Chitwan Overview

Chitwan National Park, established in 1973 and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, is a renowned wildlife sanctuary located in the Terai lowlands of Nepal. Spanning an area of approximately 932 square kilometers (about 360 square miles), Chitwan is Nepal’s first national park and stands as a testament to successful conservation efforts in South Asia. The park is situated in the subtropical Inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal, making it accessible from the capital, Kathmandu, and providing a vital refuge for numerous wildlife species.

Chitwan National Park is celebrated for its diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling grasslands, dense forests, and meandering rivers. This varied landscape provides habitat for an impressive array of flora and fauna, making the park a biodiversity hotspot. It is particularly famous for its protection of the one-horned rhinoceros, with one of the largest populations in the world, and the Bengal tiger, among other endangered species such as the gharial crocodile, Asian elephant, and the clouded leopard.

Birdwatchers flock to Chitwan to observe its rich avian diversity, with over 500 bird species recorded, including the critically endangered Bengal florican and the sarus crane. The park’s rivers and lakes also support a variety of fish species and aquatic life, adding to its ecological richness.

Visitors to Chitwan National Park can explore its natural beauty and wildlife through a variety of activities, including jeep safaris, canoeing, guided jungle walks, and elephant-back rides. The park also offers the unique opportunity to experience the local Tharu culture, with village tours and cultural performances that highlight the traditions of one of Nepal’s indigenous communities.

Chitwan National Park’s commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism has not only helped preserve its rich biodiversity but also provided a model for wildlife protection and community engagement in Nepal and beyond. Its stunning natural beauty, combined with the thrill of wildlife sightings and cultural experiences, makes Chitwan a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

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Park Map
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Chitwan National Park Highlights


Chitwan National Park is a vital stronghold for predators, each playing an essential role in the park’s food web and contributing to its ecological diversity.

Bengal Tiger
The majestic Bengal Tiger, at the apex of Chitwan’s food chain, plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance between predator and prey populations.

Stealthy and elusive, the Leopard is a versatile predator in Chitwan, capable of hunting in both the trees and on the ground with remarkable agility.

Sloth Bear
Primarily nocturnal, Sloth Bears, with their shaggy coats and powerful claws, are formidable predators, feeding on termites, fruits, and occasionally small mammals.

The fish-eating Gharial, with its distinctive long snout, is an important aquatic predator, contributing to the health of Chitwan’s river ecosystems.

Marsh Mugger Crocodile
More generalized in its diet than the Gharial, the Marsh Mugger preys on a variety of aquatic and near-water animals, maintaining the balance in aquatic habitats.

Indian Python
The Indian Python, one of the largest snakes in the world, preys on a variety of animals, showcasing the diversity of predatory tactics in Chitwan.

Golden Jackal
Adaptable and opportunistic, Golden Jackals in Chitwan are known to hunt small to medium-sized animals and scavenge, playing a key role in the ecosystem.

These predators are integral to Chitwan National Park’s status as a biodiversity hotspot, each contributing to the complex and dynamic balance of this unique ecosystem.


Chitwan National Park is renowned for its diverse wildlife, offering a sanctuary for an array of species that highlight the richness of Nepal’s natural heritage.

One-horned Rhinoceros
A symbol of Chitwan’s conservation success, the One-horned Rhinoceros is known for its armored skin and singular horn, thriving in the park’s grasslands.

Asian Elephant
These gentle giants are integral to Chitwan’s ecosystem, their migratory paths helping to maintain forest clearings and support biodiversity.

Gaur (Indian Bison)
The imposing Gaur, Asia’s largest wild cattle, grazes in Chitwan’s meadows, its presence indicative of the park’s healthy grassland ecosystem.

Sambar Deer
The largest of the Indian deer species, Sambar Deer are a vital food source for Chitwan’s predators, contributing to the ecological balance.

