The Bardia National Park is situated in the far west of Nepal. It is a world away from the chaotic hustle of Kathmandu and an area of extraordinary beauty and abundant wildlife. A visit to Bardia is a journey of adventure and an opportunity to reconnect with nature.
It is not as well known as Chitwan and receives fewer visitors so the area around here is much less developed but the park is home to an excellent lodge and great wildlife.
The Royal Bardia National Park was initially a Royal hunting reserve. It was only in 1988 that is was granted a status of National Park in order to preserve the dwindling species of rare ecosystems including flora and fauna and particularly the tiger and that its other prey species.
This park is the largest and most undisturbed wilderness area in the terai (a Nepali word for forest, marshy land, grasslands), providing excellent habitat for most of the endangered species of wildlife and birds.
In terms of climatic conditions, the Bardia National Park is best visited between October and April. This is when weather conditions are at their most comfortable and when the maximum number of different species can be enjoyed by onlookers. A great feature of Bardia is the variety of option available to go on safaris; by jeep, inflatable raft and on foot.
The vegetation in the park arrays from the early succession stage - tall floodplains grassland established on the alluvial floodplain of Karnali, Orai and Babai river systems, to the climax stage - sal forest extended on relatively dry flat lands and slopes of the park are regenerated and are subjugated by grass species.
About 70% of the park is covered with forest, with the stability and combination of grassland, savannah and riverine forest. The buffer zone surrounding the park is managed jointly with local communities including the native ethnic Tharu who practice subsistence agriculture and produce handicrafts for visitors to supplement their income.
The park is home to endangered animals such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, Wild Elephant, Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros, Swamp Deer and Black Buck.
Endangered birds found in the park are Bengal Florican, Lesser Florican and Sarus Crane.
The Karnali River is home to the endangered Gharial Crocodile and Marsh Mugger as well as the Gangetic Dolphin and the best way to try and spot these are from an inflatable raft.
It is also one of the few parks where one can see six different species of deer namely Spotted Deer, Hog Deer, Sambhar, Swamp Deer, Barasingha and Barking Deer all cheerfully hopping around the high grasslands.
Although a healthy population of wildlife has reestablished itself in recent years, many of the larger animals are still more wary around humans than in other National Parks and sightings of larger mammals may be fleeting but the beautiful location does make this a very rewarding place to visit.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
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