Key Information Box
‘CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK’
Date: April 2021.
Duration: 13 days.
Cost: USD 6500 per person inclusive of hotels & tented camps, transportation, local taxes & permits with breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.
Deposit: All bookings require 50% deposit of the trip price to be confirmed. The amount is to be deposited in US dollars.The remaining sum of the trip will have to be paid 45 days prior to departure.
IN CONJUNCTION WITH AN INTERNATIONAL TOUR COMPANY ( to be decided )
Places: 3 or 6
Chitwan National Park now holds the esteemed record of being one of the best managed protected areas in the world, boasting an almost zero record for poaching and wildlife crime. Where critically endangered mammals and reptiles such as the Greater One-horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal tiger (so prized in SE Asian traditional medicines) and fish eating Gharials have been brought back from the edge of extinction and whose numbers continue to grow. Chitwan National Park recently celebrated the fact that in the past two years not one single rhinoceros had been lost there other than through natural causes or disasters-such as seasonal flooding and wild fires.
The key to the Park’s success lies not only in vigilant patrolling of its environs by well trained and committed rangers BUT equally in the role the local community play in informing on suspected poachers and their belief that the wildlife that surrounds them has an economic value.
Five-Star hotels or other forms of luxury accommodation are not allowed inside the Park-even the world famous ‘Tiger Tops Camp’ was removed from in 2012. Instead, locally run lodges have been allowed to flourish. The community forests/buffer zones that surround the Parks are managed by the local people for THEIR economic benefit and offer outstanding wildlife sightings. In short the economic benefits of tourism have been spread much more evenly than in other global locations.
This is a tour that aims to tick many conservation boxes and is as much about the people that surround the Parks as the wildlife itself.
The Tour offers outstanding chances for wildlife viewing with the highest guide to guest ratio currently on the market. Where it is the norm on other tours to pack ten people in a jeep or canoe……you will only travel as three…….this optimizes the chances for wildlife sightings. Our guides and staff are all experts in their various fields and have for the most part been brought up in the regions we visit. Instead of taking you on well-trodden tourist paths you will see locations that are very seldom visited.
As photographers, all your needs will be catered for: whether it be help in changing lenses or carrying your equipment. Importantly, you are being tutored (if need be) by a professional photographer with years of experience in the field and led by guides who track wildlife by sight, sound and smell.
The tour also offers excellent chances to meet and interact with the custodians of these forests, the local people, and to contribute to funds, bursaries and trusts set up to further their education and vocational training. These people are friendly and informative and in the case of the Tharu and other indigenous communities offer a glorious chance to observe ancient cultures still very much alive.
Clive Grylls (photojournalist)
Clive Grylls is the coordinator of this tour and your photographic tutor. He will also be a paying guest on this tour. If you have any questions about this tour click on CONTACT……or I can also be reached on: www.facebook.com/clivegryllsphotography
Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 and granted the status of a UNESCO ‘World Heritage Site’ in 1984. It covers an area of 932 km2 (360 sq mi) and is located in the subtropical Inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal. In 1997, a buffer zone of 766.1 km2 (295.8 sq mi) was added to the north and west of the Narayani-Rapti river system, and between the south-eastern boundaries of the park. These buffer zones, known as ‘community forests’ are lived in, and for the most part, managed by local people (mainly Tharu) and provide an essential role-and corridors-for wildlife migration. The altitude ranges from about 100 m (330 ft) in the river valleys to 815 m (2,674 ft) in the Churia Hills.
The Narayani-Rapti river system that flows through the Park forms a natural boundary to human settlements. Adjacent to the east of Chitwan National Park is the ‘Parsa National Park’, and contiguous in the south is the Indian Tiger Reserve, ‘Valmiki National Park’. This block of protected areas called a ‘Tiger Conservation Unit’ (TCU) covers 3,549 km2 (1,370 sq mi) of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist Deciduous and Riverine forests.
The Park is dominated by Himalayan subtropical Broadleaf forests with Sal trees covering about 70% of its area together with mixed stands of Chir pine, Beleric, Rosewood, Axlewood and Elephant apple. Savanna and grasslands cover about 20% of the park’s area with Elephant grass (Saccharum ravennae) very dominant. Seasonal bushfires, flooding and erosion evoke an ever-changing mosaic of Riverine forest and grasslands along the river banks.
