Chitwan National Park is a UNESCO protected World Heritage Site which was designated as a national Park in 1973. The park is world renowned for Rhino sightings in great numbers. With mixed vegetation of Savannah, Riverine and Sal forest, Chitwan is Nepal’s most visited National Park and a haven for wild life aficionados. Four of the Big Five can be seen (Rhinos, Tigers, Leopards and Asiatic Elephants) along with a rich population of 4 types of deer, wild boars, marsh muggars and ghariyals. Due to its closeness to the Himalayan circuit, the park also shelters a great variety of winter and summer migratory birds along with more than 500 native bird species. Chitwan is a bird watcher’s paradise - indigenous and migrant species like Great Hornbill, Ruddy Shelduck, Pied Kingfisher and Red Headed Trogon can also be found.
The UNESCO World Heritage-protected Chitwan National Park is home to endangered one-horned rhinos, elephants, Bengal tigers and a huge diversity of rare birds.
When to go
Chitwan's jungles feature a sub-tropical climate, which results in year-round humidity. The months from June to September are the monsoon season, with heavy rains that make trekking difficult. Winter is the best season to enjoy relatively low humidity and tolerable daytime temperatures of around 18ºC compared to Kathmandu (although nights are chilly). The short grass in the Spring makes February to May the best wildlife-viewing season, however the autumn months from October-November bring clear skies and Himalayan mountain views.
Book to Pack
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen for an insight into the majestic mountains of Nepal.
Things to Do
- Go for the unmissable Elephant Safari to spot the rare one-horn rhinos. Your resort organises safari all day long, but dawn expeditions have the best chance to spot game. The light filtering through the dense mist is just magic. You can also go for the government-organised safaris for US$15, but queues are long in season.
- Explore the Tharu culture at one of the traditional villages, where Mithila paintings adorn the houses. Bachhauli is close to the East Rapti river and a 20 minute ride from the resorts through the mustard fields (used for oil). Here you can find the very informative Tharu Cultural Museum & Research Centre. Harnari is one of the most authentic villages to get a taste of Tharu culture.
- Visit theSauraha Elephant Breeding Centre to
- Elephant Polo Championships. Every December Megahuli, a somnolent village, attracts the most impressive team sport for an international competition.
- Chepang Hill Trail offers a rare combination of cultural and sightseeing experience. One of the most interesting aspects of the trek is getting a glimpse of the Chepangs and other local communities which live in this mid-hill region of Nepal.
- Sit for a Tharu Cultural Show. The popular stick dance choregraphs confrontations of young men whacking stick in rhythm. Flamenco-like dancers spin their variegated dresses.
- Beeshazar Lake (5 km south of Bharatpur) is a renown spot for bird watching and crocodile-spotting. Chitwan itself is home to one of the richest reserves of bird species in the world.
- Upardanghari fort is in the old headquarters of Chitwan district and is believed to be made by Satrubhanjan Shah, son of Prince Bahadur Shah to defend newly founded Kingdom in the 17th century. It is located on the top of a hill and overlooks a very nice natural scenery.
- Kasara Durbar is an old palace made by Rana Regime inside the Chitwan National Park. Now it is being used as an office of National park and also hosts a museum.
- Gharial breeding centre: 1 km away from the park headquarters is a gharial breeding centre, which also has marsh muggers, as part of a conservation initiative. Here you can learn about the conservation measures being implemented in the park for the long term survival of some endangered species.
NOTE: Travel information such as flight, train, bus and boat schedules and fares are subject to constant change. The information below is intended as a basic guide only; please check with the relevant companies/authorities before planning your journey.
Flying from Kathmandu to Bharatpur is quite easy and provides a short, hassle-free option. Domestic companies like Yeti Airlines or Buddha Air offer a 30-min way-in for 100-130 dollars twice a day. Note that some flights might be cancelled during the off season because of low booking or bad weather. From the airport, factor in at least 30 to 50 minutes by car to reach your resort, or 30 minutes to reach Bharatpur or Sauraha.
The easiest way to travel by road from Kathmandu is to book a jeep with a driver with a tour operator (we recommend Rural Heritage). Count on spending around US$90 for a car of up to 4 passengers. It takes 5 hours to reach the Rapti River resorts. Numerous tourist buses also leave Kathmandu (Kanthipath Station) at 7am daily. We suggest Greenline for their comfortable, air-conditioned seating, which also includes a meal, all for approximately US$20.
Chitwan is only 3.5 hours away from Pokhara by road. Share a jeep or take a local minivan from there. If you're feeling adventurous, tourist buses depart from the tourist bus stand at 7.30am (Rs 400 to 450, five to seven hours). The final stop is Bachhauli tourist bus park, a 15-minute walk from Sauraha. From the bus station to your resort, you can hail a shared jeep, minivan or a taxi, but the most convenient option is to have your resort organise your pickup.
Once in Chitwan, you'll be reliant on four-wheel drive vehicles to take you around the various park locations. The easiest way to arrange this is through your hotel or resort.
Visas on arrival are available on arrival for citizens of most countries, including Singapore citizens, at Kathmandu airport. The price ranges from US$25 for a 15-day visa up to US$100 for 90 days. Bring along a passport-sized photo – an expensive photo booth is available before the gates but is usually packed with arriving crowds. To view a list of eligible nationalities, visit Nepal’s Department of Immigration website.
Nepal uses the Nepalese Rupee (NPR), currently exchanging at a convenient 100:1 ratio to the US dollar. Visit xe.com for the latest exchange rates. US dollars are widely accepted, especially for hotels and for larger sums of money. Credit cards are slowly being accepted at certain shops and restaurants, but outside of the city itself there are virtually no ATMs or banking facilities.
Respect & Safety
Chitwan is home to one of the largest populations of the endangered one-horned rhino anywhere on earth. These magnificent beasts are strictly protected by tough anti-poaching regulations, and are wild animals. Even if these “armored cows” seem placid, rhinos are known for sudden charges and have killed more than once, especially mothers with cubs. Do not climb off the elephant and follow your naturalist’s advice.
The devastating earthquakes that rocked Kathmandu and parts of eastern Nepal in April 2015 barely registered in Chitwan – in fact, many tourists who were there at the time were unaware of the disaster.
Learn the Lingo
Nepali is the official language of Nepal, although English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
Hello / goodbye – Namaste
How are you – Kasto cha?
Excuse me – Maapha ganus
Thank you – Dhanybhad
What is this? – Yo ke ho?
How much is this? – Yo kati ho?
Please make it a little cheaper – Ali sastoma dinus
Have a nice day – Subha din