The wildlife of Nepal is often overlooked or completely forgotten as people instead, opt to visit India to explore sal forests and jungles and look for Sher Kahn or Baloo made famous by Rudyard Kipling, or venture into the tall elephant grasslands in search of Asiatic elephants and one-horned rhinos. But located in the shadows of the mighty Himalayas to the north and buffered by the dry and hot lowlands of the Gangetic Plains to the south lie the parks of Chitwan and Bardia in the fertile Terai of Nepal. These protected areas (particularly Chitwan) has healthy populations of tigers, Indian one-horned rhinos, Asiatic elephants, sloth bears, leopards, gharials and hundreds of other species living in the parks.
But this tour is not just about the sub-tropical forests and grasslands of the lowlands (terai) but our major focus on this trip is the incredible mountainous area around the 3rd highest mountain in the world (Kachenjunga) it is in the shadow of this mountain that you will hike the bamboo & rhododendron forests in search of red pandas.
Here the small population of red pandas is being protected by an initiative set up by the Red Panda Network and the local forest guardians they are training. The rate of deforestation here is worrying and only by understanding and providing an income from the wildlife here do the forests stand a chance of being preserved.
Track Tigers on foot in Chitwan
Explore Red Panda habitat
Indian One-horned Rhino
On arrival at Kathmandu airport you will be met by your local driver and guide and then taken to the hotel in the Thamel region of the city. Depending on your arrival time you can possibly enjoy some sightseeing, this can be arranged by either speaking to your hotel or local guide on arrival.
Today will be a guided tour of the city. The historical city of Kathmandu has a wealth of things to see and do, you will visit some of the main sites today including Boudnath Stupa, Swayambunath, Durbar Square and other locations. You will be collected by your local cultural guide and driver from the hotel at the pre-discussed time (yesterday) and taken to these sites. On your return back to the hotel in the afternoon you will be free to rest again, ahead of your morning departure tomorrow. You will be told the time you are to leave on your arrival and you will be handed copies of your flight tickets too.
Today you be collected from the hotel and taken to domestic terminal of the airport and catch your flight to Bhadrapur. The flight is only 45 mins and we recommend trying to get a seat on the left hand side of the plane. This is because if the sky is clear there will be views of Mt. Everest, in fact it may be possible to see 7 of the top 10 highest mountains in the world whilst in the air. Once we have landed in Bhadrapur your local / driver will be waiting for you and from here you will be transferred higher and higher in the hills towards Ilam and the imposing sight of Mt. Kanchenjunga (the 3rd highest mountain in the world). This drive will take around 4 hours and Ilam is the closest large village / town to the red panda watching area and you will pass through terraced land on every hillside. The main crop here is tea and tea plantations are everywhere, it is one of these tea houses that will host us today as we break up the drive to Dobate by spending a night here in scenic Ilam.
After breakfast you will continue your journey north and along the winding hillside roads to the small town of Dobate. This is the Nepalese headquarters of the Red Panda Network and is home to a growing population of red pandas and this is where you will be based for the next 5 days and nights. When you arrive you will be taken to your accommodation, once again a local tea house / homestay. One of the keys to the success of the red panda and habitat conservation here is that many local people have been trained and are employed in guiding and guardians of the forest. The forests here are regarded as one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems in the world and of massive biological importance. After arriving and having some lunch, if the weather is good and time is with us we will head out into the forests in search of the red panda.
During our time in Dobate we will be helping the local people and contributing the sustainable development of the village and increasing the value of the local wildlife to the villagers. It is so important to contribute to the local communities in order to preserve endangered species and ecosystems and that is why we use local tea houses. It helps to bring in financial rewards to the local people for keeping the red pandas habitat intact. For the 2 full days that we have here we will be hiking around the rhododendron and oak forests looking for the red pandas with the help of local guide who have probably seen more wild red pandas than anyone else in the world. Whilst searching the dense, damp forest, where oaks, rhododendrons and magnolias, decorated with mosses, lichens and epiphytic orchids it is worth keeping an eye out for some of the other wildlife here. Your local guides will also be searching for some of the rarer mammals like leopards, leopard cats, mainland serows, Himalayan orange-bellied squirrels, yellow-throated martens, large Indian civets and dozens of species of birds share these spectacular forests with the red panda. So there are many mammal species around but it requires lots of patience and luck to get a sighting of one of these species. As the Red Panda Network have been training local people to track red pandas they have a very good track record in finding them (92%), of course we cannot and do not guarantee sightings and our guides will spend a lot of time in the mornings looking for the red pandas as they bask on large tree branches in the morning sun. We will also look for their green pellet like dung that often accumulates in nooks and crevices of commonly used trees. Whilst these other mammals are very hard to see and any sighting must be considered a great bonus there is much more chance of spotting some of the sub-Himalayan and bamboo birds such as scimitar babblers, sibias, piculets, minlas and other exotic birds. This is regarded as one of the best birding destinations in the world as many of the species that inhabit these rhododendron forests are only found in the narrow strip of land in between the Himalaya and the Terai and this strip of land is being developed so heavily at present that many of these birds (and other wildlife) may become extinct in the near future. The hiking for these three days will be of a moderate level, there is no need to be an experienced altitude hiker for this tour, but experience of hiking for a few hours is needed. We will have a break each afternoon for lunch in between searching for wildlife and at the end of each day we will return to the tea house.