The Park holds 68 species of mammals, 544 species of birds (two-thirds of Nepal's globally threatened species), 56 species of reptiles and 126 species of fish .The park is especially renowned for its protection of the critically endangered Greater One- horned rhinoceros and Gharial crocodile. The alluvial floodplain habitat of the Terai is considered as one of the best habitats for the Royal Bengal tiger found anywhere in its geographical range. Chitwan is considered to have the highest population density of sloth bears with an estimated 200 to 250 individuals. Smooth-coated otters inhabit the numerous creeks and rivulets. Bengal foxes, Spotted linsangs and Honey badgers are also relatively common and endangered Striped hyenas prevail on the southern slopes of the Churia Hills. In 2011, endangered Asiatic wild dogs were recorded in the southern and western parts of the park, as well as Golden jackals, Fishing cats, Jungle cats, Leopard cats, large and small Indian civets, Asian palm civets, Crab-eating mongooses and Yellow-throated martens.
The park’s alluvial grasslands are important habitats for the critically endangered Bengal florican, the vulnerable Lesser adjutant stork, Grey-crowned prinia, Swamp francolin and offer one of the few known breeding sites of the globally threatened Spotted eagle.
The Tharu people are an ethnic indigenous group predominantly living in the southern foothills of the Nepali Himalaya, known as the Terai. The Tharu call themselves “people of the forest” however their true origin is very unclear and surrounded by myths.
Around Chitwan and Bardia National Parks they have been established for hundreds of years practicing shifting cultivation revolving around crops such as rice, mustard, corn and lentils. Hunting and gathering has also played an important role in their culture using the forest to collect wild fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants and materials to build their houses and to hunt smaller game such as deer, rabbit and wild boar. The Tharu are expert fisherman practicing unique methods when fishing in the local rivers and oxbow lakes.
Their forest life has until recently kept them isolated in their own localities allowing them to develop a unique culture free from the influence of adjacent India, or from the mountain groups of Nepal. The most stand out aspects of their culture are decorated rice containers, gloriously painted verandahs and outer walls of their homes made entirely from clay, mud, dung and grass. Much of these complex and rich designs are rooted in devotional activities and passed on from one generation to the next,
Until the year 2000-when the Nepalese government abolished it-many Tharu families worked under the system of bonded labour known as Kamaiya which had existed in Nepal since the 18th century. In the late 1950s and 60s, the World Health Organisation together with the Nepalese Royal family supported an attempt to eradicate malaria in the forests of the central and western Terai using labour from the non-Tharu population found in the Nepali hills. Bhutanese, Sikkimese and Indian settlers also moved into the region. In the western Terai, especially in the Bardia area, many Tharu families lost their land to these immigrants and were forced further into a life of virtual slavery.
Though the Tharus are now recognized as an official nationality by the Government of Nepal they are calling for a more inclusive democracy as they are fearful of remaining an underprivileged group. In 2011, the Tharu population of Nepal was estimated at 1,737,470 people, or 6.6% of the total population.
Arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu where you will be picked up by our rep and transferred to the famous Kathmandu Guest House for an overnight stay.
Travel by minibus to the picturesque town of Pokhara where you will stay in a comfortable hotel close to the shores of Lake Fewa.
Day three:A rest day in Pokhara, soaking up the unique ambiance of this town. For those who wish to spend the day visiting its famous temples and sights (or to take advantage of its many adventure activities-such as paragliding, guided walks or boating on Lake Fewa) our reps will gladly assist/guide you and book these activities for you at an additional cost.
You will depart by minibus to the town of Sauraha by the entrance to Chitwan National Park. In the afternoon you will join up with our local guides and support staff who will discuss with you our visits to the Park that start in the morning of the next day. A sun-downer will be taken on the shores of the Rapti River and you will be dined at a local eatery.
