Chitwan National Park – What To See & Do

Chitwan National Park – What To See & Do

About Chitwan:

The first National Park in Nepal and now a world heritage site, Chitwan National Park can be found in southern Nepal on the Nepalese and Indian border. The park is massive offering 360 square miles of dense jungle for you to explore. The park is best known to tourist who are interested in seeing wild Bengal tigers, one-horned rhinos and elephants. However, the park has far more wild life offerings than those three. From sloth bears to leopards to crocodiles to countless bird species, if you’re a nature lover, Chitwan is sure to please.

Getting There:

A few hours ride from Kathmandu, it is reachable in a day. If you hire a private car, it will take you around 5 hours to get to Sauraha. If you go via bus, make sure it’s a tourist bus and not a local bus. The tourist bus can take anywhere from 7-8 hours. Remember, you’re in Nepal and things run a lot slower and there is only the one highway out of Kathmandu to Chitwan so if there is construction, you’re in for longer ride. The local busses are more cost efficient that tourist busses however, the rides are rough and the bus is significantly less comfortable and spacious that the tourists bus. It’s up to personal choice but just know you’re in for a bump ride if you go local.

If you want to fly and have the extra funds to do so, you can catch a flight to Bharatpur from Kathmandu and hire a taxi to take you the rest of the way to Sauraha or Meghauli.

Where To Stay:

There are two main entrances to visit the Chitwan National Park. The eastern entrance and the most popular of the two with tourists is Sauraha. The western entrance of Meghauli is the less visited of the two.

For us, we stayed in Sauraha at a place called Tiger Camp. For us, Sauraha was more for the budget conscious and backpacker scene. It’s a small strip of shops, places to eat and loads of tour operators promoting jungle tours. A good place to spend a few days if you’re looking for a relaxing time. If you want a party scene or a day jammed pack of activities, we suggest skipping Chitwan. For us, it was made clear the jungle tours were the main form of activity here.

What To Do in Chitwan (Sauraha):

  • Rent A Bike
    • A few shops in town rent bike to tourists. We rented bikes set off through the town and surrounding areas to explore. We had our sights set on Bis Hazari Lake (20,000 Lakes), sounds nice, right? Meh, not so much 🙂 Ha, it was a fun, long ride but honestly a bit of a letdown. The name sounds so charming and beautiful and in all honesty, it’s a swampy lake. Nonetheless, the ride over was fun and we got to pass through wonderful countryside and meet amazing locals along the way.

  • Catch a Sunset:
    • Head to Sunset View Restaurant & Bar, to catch the like name says a “sunset view.” This is a good spot to have a beer and unwind and hopefully see a tiger or rhino take a drink from the river.
  • Accoustica Shisha Bar:
    • A good spot in town for live music, a few brews and shisha. It’s a low-key place that offers food. Nothing special and not a wide menu but if you’re hungry, they have a few bites for you to try while you’re enjoying your shisha.
  • Honey:
    • If you’re a honey lover, Sauraha has a few honey shops from local bees in the area. They have awesome flavors that go great in tea and that free hostel toast they give you for breakfast.

  • Visit The Park:
    • The main reason people visit Chitwan is to see the parks flora and fauna. You have 3 options on how to see the park. 1) Jeep Tour 2) Elephant Tour and 3) Walking Tour.
      1. The Jeep Tour: A nice way to cover a lot of ground but from what we were told, the worst way to see any wildlife. The loud putter of the motor will scare anything away within a mile.
      2. Elephant Tour: You pay to hop in a chair, strapped to the elephant’s back as it takes you through the park. This option, we are told, is the best way to see wildlife. HOWEVER, we in good conscious cannot recommend this as we don’t support tourists riding elephants. It’s harmful and hurtful to these beautiful creatures so please take this into consideration when choosing your preferred way to see the park.
      3. Walking Tour: This is the option we went with. In all fairness, this is the cheapest way but often the most dangerous. Yes, thinking back on this, things could have ended badly. Badly as in being mauled by a tiger buuuuut in our case, it went amazing! We saw 2 rhinos, 3 sloth bears, a load of crocodiles, birds and deer. It’s a full day of walking so come prepared with food and LOTS of water.

TIP: When choosing a jungle tour company, be prepared that there are many options. We did not book ahead and shopped around once we arrived in Sauraha. We visited 3-4 different companies and talked to each company to get an idea of price and what they offer. The company that did the best price and who we liked the most is who we went with. You’ll get a better price in tow, especially if you’re with a group, versus calling and booking ahead.

Questions? Let us know in the comment section. We’re happy to answer.

– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)

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