Staying in Nepal's Jungles
If Nepal's your destination and jungles and wildlife are the goal, Chitwan National Park and Bardia National Park are the places to be. Both are teeming with wildlife, including elephants, rhino, and many species of birds. Both offer jungle treks and jeep tours—and both are far from major cities, which means you should spend at least a few days in the area to give yourself time for both exploration and transit.
Chitwan is the easiest to access, with Bharatpur Airport (a 20-minute flight from Kathmandu) just outside the park. If you prefer overland travel, Kathmandu is a five- to seven-hour bus ride away. Keep in mind that to visit Chitwan, you'll need a guide and to pay an admission fee (about $15 per day and often included in the price of your guide/tour).
Bardia National Park, on the border of Northern India, is a more challenging destination to reach. If you're looking for something truly remote, this is the place to go. The nearest airport is Nepalganj Airport, about three hours from the park by bus or 4x4. There's an entry fee here, too (also about $15 per day) and guides are strongly recommended.
For more details, including what animals to keep an eye out for in each park, visit our Nepal parks overview.
Chitwan National Park
Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge
Styled after traditional, local longhouses and built exclusively with local materials, Tharu offers comfy rooms as well as British-style safari tents with attached bathrooms. In the greenest, most peaceful corner of the property you'll find a pool, and throughout the grounds, there are organic gardens that supply the kitchens.
But the true magic of the lodge is with its elephants, housed in large enclosures and never chained. You won't find any elephant rides here—just jungle walks side by side with these gentle giants, respecting their space and comfort as they respect yours. Elephant experiences also include the opportunity to walk alongside them as they gather grass in the morning, stroll to the river to watch them bathe, prepare their snacks, and observe their natural behavior.
The lodge is the perfect place for travelers who value social and environmental responsibility and who want to enjoy the company of Asian elephants without contributing to widespread practices that harm the animals.
Barahi Jungle Lodge
Sprawled along the banks of the Rapti River, Barahi is a luxurious collection of standalone cottages featuring furnishings made from local bamboo and sustainable wood, tile floors, and private balconies. From the lodge, you can book jeep safaris, boat safaris, and jungle walks into the national park to spot wildlife and explore the jungle terrain. Nightly dance performances end each day with a taste of local culture.
If you're looking for a place where modern design and amenities meet a true jungle experience, this is one of the locals' top picks. It's also fairly easy to access, with flights available from Kathmandu to Meghauli.
Wander through Jagatpur and you'll find a lot of unique touches—a bar with a facade made of chopped firewood covered open-air pavilions with comfy couches, woven rugs, and private patios with woven chairs overlooking the jungle. It's jungle elegance at its finest and, even better, it's nestled along the edge of Nepal's first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The jungle experiences here don't quite reach the pinnacles of Tiger Tops or Barahi, but lodge activities include birdwatching, canoeing, village walks, reptile walks, and jeep safaris into the park.
To get to the lodge, fly into Bharatpur and drive 45 minutes to the lodge.
Sarang Wildlife Sanctuary
A good pick for mid-range budget travelers, Sarang is designed to look and feel like a traditional Tharu village elevated with modern amenities. Villas have both front and back patios/balconies and all rooms boast rainwater showers, Wi-Fi, AC/heating, and electricity. The lodge is about an hour by car from Bharatpur. One of the lodge's perks is its accessible location. You can fly from Kathmandu to Meghauli and check right in.
Bardia National Park
Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge
Observe the lives of elephants first-hand at the only high-end lodge in Bardia National Park, where twelve elephants live in five large enclosures. Established in collaboration with Elephant Aid International, the Karnali camp is a place where travelers can live beside the elephants day by day, getting to know their personalities and watching as they eat, sleep, bathe, and exercise in the jungle. Accommodations at the camp are spacious tents with woven chairs out front and comfortable beds within.
Racy Shade Resort
For something more mid-range budget-wise, Racy Shade offers comfortable rooms, good food, and great jungle guides. Expect thatched rooftops, shady patios, and wildlife meandering across the lawns between huts. To get there, you'll need to fly to Nepalgunj and drive 1.5 hours to the lodge.