Where to go and where to stay if you really want to see a wild Tiger in Nepal
The lowland Terai region of Nepal close to the border with India, is starting to experience an increase in the tiger population, not least because of a well managed initiative to protect one of the greatest of big cats.
If you’ve never seen a wild Tiger, then let us tell you….it’s a thrill that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Not least because Tigers are very rare and are also a “seriously at risk species”.
They are mainly nocturnal…..they can see you in the dark, but you can’t see them!
Tigers are also very elusive too. Just like many other “ambush” predators. The Tiger hunts by stealth and being easily seen is hardly stealth!
They are also rather well camouflaged too. That’s why a Tiger has it’s stripes. In the dense jungles this camouflage makes them very, very difficult to spot….even in broad daylight.
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is certainly Nepal’s most famous National Park. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there may well be 120+ Tigers in Chitwan nowadays. It’s also the closest National Park to Kathmandu for tourists hoping to see some of the jungle wildlife of Nepal.
As a result it can get very busy at Chitwan and Chitwan itself is dense jungle in a lot of areas too. Some visitors do get to see a Tiger down in Chitwan, but the majority don’t. But, no sightings of any wildlife are ever guaranteed and should certainly never be taken for granted.
When searching for wildlife, part of the experience is the thrill of the search and being hopeful….there’s always a chance…and luck too. Being in the right place at exactly the right time….well, it happens….a Tiger just pops out of the jungle right in front of you and saunters across the dirt track….just like this one did for us in Chitwan.
Just when we least expected it too…just enough time to get a quick and slightly blurred shot of it with the camera….and then it was gone. All over in a matter of seconds, but never forgotten.
Bardia National Park
However, if you’re a serious wildlife enthusiast or want to increase your chances of seeing a wild Tiger in Nepal. We’d suggest you head for Bardia National Park
Bardia (sometimes spelled Bardiya National Park) is where Prince Harry went to see jungle wildlife in Nepal on his most recent visit, not Chitwan as many assumed. Maybe Prince Harry knows a thing or two about Tigers?
The Bardia National Park is the largest National Park in the entire Terai region of Nepal and is indeed also home to the Bengal Tiger. Many wildlife specialists say that you have a better chance of seeing tigers in Bardia than at Chitwan. With the creation of the ‘next door’ Banke National Park, combined with Bardia this is now the largest tiger conservation area in Asia. Bardia is also home to the Asian elephant, the one-horned rhino, leopard, mugger crocodile and even the Gangetic dolphin. Over 300 species of birds also call Bardia home.
Bardia National Park lies in the remote far west of Nepal. Being further away from Kathmandu too, Bardia is nothing like as busy as Chitwan is nowadays.
Even by private vehicle, Bardia is an arduous 12-16 hour drive from Kathmandu. It is better reached from Kathmandu by flying to Nepalgunj, a 45 minute flight and around 2 hours by road.
Where to stay in Bardia
Snow Cat Travel clients invariably provide very positive feedback about the Forest Hideway Lodge at Bardia, particularly with regard to the quality of the wildlife actvities they provide as well as the very friendly staff. All with traditional and cosy Tharu style rooms.
Of course you don’t need to restrict yourself to just Bardia.
Oh….we forgot to mention…..all the Tiger piccies (except one) were taken in Bardia National Park, Nepal