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Ultimate Mammal Tour of Nepal
April 7 - April 29£1682 – £7136
Nepal is blessed with a wealth of amazing landscapes and habitats. From the permanently frozen mountain tops of the high Himalayas through to the lush coniferous and rhododendron covered foothills to the subtropical jungles and thick grasslands of the fertile lowlands bordering India. This huge range of habitats has lead to Nepal to boast one of the highest numbers of mammal and bird species for its size in the world, it is also the size of this country that allows us to explore most of these ecosystems within a relatively short period of time. This ultimate mammal watching tour of Nepal explores the two most famous national parks here, the pristine lands of Chitwan and Bardia; whose jungles are full of rhinos, tigers, elephants and whose waterways support gharials, crocodiles and Gangetic river dolphins. But we also head into the far east of the country in search of the elusive red panda, Himalayan tahr as well as possibly sighting some really special species such as clouded leopard, Asiatic black bear and mainland serow. We can also head higher up into the true Himalayas to try and find evidence of snow leopards and bharal. Led by a zoologist with years of experience tracking and watching mammals throughout Nepal and local researchers studying red pandas we are sure of an impressive haul of mammal sightings including up to 5 species of cat, 2 species bears and possibly 40 species in total.
Up to 40 species of mammals
95% success in finding red pandas
Elephant safaris in Chitwan & Bardia
Spotlight for many elusive mammals
Up to 7 cat species possible
Team up with red panda researchers
Top Animals on Tour
Tour Dates: 7/4/2022 – 29/4/2022
Duration: 22 nights
Type / Focus: Tigers to Red Pandas
When you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, your zoologist escort and our local guide/driver will be waiting for you to transfer you in our private air conditioned vehicle to your accommodation, level – 4* guest house (Kathmandu Guest House) in Kathmandu (20-30 mins). This is the most iconic place to stay in Kathmandu and has played host to Royalty and Presidents in the past. Depending on the time of arrival you will lunch here before sightseeing around this historic city; we will look to visit Swayambunath, Boudnath Stupa and Durbar Square and then we will head back to the hotel in the bustling Thamel district for dinner.
Chitwan National Park
After breakfast this morning you will be picked up from the hotel in our own private vehicle and you will begin the 5-6 hour journey south to the wonderful national park of Chitwan. This is Nepals oldest park and has very large numbers of tigers, rhinos and dozens of other mammals. During the journey you will head out of the Kathmandu valley and along the Narayani River until you reach the lush fertile lands of the Tharu people in the subtropical Terai. As we head closer to Chitwan the amount of ochre coloured mud houses with thatched roofs of the indigenous people will increase before you reach the entrance gate to the park. From here you will be taken a short distance into the 932km sq of protected forest, grassland and waterways that make up Chitwan. The drive will end when you arrive right on the boundary of this wonderful park close to the banks of the Narayani River when you arrive at your accommodation, level – luxury safari lodge (Temple Tiger Lodge). Depending on what the traffic was like and our arrival time you may be given the option for 2-3 hour jungle walk or an elephant safari through the nearby forests and grasslands around the lodge. The lodge is located close to a very productive part of the park. You will explore some of the core zone of the park and this is a section where very few people are allowed to visit. As a result the abundance of wildlife is spectacular. It is not uncommon to see 3-4 rhinos every time you head into the park and there is always the chance of seeing tigers, leopards and sloth bears anywhere in the jungles. In fact sloth bears have been seen more and more often around the lodge recently and your guides will be searching for these elusive mammal in some its favourite haunts. If you arrive late then you are welcome to enjoy the wonderful bird life around here and get a feel for this magnificent lodge. There are many resident species like anhingas, Indian cormorants, purple gallinules and pied kingfishers and these are joined by migratory species from Siberia in the north and India in the south. Later this evening after your evening meal in the dinning room you will be free to relax in the outdoor bar and whenever you are ready a guide will be waiting to escort you to your own jungle cottage for a good nights sleep.
