We crossed the border into Nepal in the early hours of the morning, having just spent the past seven days exploring Tibet.

We had arranged a short tour to Chitwan National Park in Nepal with the hope of soaking up the sun and enjoying some wildlife. Our jeep transfer took us around eleven hours to reach our hotel in Kathmandu.  It felt great to be back in a country we love so much.

chitwan national park nepal

We’ve visited Nepal years ago, however, we couldn’t resist dropping back in to see some parts of the country we didn’t see last time. It was already decided that our trip to visit every country in the world has to include some travels to our favourite countries.  Nepal is definitely one of them.

Our 2 night/ 3 Days in Chitwan Tour included return local bus transport from Kathmandu to our hotel in Sauraha, 2 nights accommodation at Hotel Parkland and all wildlife activities, park permits and a guide.

hotel parkland chitwan national park

Hotel Parkland – This is where we stayed during our time in Chitwan National Park

The early morning bus journey from Kathmandu took seven hours with a few short breaks along the way.

Upon arrival, our hotel room was very nice and the gardens were spectacular. Our guide explained the program for the next few days which was designed to take in as many activities inside the park during our time here.

We had a few hours to freshen up, eat lunch and enjoy a quick dip in the pool before we set off for a walk to explore the area. A few other guests joined us as we wandered around the outskirts of Sauraha. The town is very relaxing.

The locals can be seen riding bicycles around and I noticed it was all very green and abundant with crops of fresh corn and rice paddies.

We wandered along the river of Sauraha with our guide, learning about birds and the area. We were super excited to stumble upon two one-horned rhinos bathing in the river. These animals are magnificent. We watched them meander around in the river for a while, it’s such a wonderful feeling to watch animals in the wild.

rhinos Chitwan National Park

Viewing one-horned rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park

We reached the hub of Sauraha town, along the riverfront and sat down to enjoy some cold Nepalese beers with views of the sun setting, always my favourite part of the day.

Afterwards, we walked back towards our hotel, passing by guesthouses, shops and lots of delicious Indian/Nepali hawker food. I couldn’t help myself, I ordered a plate of panipuri –  delicious hollow crackers full of mashed vegetables with heaps of flavour and spice. The best snack ever.

We had early morning activities planned for the next day to avoid the heat, so we ate dinner and we were happy to get an early night in our comfortable room.

Wildlife Safari in Chitwan National Park

We started the next morning in Chitwan with a relaxing dugout canoe ride and jungle walk. Our group of ten boarded the canoe with tiny seats and sat back to enjoy the views of the river and green jungle along the way.

We spotted a few crocodiles resting in the shallow waters and many species of birds, including kingfishers, egrets and wogtails.

After thirty minutes or so, we disembarked and walked back toward town through the jungle, eager to view some wild animals.

The jungle walk was peaceful, yet uneventful in seeing any wildlife. Perhaps we’d see some a little later on our jeep safari when the temperature drops a little.

Exploring the Local Culture

Part of our activities in Chitwan National Park included a walk through a Tharu village. The Tharu people are an ethnic group in south-western Nepal who are native to the Terai region, a plain region that includes Chitwan, as well as other areas.

The houses of the Tharu people have clay walls and thatched roofs, both features that allow the homes to stay cool in the dense summer humidity. They’re very self-sufficient, living off the land and crops they plant. They farm many animals to provide milk, cheese and curd (yoghurt).

After our visit here, we were shown the elephant breeding centre, then we had an option to bath with the elephants, nearby at the river. Here, the mahouts or elephant trainers were scrubbing the elephants. You have the option to join in for a small fee.

canoe ride chitwan national park

A sunrise dugout canoe safari along the river

Returning to our hotel for lunch to escape the heat was nice. Finally, it was time for our safari! This is what we came for!

We had the option to take either an elephant safari (riding on the back of an elephant through the jungle) or alternatively to take a jeep safari in the jungle.

We chose to do the jeep safari as we prefer to engage in ethical elephant tourism when we travel. Find out more about this here.

We were dropped off in town, took a very short canoe ride across the river and then climbed aboard our open-top jeep with another 8 people and our guide.

We spent the next four hours driving deeper into the jungle in the search for wildlife. We viewed a handful of one-horned rhinos, several wild elephants, monkeys swinging between trees, wild boars, crocodiles and lots of birds, including the beautiful peacock.

I found the whole experience quite relaxing. We didn’t find any Bengal tigers, but honestly, these big cats are extremely hard to find due to the low numbers of them left in the wild and the size of Chitwan National Park, which is approximately 942 sq metres.

jeep safari Chitwan National Park

Jeep Safari ride

Should You visit Chitwan?

 

I found our visit to Chitwan to be a welcome break in Nepal. It was informative and enjoyable, however, you shouldn’t expect to be hiking through a wild jungle viewing masses of wildlife.

I’d describe the experience to be more about learning about wildlife and conservation, with some fun activities available to you. The jeep safari experience was the highlight of my stay here.

What should you bring when visiting Chitwan National Park?

Chitwan can be a very wet, humid, and forested area. Pack clothes for hot, sunny days during the day and lightweight clothes that cover your arms and legs in the evenings to prevent mosquito bites.

It’s a good idea to pack some good mosquito repellant and sunscreen. You can also purchase small bottles of mosquito repellent from the little shops in town for about $4.

How to Get to Chitwan

Sauraha is the town outside of Chitwan. Fancy resorts are on the outskirts of Sauraha, but you’ll find lots of budget accommodation and affordable guesthouses in town. CLICK HERE to view these properties on Booking.com.

It is also possible to get to Sauraha using public buses. These run directly from Kathmandu and Pokhara and each take between 6-8 hours, depending on the traffic and road condition.

Buses surprisingly run on time, so arrive with time to spare in the morning or you will miss the bus out of Thamel, the tourist hub of Kathmandu.

Expect to pay approximately 700Rs for the journey.

For those who are short on time or have the cash to spend on flying here rather than taking the bus, there is also an airport located 10 km outside of Sauraha, in Bharatpur.

It’s good to be prepared with the best information before you travel to Nepal. We recommend getting a copy of the Nepal Lonely Planet guidebook to organise your trip. Even if it’s just for planning a rough idea of which areas you’d like to visit, this book is always handy to have in your small travel day pack (these Nomatic backpacks are awesome).

Travel Insurance is Recommended

If you’re interested in travelling further in Asia after Nepal, I’d recommend you consider this 5 Day Tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa, Tibet. We did this trip in reverse, but it was incredible! Read more about our experience in Tibet and everything you need to know before you go.

Our Ultimate Food Map of Asia will give you some inspiration about where to head to after that!

Many travellers navigate towards Southeast Asia, in particular, Thailand! Did you know that this is my favourite country in the world? Seriously, from all the countries I’ve visited, this is my favourite. Why? Well, here are 15 Amazing Places to visit in Thailand to get started. I really love the Kata Beach area on the big island of Phuket. With so many awesome things to do in Kata Beach, there’s something about this area of Thailand that appeals to me.

If you decide to go to Thailand, make sure you check out my 26 Top Travel Tips for Thailand, they’ll come in super useful.

Finally, I love sharing travel advice and tips to help you guys travel the world as I’ve done. Visit my Travel Resources Page for the best websites, travel gear and products I love that will save you money and help you travel for longer.

TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES

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🎒 LuggageOsprey Farpoint 40L Backpack or Samsonite Luggage Range (we love this Stack’d Carry-On Spinner Suitcase).

🛄 What to Pack: To help you get started on packing, here is our ULTIMATE Packing List for all Travellers.

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✅ Check out our Travel Resources Page for more Useful Tips to Save you Money!