The park is situated in south central Nepal, covering 932 km 2in the subtropical lowlands of the inner Terai. The area comprising the Tikauli forest-from Rapti river to the foothills of the Mahabharat-extending over an area of 175 km2 was declared Mahendra Mriga Kunj (Mahendra Deer Park) by the late King Mahendra in 1959. In 1963, the area south of Rapti River was demarcated as a rhinoceros sanctuary. The area was gazetted as the country's first national park in 1973, recognizing its unique ecosystems of international significance. UNESCO declared RCNP a World Heritage Site in 1984,In 1996 an area of 750 km2 surrounding the park was declared a buffer zone, which consists of forests and private lands including cultivated lands.
The park and the local people jointly initiate community development activities and manage natural resources in the buffer zone. His Majesty's Government has made provision of to provide 30-50 percent of the park revenue for community development and natural resource management in the buffer zone.
The park consists of a diversity of ecosystems-including the Churia hills, Ox-bow lakes, and the flood plains of the Rapti, Reu and Narayani Rivers. The Churia hills rise slowly towards the east from 150 m. to more than 800 m. The western portion of the park is comprised of the lower but more rugged Someshwor hill. The park shares its eastern boundary with the Parsa Wildlife Reserve.
The park has a range of climatic seasons each offering a unique experience. October through February with average temperatures of 25oc offer an enjoyable climate. From March to June temperatures can reach as high as 43oC, The hot humid days give way to the monsoon season that typically lasts from late June until September, Rivers become flooded and roads are impossible.
In late January, local villagers are allowed to cut thatch grasses to meet their needs, which offers a better viewing of wildlife to visitors. September ,November , February and April, migratory birds join the residential birds and create spectacular bird watching opportunities. While the monsoon rains bring lush vegetation, most trees flower in late winter. The palash tree, known as the "flame of the forest' and silk cotton tree have spectacular crimson flowers that can be seen from a distance.
Flora and Fauna:
The Chitwan valley consists of tropical and subtropical forests. Sal forests cover 70 percent of the park. Sal leaves are used locally for plates in festivals and religious offerings.
Grasslands cover 20 percent of the park. There are more than 50 different types of grasses, including the elephant grass (Saccharum spp ), renowned for its immense height. It can grow up to 8m in height. The park is home to more than 50 mammal species, over 525 birds, and 55 amphibians and reptiles. The endangered fauna found in the park are: One-horned rhinoceros, Gaur. Royal Bengal tiger. Wild elephant, Fourhorned antelope, Pangolin, Golden monitor lizard, Python, etc. Bengal florican. Lesser florican, Giant hornbill, Black stork, While stork, etc.
Watching the wonders of Nature
Watching unique birds and animals from atop an elephant can be quite exciting. Here is a list of activities that can make your trip to the Royal Chitwan National Park more memorable.
Canoeing on Chitwan rivers is an excellent way of seeing waterfalls. The park's dolphins and crocodiles, however, are seldom seen. The high temperatures experienced in the park make bathing in the river an attractive pastime. Water-holes are also lure for a swim. Watching the elephants showering is very interesting.
Elephant rides is a major Chitwan attractions. Wild boar, red deer and other creatures of the jungle can be seen, in the morning and evening especially, from from atop the tall pachyderms. One more advantage is that rhinos can be approached without danger. Apart from the animals, luxuriant vegetation and jungle chorus - different sounds in different parts of the day - make the ride a memorable experience.
Jungle safaris make it possible to explore the length and breadth of the National Park.
White-water rafting expedition and jungle safari together represent the ultimate adventure. The river trip itself takes two to three days, commencing at or upstream of Mugling and ending in Narayanghat.
Animal Watching from Hides
Apart from safaris on foot and elephant back, hides offer animal watchers another way of getting what they want. Called machans in local language, these wooden towers are usually erected in clearings crossed by game paths. Best time to watch red deer and rhinos is early morning and evening.
The display at the visitor centre at Sauraha provides fascinating information on wildlife and conservation program. The women's user groups' souvenir shop offers a variety of handicrafts and other local products for gifts and souvenirs.
Elephant safari provides opportunity to get a closer view of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros. One may also get a glimpse of the elusive Bengal tiger. The Elephant Breeding Center at Khorsor, Sauraha gives you information on captive elephant and the calves born there.
The museum at Kasara, the park headquarters, has informative displays- Near the HQ visitors can see Bikram Baba, a Hindu religious site of archival value. A short walk (1km) from the park HQ will take you to the Gharial Breeding Center, which is also home to the Marsh mugger and number of turtles.
Inside the park, there are 7 resorts run by park concessionaires that can provide lodging and access to wildlife activities. Various resorts and lodges situated outside the park also offer variety of services.
How to get there:
Public buses, tourist coaches, and airlines service link Chitwan. There are nine entrance gates to the park:
- Kasara via Jagatpur
- Ghatgain via Patihani
- Bhimle via Maghauli
- Khagendra mali via Bhandara
- Sunachuri via Sunachuri
- Sauraha via Tandi (Ratna Nagar)
- Laukhani via Pragatinaggr
- Amaltari via Danda
- Kujauli via Rajahar
Source: Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation updated by Explore Nepal