The History of the Bardia National Park
Sunset over the River viewing from our LodgeThe parks origins began in the late 1960's when some 368 sq kms were set aside as royal hunting grounds. However, It wasn't until 1982 that the Royal Bardia National Reserve was officially formed, and even then it didn't become a fully fledged National Park until 1988. The aim was to preserve the diversity of decreasing species, in particular the tiger and its natural prey species.
Over 1400 people living in the area, many of them farmers, were removed to provide a greater area for the abundant species within the park. A buffer zone and community forest were established around the park to try to reduce subsistence poaching inside the park by the local communities. Without so much human interference the diverse habitats inside the park have improved greatly. Bardia's relatively remote location has meant the Park has enjoyed minimum impact from tourism, and though access has improved significantly over recent years, visitor numbers are still much lower than Nepal's most famous park, Chitwan.
It wasn't until the mid 90's that basic facilities for travellers began to appear. Since then, tourism has started to increase and there now are a variety of lodges to choose from. To date the impact of visiting travellers has been minimal and the experience for a visitor is very different to that in Chitwan National Park as you feel much closer to nature and completely removed from bright lights shops, restaurants, bars and traffic.
Activities at Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park is Nepal’s most westerly, and the largest of its seven National Parks. A haven for a wide variety of wildlife, the park was originally formed to protect the various ecosystems found in the area, and to conserve tigers and their prey. The Park has since expanded to become one of the finest in Nepal. Lush dense forests, savannah and riverine woodlands are home to an incredibly diverse range of flora and fauna. Endangered species such as Rhinoceros, Wild elephant, Tiger, Swamp deer, Gharial crocodile, Gangetic dolphin, Bengal florican and the Sarus crane are all found here.
There are a wide variety of ways to explore the park, allowing you to target different animals and birds in different areas. Our guide will discuss recent sightings with you and your own personal interests, and tailor your visits into the park around these. Some of the more popular activities on offer include:
Bardia Jungle walks: Half or full day walks from the lodge into the park. You'll do a lot of walking and hopefully some tiger tracking, but have regular breaks at watch towers and areas the guides know are good for spotting larger animals.
Elephant safaris: One or two hour safaris into the park in the early morning or late afternoon, mainly targeting rhino sightings.
Rafting through the park: One of the best ways to travel through the park, this easy rafting trip starts at the spectacular Karnali bridge and finishes by the Elephant stables. There are swimming opportunities, and you should see a wide variety of the parks wildlife, hopefully including Gangetic dolphins. The tour also includes some short jungle walks and breaks at good wildlife viewing spots. The tour finishes with a fun local ox-cart ride back to the lodge.
Jungle Drives: Explore the park by jeep, allowing you to cover a lot more ground and enjoy some short jungle walks and breaks at well known spotting sites.
Bird Watching walks: Morning and afternoon walking tours from the lodge, in surrounding areas and into the park)
Cycling: A variety of short or full-day cycling tours to visit black buck habitats, and tiny local villages where you can see and learn about the life of the local Tharu community.
Gharial crocodiles trip: Drive from the lodge to see native Gharial crocodiles basking on the river bank. There's also a great spot under a large bridge en-route to the camp from Nepalgunj where we normally see both Gharial and Mugger crocodiles.
Tharu culture programme: Evening display and explanation of local Tharu dances and culture.
Canoeing Trips: Done in calm channels of the Karnali river close to the lodge, we'll hire dug-out canoes from local families and paddle slowly past the park. Good for birdwatching and seeing local life.