Chitwan National Park Nepal

The Asian country of Nepal has a grand reputation for primarily being a mountainous place, and with the Himalayas providing a formidable spine to the country, with the world’s highest peak, Mt Everest, towering above all others, it’s reputation is justifiably deserved.

However, not all of the country requires Sherpa assistance to help you negotiate it, and in the lowlands of Nepal is a true jewel of a place called Chitwan National Park.
So important is Chitwan that it has even been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The reason for that is because Chitwan is comprised of one of the last remaining vestiges of jungle which once covered most of the Himalayan foothills in both Nepal and India.

The park is subtropical and is as low as 100 metres above some parts, rising to just 815 metres (2,674ft) in the Churia Hills. When you consider that Mt Everest extends to a height 8400 metres it is easy to understand how varied Nepal’s landscape truly is.

The park is one of the last remaining natural Bengal tiger habitats in the world and is part of the Tiger Conservation Unit, which also includes Valmiki National Park, which is close by in India.

Tiger is not the only endangered species to occupy Chitwan as the park also contains one of the last remaining populations of the single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros. Wildlife does thrive in the park, and it is also a haven for leopards, wild cats, sloth bears, jackals, foxes, wild dogs and hyenas.

Many reptiles are also found within the park’s boundaries including King cobras and crocodiles.

Predators need victims on which to prey, and the park has many different species of deer, antelope and boars. It is also home to the largest of Asian mammals, the elephant. Because they are Asian elephants, and therefore tameable, unlike their African cousins, it is possible to trek through the jungle aboard an elephant, which allows you a clear view of the surrounding countryside.

It is not only land animals which continue to thrive within the untouched environment of Chitwan National Park. Over 350 bird species are reported including the Himalayan grey-headed fishing eagle and white-back vulture. Ruddy shelduck and bar-headed goose winter on the rivers. The threatened Indian python also occurs within the park, and some 99 fish species inhabit the rivers and oxbow lakes.

There are lodges within the park offering comfortable accommodation, plus a wealth of activities including jeep safaris and rafting along the waterways. To fully appreciate the richness of the wildlife, it is best to stay for a few nights.

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