After breakfast we will take a two-hour canoe ride on the Rapti river ending up in the Chararaha area of the Park and then spend a full day walking through Riverine forests and tall elephant grasslands. A packed lunch will be supplied. The birdlife that may be spotted includes: Ruby-shelled duck, Lesser adjutant stork, Black Stork, Kingfishers, Cormorants, Darters, and Egrets. There will be chances (if we are fortunate) to spot and photograph the following wildlife: Greater one-horned rhinoceros, Mugger crocodile, Chital, Hog deer, Barking deer, Wild pig and Rhesus Macaque and Grey Langur monkeys. Dinner will be taken at a local eatery.
After breakfast we will travel by minibus to the entry point of the '20,000 lakes' area found in the buffer zone/community forest outside of the Park. From here we will walk with our guides observing birdlife and wildlife along the way until we reach the Bishazari Tal (local name)- an extensive oxbow lake system surrounded by forested wetlands that provides an excellent habitat and wildlife corridor for critically endangered and vulnerable species including Bengal tiger, Sloth bear, Smooth-coated otter, Greaterone-horned rhinoceros, White-rumped vulture, Pallas's fish-eagle, Lesser adjutant stork, Ferruginous duck, Gharial and Mugger crocodile. A packed lunch will be supplied.
Day seven:After breakfast we will cross the Rapti River by canoe and enjoy a half-day walk through the Park crossing wetlands, grasslands and Riverine forest until we reach the Padampure area. Wildlife that may be spotted includes: Greater one-horned rhinoceros, Sloth bear, Gaur and all the major species of deer. The birdlife that may be spotted includes: Peacock, Babblers, Black francolin, Oriental dollarbird, Indian roller, Paradise flycatcher, Lesser golden backed woodpecker, Osprey, Crested serpent eagle and Changeable hawk-eagle. After taking lunch at a local eatery we will embark on a half-day jeep safari to the Kasara region passing through wetlands, Riverine and Sal forests and grasslands offering excellent chances of seeing the Greater one-horned rhinoceros as well as all the Park’s ungulate species including Gaur (Indian bison), Wild pig and Sloth bear. Included in this drive will be a brief visit to the ‘Crocodile Breeding Center’ where critically endangered Gharials and other endangered turtle and vulture species are bred for a return to the wild.
After breakfast we will travel by minibus to the start of the Khorshor community forest run by local committees and after a long day’s walking will end up overnighting at the village of Pathani. Along the way-walking through mainly Sal and Riverine forest-there will be excellent chances of seeing Greater one-horned rhinos wallowing in many of the waterholes that we pass. There will also be a fair chance of spotting Elephants, Sloth bear and all of the ungulate species. Birds that we are likely to see include: Jacanas, Moorhen, Owlet and other raptors, Great hornbill and many species of Parakeets, Kingfishers and Bee-eaters. Our lodge is situated on the banks of the Rapti River where at sunset local mahouts wash their elephants and local ladies fish and collect wild grass-all of which make for excellent photographic opportunities.
After having breakfast at our lodge we will embark on another long days walk through wetlands, Sal and Riverine forests to visit the lakes of Lami Tal, Kamal Tal and Tamal Tal. All three lakes offer excellent chances of seeing rhinos and are some of the best known spots to perhaps see the Royal Bengal tiger. Other wildlife in this area include Gaur (Indian bison), Sloth bear, Hyena, Monkeys, Wild pig, Mugger crocodile, Pythons and all the major Deer species. There will also be a extended detour back to the ‘Crocodile Breeding Centre’ offering superb opportunities to photograph Gharials and endangered turtles living in a semi-wild environment. Our walk will end when we cross the Rewa River to reach the hamlet of Pandavenagar where we will stay for two nights in a local Tharu homestay powered only by solar electricity. This village, part of the Madi municipality, is surrounded by the National Park on all sides and has the unenviable record of having the worst record of wildlife predation of livestock and crops in the area. Fifteen villagers have also lost their lives through elephant attacks in the last three years. The village now has collectively decided to discontinue growing crops due to continuing losses and is trying to establish itself as an alternative tourist hub…….and we will be one of the first tourist groups to support this effort. We will also contribute to a foundation being set up by our chief guides, Prakash and Rajan, to help with the education and vocational training in the village. A glorious and tasty dinner will be served at our homestay comprising of furn (jungle spinach) and locally grown soya bean seed salad washed down with alcoholic raksi made from rice.
