Chitwan National Park (CNP), one of the country’s natural treasures, covers 93 square kilometers in the subtropical lowlands of inner Terai. The area comprises the Tikauli forest from Rapti River to the foothills of the Mahabharat, extending over an area of 175 sqaure kilometers. In 1962, the area south of the Rapti River was demarcated as the rhinoceros sanctuary. It was Nepal’s first national park, established in 1973, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
The Chitwan valley consists of tropical and sub-tropical forests. Sal tree stands cover 70% of the park, with grasslands, comprised of 50 types, covering 20% of the park. The park is home to 56 mammal species, 525 types of birds, 55 amphibians and reptiles. Many are endangered.
One horned rhinoceros, gaur, Royal Bengal tiger, wild elephants, four horned antelope, pangolin, golden monitor lizard, python, are some of the animals. Bengal florican, kisser florican, giant hornbill, black stork etc. can be viewed by visitors. During September, November, February and March migratory birds join the residential birds, allowing for spectacular bird watching opportunities. While monsoon rains bring lush vegetation, most trees flower in late winter. Particularly the Palash trees and the silk cotton trees put on a spectacular show then with their orange and crimson flowers respectively.
Elephant safari provides an opportunity to get a closer view of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros. One might also get a glimpse of the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger. The Elephant Breeding Centre Khorsor, Sauraha, provides information on domesticated elephants. Twice daily the local domesticated elephants are walked to the river for their bath and play. Most enjoyable to watch.
One can visit the Tharu ethnic village as well as their museum and regular evening dance performances.