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For many of us, a Chitwan national park Safari will be on the cards while we are in Nepal and why not? Here are the 4 best things to do there. 😁
The breathtaking landscapes are home to a mind-bending number of species, including 68 species of mammals and 543 species of birds.
It is hardly surprising that the national park is also a UNESCO world heritage site and in my humble opinion, few places in the world deserve that title more than here.
Nepal is world-famous for its staggering diversity and has become a focal point for many documentaries. From Animal planet to national geographic have all come to this magnificent corner of the universe to document its natural treasures.
Understandable many travellers want to experience a little of this Eden for themselves and there are several ways to do that.
The park’s relative accessibility from Katmandhu or the border at Sunauli just adds to its appeal. Chitwan National Park is vast. It spans about 952.63 km2, So Despite the sheer number of tourists, it does not take long to leave the crowds behind and be able to submerge yourself into the natural world.
In this post, I will be covering the best options for your Chitwan national park safari and you can decide for yourself what suits you best. I have spent many weeks here as I am in love with the Sal forests of the Terai, so join me as we delve into how to get the most out of your time and money here.
Before we start, I would like to make it clear I will not be covering Elephant Safaris. While getting on the back of an elephant and trampling your way through the undergrowth may be a legitimate method of seeing the wildlife, and sounds romantic, in truth, a lot of the elephants are mistreated, and you will probably not be thrilled with my recommendation.
I hope that you don’t mind if I skip that one. Let’s move on to the really good stuff, shall we?
Jeep safaris in Chitwan national park are a fantastic way to cover some serious ground. They are handy for those of us who are not especially mobile or simply do not have the inclination to walk for hours on end.
There are plentiful jeep tracks that fan out like a misshapen spider web across a vast portion of the park, so there is plenty to see.
However, there are several downsides to getting the jeep. Most of them use the same few tracks, and the noise from one engine will scare off any wildlife, let alone dozens of them. It is also easy to drive right past a lot of wildlife without ever knowing it was there.
Shared jeeps are cheap but noisy. Serious wildlife watchers like myself are likely to become frustrated at the noise from your fellow passengers.
Chitwan is immensely popular, and many tourists who visit here have only come to see the show-stopping species such as the Tiger. That means the rest of the time, it does not matter, and there is a lot of loud talking and even people playing music on their phones? Understandably some tourists may find this intolerable.
The cost of a jeep fluctuates greatly so it is unreasonable to try and give an exact cost. However, it usually costs around the same for a seat no matter where you book them from unless it’s online and then it costs way more.
Most safaris happen on eight-seater Canters, but some of them can hold much more. You pay by the seat, so it is economical, but you pay for the quality of your experience and for me, that costs a lot more.
If you hire the whole jeep, you can go further, but it can cost a pretty penny. They can go in another direction entirely, and you a far more likely to see wildlife, and let’s face it, we all want that. So there is a no-nonsense assessment of a jeep safari and one you are unlikely to get from the countless tour operators around town.
Now on to canoe safaris in Chitwan national park. These are a good choice if you want to spot such animals as the gharial, marsh mugger crocodiles or even otters.
There is also a good chance of spotting animals when they come to the river to drink or bathe. While I have not done one of these myself, I have got good feedback from other tourists.
I have had multiple reports of tourists seeing tigers and leopards while floating lazily down the Rapti river. Moving by the river will give you a fresh perspective of the jungles and grasslands.
The cheapest and most reliable place to organise this in Sauraha. There are many canoes moored up along the banks right in the middle of town from the same place you cross it for your jeep safari or jungle trek.
Again these are cost-effective as they are shared, so they are an excellent option for those on a budget.
A bike ride to 20,000 lakes is something you can do at your leisure. Bike hire is very inexpensive in Sauraha, and it does not take very long to cycle.
These community forests are loaded with wildlife, and you will not need a guide. It is not something that is possible in much of the area because of the dangerous wildlife. I am not sure why you are allowed here but not in other community forests. Who knows? I would suggest this if you are an avid nature lover as my goodness, it is beautiful.
You will also cycle through countless villages, and the rice paddies are fantastic places to spot birds. A bike ride to 20,000 lakes is a fantastic way to fill up a day and is effectively your very own Chitwan national park safari.
Jungle safaris in Chitwan national park are far and away the best way to see wildlife as there is no noise and it is invigorating to be walking in the dense forest. It is just plain heart-pounding when you are wading through the grass and have no idea what is coming.
You will always be with an experienced guide who knows the ropes, and you are sure to leave with memories that will last a lifetime.
Treks last from sun up to sundown, so this works out great value for money. However, be prepared for a long day and be very sore afterwards. Stay close to your guide at all times as there are massive animals in here, and realistically they may be around the next corner.
I am not going to lie to my readers though there are some pretty sizable risks going for a stroll in the forest here. It is a personal decision if you want to give this a whirl as tourists have been maimed and even killed while out walking.
It is wildlife, after all. For me, the advantages far outweigh the risks as this is most certainly going to be an experience you will never forget, and Nepal is the only country I Know of in Asia that permits this. I have been on many and can say I wholeheartedly enjoyed every single one of them. Pro-tip for booking a safari in Chitwan National Park
Before you book anything ask around for reviews on their experience with their guides. Some guides are far better than others at spotting wildlife and know the forests like the back of their hands.
One place I know for a fact provides quality guides is Guida Lodge in Sauraha. I always stay here as there is a strong emphasis on wildlife.
There are various ways to visit this beautiful corner of the universe, and it is down to you to decide what best suits your needs.
This was a no-nonsense breakdown of what you will be getting. I have not given a price of how much things cost at the moment as there is no clear information on that as of yet, and I dont want to make things up just to write something. I will be returning after the pandemic is done, so I will be able to give you an honest breakdown.
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I hope you enjoyed this post and you have found it to be a fun read. This place is well worth the time and energy it takes to see it. If I can help you in any way with any information, then do not hesitate to ask. With that said, I shall see you in the next post.