We will leave our homestay before first light. The area of the Park around our village offers an outstanding chance of spotting the Royal Bengal tiger either marking out and patrolling his territory or quenching their thirst at a river or waterhole. Fresh pug marks are seen on a daily basis along the natural pathways of the Hill and Sal forests of the region as well as its wetlands and grasslands. We will start our day walking to the Bhalwoli vantage point overlooking the Rio River hoping for a sighting of this mystical felid. Mid-morning will be spent visiting the old and world famous ‘Tiger Tops’ camp which remained in the Park until 2012 until all the lodges INSIDE the protected area were closed by the government. The camp-now overgrown by jungle and virtually derelict- will cast an eerie and nostalgic spell on you. Our packed lunch will be taken by a local lake. The afternoon will be spent retracing our steps and revisiting known tiger haunts: our guides sometimes posted high up in trees to maximize our chances of a spotting. This area is also sometimes visited by Wild dog (dhole) and Hyenas.
The whole morning you will be guided through the village where we are staying: meeting local people from the Tharu, Bot and Fisherman tribal groupings and photographing their fascinating local life, dwellings and activities. After a late lunch we will say goodbye to our hosts at our homestay (the Chaudhary family) and take a minibus back to our lodge in Sauraha. You will be served dinner at a local eatery after a sundowner overlooking the Rapti River.
After breakfast we will drive back to Kathmandu (arriving around lunchtime) where you will stay overnight at the famous Kathmandu Guest House.
After breakfast your tour will end and you are free to fly home. If you would like to extend your stay to take in a guided tour of the sights of Kathmandu then this can be arranged by us at an additional cost.
Clive was born in Cornwall in the UK and raised in London. In his early thirties he trained as a photojournalist at the ‘London College of Printing’. He has over thirty years of experience traveling around Asia photographing the people and the wildlife of the Indian sub-continent. As the coordinator of the tour he covered every blade of grass included in this itinerary between April and May 2018. He is a pragmatic and objective conservationist who believes that to save the world’s diminishing wildlife and natural wonders you must first give the local people that surround it a vested economic reason to protect it. His articles and photographs have appeared in the following UK publications: the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Express, the Evening Standard, the Observer, Focus Magazine, Geographical Magazine, Travel Africa Magazine, BBC Wildlife, the New Statesman as well as numerous publications worldwide.
Clive Grylls is the coordinator of this tour and your photographic tutor. He will also be a paying guest on this tour. If you have any questions about this tour click on CONTACT……or I can also be reached on: www.facebook.com/clivegryllsphotography
Ramjan (Rajan) Chaudhary was born into a Tharu family of bonded labourers in the Bardia district of Western Nepal and from an early age developed an avid interest in wildlife conservation and cultural tourism. Through sheer determination he has used this passion to improve the financial situation of his family by working his way up through the hierarchies of some of the most prestigious tourism companies in his country, including the world famous ‘Tiger Tops’, Nepal. A born leader, he now works tirelessly to support and promote his locally formed conservation organisations , the ‘Bardia Nature Conservation (BNCC)’, ‘Nature Guide Association’ (NaGA), and ‘Community Based Anti-poaching Unit’ (CBAPU). Rajan is now recognized as one of the Sub-continents foremost nature guides and has worked with the likes of the actor and conservationist, Leonardo Di Caprio, the Discovery Channel as well as many wildlife academics and conservation based NGO’s.
Prakash is a senior guide at the ‘United Jungle Guide Service’-a tour agency devoted to sustainable tourism. He completed his initial training as a guide in 2002, completing his ‘Advanced’ training in 2008 and completed a special course aimed at ‘aiding scientific research’ in 2011. Licensed by the WWF, and as a member of the ‘Tiger Conservation Sub-Committee’, he has guided many academics studying wildlife-human conflict and other related issues. His passion is to promote and help the local communities that live in the community forests/buffer zones that surround the National Park. As a keen and very able photographer and a brilliant self-trained ornithologist, he is ever hopeful of finding new species of birds as yet not identified as being present in this glorious protected area.
