Bardiya National Park is the largest national park in the Terai, a beautiful, unspoiled wilderness of sal forest, grassland and alluvial washes cut by the many fingers of the Karnali River. Largely unpopulated, it is often described as what Chitwan National Park was like 30 years ago, before its commercial development. One can raft through the park for hours on end and not encounter another person. Bardiya National Park is a protected area in Nepal that was established in 1988 as Royal Bardia National Park. Covering an area of 968 km2 (374 sq mi) it is the largest and most undisturbed wilderness area in Nepal’s Terai, adjoining the eastern bank of the Karnali River in the Bardiya District.
The northern limits of the protected area are demarcated by the crest of the Siwalik Hills. The Nepalgunj-Surkhet highway partly forms the southern boundary, but seriously disrupts the protected area. Natural boundaries to human settlements are formed in the west by the Geruwa, a branch of the Karnali River, and in the southeast by the Babai River. Together with the neighboring Banke National Park, the coherent protected area of 1,437 km2 (555 sq mi) represents the Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) Bardia-Banke that extends over 2,231 km2 (861 sq mi) of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forests.
The park has three distinct seasons, winter, summer, and monsoon. From October through early April, the weather is dry. The days are warm and the nights are cool and pleasant. From April to June the temperatures gradually rises up with a peak temperature up to 45 0c in May. The hot sticky days give way to the monsoon rains in July that lasts until September. The park offers a variety of experiences in its vast undisturbed wilderness. About 70% of the forest consists of sal tree with a mixture of grassland and riverine forests. Sal leaves are used as traditional plates in festival and religious offering. The park is home to endangered animals such as the Royal Bengal tiger, wild elephant, greater one-horned rhinoceros, swamp deer, and black buck, The other endangered species include gharialand marsh mugger crocodiles and gangetic dolphin.
Endangered birds found in the park are Bengal florican, lesser florican and sarus crane. More than 30 different mammals, over 230 species of birds and several species of snakes, lizard and fishes have been recorded In the park area. In addition to the resident species, several migratory birds visit the park. Museum and Tharu culture are available for visitors at HQ. Telephone and mobile phones can be used in several areas of the park. If you are traveling by private vehicle make sure that you have ample amount of fuel. Be advised to carry a comprehensive first-aid kit including medicines. There is a community health post at Thakurdwara near the park headquarter. You can spend your nights at the lodges in the surrounding areas of the park. These lodges provide service to tourists.
The park grieved greatly during the decade-long Maoist insurgency in the 1990s. Tourism thinned, hotels were mothballed, and wildlife suffered by poaching. However, the damage has reversed impressively. As of 2017, there are now 36 rhinos inhabiting the park. Here we have presented why you should visit the Bardia National Park.
Unlike Chitwan National Park, this one hasn’t witnessed a surge in commercial development. There were quite a few underpinning factors behind it. For instance, the wrath of insurgency period and lack of easy accessibility. Today, this park is thriving and perfectly fit to host you, but you won’t come across swarms of giddy tourists taking photos in every direction. You can raft through the Karnali for hours and hours and not encounter a single person. You will comfortably find lodges to stay in even during the peak season. But don’t expect a commercial or “luxurious” safari-style vacation. If you are looking for a raw and untamed jungle experience, Bardia National Park is the perfect destination for you.
Alongside the adjacent 500 square kilometers Banke National Park, Bardia National Park is one of the largest protected tiger habitats in the world. There are more than 50 tigers reported to be foraging through Bardia alone. Although the numbers are less than that of Chitwan’s, here, you certainly stand a better chance of seeing more than one. All the guides here will know the hotspots for tiger sighting like Tinkuni and Kingfisher. Be patient enough, don’t forget to bring binoculars and cameras, and get ready to have the time of your lives. The best time of the year to see the tigers is from February to May.
There are three main ways to embark on a jungle safari in Bardia: a) Guided Walks b) 4WD Safari and c) Elephant Safari. Irrespective of the style choice, for a patient and keen wildlife spotter, the park offers ample opportunities. Wild elephants, one-horned rhinos, leopards, and Bengal tigers are few of the 30 recorded mammal species found here. Similarly, endangered sarus crane and Bengal Florican are among the 250 species of bird found here. Venturing through the jungle with your guide is a potentially risky but thrilling experience. A four-wheel drive safari is definitely a more convenient, time-efficient, and safe way to traverse through the jungle, but there is quite nothing like an elephant safari. The choice is yours!
P.S. The dangers in Bardia National Park are very real, because it consists of a very active and rich wildlife. Make sure to always follow your guide’s instructions, and don’t ever wander alone in the jungles.
A memorable downstream drift in an inflatable raft is a very interesting way to explore the park, spot wildlife, and even aquatic species. You can spot Gangetic dolphins occasionally during rafting and canoeing trips along the Geruwa River and Karnali River. There are also plentiful of Gharial and marsh mugger crocodiles to make your rafting experience an adventurous one. Walking around the sandy riverbank and spotting heavy density of animal footprints like rhinos, tigers, and elephants is interesting too. However, remember that it is not a white-water rafting, although there are few gentle dips.
Tharus are the indigenous inhabitants of Bardia and its surrounding regions. Of Dravidian race, the Tharu people are even claimed to be immune to Malaria. Irrespective of that, it is very interesting to see and experience parts of their unique and rare culture. You can visit the small museum that features several indigenous artifacts ranging from farming tools to kitchenware. On the other hand, you can also visit a Tharu village for a more authentic and enriching experience. This way, you can learn more about their architecture, way of live, and intangible traditions and culture.
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