Days 3 & 4
Chitwan National Park
For the next 2 full days you will explore the jungles and grasslands of Chitwans core zone from the great base of Temple Tiger Lodge. There will be a morning and an afternoon activity whilst staying here. The exact activities will be decided the night before based on the previous activities, sightings that have occurred elsewhere in the area and your preferences. But we recommend experiencing all of the different ways of exploring the park during the 2 days. One of the most popular ways to start the day is on elephant back. The accommodation, level – luxury safari lodge (Temple Tiger Lodge), has a small herd of elephants that it uses for these 2-3 hour safaris. Whilst on elephant back you will be led through the jungles and grasslands almost silently, this is the best way to get close to wildlife as elephants are a naturally occurring part of the environment here. As a result rhinos, deer, tigers and other wildlife remain in the area longer and allow for excellent prolonged views. As you take in the great views from your elevated platform your mahout will be following tracks of tigers and other wildlife as you walk through the dense jungles and grasslands. He and your zoologist guide will also be scanning the vegetation for resting sloth bears and leopards as they rest during the heat of the day. Along with the jungles and riverine forests there are many large grasslands that dot Chitwan. Here the elephant grass can reach heights of 18-20ft and whilst it is rare for the grass to get to that high, it is still often 10-15ft all and therefore only from elephant back is it possible to experience the grassland and see the wildlife here. This is the favoured spot for rhinos, hog deer, wild elephants and the largest species of cattle in the wild, gaur. Tigers also use the grassland to sleep during the heat of the day and it is possible to come across the little nests that they make for themselves as they curl up in the thick grass. Along with the mammal life here the bird life is prolific amongst the grass, stonechats, bushchats, martins, prinias and warblers abound in the thick forest of grass. Another favourite activity are the jungle walks, here you will be led through the jungle with the expert guidance of the lodge naturalists. They have guides who specialise in certain things, if birds are your particular interest we can request the resident bird guide, but we usually take the mammal guides to work with your zoologist escort on this tour. As they guide you through the tall sal trees they will be looking out for the huge paw prints of tigers and the unmistakable three toed tracks of one-horned rhinos. But as well as tracking down these two mighty mammals they will also be looking out for sloth bears, leopards as well as other smaller mammals. The forests here are home to two species of monkeys (the northern-plains grey langur and the Rhesus macaque as well as 4 species of deer. The largest of which is the impressive sambar (the tigers preferred prey), the most numerous the chital (or spotted deer), the loudest is the small and ochre coloured barking deer and the most elusive the tiny hog deer. There is also the chance (although a slim one) of spotting some really rare mammals here, clouded leopard, leopard cat, dhole, civets and genets are all known from here but are seldom seen. More commonly seen are squirrels, wild boar and golden jackals as well as a wealth of bird life. Parakeets, kingfishers, nilvatas, cuckoos, prinias, raptors, bulbuls and drongos are all abundant here as are some bird watchers specialities such as the slender-billed babbler, bristled grassbird and grey-crowned prinia. The walks are a great way to getting closer to some species that can often remain hidden from view such as the Indian rock python, many frogs and numerous species of butterflies and dragonflies. When walking through the jungle you will see the jungle from a different perspective, being a part of the jungle and not an outsider looking into or down upon it makes you realise the harsh environment that the wildlife has to adapt to. Tracking wildlife on foot and possibly coming face to face with a tiger on foot is has to be one of the best wildlife experiences you can have. The other way of exploring the park is very different from the elephant back safaris and jungle walks, instead of being taken through the terrestrial ecosystems here you will be guided down the Narayani River in a small wooden boat. From here there are many chances of seeing resident and migratory birds such as the very abundant pied kingfisher and small pranticole. The river banks is also home to the critically endangered gharial. This fish eating crocodile is the most endangered animal in the Indian Subcontinent and the Narayani River is one of the last strongholds for this huge animal. There are around 50 breeding individuals here and it is still possible to see a huge 6-7m animal; although 2-3m long gharial are much more common. But it is not just the river banks that you should be scanning when on the boat safari, these waters are also home to one of the most unusual mammals in the world. The long nosed and almost blind Gangetic river dolphin. They surface for breaths as do all dolphins however they surface very briefly so it takes a good eye to spot one as they typically only break the surface for 3-4 seconds at a time. The usually itinerary of activities is a morning elephant safari on the first day here followed by a jeep drive to the Narayani River and a river cruise in the afternoon. Then on the second day we recommend a jungle walk in the morning and another elephant safari in the afternoon. However it is also possible to take a packed lunch and head deep into the park on a long jeep safari. This way will enable to you penetrate deeper into the jungles than usual and see more of this special park. The plan for each day will follow the general safari pattern with tea or coffee early each morning before your first safari activity into the jungle and then afterwards breakfast will be served. The middle of the day is free for you to relax, possibly visit the elephant stables to meet one of the elephants, learn about the training they experience, their ecology and even feed one. But probably the best thing to do between breakfast and lunch is relax with some binoculars and see what species of birds you can find in the lodge grounds. Then after lunch your afternoon activity will take you back into the jungles followed by your evening meal and then getting ready to do it all the next day.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Sanctuary
This morning you will have a choice, you can either have another early morning and one more elephant back safari or have a more laid back morning and relax before breakfast. Then after breakfast you will be transferred back across the Narayani River and begin the journey east to the small wildlife reserve of Koshi Tappu (~8 hours) however the road between Chitwan and Koshi Tappu is often having work done to it after the annual monsoons destroy so delays are not uncommon. You should arrive in the mid to late afternoon and on arrival at this 175km sq park you will be taken to the accommodation, level luxury safari camp (Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp) for your evening meal before entering the reserve tomorrow.
