Chitwan National Park (formerly Royal Chitwan National Park) is the first national park in Nepal. It was established in 1973 and granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. It is located in the subtropical Inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal.
Chitwan means forests where leopards dewell. According to UNESCO, the World Heritage Site is “At the foot of the Himalayas, Chitwan is one of the few remaining undisturbed vestiges of the 'Terai' region, which formerly extended over the foothills of India and Nepal. It has a particularly rich flora and fauna. One of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros lives in the park, which is also one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger.” Chitawan National Park is the home of 58 species of mammals, 539 types of birds, 56 types of reptiles, and amphibians and 124 species of fishes. The mammals’ species includes the one horn rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger, wild elephants, antelope, leopard, wild boar, bear etc. The reptiles found in the park are the golden monitor lizard, python, crocodiles etc.
Chitwan also known as “Heart of the Jungle” was a favorite hunting ground for Nepal’s ruling (Rana and Shah) class during the cool winter seasons. The journey from Kathmandu to Chitwan was difficult as the area could only be reached by foot and took several weeks. Comfortable camps were set up for the feudal hunters and their staff, where they stayed for a couple of months shooting hundreds of tigers, rhinoceros, leopards and sloth bears.
Chitwan’s forest and grasslands was home to about 800 rhinos. When poor farmers from the mid-hills moved to the Chitwan Valley in search of arable land, the area was subsequently opened for settlement, and poaching of wildlife became uncontrolled. The country's first conservation law step forward to the protection of rhinos and their habitat. Edward Pritchard Gee undertook a survey of the area, recommended creation of a protected area north of the Rapti River and of a wildlife sanctuary south of the river for a trial period of ten years.
By the end of the 1960s, 70% of Chitwan’s jungles were cleared and thousands of people had settled there, and only 95 rhinos remained. The dramatic decline of the rhino population and the extent of poaching prompted the government to institute the “Gaida Gasti” – a rhino reconnaissance patrol of 130 armed men and a network of guard posts all over Chitwan.
In 1977, the park was enlarged to its present area of 932 km2 (360 sq mi). A buffer zone of 766.1 km2 (295.8 sq mi) was added to the north and west of the Narayani-Rapti river system, and between the south-eastern boundary of the park and the international border to India.
Nearby the Chitwan National Park, the Gharial and Turtle Conservation Breeding Centers have been established. In 2008, a Vulture breeding center was inaugurated aiming at holding up to 25 pairs of each of the two Gyps vultures species which are critically endangered in Nepal - the Oriental white-backed vulture and the slender-billed vulture.
Things To Do
Elephant ride safari
The elephant safari is one of the best ways to spot wildlife from up close. The elephants can come close to other animals without getting them notice or without any disturbance so that no animals move away when you approach to them. Riding on the elephant back you can come close to animals as like of 1 meter.During the trip, you are not alone. The rider sits in the front and you are always accompanied by professional guides. During the elephant ride safari, guide will explain you to know about rhino and its habitat and as well as of other animals like Royal Bengal tiger and other animals.
One can monitor wildlife activities in the deep jungle just sitting back on an elephants like different deers, wild boar, crocodile etc. The normal elephant ride safari is 1 hour. If you wish you may extend the riding hour of elephant in additional price. Elephant ride is the most pleasant activity in the park.
Tip: On the back of an elephant you can get very close to the wildlife. But be very quiet to do so! A sound may scare tigers, rhinos, deers or one of the other animals.
Elephant bathing in Chitwan National Park is another activity that can be performed. Chitwan National Park also provides the facility of bathing with the animal. The activity can be really fun and provides an opportunity to be close to the nature. In elephant bathing, the guide (mouthe) takes the elephant nearby the riverside and you can enjoy the bath. Just sitting on the back of the elephant, the animal pours water through its trunk towards you. You can sepnt some time bthing with the animal.
