Photo Guide: Walking Safari in Chitwan National Park
Hey readers! Today I wanted to put together a post about something pretty cool that I did. Back in April, Emmett and I went on a walking safari in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. In some ways, this experience felt even more adventurous and dangerous than trekking in the Nepali Himalaya. Our safari trip has us walking around loose in the National Park through tiger, sloth bear, rhino, and wild elephant habitat! We were in a group of just four people (us + 2 guide) armed only with sticks. Luckily, despite the intimidating wildlife, we never felt unsafe. Our guides were incredibly experienced at their jobs. Afterwards, the day we spent exploring Chitwan National Park on foot became one of my top favorite travel moments in Nepal and one of my top favorite moments in all of my travels to date.
Instead of detailing each step of the day in a story, I’ll keep it simple and let the photos speak mostly for themselves. (As always: click a photo for more detail).
If you’re looking for info about taking one of these tours yourself, scroll all the way to the bottom for a little guide to taking a walking safari in Chitwan.
Dawn on the Narayani River.
Our guides, Raj & Sanjay, leading us through Chitwan’s sandy paths.
Tiger paw prints (left) and rhino footprints (right).
Stopping for a short breakfast in the shade, we then continued our search for some rhinos.
Found THEM! Four rhinos bathing in a pond in Chitwan National Park.
A mother rhino and baby were the last to leave.
Walking through tall elephant grass - quite unsettling at times.
(We had just watched 4 rhinos turn invisible once they’d entered the grass, and now here we were venturing into it).
Mid-day means following the schedule of the local wildlife: find a place to escape the hot sun.
Our guides led us to a shady overlook platform in the park, where we rested and refueled.
Back on safari, we set off for the wetlands to try our luck at finding wildlife that might be taking a dip.
Good thing rhinos have poor eyesight. We stayed still until this guy moved back into the brush.
This photo is only just barely zoomed in - we were crouching right behind the bush in the foreground.
the rear end of yet another rhino, retreating into the grass.
caught a glimpse of some military men training their elephants in the grasslands.
we Were excited to spot this very relaxed rhino having a casual solo dip.
…AND couldn’t resist having a photo shoot with the rhino, who we deemed “Charles” due to his distinguished nature.
Our guides had told us that it was safe for us to be in Charles’ line of sight since we were located on a riverbank about 6 feet above him. There was no way he could charge us from his bathing spot.
After Watching Charles bathe and blow bubbles in the river, he eventually stood up to make his way back to the tall grass.
End of Safari: our guides leading us through the forest on our way back to the Narayani River.
Ambling through the trees, we encountered a number of large holes dug by termite-hunting sloth bears (left) and curious rhesus macaque monkeys (right).
All the Details: Preparing for a Walking Safari in Chitwan National Park
Who we booked with:
After a bit of research and price checking around the Park town of Sauraha, we decided on United Jungle Guide Service. They have an yellow sign-clad office front towards the end of main street Sauraha. Our Walking Safari cost about 8,000 NPR (about $70 USD) for both of us for the full day. This includes the mandatory park entrance permits. Half day treks and combination walking/4WD tours are also available.
No matter who you book with, remember that there are no guarantees that you will see any wildlife. Guides will do their best to take you to spots where wildlife has been spotted before, but wild animals are going to go wherever they want. Emmett and I consider ourselves super lucky for having seen 10 rhinoceroses - our guides had only seen one with a tour the day before ours.
How to Stay safe on a walking safari:
It is absolutely essential that you remember that you will be walking through the native habitat of large predatory animals. While most tourists will probably go on a walking safari and come out safely - as we did - there is a risk that you could encounter a wild animal that could put you in danger or harm you. Tigers would not be nearly as much of a concern as sloth bears - one of the most angry and aggressive large animals in the world.
In order to stay safe, I recommend that you choose a reputable guide/ guide service. United Jungle Service was not only well reviewed but one of our two guides was actually one of the park’s most experienced and had been leading walking tours for decades.
For an example of the potential dangers of a walking safari: please read Walk My World’s account of a horrific encounter with sloth bears. Let this make you wary but also remember that this is an unusual encounter. Emmett and I did not see a single sloth bear on our walk.
If you are scared at all (like I definitely was) ask your guides for your own large stick so that you can join them in yelling and pounding the ground with a stick to scare off aggressive wildlife.
Only do a walking safari if you are in relatively good physical condition. We were out all day in the hot sun, walking nearly constantly for up to four hours on and off. You want to be capable of a quick sprint as well, as you may have to run from a charging rhino to a nearby tree.
What to wear on a walking safari in chitwan:
Light-weight, moisture-wicking clothes. It is gonna be hot.
Sturdy hiking shoes. A heavy duty sneaker could also work. Your shoes will get dirty.
Pants! Long pants are the best way to protect your legs from bugs and other critters in the tall grass.
For women: you’re definitely going to want a quality sports bra.
Sunscreen and a sunhat. A large part of our walking safari took place in direct sunlight and we were grateful we had slathered on plenty of sunscreen. I did not have a hat, but wished that I did.
what to bring on Your walking Safari:
Your guide service will likely remind you of this but bring plenty of water. Chitwan National Park reaches tropical temperatures and the sun felt blazingly hot. Hydration is really important on your walk.
Courage! I had to muster up quite a bit of it after reading Walk My World’s post. (See above).
Pack snacks and/or something for lunch. If you take a full day tour, you will stop multiple times with a chance to re-fuel. We bought a bag of chickpea snacks to share and also packed some samosas we’d bought from a street vendor the day before.
Bring money to tip your guides. Raj & Sanjay did a fantastic job keeping us safe and were fun to hang out with to boot. We gave them both a couple thousand NPRs as a thank you.
Check the weather forecast. It is worth bringing a rain poncho with you if you plan to be out for the whole day.
Sunscreen. You will definitely want to reapply to avoid burning whilst out in the bush.
would you go walking around in the grasslands on a walking safari, hoping for a glimpse of wildlife?
let me know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments below.
Did you know that you can go on #safari in #Nepal?? We spent a day on safari in Chitwan National Park & saw TEN wild rhinos. It was pretty epic, to say the least! Read all about how cool (and scary!) it was here: https://t.co/LWOf1cApy7 #backpacking #FemaleTravelBloggers #travel pic.twitter.com/IISKx0JZrR— Sav Fersner (@savvydispatches) October 19, 2018