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Chitwan National Park, Nepal

Thursday, May 13, 2010
Landlocked Nepal is the world's most recent republic, having been a kingdom until 2010. It is a country of highly diverse and rich geography, culture and religions. It has eight of the world's ten highest mountains, including Mount Everest.

Jason Dundas experienced an unexpected side to Nepal — a place that is sure to delight nature lovers: Chitwan National Park. In the local language chitwan means 'the heart of the jungle'. The country's first national park, Chitwan was established in 1973. It covers 932 square kilometres in the inner Terai lowlands at an altitude of around 100 metres, close to the border with India.

In a country known for its beautiful mountains, the park has diverse forest, grasslands, rich flora and fauna and offers a totally unique experience.

Once a game reserve for royalty, Chitwan is now open to all. It's home to the royal Bengal Tiger whose roar can be heard up to three kilometres away. The elusive creature doesn't much care for human company — they prefer to be on their own.

People enter the wilderness on foot, by elephant or in dug-out canoes to view one-horned black rhinos, sloth bears, leopards, jungle cats, wild boars, otters, langurs, rhesus and macaque monkeys, bison and deer.

There are over 450 species of birds in the park. Among the endangered birds are Bengal florican, giant hornbill, lesser florican, black stork and white stork. Some of the common birds seen are peafowl, red jungle fowl and various species of egrets, herons, kingfishers, flycatchers and woodpeckers. The best months for bird watching are March and December.

More than 45 species of amphibians and reptiles live in the park. There are marsh mugger crocodiles, cobras, green pit vipers and many types of frogs and tortoises.

Many visitors are keen to see the great one-horned rhino, the world's third largest land mammal. It's estimated that up to half of Asia's population of one-horned rhino is in Chitwan.

Chitwan Jungle Lodge was designed as a camp and offers comfortable accommodation in traditional wooden cottages where Nepalese culture is blended with modern facilities. They have solar heating, so there's plenty of hot water.

A spacious dining hall serves Nepalese and international cuisine and cocktails are served in the Jungle Camp Bar. Its location in the rhino zone of the park makes it the best point for wildlife sightings. Experienced naturalists and staff have lots of knowledge to share with guests.

Starlight Foundation

Whilst in Nepal, Jason helped to raise money for the Starlight Foundation. This year the stakes are high, with Starlight needing to raise $2.8 million in order to deliver on core programmes that help seriously ill and hospitalised children across Australia. Already there are more than 500 special Starlight wishes waiting to be granted, a much higher number than ever before, after the negative effects the GFC had on Starlight's fundraising. You can help by clicking on the link above.


Chitwan, four hours from Kathmandu in Nepal.


World Expeditions has three-day Chitwan Safari Tours from Kathmandu for $540 per person twin share. They include meals, jungle lodge accommodation, activities and transfers. They run between October and May.

Thai Airways International has flights to Kathmandu from:

  • Perth $1062
  • Melbourne $1163
  • Sydney $1182
  • Brisbane $1185

For further information

Thai Airways International
Ph: 1300 651 960

World Expeditions
Tel: 1300 720 000

Visas: Australian citizens are required to obtain a visa for Nepal. Visa and other entry and conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly.

Electricity: 230 volts (50 HZ)

Time zone: GMT +5.45 hours

Currency: Nepalese rupee

Telephone code: +977

User comments
I have just returned from the Elephant breeding center at Chitwan national park. The animals bred here are trained for many uses, one of which is the elephant rides through the national park which I also tried this morning. I was devastated to read through the appalling conditions the baby elephants are subjected to prior to being used for the rides. One training procedure they openly advertise is to use fire to 'desensitize' the skin of the elephants so they can take such heavy loads. If you are considering riding an elephant, and concerned about the welfare of the animals, I would strongly recommend visiting the breeding center first to see the full story.
I was just wondering if the elephants in the Chitwan national park are abused and tortured when being trained as many are in Asia. I have visited Chang mai's elephant sanctuary, but I am not sure about Chitwan as it is a national park. Could somebody please tell me because I don't want to support cruelty Thanks
Things can be viewed in both side. My family used to keep elephant as transporter for tourist. Its not bad that u trend animal for transportaion rather than eating their meat. Riding elephant is better than roaring engines with noise and pollution in middle of jungle. Also we canlt forget horse which started the human civilization.
I've been back from Nepal and Chitwan for less than 2 weeks. The elephant that I rode on was beautiful, gentle and very happy to be ridden and washed in the river. She was well cared for and her devoted custodian was always gentle and caring toward her. All of the Nepalese people I met at Sapana Lodge in Chitwan were all dedicated, gentle people who love and care with much respect for all of the animals around them. All of Asia cannot be dumped in the same basket. I will be returning next year to Sapana and Chitwan.
i realise that seing people riding elephants seems cruel, but if you have even been to Nepal you will see that the nepalise use these animals as we would horses, or cows, ( which they dont use because they a sacred over there). it is just a diffrent culture, and a way transportation and it chitwan and income to people who so despartly need it!!!!!!!
I have been there twice. Very nice experience riding on the Elephant back. Saw a family of 4 Rhinocerous together along with lots of colourful birds and other animal. Very peaceful & quiet in the night. Good for 2 nights stay!
I was very disturbed to see this story that involved animal cruelty broadcast on Nine's Getaway. It should be made public to all that the elephants in this segment are mistreated through torture and being made to submit to their trainers in fear of being tortured again. It is common practice in these third world countries of Asia to submit elephants to a torture regime in order for the elephants to submit to their trainers. Once they have 'graduated' from this training they are regularly beaten with sticks with hooks on the end which are driven into sensitive spots on the elephant, such as eyes, ears and knees. Elephants are also not designed to carry heavy loads on their backs. The carrying of people, especially more then one person can easily damage their fragile backs leading to serious back problems and infection. I have received information and knowledge through volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Please visit for information.

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