The varied and unique geographical feature of Nepal boasts the rich biodiversity, which has ultimately formed several conservation sites all over the country. From the tallest mountain in the world in the Himalayan region to the grassland of Terai, from the rare and elusive Snow leopard to the world’s tallest grass, the biodiversity picture of Nepal is pretty big.
Bardia National Park as well is a part of the picture that fosters an array of wildlife inhabitants in the verdant forest of rare and distinctive vegetation. Often compared with the Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park is the largest in Nepal.
As per the recent survey, 235 Tigers were counted, making Nepal ahead on becoming the first country in the world to double the number of Tigers by 2022. The effort was made by the government in support of various conservation agencies. And, it is fair to say that Bardia National Park has also constituted towards the cause.
About Bardia National Park
Initially known as Royal Bardia National Park, the park was established in 1988 and lies in Terai region adjoining the eastern bank of Karnali River and bisected by Babai river. On the northern side of the park is limited by a crest of Siwalik Hills, the southern side has Nepalgunj-Surkhet highway, on the west is Geruwa and Babai Rover has it on the southeast side.
With the total coverage of 968 km2, Bardia National Park is the largest and the most undisturbed national park in Nepal. Also, with Banke National Park in the vicinity, the coherent protected area of 1,437 km2 represents Tiger Conservational Unit (TCU) Bardia-Bank extending in alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forest.
As Bardia National Park also includes Babai River Valley, the people inhabited in the valley settled elsewhere with the establishment of the park. Well, now that farming is not an option left, it has let the natural vegetation flourish, making the area a perfect home for wildlife.
Wildlife and Vegetation of Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park is mainly known for the inhabitation of “Bengal Tiger” and “One-horn rhino”. However, the park exhibits a large number of flora and fauna. As per the record, there are 839 species of flora. While on fauna side, there are 642 different species including wild elephant, Bengal Tiger, swamp deer, one-horn rhino and Gangetic dolphin. According to the survey of 2016 by WWF Nepal, the population of Tiger increased to 56 from 50 in 2013.
Also, there are 125 fish species, 23 reptiles and amphibian, and 407 species of bird including lesser florican, white-rumped vulture, jungle prinia and striated grassbird.
Things to do in Bardia National Park
The major part of Bardia National Park is covered with forest. The delightful greenery of grassland, savannah, and riverine forest makes a perfect place for a jungle walk. A leisurely walk with your group and guide along the rim of Bardia National Park’s forest lets you explore the parts of its diverse flora and fauna.
Jungle walk in Bardia National Park is of 3-5 hours with an occasional stop of admiring the serene beauty of a forest. To wake early and walk in the cool morning, when the forest feels so fresh with morning dew is the best thing to do in Bardia National Park.
Bardia National Park is just the vast flat land, so unlike the higher altitude region, you can have your family time in the park with no risk or whatsoever. A small basket of food and a mat will be the go-to item for picnicking with family.
You and your kids can explore the wildlife in a park while watching at waterholes and riverbanks. To spend some time with family in a raw and rough setting of nature will something to remember for a long time. However, do not forget to take a guide or two.
Don’t paint the picture of exhilarating white-river rafting with the mention of “river rafting.” River rafting in Bardia National Park no near to that experience; it is simply floating down the river of Karnali in a most relaxing way.
You can adore the beauty of Bardia National Park from a different angle through river rafting. Sighting birds and wildlife from the river is another interesting part of rafting.
Visit Elephant Breeding Centre
What would be the best than looking at the giant elephants at a distance of a few meters? The Elephant Breeding Centre in Bardia National Park is located about 2 kilometers southwest from park’s headquarters. However, do visit the park either in the morning or afternoon when elephants have returned from grazing in the park.
Also, keep your distance with them, as mother elephants and calves are occasionally visited by free-ranging wild animals.
Visit Crocodile Breeding Centre
Yet another breeding center to visit in Bardia National Park – Crocodile Breeding Centre. The breeding center specializes in the Gharial and Marsh mugger crocodile. It is divided into two major sections to take care of crocodiles; hatchery and rearing sections.
If you are wondering where do they obtain the eggs from, they are collected from sandbanks of Geruwa and Babai river system. After the eggs hatch and get big enough, they have put into Karnali and Babai river.
Camping is one of the best things to do in Bardia National Park. Spending a night in the forest amid the wilderness will definitely be an adventure to remember. There won’t be electricity, internet, comfortable bed, but camping will certainly give a different perspective to everyday life.
One of the best place for camping in Bardia National Park is Lalmati, where wild animals often cross the river and come to drink water.
Jungle Safari is the best way to explore the forest of Bardia National Park. Either you are in a group tour or with a family, a ride through the forest a must thing to do in Bardia National Park. You will get into the lush and natural habitat of wildlife, with a greater chance of spotting a wildlife life.
Jeep Safari lets you ride in the main trail of forest and guides will make a stop in case any wildlife is in the vicinity. Or else, you can opt for Elephant Safari too.
Tharu Cultural Museum
Like Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park also fosters the Tharu culture and tradition, that’s why these two park is often in comparison. Tharu Cultural Museum is the part of that initiation to promote community-based tourism and protect our culture and tradition.
Tharu Cultural Museum has ancient artifacts along with devices used in everyday life of Tharu people. In traditional houses of Tharu, from food preparation to eating, it would take place in the same place around chulha (wool-fuel mud stove).
Some items of the Tharu Cultural Museum includes deharies (earthen bins) used for storing grains, tikthi or chikthi (triangular frame) used to suspend hanging basket from ceiling out of reach of vermin, hand-woven baskets, food preparation tools (mostly hand-carved out of wood), wooden slippers, decorative items for special events, fishing nets, traditional grinding stone, musical instruments and more. These hand-woven baskets are found in every Tharu household regardless of socio-economic status used to protect from foods from pests.
Tharu Village Tour
Tharu Culture is one of the most preserved cultures in Nepal. Their isolated way of living in jungle for past hundreds years following the traditional lifestyle is interesting to witness. There is Tharu community sheltered in Bardia National Park, where you can go for a few hours of Village Tour.
To further excitement, there is Tharu Cultural Dance, where local Tharus perform a traditional dance in traditional attire playing their folk music and musical instruments. Stick Dance, Fire Dance, and Peacock Dance are some popular performance in the cultural program of Tharu Village tour.
Kathmandu to Bardia National Park
Although taking a flight might be slightly expensive, it will be easier and without hassle. Every day flights take place from Tribhuvan Airport of Kathmandu to Nepalgunj.
From Nepalgunj, you will have to take a taxi/jeep which takes around three hours to arrive at Bardia National Park finally.
Bardia National Park is accessible by road with no bump or dangerous path. You will find several counters selling bus ticket from Kathmandu to Mahendranager. The journey is quite long of around 15 hours.
Or, else instead of Mahendranagar, you can take a bus to Nepalgunj which takes around 12 hours ride.
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