Days 6 & 7
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Sanctuary
This park is bordered by the Koshi River and a lot of the park is wetland. Here there is a huge variety of bird life and many mammals that are absent or very hard to see elsewhere in Nepal. This morning we will either start the day with morning walk along the river banks, lagoons, grasslands and woodlands or take a raft down the Koshi River. These are the two different activities available in Koshi Tappu and both over some great wildlife sightings. There are well over 100 recorded species of birds here and some real gems such as swamp francolin, red-necked falcon and the striated marsh warbler. But your local guides and zoologist escort will be on the lookout for some of the many mammals that are relatively easy to see here but next to impossible in other Terai national parks. This section of the Terai is the only place which still has wild water buffalo in Nepal and they are quite easy to see whilst rafting, as are the rare Gangetic river dolphins if you keep your eyes peeled. Also whilst rafting the Koshi River you can spot both species of crocodile, the gharial and the mugger crocodile and maybe a playing family group of smooth-coated otters. When walking in the morning or afternoon you will be searching out jungle cats, hog deer, chital, nilgai (the largest antelope outside of Africa), golden jackals and possibly a fishing cat (if you are very lucky). All of your meals will be served back at the accommodation, level – luxury safari camp (Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp) and during the evenings it is possible to see scores of Indian flying foxes as they leave their day roosts to find fruiting trees to feed upon. This park offers a very good comparison to Chitwan and the next park we will visit (Bardia), being home to the last 150 water buffalo as well as one of the best places to see jungle cats in Nepal we expect to supplement our mammal sightings here with some of the 31 recorded species from Koshi Tappu.
This morning you will start the journey back to the capital city of Kathmandu (~10 hours). The drive back from the Terai up into the Kathmandu valley is very spectacular. The rice paddies that stretch into the distance whilst in the Terai gradually change until the endless terraces that blanket every slope until you descend one of the many winding roads and the sprawling suburbs of Kathmandu lie in fornt of you. You will be taken back to the same accommodation, level – 4* guest house (Kathmandu Guest House) as your first night and today is for resting and relaxing. Once you arrive in Kathmandu you are welcome to walk the many shop lined streets of Thamel before leaving continuing our mammal quest and travelling to Bardia National Park in the morning.
Bardia National Park
This morning after breakfast you will be taken to the airport in Kathmandu in time to catch the 1 hour flight to Nepalgunj. On arrival in Nepalgunj you will be met by another driver and transferred from the very industrial town of Nepalgunj towards the isolated and wonderful protected land of Bardia National Park. The drive from Nepalgunj to the accommodation, level – luxury safari lodge (Tiger Tops – Karnali Lodge) is around 2 hours. After lunch on arrival and settling into your room, you will be expected to enter the park for the first time. The 2-3 hour long elephant back safari will take you into Bardia and into one of the best kept secrets in Nepal. The park is larger than Chitwan but as Chitwan is close to Kathmandu it receives the majority of the tourists and it is not uncommon to have this huge park pretty much to yourself. This is a great introduction to the wildlife and different environments of Bardia and will no doubt whet your appetites for more tomorrow. At dusk you will return to the lodge for your evening meal and good nights sleep.
