Chitwan and Bardia National Parks, as well as smaller neighboring wildlife reserves in the area, are ongoing ecological success stories, and excellent places to go on safari.
Chitwan, located on the steamy plains, is home to over 600 one-horned rhinoceros. Just a decade ago, the population was around half this.
Anti-poaching efforts have been extremely successful, and it’s now practically guaranteed to see a rhino when on safari.
Entrance fees help with park maintenance, and ensure a long and healthy future for the wildlife.
Bardia National Park, in the far west, sees fewer visitors, and it’s possible to spot tigers here.
A couple of innovative bird conservation projects also occur around Nepal.
In Pokhara, the adventure capital of Nepal, travelers can go ‘parahawking’ – the only place in the world to try paragliding with a bird of prey. Proceeds also go towards bird conservation.
In Chitwan National Park, the Jayatyu Vulture Restaurant has been established to increase the numbers of vultures in the area.
Vultures around Asia have suffered from chemicals in their natural food chain, so the ‘restaurant’ feeds the birds with non-contaminated meat in a natural setting.
Community-run homestays are one way of facilitating cultural exchange and making a direct positive impact on local communities.
A network of homestays has been established with the intention of empowering local women.
Travelers can stay in a well-equipped spare guest room and participate in the family’s daily activities, such as cooking.
Women run these enterprises in a group, and benefit from making their own income so they don’t have to rely on their husbands.
The Panauti Community Homestay, 40kms from Kathmandu, is a particularly thriving example, set within farmland and ancient architecture.
Similar initiatives are in Chitwan and Nuwakot. When planning a trek, look for routes that have community homestays, such as the Annapurna Community Homestay trek.
Nepal has problems with clean water supply, so be aware to conserve water.
When trekking in mountainous areas, restrict water use for bathing – a single bucket of warmed water should be enough.
Avoid using plastic water bottles, as very little can be recycled in Nepal. It’s not safe to drink the tap water, but don’t buy a new bottle every time.
Travel with a water purification system: iodine tablets, chlorine drops or a steri-pen.
If you’re camping, be mindful of what happens to your waste.
Reputable tour companies will make sure that you carry your rubbish away with you, and that your toilet facilities (i.e., holes in the ground) are dug far away from water sources.
If you’re visiting Chitwan or Bardia, pay attention to elephant welfare.
Tiger Tops Resort in Chitwan has recently opened its Elephant Camp with the guidance of elephant welfare experts.
Guests can stay close to the amazing animals and help with their care. It is one of the more ethically sound ways of interacting with elephants in Asia.
With a rich tapestry of Buddhist and Hindu heritage, Nepal seems to always be preparing for, or celebrating, a festival. So, make the most of your visit by including one of these major Nepali holidays!
From the birthplace of Buddha to world-renowned paragliding hotspots, there’s plenty for everyone to explore around Pokhara. Our local insider shares the top day trips and hikes must do if you’re visiting this charming part of Nepal.