Visit Chitwan National Park in Nepal
One of the best locations for seeing Bengal Tigers in the wild, Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal offers many opportunities for wildlife viewing and nature appreciation. There are many budget lodges outside of the park, but these lodges do not hvae their own elephants and so it is often not possible to participate in this activity if the government owned elephants are otherwise engaged.
Of the lodges within the park, we favor Island Jungle Lodge and Temple Tiger. Both have their own elephants, resident naturalists, and an exclusive concession within a remote part of the park. We use both lodges and find the quality of services and staff to be outstanding and the wildlife viewing excellent.
Every visitor to these lodges can expect to see rhino and a variety of other animals both from elephant back and on foot.
The isolation of the camps from road or urban sounds and the limited use of electrical generators enhances the feeling of being in the deep jungle. While not everyone sees a tiger, you will certainly see tiger tracks and you do have a chance of catching site of one of the territorial animals that patrol the park. There is also a good chance of seeing species like sloth bear, leopard, jungle cat, fishing cat, gaur, and crocodiles.
Birds are abundant, particularly from November to March when the local residents are joined by migrants from Eurasia and higher altitudes of the Himalayas. Camp naturalists are very good at identifying species by calls and can usually locate all of the common resident species for the determined birder. Some of our favorites include Alexandrine Parakeet, Stork Billed Kingfisher, Bar Headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Black Hooded Oriole, Grey Headed, Fish Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, and both Greater and Lesser Racket Tailed Drongos.
Hikers need to be watchful for sloth, rhino, and, of course, tigers. You should never walk outside of the lodge areas alone, or without a naturalist guide. Insects are generally not much of a problem, although in the wet season from June to August, mud and leaches may limit some activities. In truth, even the wet, monsoon season is a good time to visit Chitwan, though it is a bit harder to get around. The jungle sounds are most impressive during the wet season. Tiger sightings are more frequent in March and April when water sources are more concentrated and grass cutting and burning increases visibility of all species. You might hear tigers roaring at any time of year.
The lodges provide private double rooms with comfortable bedding and Western style baths with timed hot water. Electricity is provided by generators in the early evening and early morning. Activities start before dawn and most guests are asleep by 9 PM. Both lodges offer excellent food, buffet style, in screened dining areas. Other than a bar and very small gift shops, there is not much on which to spend additional money.
Chitwan National Park's wildlife suffered during the Nepal's political revolution. Army guards protecting the animals were transferred to other areas, or were intimidated by large numbers of Maoists roaming the area. Now it seems that protection is much better. Poaching of rhino, tiger, and other species has been reduced, although it may still be occurring in remote parts of the park.
You can travel to Chitwan by road or air followed by a road transfer. Both Temple Tiger and Island Jungle Resort are in the southwest corner of the park and a considerable distance from the main airport at Bharatpur. Chitwan can be reached by road from Pokhara, as well.