The word Chitwan consists of two parts “Chit” meaning Heart and “Wan” meaning Jungle in Nepali. Thus Chitwan literally means “heart of jungle”. Chitwan is a bit hot in summer as it is located in inner terai but however, it is cool in the winter. In recent years Chitwan has topped the list of things to do in Asia. It is a truly wildlife adventure of a different kind–jungle safaris on elephant backs or jeeps, bird watching, canoe rides and jungle walks.
Chitwan National Park is situated in south central Nepal in the sub tropical lowlands of the inner terai of Chitwan, Makawanpur, Parsa and Nawalparasi districts. It lies between 27°16.56’- 27°42.14’ Latitudes and 83°50.23’-84°46.25’ Longitudes. The altitude ranges from 110m to 850m above sea level. The park is bounded by the Rapti and Narayani River in the north, Parsa Wildlife Reserve in the east and Madi settlements and India border in the south. The physiography of the park consists of the Terai and Siwaliks. Three major rivers Narayani, Rapti and Reu, and their floodplains; and several lakes and pools are the major water sources of the park. The Chitwan National Park is Asia’s best preserved conservation area, where wildlife thrives and their habitats remain intact. Chitwan is only half-hour flight from Kathmandu. The park consists of Sal forests, tall elephant grasslands, hills, ox-box lakes.
Enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Natural) in 1984, the park spreads over an area of 932 sq. km. The park offers interesting sites and activities. The display at the Visitor Center at Sauraha provides fascinating information on wildlife and conservation programs.
Elephant safari provides an opportunity to get a closer view of the endangered One-horned Rhinoceros. One may also get a glimpse of the elusive Bengal tiger.
The museum at Kasara, the park headquarters, has informative displays. It helps you get close to the wildlife, and the park. The information and footage of various wild animals, endangered species, their remaining, various birds, and plants etc can be found in the museum.
Chitwan National Park is a home to 56 species of mammals, 49 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 525 species of birds. It is also a habitat for the endangered species of wild animals like the one-horned rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal tiger, gaur, wild elephant, four-horned antelope, leopard, sloth bear, wild boar, rhesus monkey, grey langur monkey, wild dog, small wild cats, and many other smaller animals. Cobras, kraits and pythons are the snakes found here. The swampy areas and numerous oxbow lakes of Chitwan provide a home for the marsh mugger crocodiles too. In a stretch of the Narayani River are found one of the few remaining populations of the rare and endangered fish-only eating gharial, or Gangetic crocodile. Also found here is one of the world’s four species of freshwater dolphins.
Birdwatching is very adventurous and fun in Chitwan. Birds like woodpecker, hornbill, Bengal florican and red-headed trogon has really enriched Chitwan with it’s beauty. The park is a great place to watch colorful Winter birds such as waterfowls, Brahminy duck, pintails and bareheaded geese drawn by the sanctuary of the park’s rivers. In summers, the forest is alive with nesting migrants such as the fabulous paradise flycatcher, the Indian pitta and parakeets. In winter Siberians birds are found in the park.
A typical 2-nights/3-days jungle safari includes wildlife safari on elephants, canoe ride to watch the crocodiles and water birds, rural tour to view the lifestyle of the indigenous Tharu people, and nature walks to see the exotic flora and fauna. Apart from the jungle safari, the Elephant Breeding Center and Gharial Crocodile Farm, where these animals and reptiles have been successfully bred in captivity, are worth a visit.
About 6 km to the north of Bharatpur, on the way to the Chitwan National Park, is a prominent pilgrimage site Devghat, at the confluence of the Trishuli and the Kali Gandaki rivers, which then form the Narayani, a major tributary of the Ganga. Holy dips in this river are taken by the pilgrims on the day fo Makar Sankranti, the first day of Nepali month Magh in January.Confluences of major rivers such as these are considered very holy.There are a large number of shrines, temples, ashrams and old age homes at Devghat. Balmiki Ashram was a retreat used by the great Hindu sage Balmiki, where Sita came to live with her two sons Lav and Kush after separating from Ram. The ashram is situated in a forest on the bank of the Tribeni River, at the southwestern corner of the national park.
TREKKING CHEPANG HILL TRAIL
Home of the indigenous Chepangs, Chitwan midhills, provide interesting trekking tours leading to rustic Chepang villages, birdwatching opportunities and wonderful views of the mountains and the surrounding hills and plains. The trail can be started or ended at Hugdi that lies on the Kathmandu-Chitwan highway, and one can go rafting on the Trishuli River upto this point.
OX- CART RIDES
This ride provides a tremendous experience while riding on a wooden cart pulled by two oxen around the village. It is the most adventurous ride ever.
A cultural program performed by the Tharus will be another highlight of your visit to the Chitwan National Park. The Tharus perform their traditional dance around a long fire in the evening in their traditional costumes and common mode of dress all over Nepal.
- Between October and February, the average temperature is 25ºC ensuring a pleasant climate
- From March through June, temperatures can reach as high as 43ºC.
- The hot and humid days give way to the monsoon season that typically lasts for four months from June through September.