Chitwan showcases another side of Nepal, where the landscape and culture are completely different from what you'll find in the Himalaya. Spending two or three days in Chitwan is a great way to complement your trek, and here are a few of the best things to do during your time there.

Jungle Safari (by Jeep or by Foot)

Wild endangered one-horn rhinoceros
The endangered one-horn rhinoceros in the grasslands of Chitwan

Explore the jungle with an experienced naturalist by foot or by jeep. You can ask questions and learn as much as you can—your naturalist will be extremely knowledgeable about the animals and the history of Chitwan National Park. You'll have the chance to see wildlife such as a variety of deer (spotted, hog, barking, and sambar), different bird species, monkeys, and the endangered one-horned rhinoceros. With a bit of luck, there's always the chance of glimpsing the leopard, sloth bear, and Royal Bengal Tiger (although sightings of tigers are nowadays extremely rare in Chitwan).

Elephant Jungle Walks

Elephant in the Chitwan Jungle
Walking alongside elephants is a unique way to appreciate them in their natural habitat

Walk through the jungle alongside the elephants and get close to the wildlife in the safety of the elephants' company. This is a unique opportunity to be close to elephants and to discover how they move through the jungle, what they eat, and how they react to and interact with other wildlife. Enjoy the experience of standing close to a rhino, knowing no harm will come to you with the mighty elephants by your side.

Bird Watching

The white-throated kingfisher
The white-throated kingfisher found in southern Nepal

Nepal is considered a bird watching sanctuary, with an astounding 848 species identified across the country. Guided by an expert naturalist, join a bird watching tour to identify species from grassland, farmland, forest and aquatic habitats. You’ll learn to recognize different species, their whistles, and alarm calls as well as develop an insight into how birds are an integral part of Nepal's abundant eco-systems. 

River Safari by Wooden Canoe

Wooden boats taking travelers down the Rapti river, Chitwan
Wooden boats taking travelers down the Rapti river, Chitwan

Experience the jungle by floating down its rivers—both the Narayani and Rapti rivers being a popular choice for this. From the river, you can spot crocodiles, birdlife, and maybe the endangered fish-eating gharial crocodile and its more sinister relative, the marsh-mugger. You can also stop along the riverbanks and take a short jungle walk. You'll sit inside a hand-carved wooden canoe and will be accompanied by a local guide and driver.

Explore the Local Villages

Autumn harvest season in Chitwan
Autumn harvest season in Chitwan

Chitwan village and its national park (the first one in Nepal) is one of the country's top attractions. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park protects a sizable portion of forests, grassland, and marsh, and is also one of the best national parks for wildlife in Asia. There are a number of local villages in the park that subsist off the local environment, where you can take the time to visit and explore their traditional way of life. 

Elephant River Walk and Bathing

Elephant bathing in the river in Chitwan
Spend time and help with bathing the elephants in Chitwan

End your day with a short jungle or village walk with the elephants along the bank of the Narayani river. Here, the elephants are let loose to cool down in the water while you enjoy a picnic as the sun sets. You'll get to watch while the elephants entertain themselves during their favorite activity: cooling down and feeling weightless in the water. Keep in mind that the water is too cold for the elephants in December and January, but otherwise this activity is available from February through to November.

Elephant Education: Grass Cutting, Kuchi Making, and Lecture

Learning how to prepare feed for elephants
Learning how to prepare kuchis, a favorite snacks for the elephants

If you're interested in learning about elephants and how they're cared for, you can join the elephants and their mahouts as they walk to the grasslands in the morning to collect fodder for the rest of the day. Few people understand the close bond between the elephant and its mahout, and watching them work together to collect grass is a rewarding and direct experience of their symbiotic relationship. Try your hand at the tough job of cutting the meter high elephant grass. Afterward, you can try out your mahout skills by helping to prepare the elephants’ snacks, known as kuchis