For a country known for its beautiful mountains, the Gangetic flat lands of the Terai that stretches through out the southern part of Nepal provide a wholly different experience. A visit to Nepal remains incomplete without seeing the beauty of the Terai.
And Chitwan is the best place to do so.The Royal Chitwan National Park, established in 1973, provides a great wildlife experience with its rich flora and fauna . The wildlife and the landscape are not as breathtaking as those found in Africa but still, the experience will stand out.
Chitwan is only 150m above the sea level. The place gets steamy from March-June, with peak temperatures reaching 43°C in the shade. Short grass makes Feb-May the best game-viewing season, but the autumn months are gorgeous, with Himalayan views, and in winter (December-January), Chitwan is pleasantly warmed compared to Kathmandu. The monsoon season (July-August) is intense, with pounding rain, swollen rivers, and luxuriant vegetation. While the rain isn't constant, the humidity is all pervasive.
Though one can visit neighboring Tharu villages in Chitwan, the major interesting focus of Chitwan is still the exploration of the Chitwan National Park.
The flora and fauna of Chitwan makes it a great place for nature lovers. Chitwan has over Fifty different species of mammals, 400 different species of birds, and 65different types of butterflies in its hardwood Sal forests, riverine vegetation, and "elephant grass" savannah. More than 70 different species of grassgrow here.
The most famous wildlife in Chitwan is perhaps the single-horned Asian rhinoceros. A few decades ago, their number had fallen to less than 100, but recent count puts them at 400. These animals have thick armor like hide that is hard to penetrate even with a bullet.
A fully grown animal can be as tall as 180cm. In spite of army protection for these animals and severe punishment for harming them, rhino poaching is still a problem as every organ of the animal carries some (probably superstitious) value. The horn fetches about US$10,000 per kilo and is believed to be an aphrodisiac. The dung can be a laxative, the urine cures tuberculosis and asthma. The blood can help cure menstrual problems. The hide keeps away evil spirits. And so on.
Chitwan has about 150 Bengal tigers left of the one time 3000 or so. Though poaching is a serious threat, the real threat for these majestic animals is the gradual loss of its habitat. A male tiger requires almost 60km space, and a female one requires a third of it. Chitwan is simply not big enough to handle many tigers. It is rare for one to actually see a tiger, though looking for one is an interesting part of the trip.
Other wild mammals one may see are leopards, various types of deer, monkeys, sloth bear, and antelope.