Chitwan National Park "Heart of the Jungle"
The National Park:
Chitwan National Park is the first national park of Nepal. It was established in 1973 and was granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. It covers an area of 953 km2 and it is located in south-central Nepal. In the north and west of the protected area the Narayani-Rapti river system forms a natural boundary to human settlements. Unfortunately, poachers still penetrate the National Park, but fortunately the Nepalese government is doing a lot for the benefit of nature conservation and protection of the unique animals.
Chitwan National Park is absolutely worth a visit, as this is the chosen place to come face to face with some of the most beautiful animals such as the One Horned Rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard and Gharial Crocodile.
But there is more, much more. There are 700 species of wildlife, 18 snake species, many species of insects and approximately 550 species of birds. So you look your eyes out during a visit to this National Park. And always exciting to realize that you can spot a big cat or rhino at any time. In a day visit we had several special encounters with some rhinoceros and other beautiful animal species.
A visit to Chitwan National Park is always accompanied by 2 experienced guides. The most important consideration to make is how you want to explore the park. There is a choice of a Canou tour, walking safari and a Jeep safari. Or, as we have done, a combination of the above 3 options. This way you have a full day and varied program.
We have arranged our tour through our Hotel, but there are also various tour operators. We paid about USD 62 per person for the whole day. This price includes the park permit (which usually also costs 2000NPR), canou tour, walking tour, jeep safari, and guidance of 2 experienced guides.
If you came to Chitwan to relax, the canoe ride is a good way to do so. We started our day this way, and it's a great way to get up close and personal with the huge crocodiles. Also very exciting as the canou is located only a few centimeters from the water surface.
With a canoe you will slowly pass the shores of the rivers which are full with amazing crocodiles and beautiful birds. During the trip you are accompanied by a guide who will tell you about the animals. Off course you don’t have to peddle yourself as a boatman joins the ride.
The walking Safari starts by taking you to the other side of the river with a canou. After this, the walk of approximately 3 hours starts. After an explanation of what to do at a close encounter, a varied walk follows.
After 10 minutes we already find some paw prints of a Leopard, very exciting. After some time we also see a rhinoceros looking for coolness in a lake, great. You always have to be lucky what you're going to see, but we loved it. The only animals you'd rather not see are leeches, but the chances are high. So we recommend long pants with long socks. Despite this, we still had a leech around our navel, but this is part of the experience haha.
In the afternoon we concluded our day with a Jeep safari. The jeeps are well equipped with comfortable seats and a nice overview over the roof of the cabin. This way you always have a complete overview to spot animals around. There is also a guide to give you an explanation about the jungle and its inhabitants. The Jeep safari takes approximately 4 hours.
And now we were lucky again, after about an hour there was suddenly a huge rhinoceros in the bush right next to the Jeep. We thought for a moment that he wanted to attack, great to see such a huge specimen up close. A little later we saw another Rhino bathing in a river, again impressive. In addition to these beautiful encounters, we have seen many other species of animals such as deer, monkeys, birds and so on. Unfortunately not my favorites the Tiger and Leopard, but the chance is certainly there for the lucky ones. Although we already feel very blessed to see several wild Rhino's up close today.
Gharial Breeding Center:
Inside the National Park you will have the opportunity to visit the Gharial Breeding Center during the Jeep safari. Cost is 100NPR per person. It is definitely worth a visit as this is not a zoo, but a center to give the endangered Charial crocodile a good chance of population recovery. Always good to support these kinds of causes.
In the mid-1970's the Gharial population was estimated to be at a low of about 300 in all of its range, near from global extinction. During a visit to this breeding center you will be amazed by the sheer numbers of young Charial crocodiles being reared here. Later, the largest part will be released in the national park to give the species a chance again, beautiful.
Were to stay (Sauraha):
A visit to Chitwan National Park is easiest from the village of Sauraha. Located next to the river on the other side of the National Park, this is also the easiest location to organize a visit to the National Park. It is also nice that you have a nice platform here to admire the river of the National Park. You can already see crocodiles around the sandbanks after arrival, and with a bit of luck you can even see a Rhino bathing in the river.
It can even happen that a Rhino crosses the river and enters the village in the evening. We saw some videos on youtube before arriving, but we expected the chance to be slim. However, we were lucky the first night, a huge Rhino came crashing down the main street. It was impressive but also a bit of a shock because we were not prepared for this. Fortunately, it went well and we made a great video of this close-encounter, see our Instagram rebel.travels for this special video.
Worth mentioning that you have to keep an eye out for these wild animals, a week before our visit a person was killed by a rhinoceros. It is and remains a wild animal of 2400KG.