Set in mid-western Nepal, about 8 hours drive from Chitwan or a short flight fromKathmandu, Bardia is the largest wilderness area in the Nepalese Terai. 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 park was established to protect the tiger, and the region is more densely forested than Chitwan. A population of over 100 rhinos has been reestablished within the park, and this is one of the best places in Asia for seeing herds of wild elephants. The area is rich in other animal and birdlife, including deer, leopards and monkeys.
The Karnali River forms one edge of the park, and a rafting trip on the Karnali is a great way to see the rich birdlife and waterlife of the region, as well as the undisturbed Tharu villages on one side of the river. The endangered Gangetic River Dolphin can often be seen in the river, and the rare Gharial can be seen alongside its cousin, the more common Marsh Mugger Crocodile.
There is only one lodge on the edge of the park, with a tented camp inside the park which provides excellent service, and offers safaris by jeep, elephant, inflatable raft and on foot, as well as village visits.
Because of its isolation, Bardia did suffer from poaching during the worst years of the insurgency despite the best efforts of the local people to protect the ecology. 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.