Walking With Rhinos Is The Experience To Have In Nepal

Home to single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros, and as one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger, Chitwan National Park is a can’t miss in Nepal.

Walking With Rhinos Is The Experience To Have In Nepal

Every year I make it a point to do one trip for myself. This year, it was Nepal.

Not for the reasons most people travel to Nepal, which is mainly to trek or climb one of the country’s eight magnificent mountains and experience the country’s most famous attraction, the Himalayas, firsthand. For me, however, it was all about the single-horned rhinos, Bengal tigers, and Asian elephants.

But, I was short on time and planning motivation, opting for a small group itinerary such as the one Explore Worldwide’s Discover Nepal itinerary was offering, instead of trying to navigate a country as diverse as Nepal on my own. The itinerary looked like the perfect chance to get a taste of it all, allowing me to sit back and let someone else do all the work while I could immerse in the sights, sounds, and smells of Nepalese culture without a worry. Done and booked.

Starting in Kathmandu, we didn’t waste any time. It was off to Durbar Square, Kumari Ghar to be blessed by the Kumari, the Temple of Pashupatinath, Buddhanath, and the Boudha Stupa Thangka Center to learn about the country’s history and its people’s beliefs. Wandering through the alleyways and rubbing elbows with the city’s inhabitants, it was almost cathartic to be lost in the shuffle and chaos of Kathmandu.

With Kathmandu’s must-sees out of the way, it was off to the city of Bhaktapur, known for its Newar tradition, including incredibly detailed wooden doors and windows, and elderly women donning sacred traditional tattoos. The city is unfortunately also famous for something else – the April 2015 earthquake. The damage and devastation the earthquake caused still haunts the city, even today.

From there, we traveled to Nagarokot and the magnificent Fort Resort, where we spent the evening and following morning taking in the stunning views of the Himalayan Mountains in the distance. The hotel’s sprawling garden making for the perfect place to sit back and enjoy a cold Barahsinghe, or two.

From there it was off to the Gorkha area, for white water rafting down the Trishuli River along rapids named Lady’s Delight, Surprise!, and Butterfly. Visiting the Gorkha Palace and Gorkha Museum, it was the Manakamana Cable Car ride up to the Temple of Wishes that was the highlight. Especially after a Hindu priest offered a blessing, smearing my forehead with a tika made of rice and red vermillion paste.

Pokhara was next on our tour, followed by Bandipur and another cool stay in the form of the Old Inn Bandipur.

Until, finally, it was time for the group to head to Nepal’s first and oldest National Park, Chitwan.

Home to single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros, and as one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger, the National Park is a can’t miss attraction in Nepal.

Meeting our park guide, one of the first things he mentioned set the tone for the experience – the park had just reopened after being closed for four months after a man-eating tiger killed 13 people. They eventually caught the tiger, a young male, and were able to reopen the park. We had been lucky with our timing.

For bird watchers, there are 450 bird species found in the park, including several types of kingfishers, falcons, treecreepers, and dippers. A night owl walk with one of the resort’s naturalists was a crowd favorite.

Traveling in dugout canoes down the Rapti River, it was the gharials we were looking for this time, one of the world’s most endangered, and longest of all living crocodilians, of which there are only a few hundred left in the wild.

It would be an afternoon walking safari that would top my list of experiences in Nepal, and inside the park. Having spotted a mother and baby one-horned rhino while walking by foot, causing a tense stare down before the pair decided to take off and go deeper into the elephant grass.

Shaking the ground beneath our feet as they stamped away, the mother could have easily decided to charge instead, leaving our group with no choice but to hide or climb up a tree, as we could never outrun her.

Thankfully, though, she decided to let us be. Leaving us only with one of those wildlife experiences that is felt deep in your soul.