The big attraction at Chitwan National Park is undoubtedly the Bengal Tiger. Chitwan boasts a population of approximately 120 tigers, and this is increasing. Will you see one? Maybe, just maybe. A National Park like Chitwan is not a "theme park". So, spotting a tiger should always be considered fortunate. Chitwan is first and foremost a conservation area for wildlife, and indeed, the authorities now impose a curfew so that all tourists must exit the park before dusk and have now banned all accommodation within the national park itself. Tigers are, by and large, nocturnal. So, this, along with a tiger's natural camouflage in the dense jungles of Chitwan, does mean that tiger sightings are a rarity. But you never know—they are there! One thing you can be sure of if you visit Chitwan is that your experienced wildlife guide will be 'watching like a hawk' for tigers (a sighting is special for them too!) and will spot anything in Chitwan long before you do. They are that good!
To do justice to Chitwan, a couple of days here are desirable. During those two days, the sequence of jungle and wildlife-related activities will vary, but generally speaking, they will include...
Jeep safari's will take you deep into the jungle, and your 'eagle-eyed' guide will ensure you stop to see whatever it is they have spotted. But don't be surprised to find yourself approaching a rhino on foot.
A river cruise in a dugout-type canoe is a great way to see various birds, and as you're very likely to see mugger crocodiles on the river, you'll realise it's not a good idea to dip your hand in the river.
Whether wildlife is your principle reason for a Nepal holiday or not, a visit to Chitwan and the Terai region is highly recommended. It is a very different experience from other parts of Nepal you're likely visiting, and it most certainly helps put everything in context. We would particularly recommend a safari as part of a Nepal family holiday. Not only is it interesting, but it's great fun too.
There are at least 43 species of mammals in Chitwan, over 540 species of birds, around 25 reptile species, and who knows how many species of butterflies and other insects there are.
That's way too many for us to list here! But we would say that your chances of seeing the likes of rhinos, deer, and crocodiles in particular are high. Other animals you might hope to see include leopards, sloth bears, rhesus monkeys, striped hyenas, gharials, and lots of birds.
The main season for Chitwan is October–April, i.e., outside the monsoon season. Post-monsoon (October–December), the grasslands refreshed by the monsoon rains are quite high, which can diminish wildlife spotting potential.