IN SEARCH OF ONE HORNED RHINOCEROS & OTHER WILDLIFE IN CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK: NATURALLY NEPAL!

IN SEARCH OF ONE HORNED RHINOCEROS & OTHER WILDLIFE IN CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK: NATURALLY NEPAL!

This blog is about my visit to Chitwan National Park in Nepal. Chitwan is very close to the border of India and is rich in flora and fauna. The main wildlife draw at Chitwan National Park is the one horned rhinoceros.

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One Horned Rhinoceros I spotted in Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

It was not the right season to spot one horned Rhinoceros in the Chitwan National Park. “Why did we even come here?” I was complaining mostly to myself as our Canter van navigated through the tall elephant grass. The elephant grass (Saccharum ravenna ) is one of the world’s tallest grass and prevents soil erosion.

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The canoe ride over Bhude Rapti river. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

We were moving around only through the periphery of the core zones of Chitwan National Park, a small section of nearly 932 sq km (2600 sq km in 1950s) of forests which make the Chitwan National Park. Nobody comes to Chitwan National Park to spot the elusive Royal Bengal Tigers. One horned Rhinoceros are the star here for a change.

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Mugger. As seen from the canoe ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

I had given up the hope to spot any rhinos when the massive Canter van ahead of us got stuck in a muddy patch. The entire canter van was booked by a western couple who looked as disappointed at not sighting a rhino. The ‘sticky’ situation under the humid air and harsh sun made it worse.

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One Horned Rhinoceros and her baby I spotted in Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

We stopped our van and volunteered to help. More villagers joined and after half an hour of sweat and hard work, we were back on track. However, this time we were not even trying to spot rhino or any wildlife for that matter. We were just returning to the hotel, crestfallen.

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The canter van we booked for safari. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

Then suddenly one of my co travelers Divyakshi Gupta prophesied, “We will see a rhino and a baby.” She said it plain faced, with the precision of an Oracle. Dismissing her predictions as an insult to our injury, we continued with our jokes and idle banter, wiping sweat every now and then.  “I predicted in Kanha and Ranthambore (India) too and it came true” She insisted. We ignored again.

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A mugger kid. As seen from the canoe ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

Just as we moved a bit ahead, the canter van stopped abruptly. I looked around expecting well a ‘Rhino and a baby’. Instead it was a mugger baby, which slipped off quickly into the muddy water as soon as we stopped the van. We moved further and the canter van stopped again, this time slowly. Our hearts stopped when we saw a female one horned rhinoceros with a baby nonchalantly snacking on knee length grass not very far away. I looked back at Divyakshi and exchanged smiles silently.

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An adult mugger. As seen from the canoe ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

It was definitely the best moment of my 2 days stay at the Chitwan National Park. After a failed attempt to spot one horned rhinoceros in Dudhwa National Park near Lucknow in India, I was ecstatic to succeed this time. Maybe I should do my wildlife safaris exclusively with Divyakshi. Three canter vans parked themselves behind each other as the mother son duo chomped their way through the grass silently. Two of the vans housed wide eyed Europeans.

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 As seen from the canter van ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

Many rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park became a victim of poaching during the decade long Maoist insurgency. To protect and conserve the wildlife of the terai region of Nepal, Royal Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. Decades ago, when the population of rhinoceros reached an alarmingly low number, the government even introduced Gainda Gasti (Rhino Patrol) which employed armed men at different parts of the sprawling Chitwan National Park.  With relentless efforts and continuous vigil, the numbers of rhinos have increased. Chitwan National Park is very similar to Dudhwa National Park (India) in character, which is just few kilometers across the border.

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Alligator or mugger? As seen from the canoe ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

The adult males are mostly solitary animals while the female stay with their calves till the time they are around 4 years old. The form short term groups only for special occasions such as monsoon. One interesting fact about the one horned rhinos is that they like to defecate at a designated spot. Apart from poaching, the other factors that lead to Rhino mortality is the fight between dominant males for territory and mate. Males are also known to be aggressive to females during mating season.

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The group of travel bloggers near Bhude Rapti river. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

CANOE RIDE IN BHUDE RAPTI RIVER IN CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK :

We had already spotted many species of reptiles, mammals and birds in the early morning canoe ride we took. The 45 minutes canoe ride pierced through the calm Bhude Rapti river. The narrow wooden canoe was not like anything I have sat on before. With no life jackets, we spotted many mugger crocodiles, who camouflaged themselves well in the muddy waters, not very far from us. We didn’t even want to think the consequences of the boat capsizing in the middle of the river. Khoon Bhari Maang anyone?  My only solace was the fact that Bhude Rapti river is a slow moving river and the water is not deep.

