There are many things to do and to see here.
Bardia in the south west corner of Nepal has lots to offer and is another of those places where people think they will stay just one or two nights and end up spending several days. One of Nepal’s best secrets, the Bardia National Park is the largest and most undisturbed national park in Nepal’s Terai. Beautiful with its unspoiled wilderness of sal forest, grassland and riverine forest cut by the many tentacles of the river, it adjoins the eastern bank of the Karnali River and is bisected by the Babai River. Its northern limits are demarcated by the crest of the Siwalik Hills. Largely unpopulated, it is sometimes described as how Chitwan National Park was like twenty years ago, before it was developed for tourists.
- Explore the jungle
How better to get close to nature than walking in the jungle. You can see tiger, elephant and one-horned rhinoceros in Bardia National Park, Nepal’s largest national park. Not so much visited by tourists, you can see the wildlife undisturbed in their natural habitat.
For those who prefer to take the easy way, you can visit the national park by jeep. This takes you further into the jungle and you see the different landscapes in the park. You stop at watchtowers, visit wildlife drinking spots and wait on riverbanks to look out for animals coming to drink.
You can see a wide variety of birds of all colors wherever you go here. The best months for bird watching are September, November, February and April.
- Explore the Karnali River
The beautiful Karnali River is calm as it flows through Bardia. Rafting gives you a great opportunity to see the park from the river. You see birds and animals on the riverbanks as you slowly float down the river. If you are lucky you might see the rare Gangetic river dolphin.
Take a jeep or bicycle and explore the area around the Karnali River. You can visit Rajapur where there is a water tower with hundreds of bats. Starting at Chisapani Bridge, seen as the gateway to Far Western Nepal, the landscape northward is varied with river gorges, beautiful white beaches, rice and wheatfields, forests and remote mountain villages with houses made of wood and clay. Not yet discovered by tourists, you will experience the authentic and unspoiled Nepal where time has stood still.
For those who want to try their hand angling, there are many good spots to go fishing on the Karnali, Babai and Bheri rivers. The best seasons for fishing are from October to November and February to May.
- Visit the Elephant Breeding Center
The domestic elephants here are mainly used for patrolling in the park and the Center is ideally visited in the late afternoon when the elephants return from grazing in the national park. The mothers and calves are occasionally visited by free-ranging wild males. If this happens, be careful to stay well away from the male!
- Crocodile Breeding Center and Tharu museum
Both situated in the park headquarters, you can visit the small breeding center for Marsh mugger and the unusual looking Gharial crocodiles, and turtles.
There is a small visitor center and the Tharu Museum with an interesting exhibition about the traditions and lifestyle of the local Tharu people.
- Khairapur Blackbuck Conservation Area
Said to be the northernmost surviving herd of blackbucks in the world, this endangered deers have been protected near to Gulariya, Bardia’s district headquarters since 2009. You can see the large population of these deer here. Just nine blackbuck were first recorded in this area in 1975. To ensure the survival of this population, in 2009 the Government of Nepal declared an area of 172 hectares as the Krishnasar Conservation Area. Since then, conservation efforts have helped the blackbuck population to increase to 293. This only surviving wild population is still at great risk due to habitat fragmentation, disease from livestock as their habitat area is interspersed with human settlements and farmland, and inbreeding as this isolated population grew from only a few individuals.
- Village walk
Bardia’s countryside outside the national park is very attractive and going on a village walk gives you an introduction to the way of life of the indigenous Danguara Tharu people. The Tharu people here have their own language and traditions that are different to their Tharu cousins in Chitwan. You see the villagers as they go about their daily lives. Growing rice and other produce, you see how the farming methods here are still largely manual and unchanged over the centuries.
- Community Homestay
Stay a night in one of the Community Homestays in the small village of Dalla and spend time with a Tharu family. The homes are mud and wood houses, traditionally built and you can get a glimpse of the way of life that has gone largely unchanged over time. You can enjoy a typical Tharu lunch at a local home and go for a jungle walk in the community forest where you have a good chance to spot rhinos and birds. As a part of the Community Homestay project, you can stay in a treehouse in the community forest with a forest ranger and local guide from where you can spot rhinos and many species of birds.
- Cook like a local
Learn how to cook Nepalese dal bhat, Nepal’s favourite dish. This staple meal is composed of dal (lentil soup), bhat (boiled rice) and tarkari (curried vegetables), accompanied by achar (pickle). Learn how to make dal bhat with a local village woman.
Take a walk in the Babai Valley in the north eastern part of Bardia National Park. Here the landscape is a mix of grassland, riverine forest and sal forest and you have many opportunities to see groups of elephants, crocodiles, great hornbills, sambar deer and otters and of course, tigers. As you follow the river, it is not a difficult hike.
For something a little more strenuous, trek in the remote Churiya Hill range (also called Siwalik Hills) north of Bardia National Park. To go up Telpani Hill, your trail starts in Chisapani. Climbing to Sukarmala (1500m) you have a good view over Bardia National Park, the Karnali River and the Surkhet valley.
- Visit Tikapur
In this attractive little town you can visit the former summer palace of King Mahendra and its beautiful ‘Tikapur Garden’. The natural and beautiful environment of the garden was said to have had a positive effect on the king’s health so the place became known as ‘King Mahendra‘s retreat.’
Tikapur also offers a unique culinary highlight with its famous “Banana Restaurant”. Here a variety of food products made from banana: momos (steamed dumplings), chips, ice-cream and wine are served. Not only are the fruits of the banana tree used but visitors can also buy all kinds of handicrafts created from parts of the banana stem. Nothing from the tree goes to waste!