Days 10 & 11
Bardia National Park
The next couple of days exploring the vast expanses of Bardia will be very similar to the safari days of Chitwan National Park. Like in Chitwan there are a few different activities that you can enjoy here and they will be decided on a day to day basis. Once again the pattern of the days will be the same as in Chitwan, with tea and coffee in the morning before entering the park and then breakfast on your return; followed by lunch and dinner also at the lodge in between your afternoon safari. Elephant safaris are very popular her, but there is a difference in the wildlife that is commonly encountered here compared with Chitwan. This is mainly due to the large number of wild elephants here. There are around 50-60 in Chitwan but over 200 in Bardia. There is very little that compares to meeting wild elephants whilst on elephant back, the communication between the elephants is amazing to see close up, as they try and establish who each other is, it often seems like the wild elephant is curious as to why the domesticated elephant has funny looking humans perched on its back. The in-depth communication between elephants is fascinating and one that we are only just beginning to understand. But of course there are large numbers of tigers, leopards, sloth bears, rhinos and other wildlife here as well so your mahout will be constantly on the lookout for all of these animals plus many more. Another great activity here are the jungle walks that they offer, for these walks your guides and zoologist escort will bring a packed lunch with us into the jungle. This means that you will be able to spend longer in the park traversing the many streams, dry river beds, grassy meadows and jungle whilst tracking tigers, leopards and rhinos. The real advantage of spending longer in the jungle is that you will be able to get to some of the best known tiger hotspots. Once you are around here deep into tiger territory you will stake out some good areas and see if one of the many tigers here come into view. The other very popular activity that is offered at the accommodation, level – luxury safari lodge (Tiger Tops, Karnali Lodge) is a jeep safari into the park. Jeep safaris allow you to delve very deep into the park. The wonderful thing about Bardia is that due to its remote location far fewer tourists visit here (compared with Chitwan) and so it can often feel like you have the whole 968km sq to yourself as you walk, ride or drive around the park. The jeep safari will also allow you to get to some of the watch towers set up around here. From these towers you are able to see out over the grasslands and possibly spot a distant herd of elephants or a tiger leaving the long grass to come down for a drink at the river. In addition to these activities inside the park you will also be able to visit the small crocodile, gharial and freshwater turtle breeding centre at the park headquarters. This is a very valuable project as the gharial are in a very bad situation as are all of the many freshwater turtle species recorded here. All of them are critically endangered and the projects here are indispensible to their long term survival. We can also arrange a day trip to the local blackbuck sanctuary. This sanctuary was set up to protect and breed this beautiful antelope after they have all but disappeared from the protected parks in Nepal. They have around 450 individuals in a semi-wild protected meadow, it is great to walk amongst these graceful animals and there is also the chance of spotting the very slight and shy Indian fox and possibly some hunting marsh harriers as they scan the short grass for rodents and lizards. Unless you are in the forest on a full day walk or decide to visit the blackbuck sanctuary you will return to the lodge for lunch and then have some free time before the afternoon excursion into the park. The usual itinerary whilst here is to start with an early morning elephant safari on the first full day, followed by breakfast at the lodge and then a long jungle walk for the majority of the day, we then recommend visiting the blackbuck sanctuary on the second day however you are welcome to have another elephant safari and jeep safari into Bardia instead. Each day will end with your evening meal at the lodge as normal.
This morning will represent a lazy morning as there is no need to wake before the crack of dawn. Instead after packing and breakfast you will be transferred back to Nepalgunj in time to catch your return flight to Kathmandu. Once again this is a rest day in and one that will separate the time you have spent in the lowlands of the Terai and the next section of the tour which will see you increase in altitude as you head into the foothills of the far eastern Himalayas. During Kathmandu you will be transferred to the same accommodation, level – 4* guest house (Kathmandu Guest House) again.
Today you will be transferred back to the airport and to the domestic terminal. From here you will be taken on one of the most scenic internal flights in the world as you head east to border town of Bhadrapur (45min flight) you can spot Mt. Everest if the weather is good. In fact around 7 of the top 10 highest mountains in the world can be seen from this flight on a clear day. Once you land in Bhadrapur you will meet your local driver and be taken in a private vehicle north to the town of Ilam (4 hours). This is the closest large town to the wildlife watching habitats and our place of rest tonight. As you drive along you will notice the terraced farms and tea plantations covering the beautiful rows of hills steadily increasing in height until the dominating Himalayas break into view in the distance. You can visit a tea plantation today as this is Nepals tea growing region, all the local communities are dominated by this very productive plant. Your evening meal will be provided in the accommodation, level – local guest house or tea house. Tomorrow you head into red panda territory.
