What makes a jungle safari in Nepal so special? To answer this question let’s look at the incredible places that make up this unique ecosystem. Two places stand out in Nepal, indeed the world as exceptionally rich in biodiversity. The first is Chitwan National Park and the second is Bardia National Park. Located in the south-central area of Nepal on the border of India, Chitwan National Park covers roughly 930 square kilometers. This sub-tropical paradise was established as the first national park in Nepal and was granted World Heritage Site status in 1984.
Abundant with an extreme amount of wildlife, this is one of the few places in the world to provide a habitat for the fabled Bengal Tiger. Though almost impossible to see, it is always a favorite activity to keep your eyes and binoculars ready to catch a flash of this elusive creature. The other famous inhabitant of Chitwan National Park is the endangered One-horned Indian Rhinoceros. From the brink of extinction, the population has recovered progressively since 1973. They have also been translocated to Bardia National Park to protect the population, and ensure its survival. There is a myriad of other fauna located inside the park including sloth bears, clouded leopards, otters, honey badgers, various deer, monkeys, and a plenitude of other species too numerous to list here. The bird, fish, and reptile population is as varied as the ecosystem of the park. If you go far to the west of Chitwan National Park along the border between Nepal and India, you will come to Bardia National Park. Similar to Chitwan, it is also just north of the Indo-Gangetic Plain in Nepal’s Terai ecosystem. It is a park that covers almost 1000 km2 and combined with the adjacent Banke National Park spreads out over 2,200 km2 through subtropical forests, and alluvial grasslands. Along with the Bengal tiger, One-horned Rhinoceroses call this park home. However, one of the most unique inhabitants of Bardia is the Gangetic Dolphin. This species is also on the endangered list but it may be possible to see if you decide to enjoy a river trip. Because this park has forests, grasslands, and is home to the Karnali-Babai river system there is an incredible flush of wildlife to be seen here as well. So to answer the question, what makes a jungle safari in Nepal so unique? Brilliant wildlife, distinct ecosystems, and exceptional adventures for everyone no matter what your passion. Bird watchers, exploration seekers, and families will find many activities to provide memorable encounters. Here are some top favorite activities to whet your appetite for adventure.
- The premier way to experience this park is with elephants! Many have concerns about animal welfare and these concerns are well placed so doing your research as to who provides responsible treatment to these majestic creatures is important. There are a number of companies now that have responded to these concerns and provide excellent opportunities to interact with elephants. In the past riding on elephants was the norm, but because of the overwhelming evidence of the brutal methods used to accept riders on the backs of them, many companies offer chances to walk with them instead and watch them a bath in the rivers.
- Some of your time might be spent on the periphery of the park and so cycling tours are wonderful for seeing the countryside and having cultural interactions with the Tharu farming communities living alongside.
- One of the most relaxing ways to experience the park and have to opportunity to press deeper into the heart of this diverse ecosystem is by canoe. Both the Rapti and Narayani rivers afford viewing chances for all kinds of wildlife.
- Enjoy a wildlife walk with a licensed guide. The guide will provide you the best places to view wildlife all the while giving you time for photos and enjoying the scenery.
- Bardiya National Park also has elephant encounter options. Again, it’s important to do your homework for this adventure.
- A four-wheeled drive is a great opportunity to cover a larger amount of ground and really see all of the diversity this ecosystem holds. It is a nice option too if you find yourself less desirous to be ambulatory.
- Rafting on the Karnali River can be a thrilling way to explore the park. Take a day and enjoy nature’s highways.
Whichever park you choose, and whatever activity suits your passions please don’t forget a few essentials. It is strongly recommended you get a complete list from the agency you book through for any specific needs for your tour. Here are a few things to get you started.
Packing Checklist Jungle Safari
- Bug repellent, something containing DEET is best
- Clothes: quick-dry t-shirt, quick-dry pants and shorts, bathing suit, underwear that’s easy to clean and dry quickly, one long sleeve light shirt, and for women please keep in mind the cultural difference so be aware modesty is important
- Rain jacket
- Hand sanitizer, toiletries, small camp towel
- Headlamp and extra batteries
- Sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat
- Sturdy well broken-in walking shoes, and flip flops
This is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a good start. So go out and explore a whole new habitat in a whole new way on your next vacation in one of the most incredibly diverse countries in the world!