Chitwan was Nepal’s first National Park established in 1973. It has a proud history of wildlife conservation activities and anti-poaching measures, which have greatly reduced the number of incidents and recently even led to a number of zero-poaching years. The jungle is my favourite place in Nepal, as it is so quiet and peaceful and yet full of life. The wildlife can sometimes be difficult to spot and locate, which makes it all the more rewarding when you have a beautiful sighting of an animal.
This time of year, a heavy mist lies over the landscape in the mornings. So much so that you initially interpret it to be a cloudy and gloomy day. However, most mornings the mist gives way to piercing rays of sunshine and within an hour or two the mist is lifted completely revealing grasslands, some marsh-like areas as well as sal forests.
While all animals are exciting to see in their natural habitat I will highlight two experiences. On one of our days we lay low in an area where we had heard two tigers mating the previous day. When they mate they usually stay together for 2-3 days before going their separate ways again, so there was a good chance they would be in the same area. Sure enough, we heard them all day long and were hoping they would venture out into the river bed to allow us a glimpse. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them but hearing those primal and incredibly intimidating sounds all day made their presence very real and amazing.
Where we happened to be very lucky was a clear and wonderful sighting of a sloth bear, which is just as rare as seeing a tiger in Chitwan, depending on the season. The sloth bear was just across a canal of water and not affected at all to see us standing there watching for several minutes.
Chitwan National Park is such a magical place and I hope to be back again sooner rather than later.