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Sand martin Swallow and their mud nests. As seen from the canoe ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

BIRDS I SPOTTED DURING THE CANOE RIDE AT CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK:

Of the 543 species of birds found in Chitwan National Park, we managed to spot some of them. As soon as the canoe ride began, the mud nests of the restless Sand Martin Swallows welcomed us on either side of the Bhude Rapti river. Sand Martin Swallows typically build their nests in muddy walls near a water body which could be a lake, river or ocean. They flitted over hurriedly and in large number around the sprawling colony of nests, never settling at a spot.

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Oriental Pied Hornbill. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

Other avian species we spotted easily were Spotted Doves, white throated Kingfisher, herons, common greenshank, a Rufous treepie, Asian open billed stork and white browed wagtail.  The birds either meditated on the island of pebbles in the middle of the rivers or kept a watch over us from the higher branches of the trees. What took my breath were two Oriental pied Hornbills we spotted very easily at the Elephant Breeding Center. They moved from one branch to another, wary of human presence but not afraid of it. Despite being counted as one of the smallest and common Asian hornbills, the duo still managed to impress me with their size and beauty. Found mostly in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, the Oriental pied hornbill.

 

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The Oriental Pied Hornbill is mostly frugivores, i.e., prefers eating fruits and berries like papaya, figs etc. However, it also feeds on snails, small fish, crab, termite, lizards, insects, spiders, eggs, centipedes, millipedes, scorpions and earthworms etc.

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 As seen from the canoe ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

THE MAMMALS I SPOTTED DURING THE CANOE RIDE AT CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK:

Chitwan National Park is rich in fauna. Some of the mammals found here are: crab-eating mongooses, honey badgers, sloth bears, Asian palm civets, large and small Indian civets, smooth-coated otters, yellow-throated martens, golden jackals, Bengal foxes, spotted linsangs, striped hyenas, wild dogs, , fishing cats, jungle cats, leopard cats, wild boars, Gaur, Chital, sambhar deer, hog deer, Red Muntjac, black naped hare, hispid hare, flying squirrels, Indian porcupine, Indian pangolin.

 

However, during the canoe ride we managed to spot only Chital, the Rhesus monkey and the langur which goofed around on a fallen branch at the edge of the river, unmindful of the dangerous presence of crocodiles and alligators.

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Spotted deer. As seen from the canoe ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

THE ELEPHANT BREEDING CENTER AT CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK DISAPPOINTED ME:

I got off the canoe and excitedly moved towards the Elephant Breeding Center at Chitwan National Park only to be disappointed. I kept my camera inside the bag, unable to bring myself to click pictures of elephants swaying backward and forward in distress. The elephant and calves were chained. However from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. the elephants are ‘allowed’ freedom to graze in certain designated areas in the forest. That’s the routine followed here. It was more of a zoo than anything else. I was intrigued by the huge adult elephant‘s skull in an interpretation center near the entrance. There is also a shop present here where you can buy soft drinks and snacks.

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Elephant skull at the Elephant Breeding center. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

WHAT ELSE TO DO IN CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK?

Our hotel arranged for a song and dance show where locals performed. I initially was skeptical to go for it dismissing it as a tourist trap. However, I did attend and came out impressed. It was an amazing display of talent. I will write about it in another blog.

FACT FILE:

 WHERE TO STAY IN CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK:

I stayed in Landmark Forest Park Hotel in Sauraha. The newly renovated property is near the entrance gate of the Chitwan National Park. It is set in a secluded place near the villages but is still a short drive away from the main market.

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Landmark Forest Park Hotel, Sauraha. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

The air conditioned room I was assigned had a mid-sized balcony overlooking the pool area of the hotel. It has a garden bear the pool area. The rooms are spacious and equipped with amenities like Television, mini-bar, lamps etc. The washroom was clean and well equipped. The hotel has a restaurant which serves Indian, Chinese and Continental. Their Indian food was very good. (P.S. Tava roti is available on demand)The staff is very friendly and entertains any special dietary requirements you have. The ground level restaurant has a bar as well. The guide for the safari was assigned to us by them.

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Landmark Forest Park Hotel, Sauraha. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

HOW TO REACH CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK:

ROAD TRIP TO CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK: We arrive at Sauraha in Chitwan via road. From Kathmandu Sauraha is 4 to 5 hours by road and Pokhara is 5-6 hours by road.