Dobate & Nearby Forests
Over the next 3 full days you will be out exploring the rhododendron forests and bamboo thickets around here for the elusive red pandas, but first there is a 4 hours jeep transfer from Ilam to Dobate. This is a transfer through rural Nepal which will differ from cultivated landscape of the Terai. This road will be bumpy as you head well off the beaten path and into the wonderful world of the red panda. The population of red pandas here is relatively new to science and it is through the work of the scientists here (from the Red Panda Network (RPN)) that we are able to visit here in order to see red pandas. Over the next 3 days you will hike around the rhododendron and oak forests in search of the fire fox, otherwise known as 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 our accommodation, level – local tea houses. It helps to bring in financial rewards to the local people for keeping the red pandas habitat intact. Whilst hiking around the forests looking for the red pandas it is always worth keeping a keen eye out for other wildlife as leopards, leopard cats, mainland serows, Himalayan orange-bellied squirrels, yellow-throated martens, Indian mongoose, large Indian civets and dozens of birds share these dense and spectacular forests with the beautiful red panda. Depending on the local conditions we will look to arrange some spotlighting through the forest after dark. This is by far the best way to catch a glimpse of the rare predators here such as yellow-throated martens, leopard cats and maybe an Asiatic black bear. As the RPN have been training local people to track red pandas the success rate in finding them has increased to a current high of around 95%, so we are very confident of getting great views of this little arboreal mammal within the 3 days we have here before heading off in search of rarer mammals.
Today is the first day on your journey north to towards the roof of the world. The first section will be to travel back to Ilam (4 hours), through the tea plantations and terraced farms. Today is a rest day before continuing onwards to our next destination as tomorrow is a long day of driving so a good nights sleep is a good idea here. You will be taken to the same accommodation, level – local guest house or tea house; as last time in Ilam.
In order to get to the remote and little explored forests of the Taplejung district you will first be transferred by jeep for 7-8 hours northwards, always towards the imposing peak of Kanchenjunga. This impressive mountain is the 3rd largest mountain in the world and a creates a great backdrop for exploring the forests in search of some of the worlds most sought after species. There is a great mix of dense temperate and subtropical forests on the lower slopes before rocky outcrops and alpine grassland take over as you ascend. However it is not the upper reaches of Kanchenjunga that interests us on this tour (unless you specifically request to visit the higher regions). We will instead explore the forests of the foothills. By day and after dark we will search out the cryptic and almost mythical clouded leopards as well as other cat species such as marbled cats, leopard cats, Asiatic golden cats and their larger cousin the leopard. The snow leopard also lives around here but is seldom seen and lives well in the high reaches of the mountains. These forests are not often visited by many mammal watchers and so we are never 100% sure on what we may or may not see. All we do know is that barring the common Himalayan orange-bellied squirrel, Assamese macaque, hoary-bellied squirrel, wild boars and Himalayan tahr any mammals that we do encounter will be among the lest studied and seen species in the entire world. After each day hiking and evening spotlighting we will head back to the accommodation, level – local guest house or tea house for our evening meals and nights sleep.
After hiking around here you will be taken back to the now familiar town of Ilam (7-8 hours), this long drive marks the beginning of your departure from Nepal. After the long drive south you will be taken to the same accommodation, level – local guest house or tea house as used previously to enjoy your final night among the wonderful highlands of east Nepal.
This morning you will be transported back to the industrial border town of Bhadrapur in order to catch your return flight to Kathmandu. Try and get a seat on the right hand side of the plane (especially if you were not on the left hand side on the way out) and enjoy the Himalayan view. On arrival in Kathmandu you will be transferred to your accommodation, level – 4* guest house (Kathmandu Guest House) for your last night in Nepal and your farewell meal.
This morning after breakfast we will arrange for transfers to Tribhuvan International Airport so you can 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.
March and April are considered the best time for wildlife watching in Nepal, both in the Terai and the Himalayan foothills. But the weather is very hot in the Terai, 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. However in the far east of Nepal you can expect cooler temperatures of between 20-30 degrees C and the evenings can be chilly here. Like the Terai rain is unsual at this time of year but not uncommon.
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 zoologist who will escort you on all your excursions and we also use a very knowledgeable English speaking local guides. All internal flights are also included as are all other transportation costs.
All our excursions including elephant back safari, canoe safaris, boat trips, jeep safaris, hikes, guided walks, spotlighting sessions and park entrance fees 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 when we head to the red panda areas 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). Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
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.odopo.co.uk. They are accredited by IATA which means you can book through them securely. 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.
Visas and Health Information
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.
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