This trip is a combination of wildlife, landscapes and people photography. For the wildlife on this trip a 400, 500mm or 600mm lens will be useful for birds, mammal close-ups etc. A tripod OR better still a beanbag or soft cushion is a must. (If your budget does not run to prime lenses, a high quality 100-400mm or similar zoom can be a great alternative.) Alternatively, you can get wonderful results with a high quality digital compact camera with a 20x or higher optical zoom. For portraits and landscapes a 24-105mm or lens would be ideal.
The cost of all transportation on your trip is inclusive in the price of the tour-whether in minibuses, jeeps, canoes or rafts.
There is no additional charge for SINGLE OCCUPANCY (in other words all guests single or couples will have their own double rooms). In Kathmandu and Pokhara you will be staying in very comfortable air-conditioned and graded hotels. At Bardia and Chitwan National Parks you will also be accommodated in air-conditioned lodges with private attached bathrooms. Mosquito nets are provided. On overnight stays in Tharu or ethnic villages the accommodation will be more basic but all rooms will have private bathrooms, a fan and mosquito nets. For overnight camping trips all necessary equipment will be provided allowing you a comfortable stay out in the wilds…….but do NOT expect any luxury.
The tour(s) are full board: breakfast, lunch and dinner is inclusive in the price of your tour and will consist of non-vegetarian and vegetarian options. If you are Vegan please inform us. When you are on a full day of activities a packed lunch will be provided, again with both options. Dinner will be taken at the hotel/lodge/homestay/campsite unless otherwise stated. Bottled purified water will be provided free at all of the hotels and lodges and will be transported by our guides on all of your activities. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (apart from being supplied as part of a packed lunch)….. WILL NOT be supplied free.
Both Bardia and Chitwan National Parks are in the tropical Terai region of Nepal with a maximum altitude of less than 300 meters. The days and nights can be very warm and humid. Sunscreen and a good hat are essential so are light cotton clothing-preferably in shades of green or grey when you are visiting the Park.
All guests MUST HAVE, and arrive with, comprehensive travel insurance before you embark on the tour(s). This policy must include the cost of covering your medical expenses-including emergency repatriation- all activities taken on the tour, your personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Our staff will need to see evidence of your travel insurance policy (with an emergency contact number) before you start your trip.
Nepal is a safe and friendly place: however we recommend that you check your individual countries latest travel information and advice before you travel there. Your travel insurance MUST cover you for all areas of your tour itinerary and activities.
The tour(s) are as much about connecting with local people as viewing wildlife. It is important to remember that what may be acceptable behavior, dress code and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in Nepal. You should be considerate of Nepal’s customs, traditions, religion and culture. It is better you dress modestly and respectfully especially when entering places of worship. English is widely spoken in the major towns but not necessarily elsewhere- especially among rural communities. Learning a few words of Nepali, particularly greetings, can make a huge difference. Buy locally made products which support local artisans and help keep traditional crafts alive.
We carry a first aid kit with the standard medicines prescribed by local and international doctors. We recommend that you consult your own personal doctor/physician at least 2 months before your trip to discuss the details of your visit. Protection against malaria, tetanus, typhoid is a MUST. In case of serious sickness or a casualty you will be speedily transferred to the nearest hospital. Your safety is paramount and as a responsible tour agency we do NOT take unnecessary risks. If you or your doctor/physician feel the need for any further information about your trip- then please consult us.
The itinerary(s) for each tour MAY CHANGE depending on prevailing local weather and environmental conditions. We are not GOD! In such cases our guide(s) or our staff will arrange the best alternative activities to match your original program. The completion date of your tour will always coincide with the original itinerary.
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The use of any images or other materials included herein, in whole or in part, for any purpose other than the private purpose of viewing them online, including, but not limited to, copying, reproduction, publication (including on Internet Web Site), including third party web pages by any means, including "hotlinking", storage in a retrieval system (other than internet browser), manipulation (digital or otherwise), or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,recording or otherwise, is expressly prohibited without the written permission of Clive Grylls. All artistic and moral rights of the author are hereby asserted.
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