Chitwan – spotting Animals

26. + 27. April 2024



After the trek I spent 2 days in Kathmandu, then made a trip to Chitwan and spent more time in Kathmandu and then flew home. The Kathmandu times get a blogpost together, here I write about the Chitwan trip.


Chitwan has a national park, founded in 1973 as the first national park in Nepal. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and a buffer zone was added in 1997. The core area covers 932 square kilometres.


I travelled there by bus. The main town of the park, Sauraha, is 165 kilometres by road to the southwest of Kathmandu. There is construction on this road just outside Kathmandu and it is very taxing on your patience. After 2 hours we had covered 23 kilometres. Things got a little better after that.










I was picked up from my accommodation in Sauraha. I knew that Chitwan was at a low altitude, so it would be hot. It really was and I suffered a little. But not too much, because I was lucky enough to have a very nice, comfortable, air-conditioned and huge room. I almost felt lost with my small backpack.


part of room


The resort offers activities every day that you can book. There is then a guide and you are together with other travellers. In my group were 2 young Germans who had just did Manaslu-circuit, 2 young Danish women who had given workshops on menstruation etc. in Pokhara and 3 Americans from a travel agency who wanted to include Chitwan as a new destination in their programme. Unfortunately, our guide was a bit awful, either he was just talking down his knowledge or he had none. He is certainly good at spotting animals, but his communication was really not good. Too bad.


I took part in: 1st village visit, 2nd jeep safari, 3rd canoe trip with walk.


The village visit was to the village of Tharu, the same name as the ethnic group that lives there. The internet says that the Tharu people are a very old-established tribe in the area with the particularity that their habitat was very much infected with malaria (no longer), but they fell ill much less frequently than other people. The guide believed that the Tharu had come from the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. This theory is widely recognised as false.


In the village, a few people were going about their daily business, some groups of tourists gathered around their guides and in one house there was a kind of museum with a few dusty old artefacts, which the guide explained at great length. It was hot and I was sweating and suffering from my impatience.


village 1


village 2


But there was already an animal to marvel at on the way there: a crocodile:




Then we went to a sunset point. The sunset was almost non-existent due to the high air vapour, and at some point the reddish ball of sunlight simply dissolved. There was plenty of seating along the riverbank so that visitors could have a drink while watching the sun.


vanishing sun


There was also a kind of waterhole in the other direction where a mentally disturbed rhino spent its life. It simply did not want to live in freedom in the park with the other rhinos.




My enthusiasm for this excursion was very low or non-existent.


Early the next morning we went on the big safari. There was no bright sun here either, but that was good as it made the temperatures bearable for a little longer. We travelled back to the sunset point, were put into a canoe and paddled across the river.




canoe (the benches on the sides to sit on)




After a short walk, we came across quite a large number of jeeps in which the respective groups were placed. I thought: oh dear, oh dear. But this time I was wrong, the park is so big and there are so many paths that these jeeps never got in each other’s way and you only met another jeep from time to time.




The journey took 4-5 hours. During this time we saw: a lot of red deer, 1 bison, 2 bears, 5 rhinos, 1 small horde of monkeys, some pretty birds and no tigers. You can’t get me excited about that, my expectations were different. But from the reaction of the others, it seemed to me that they found this normal and quite successful. If you came across an animal, you watched how it stood around, maybe ate, maybe moved a bit – and usually took a photo. Here are my pictures:
















8 (mit Affen)






11 (in the water some rhinos gathering)






The rhinos are the park’s biggest attraction. You have to be very lucky with the tigers, not many people get to see them. In terms of vegetation, the park was relatively varied, but even that didn’t get me into enthusiasm. But it was good to have done it. I now know that it’s not really my thing, but I can see that others really enjoy it and that’s a good thing.


Later in the afternoon there was the canoeing activity, which was my favourite. You sit in these kind of dugout canoes and are manoeuvred down the river by a staker. We were well into the dry season and the river had little water and the boat often scraped on the rocks. Towards the end, we were so stuck that a boat came to the rescue and some of us had to change. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to slide my hands in the water. Here are the pictures:














Then there’s something to say about the elephants. There are some here. You can also ride them through the park to observe the animals or just take a tour. You can also visit the Elephant Breeding Centre. The living conditions for the elephants here are anything but nice.


I had never been involved with elephants in this way. It was also offered to my group, but the others were all outraged and against it and so this item on the programme was simply cancelled. But you could still see various people on elephants:




It seems to me that these are mainly Indian tourists, of whom there are a lot in Chitwan anyway. As long as there are still good paying customers and no disasters, it is probably rather difficult to bring about a real change. But let’s see.


In the evening there was a Tharu dance show at the resort.




And the next morning we made the long journey back to Kathmandu. I think the resort is beautiful and a great place to hang out after a trek, and I gained a good insight into the Chitwan NP programme offered by many tour operators. Even if I’m not too enthusiastic myself, others are and that’s a good thing. In any case, it’s definitely an advantage if you don’t have as high expectations as I do.


I experienced a bit more in Kathmandu, which I’ll tell you about in the next blog post!