This morning you will have another opportunity to try and find a red panda or other wildlife, the night before the jeep will be ordered for an agreed time which is often around midday. Once you leave here you will descend the road back towards Ilam and your last night in the hills of far eastern Nepal. We will have a relaxing drive back and we can stop of pictures out over the terraces and tea plantations and of course the Himalayan backdrop.
After taking in the incredible views of the mountains for the last time before being taken back to Bhadrapur airport in time to catch your return flight to the capital. This time you might want to try and get seats on the right hand side of the plane to take in views of the Himalayas again. Once you arrive in Kathmandu you be taken to the hotel and the rest of the day is at your leisure. You will be briefed by your driver / guide about the time you will be collected tomorrow morning to leave for your next flight, this time westwards to Chitwan National Park.
Chitwan National Park
This morning you will be picked up from your hotel in Kathmandu and taken to the airport once again. The flight from here to Bharatpur (the nearest airport to Chitwan) is around 30 minutes and on your arrival a driver from the lodge will be waiting for you. Once you arrive you will have lunch and check in. This afternoon will be your first trip into the park, you will have an afternoon private jeep safari. The most conventional method of safari in Chitwan is the jeep safari and this afternoon you will explore some of the extensive road network inside Chitwan. Either today or tomorrow you will also be taken to the breeding and research centres for gharial, freshwater turtles and vultures which is located deep inside the park and has contributed large numbers of animals being released back into the park.
The jeep safari is by far the best way of exploring the park quickly and getting deep into the heart of tiger territory. Commonly seen species on the jeep safari are chital, sambar, terei gray langurs, rhesus macaques, wild boar, Indian peafowl, crested serpent eagles, hog deer, Bengal monitors and the highly targeted Indian one-horned rhino and sloth bear. Species such as tigers, Asiatic elephant and leopard can also be seen but more infrequently.
Chitwan National Park
Today is a full day to explore the park, at sunrise you will have another jeep safari and then after returning to the lodge for lunch and a rest in the heat of the midday sun, you will return to the park. This afternoon you will have a canoe safari. These canoe trips are amazing for birds and often produce a great variety of birdlife. From kingfishers, bee-eaters, lesser adjudant storks, crested serpent eagles, wagtails, hornbills, parakeets and hundreds of sand martins and barn swallows. It is also common to see large mugger crocodiles and occasionally wading rhinos and
basking gharial on these canoe trips too. Tigers, leopards and even sloth bears have also been spotted along the river banks, although rarely. This ride takes around 1 hour and is a magical experience as the morning mist lifts off the river to create a haunting atmosphere. Afterward you will return to the lodge for the night and your last full night in Nepal. It is advised you check with reception to when you should check out and when they plan to transfer you to the airport to catch your return flight
to Kathmandu tomorrow.
Chitwan National Park / Kathmandu
This morning will be your last trip into the park with a morning walk. The walks are great ways to see birds, plants and some of the smaller species as well as a great way of experiencing the jungle in a close and intimate way. It is also interesting to see tracks of rhinos, bears, tigers and more as you trek around with your naturalist guide. From here you will be taken to the lodge to check out and freshen up before being taken to the airport to catch your return flight to Kathmandu.
On your arrival you will be taken to the hotel for your final night in Nepal.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The weather in Spring and Autumn in eastern Nepal will be warm to hot with daily temperature between 20-30degrees C. The night time temperatures can be cooler especially when in the hills. Rain is possible but very unusual at this time of year and the skies can be beautiful and clear.
March to May are considered the best time for wildlife watching in the Terai. But the weather is very hot, this is the peak of the dry season, so expect no or very little rain and temperature well above 30 degrees C. The evenings and nights will also be hot as well.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned vehicle with an excellent local driver. We have a professional Red Panda tracker who will escort you on all your excursions and we also use a very knowledgeable English speaking local guides.
All our excursions including treks, guided walks, jeep safaris, elephant back rides, canoe safaris, boat safaris and park entrance fees are also included. Return flights to and from both Bhadrapur and Nepalgunj are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be light and airy clothes as well as comfortable walking shoes. Hard wearing khaki shorts, shirts and trousers are recommended. As the nights can be chilly we recommend you bring a fleece, long trousers, scarf and a woolly hat. Insect repellent is handy as there can be mosquitoes about during the evenings and nights. Andy medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day. A head torch or handheld torch is also a good idea as we will be staying in remote rural areas and power-cuts are common and some places only have generators or solar power.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive).
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Qatar Airways as a good airline for flights to Kathmandu. One of the best websites to search for the best fares is www.travelup.co.uk. They are an ATOL bonded company and this provide all the securities related to ATOL protection. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for Nepal. These are easy to get and are usually issued on arrival at the airport for a fee. The fee for a multiple entry tourist visa valid for 30 days is £35. For more information look on the Nepalese embassy website www.nepembassy.org.uk/ (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Nepal, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Nepal as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Michelle Keane & children - Middlesex
Mr. Southgate - London, UK
Mr. Aiden Murphy - Belfast
Mary Isingo - California, USA
The Taylor Family, Bingley, UK