Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bardia National Park – A Must Do in Nepal by guest writer James Sinclair, New Zealand

A mother and baby rhino crossed so close!

There are so many ‘must do’ things in Nepal, but one that is often over looked is a visit to one of Nepal’s beautiful National Parks to do a safari. Most people head south of Kathmandu to visit Chitwan, but I decided to spend a little more time and effort to get over to the west of Nepal and visit Bardia National Park and I was so pleased I did.

Bardia is located almost 400 KM from Kathmandu and to make it there in a day is possible but probably not advised. There are so many beautiful places along the way it would be silly to just bypass these and sit in a bus for the whole day.

I cut my journey in half with a visit to Lumbini which is Buddha’s birth place. It’s a rustic little town which becomes full of Buddhist worshipers and intrigued tourists alike. It’s not the most mind blowing of sites if you’re not Buddhist but certainly worth a stop off for a night to brake up the journey.

To get to Bardia from Lumbini you’ll need to catch one of the many early morning buses to Butwal which should take about 2-3 hours. From the main bus station in Butwal it’s also very easy to find a local bus to take you the 8-10 hour journey along the Mahendra highway to Ambassa, which is the nearest stop to the National Park. From here you’ll need to get a lift down to the park entrance where you’ll find most of the accommodation. It’s definitely best to plan ahead and contact a hotel as most of them will pick you up for free and take you the 20 kms to the park.

There is such a variety of places to stay around the park ranging from $250 a night to $5. I stayed in an amazing place called Bardia Kingfisher Resort which was by far the cheapest and Jack, who has been running the resort for about three years now, was an amazing host. His mantra is ‘Guest is God’ and he really doesn’t let you forget this! Jack was born in the park and has been guiding since he was ten years old, he even spent some time living in the park with the animals! The resort has traditionally built cottages with bathrooms attached and they have a fantastic kitchen, where I had some of the best food in Nepal.

Jack offered me a really good deal to enter the park the next day on a ‘foot’ safari with him. Due to his amount of experience and genuine love for animals and nature, I knew he’d be the best guide, and that I could trust him to look after me as we entered the park. We had only our trusty bamboo sticks for protection. From the moment we set off he was filling me with knowledge about the fauna and flora and spotting birds and animals in the undergrowth that took me ages to see.
Reference: Bardia Kingfisher Resort, At Bardia National Park, Thakurdwara-6, +977 084-402059, +977 980 457-0190, Pravin/Jack, +977 9848 020002. Email:

There are so many animals in the park from tigers to elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, deer and hundreds of bird species. Obviously it is nature and you’re never guaranteed to see animals, but within a few hours we sat by a tree watching a wild rhino with her baby crossing a stream right in front of us. It was the most amazing experience for me, just to watch nature happening in front of my eyes. 

We then continued through the park, walking through six foot high grasses into dense jungle and along open river beds. There were monkeys swinging in the trees above our head, deer running in packs through the undergrowth and God knows what else hiding around the next corner! At our next spot we heard some distress calls from some monkeys which Jack knew instantly as a ‘tiger’ call. We got ourselves up into a nearby tree for a better view and to help us feel slightly safer and settled in for an hour. We didn’t actually see the tiger but it was definitely nearby. I was here in October, just after the monsoons, so the vegetation was really high, which didn’t help for seeing wildlife, but if you were to come in March you would definitely see all the different animals in the park.

We continued our stroll around the park, once the tiger threat had gone, and saw more monkeys, deer and birds. It was so beautiful just to be in nature as the sun was setting behind us. For the whole day we only saw one other tourist group, and when we did we just continued a little bit further down the river and were on our own once again.

The next day I spent some time strolling around the villages that surround the park. Life is so quiet and simple out there. At no point did anyone ask me for anything or try to get something from me. The children would run up to you smiling and shouting, the adults would acknowledge us with a genuine ‘Namaste’ and everywhere we walked there were cows, pigs, chickens, dogs and goats.

In summary Bardia is a piece of heaven, tucked away in western Nepal, which very few tourists make the effort to get out to. Those that do are rewarded with peace, tranquility and a genuine experience.

This is actually a great place to go if you bring children with you to Nepal. You could take an elephant or jeep safari, or take them on a rafting trip. There didn’t seem to be much ‘white water’ so it’s a great, casual float more than an adventure. The kids and even grandma will love it!

A note from Amanda: The Nepali government sprays for malaria where needed. Since everyone feels ill from the medication I recommend avoiding the medication. Check out my book at or just check out the website for a lot of suggestions on having a great time here in Nepal. 

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