Bird watching in Chitwan National Park is the most pleasant one. You can see territory of birds which is more than 450 species. Such a large number of birds sometimes make feel to consider it as world of their own. The best way to explore and study the different bird's activities is to walk with a guide along the riverside of Chitwan National park. The expert bird watcher will guide you to view the colourful birds early in the morning and simultaneously you can enjoy sunrise. The varities of common birds you may see around Chitwan National Park is Black Necked Stock, the Lesser Adjutant Stork, the Grey Headed fishing eagle, the Brahimini ducks, the Bengal florican, the gaint hornbill etc.
Apart from the resident birds, about 160 migrating and different species arrive in Chitwan in autumn from northern latitudes to spend the winter here, in which among them are the Greater Spotted Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle and Pallas's Fish-eagle. Common sightings include Brahminy ducks and goosanders. Large flocks of bar-headed geese just rest for a few days in February. There are 539 species were recorded in the Chitwan National Park, which is much more than in any other protected area in Nepal. The park has about two-thirds of Nepal's globally threatened species. Additionally, 20 black-chinned yuhina, a pair of Gould's sunbird, a pair of blossom-headed parakeet and one slaty-breasted rail, an uncommon winter visitor, were sighted in spring 2008.
Crocodile breeding center
Crocodile breeding center is located in Kasara, headquater of Chitwan national Park. There you can observe crocodiles (alligators). Chitwan National Park has started the conservation of the reptiles since its number gradually started declining.The reason behind its number decline was poaching. The reptile is less harmful to other creatures and shy. Another reason was the low aviable of food. Therefore Chitwan National Park decided to step forward to conserve the reptile from its initial stage i.e. eggs to full grown adult until it could find its food in the wild. Later the creature is left in its own habitat. You can also find information about the reptile at the information center at the crocodile breeding center.
Dugout canoe ride:
Activity that can be done in Chitwan National Park is Dugout canoe ride. Floating down to Rapti River on a dugout canoe is the best way to discover the habitat of crocodiles in the river. It is also a relaxing and better way to watch the different kind of birds and wildlife species, while they are drinking water in the bank of river Rapti. Coneing can be best when you start in early morning when birds are in bank of river.
The secenary can be really wounderful to see varities of birds in different colours. Canoe ride can really entertain you with wild birds, animals on the bank of the river.
Nature walk or jungle walks:
Jungle Walk tour allows you to explore several different habitat areas, from the flood-plain grassland to the dense Sal forests.Nature walk is the area where you get an opportunity to meet different animals sight at their own speed. Since walking in the jungle, there are less chances of disturbing the animals. And more to it, jungle walk is a better chance for discovering wildlife. Jungle walk can make you refresh to see ecological balance between animals and plants.
During jungle walk you can see different kinds of flora and fauna. The park is rich in flora which includes Sal, silk, cotton, Tree fern, Cycas, Screw pine and orchids. There are more than 50 different types of grass species that includes the elephant grass which is renowed for its immense height reaching up to 8m. You may learn about different kind of plants and herbs in the National park which are of medicinal value. The guide can explain about the wild animals, birds, trees, herbs and even reptiles.
Jungle Drive Jeep safari is a fastest way to discover the wide range of forest area in the Chitwan National Park. You will be in the dense forest after four hour's jeep drives which takes you about 50 kilometers inside the park, passing all sorts of vegetation and wildlife. As it is goes through the deep jungle and covers big area, the chances of discovering wildlife are high. Jeep safari is not only fastest way to discover wild activities but also it is safe. It is the very exciting programme. You will be drive towards the crocodile breeding farm while going through jungle drive.
Tharu cultural dance:
Jungle Drive A melodious ethnic dance performed by men and women with rhyme or drums. The clashing of sticks represents and performance how to keep away the rhinos and other wild animals from the human habitat and their farming land. You can enjoy your evening after dinner and watch the Tharu Stick Dance. Tiger Camp will arrange dance for your enjoyment adjacent to their restaurant.
The park enjoys mainly three seasons. They are hot and dry summer, a hot and humid rainy season and a warm winter. Climate between October and February is average temperature is 25°C ensuring a pleasant one. Climate from March through June is hot and temperature can reach as high as 43°C. The hot and humid days brings the monsoon season that last for four months from June through September. The best time to visit is from October through March.
Tour Packages in Chitwan National Park