If you want to make a road trip from India, following route is suggested – New Delhi- Lucknow- Gorakhpur- Sunauli- Bhairahawa –Chitwan (You can make a stop for Lumbini- the birth place of Buddha, after Bhairahwa)

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 As seen from the canoe ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

FLIGHT: Nearest airport is Bharatpur. It is just a short flight away from other cities of Nepal.

BUS: Chitwan is well connected via buses from Pokhara and Kathmandu.

TRAIN: There is no rail network in Nepal.

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One Horned Rhinoceros and her baby I spotted in Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

BEST TIME TO VISIT CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK:

October to December is a good time

Please avoid monsoon which is June to September

The view from my #SoulWindow is rewarding!

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Wild boar. As seen from the canter van ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

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The safari passes through small villages such as this one. As seen from the canter van ride on the Bhude Rapti River. Chitwan National Park. Naturally Nepal! It is quite similar to Dudhwa National Park in India

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38 thoughts on “IN SEARCH OF ONE HORNED RHINOCEROS & OTHER WILDLIFE IN CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK: NATURALLY NEPAL!

  1. This is an incredible park, with some species of animals I’ll only ever see in documentaries! The hotel offers a great choice in terms of room and style too. Maybe one day I’ll get to visit here!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful photo essay of Chitwan National Park. It really is one of the more popular and visited National Parks in our region and I like how it remains still very grounded and not too much commercialization has happened around it. Glad you got to see the One Horned Rhino after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Chitwan National Park looks incredibly beautiful. Spotting rhinos, muggers and other wildlife is always fascinating. I would love to go for this Safari some day. The hotel rooms are so luxurious and comfy with all those warm lights and earthly colours. Thanks for sharing the detailed information. Very helpful post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s tempting me out to visit this Chitwan National Park for one horned Rhino. As you said, they are similar to ones in Dudhwa , do you really get to see them at Dudhwa? I will prefer visiting that first:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We haven’t been to many wildlife safaris after being disappointed a couple of times in Ranthambore. Chitwan National Park sounds like a wonderful place to explore rich wildlife especially the one horned Rhino. The canoe ride on the Bhude Rapti River sounds scary, cannot take any ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’ in real 😐

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Can feel your joy at this place through your pics and write up. I have been promising my kids a wildlife safari trip for some time and we are deciding on which one would be the best. Would yu have any recommendations?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! I’ve never seen a Rhino in wild and I totally envy you now… Just kidding. Indeed, lucky you to have spotted the Rhino on your first ever visit..
    Haha! Divyakshi should start fortune telling… Lolz…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You had such an amazing experience. I just saw the Rhino at the zoo, but never in wild before. I love that you can observe different animals in this parks too. Such a great place to visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You always go on the best wildlife adventures, I admire you for it! I had no idea that there were rhinos in Nepal! It’s so important to protect this wonderful animal which is so endangered. These National Parks do a great job making sure that the rhinos continue to exist! I have actually never seen a rhino before, not even in a zoo.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We love your photos of the Chitwan National Park, documented like we were just there. Heard it’s quite popular locally, would love to go see it! We never saw Rhinos properly, always too hidden in the water haha! Absolutely would love to live this experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So close to nature! The Chitwan National Park seems to host some rare species of wildlife. I can see how amazing your journey through the small villages to the National Park was, and how rewarding as well, getting closer to the flora and fauna in the purest form 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It was such a wonderful day in the wild. From the canoe ride to the forest walk to the hornbills to the broken down vehicles to the sighting. I still remember you turning behind and telling me “Kuch Kar!” :p Haha Hope to see many more together in wildlife trips! 🙂 Great pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You know what, when I saw the boat you people were in, and the crocs in the image, I too was reminded of Rekha falling from the boat in ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’ and I see that you too have written about it. I never knew that the one horned Rhino was also there in Nepal. I thought it was the sole preserve of Kaziranga

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The thrill of spotting wildlife is a different high altogether. The anticipation, the expectation, the disappointments, and then the surge of hope are all part of the wildlife adventure. I can see that your exploration of Chitwan National Park was packed with all of these elements. What a feeling it must have been when you finally spotted the one-horned rhinoceros.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: COBRAS AT PUSHKAR FAIR- IS INCREDIBLE INDIA STILL A LAND OF SNAKE CHARMERS? | A Soul Window - Travel Blog from India!

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