Spotted Deer (Chital)
With their distinctive spotted coats, Chital are among the most commonly seen herbivores, playing a crucial role in the food web.

Barasingha (Swamp Deer)
Adapted to wet environments, the Barasingha’s survival in Chitwan is a testament to the park’s successful wetland conservation efforts.

Wild Boar
Omnivorous and adaptable, Wild Boars have a significant impact on the ecosystem, aiding in seed dispersal and providing prey for larger predators.

Indian Pangolin
Covered in protective scales, the Indian Pangolin is a nocturnal feeder on ants and termites, contributing to insect population control.

Bengal Florican
A critically endangered bird, the Bengal Florican’s presence in Chitwan underscores the park’s importance for the conservation of rare bird species.

Lesser Adjutant Stork
Tall and stately, the Lesser Adjutant Stork is often seen in wetlands, playing a role in the aquatic food web as a scavenger and predator.

Chitwan National Park’s array of species, from the iconic One-horned Rhinoceros to the elusive Bengal Florican, showcases the park’s crucial role in global biodiversity conservation.

Chitwan National Park Pictures

Engaging Chitwan National Park

Varies 1-5

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: Varies, usually 1-5 miles (1.6-8 kilometers) with minimal elevation gain.

Description: Guided jungle walks in Chitwan offer an intimate encounter with the park’s wildlife and flora. These walks can take you through grasslands, forests, and along riverbanks, where you may spot rhinos, deer, and various bird species. The experience is enhanced by the knowledge of local guides who provide insights into the ecosystem and conservation efforts.

Elephant safaris follow paths through the jungle and grasslands, offering a unique vantage point for observing wildlife and the park’s diverse ecosystems. This traditional method allows for close encounters with the park’s fauna in a way that minimizes human impact on the natural environment.

It is also adventure experiencing nature while traveling on the back of an elephant.  You are definitely communing with nature when leveraging an elephant safari to engage Chitwan.

Varies 1-2 Hours

Another unique way to explore Chitwan’s ecosystems is by canoe along the Rapti or Narayani rivers. These water trails provide a peaceful and scenic view of the park, with opportunities to see crocodiles, water birds, and even the rare glimpse of a leopard or tiger coming to drink.

Varies, usually less than 2 miles (3.2 km)

Specifically designed trails for bird watching take visitors through areas of the park known for high avian diversity. These trails offer the chance to spot some of the park’s 500 bird species, including the Bengal florican and the hornbill, making it a haven for birders.

This is one of the adventures that comes closest to traditional hiking.

Chitwan National Park Trails

Community Forests and Buffer Zone Walks

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: Varies, up to 5 miles (8 kilometers) with slight elevation changes.

Description: The buffer zones and community forests around Chitwan provide opportunities for guided walks where visitors can learn about the relationship between local communities and the park.

These areas offer a different perspective on wildlife conservation and the chance to see how people live in close proximity to wild animals.


1. What is Chitwan National Park known for?

Chitwan National Park is known for its rich biodiversity, including populations of endangered species such as the Bengal tiger, one-horned rhinoceros, and Asian elephant.

It’s one of the premier wildlife destinations in Nepal, offering opportunities for safaris, birdwatching, and jungle treks amidst its lush forests and grasslands.

Visitors to Chitwan can also experience the cultural heritage of the Tharu indigenous community and explore traditional villages and cultural sites in the park’s vicinity.

2. When is the best time to visit Chitwan?

The best time to visit Chitwan National Park is during the dry season, which typically runs from October to March. During this time, the weather is pleasant with clear skies, making it ideal for wildlife viewing and outdoor activities.

Average temperatures during the dry season range from 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C) during the day and can drop to around 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 15°C) at night, providing comfortable conditions for exploration and relaxation in the park.

  • Government of Nepal, Chitwan National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Lonely Planet, Chitwan National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Naturally, Nepal, Chitwan National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Travelogy India, Chitwan National Park, Nepal,, retrieved April 2024.