Rhino spotting in Chitwan National Park, Nepal
As you wander through the forests of Chitwan National Park with your guide, they’ll suddenly stop and motion to you to do the same. As they begin walking forward softly, with increased purpose, you’ll follow as quickly and quietly as you can, until they halt again and gesture for you to look ahead. There, at breathtakingly close range, you’ll see why: the distinctive bulk of a greater one-horned rhino moving confidently between the trees.
What to expect on a rhino-spotting expedition...
With a single, curved horn standing proud from its unmistakable profile, and thick folds of toughened skin armouring its huge, prehistoric-looking body, the one-horned rhinoceros is both formidable and truly deserving of the description ‘magnificent’.
With individuals sometimes reaching a whopping 6,000 lb in weight, and up to 6.5 ft tall, they are the largest of all rhino species; only elephants beat them in size on the land mammal charts. Endemic to the Indian subcontinent, the Rhinoceros unicornis (to give its full, and mythically evocative, scientific name) has, like many species, fallen victim to hunting, poaching, and loss of habitat over the years, and their numbers dwindled to a state of near extinction. However, thanks to determined conservation efforts, their numbers have now risen and they have recovered to a small but growing population which is fiercely protected.
Around 645 of the world’s Rhinoceros unicornis population live in the tropical and subtropical forests and grasslands of south-central Nepal, many within Chitwan National Park. They share this beautiful, protected landscape with over 700 species, including leopards, sloth bears, Spotted Eagles, and Bengal tigers.
A trip into the heart of the park, to find the solitary rhinos as they roam, often rewards with multiple sightings. Though historically these viewing safaris have been on elephant back, advances in elephant welfare mean that a growing number of operators have moved to more conservation-aware alternatives, and we support this policy by offering walking and jeep safaris instead.
Travelling via jeep, you may spot deer grazing in the grass, and monkeys congregating on the treeline, before being rewarded with panoramic sightings of the one-horned rhinos. Exploring on foot is perhaps more challenging, but highly rewarding too. Step in the tracks of rhino and tigers, learning about their movements through the landscape, with your experienced ranger pointing out evidence that they have passed through.
Moving as silently as possible, your senses become keen to the movements in the landscape, and before long you’ll be within heart-racing distance of these remarkable animals in their natural habitat.
Location: Terai Lowlands, south-central Nepal
Duration: 1-3 days
Accommodation: Your choice of accommodation near Chitwan National Park
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'We love many things about Tiger Tops Lodge, however the stand-out for me is the opportunity to track rhino on foot, walking behind one of the lodges elephants and forgoing the jeep option. Its a wonderful feeling to feel utterly protected by these wonderful mammals. '
The walking part of the safari requires a good level of physical fitness, so please consider any specific health or physical requirements which may affect this when booking.