Bardia National Park, The 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.
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.
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.
Where is Bardia? Bardia is situated near the southern border of the far north west corner of Nepal. Some 968 sq kms make it the largest wilderness reserve on the Terai lowlands that form a transition between the plains of northern India and the outer foothills of the Himalayas. With the Himalayas to the north and twisting turns of the Karnali river and its tributaries to the west and south, the location of the park provides a huge protected area of diverse habitats for a multitude of endangered species.
Following years of unsettlement within the Nepal that left the park out on a limb, Bardia is now much more accessible again and many believe the park is now set to become one of the premier eco-tourism destinations in Asia.
Getting to Bardia National Park: From Kathmandu: Daily buses run from Kathmandu to Mahendrenagar (alight at Ambassa). The bus takes around 15 hours and is a beautiful though long journey as you pass through mountains and forests and then through the mainly flat and rural Terai. Tickets cost from 2100 Nepalese Rupees (approx. US$25). Night buses also operate. There are also daily flights to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu for around 11,400 NR (approx. US$158) which make the journey much shorter and easier.
From Nepalgunj: Two buses per day go to Thakudwara at 11am and 2.30pm, taking 3-4 hours and costing around 100 NR. We can also pick you up from Nepalgunj airport and transfer you directly to the lodge (approx. 3 hours).
From Mahendranagar: Daily buses run from Mahendrenagar to Kathmandu (alight at Ambassa), the bus takes around 4-5 hours, costing around 200 NR.
From India: You can travel to Bardia from India by coming via Banbassa-Mahendranagar or Rupidha-Nepalgunj border crossing points.
*Ambassa: The actual park entrance is situated close to the small village of Thakurdawa, 14km southwest along a dirt/gravel road from Ambassa on the Mahendra Highway. A handful of buses run each day from Ambassa to Thakurdwara for around 30 NR. The journey takes around 30 minutes. We can also pick you up from the junction. Bardia is well placed for transport links, both to and from Kathamndu or India. We can assist with all your travel arrangements if you are travelling independently to Bardia. Please contact us for further information.
Wildlife in the Park:
The variety and diversity of life inside the park is huge, with at least 150 species of reptiles and fish, over 400 species of birds and 48 different mammals having been recorded.
Endangered animals include:
Rhinoceros, wild elephant, Royal Bengal tiger, swamp deer, black buck, gharial crocodile, marsh mugger crocodiles and Gangetic dolphins.
Endangered birds include:
Bengal florican, lesser florican, silver eared mesia, Sarus crane. Bardia is also home to one of the last known herds of wild elephants in Nepal.
As with the rest of Nepal the park’s climate is affected by the summer monsoon. The best times to visit are between October and early April when weather is warm and dry. From April onwards the temperatures rise, peaking at around 45 C in May and pre-monsoon thunderstorms continue until late September. During this time most roads and rivers become impassable.
The Babai valley extending from Parewaodar to Chepang (bridge) was included in the park in 1984. The pristine valley is characterized by rich biodiversity. The major vegetation and forest type are wooded grassland and the riverine forest. The translocated rhinoceros from Chitwan were reintroduced in this valley. The luxurious forests in the east of the park also provide a good habitat and corridor for several wildlife species.The Karnali rive r is home to the endangered Gharial crocodile and Marsh mugger. The blue waters also provide habitat for the endangered Gangetic dolphin. Large Mahasheer, a game fish, is considered an excellent catch. The fast flowing waters also provide excellent rafting expeditions that can stop in the park. Riverine forests dot the shores of the river creating prime habitat for birds such as Herons, Egrets, Black- necked stork, and Little pratincole. A stroll through the local villages will be a rewarding experience. The Tharu ethnic group is native to this area. Traditionally they are subsistence farmers and practice their own tribal religion. Handicrafts made by the community members could be bought as souvenirs.
Entrance fees for Bardia National Park:
For Nepali Nationals Rs 20
For SAARC Nationals Rs 500
For Foreign Nationals Rs 1000
Children under 10 years Free
Be sure to keep your permit as it might be checked later by park guards.
Available tour program for Bardia National Park:
Bardia National Park Tours – 3 Nights / 4 Days