included everything from your sleeping arrangements to meals to days full of activity.

The cost of a typical one night 2 day activity package is between $100-$150 with longer packages (3 nights 4 days) costing between $200-250. There are of course a few cheaper packages and much more luxurious and expensive packages to suit everyone’s needs. All packages feature safaris, canoe rides, jungle walks and cultural tours.


Khaptad National Park Mar, Apr, May Oct & Nov
Rara National Park Feb to Apr & Oct & Nov
Sagarmatha National Park Oct & Nov, Mar to May
Shey Phoksundo National Park Apr to Nov
Kanchanjunga Conservation Area Mar-May & Sep – Nov
Langtang National Park Around the year
Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area Sep-Oct & Mar-May
Shivapuri National Park Around the year
Shukla Phant Wildlife Reserve Oct to Apr
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve Tour Apr to Nov
Parsa Wildlife Reserve Mar to Nov
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve Mar-May & Sep – Nov
Chitwan National Park Tour Sep to May
Annapurna Conservation Area Tour Mar-May & Sep – Nov
Bardia National Park Tour Aug - May
Tips for safari
Chitwan and Bardiya the most popular places for safaris are both located in the Terai of Nepal which are hot most of the year. Dress light, in natural fibre clothing and in casual jungle colour clothes such as beige, brown, khaki and green that are least disturbing to the environment and most appropriate for wildlife viewing. Shoes made easy for walking - heavy walking boots are not needed. Don’t forget your camera and insect repellant!
Some recommended places
Tiger Tops (www.tigermountain.com)
Hotel Parkside (www.hotelparkside.com)