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Guide to elephant safaris in Chitwan National Park Nepal

Elephant safari's are the most popular activity in Chitwan, here's how to get the most out of one!
Updated: February 8th 2016 | Nepal travel guides


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about - arrange - costs - how to ride an elephant - tips
 

About Elephant Safaris in Chitwan


There are only two types of Elephant safaris in Chitwan National Park. Both take place in separate areas on the Sunali side of the park. One is government run the other is run privately.

Government elephant safari's are held near the Chitwan national park ticket office. While private elephant safaris are held on the other side of Sauraha. Do see the map of chitwan national park to see where they are.

Did you know?

The elephants in Chitwan National Park are Indian elephants. Some are still wild. Others are from the Sauraha Elephant Breeding Center and many are privately owned.

The man that rides and looks after the elephant is known as a Mahout.

Up to four people can ride an elephant on the wooden seat on its back. You wrap you legs around the seats corner legs rather than beside it.

No matter which tour you decide you'll need to pay for a Chitwan National Park ticket.


Arranging an elephant safari in Chitwan


Generally speaking the private elephant safari is more popular as it's slightly easier to arrange and slightly cheaper.

Government elephant safari

  • Go to the Chitwan National Park ticket office
  • Choose a time to go out. Morning or late afternoon
  • Purchase a ticket for the National Park and the elephant safari
  • Return well before your scheduled elephant safari
  • The safari is for 1 hour

Private elephant safari

  • Arrange through a tour operator or your guesthouse
  • If you don't have a National Park Ticket be sure to have the agent or guesthouse purchase you one
  • There are usually 3-4 elephant safaris a day. Two in the morning and two in the afternoon
  • There are four people to an elephant
  • The tours are usually 1-1.5 hours
  • You'll either be picked up by the elephant and Mahout. Or driven to the park entrance.

Cost of elephant safaris in Chitwan


You need two tickets. A national park entrance ticket (valid for one day). And you elephant safari ticket (valid for one ride).

Chitwan National Park fee: 1500 rupees for a foreigner. 1000 rupees SAARC. 50 rupees Nepalese + 13% VAT.

Government elephant safari cost: It's 2500 rupees for a foreigner. 1000 rupees SAARC. 200 rupees Nepalese.

Private elephant safari cost: Prices vary from 1850 rupees to 2,000+ rupees. Generally speaking the more expensive you hotel or guesthouse the more they will charge you. The safari is no different!

Total cost: National park entrance fee + either government safari ticket or private ticket.


Wildlife you are likely to see on an elephant safari


There are over 700 types of mammal in Chitwan National Park. Most of it will not be seen on an elephant safari. However you do have a strong chance at seeing the following:

One-horned rhinos, forest deer, peasant, indian cookoo, wild boar, sambar deer,  red muntjac, Indian porcupines and Rhesus monkeys.


How to ride an elephant


How to ride an elephant: To mount an elephant in Chitwan you'll need to climb up onto an elephant docking station. Either up a series of steps or ladder. You then walk onto the seat area and sit down my wrapping you legs around the corner pole of the seat. Four to a seat/elephant.

What to wear: Do wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Some of the jungle is dense and branches will brush up against you.


Tips for an elephant safari


Do keep quiet when riding the elephant to enjoy the jungle surroundings and not frighten the rhinos away!

Keep your possessions tied close to you. Dropping them means saying goodbye to them. You are not allowed off the elephant until you are outside the park.

The jungle can be quite dark. So be prepared for some low light photography!

The best time to see rhino's is early morning or late afternoon. But it depends on the season. Early morning also stands a chance of not knowing where the rhinos are. In late afternoon the mahouts know where they are but the rhinos might go back into the deeper jungle early. There is a game of chance.

If you are doing a jungle trek the next day you can use your Chitwan National Park ticket on the day you buy it for an elephant safari that day. This saves you from having to buy another ticket!


Is riding an elephant ethical in Nepal?


Much, rightfully, has been made about elephant tourism in places like Thailand. Do keep in mind Nepal is not Thailand and elephants have a very different role to play in Nepal.

Do read my article on ethical elephant tourisim in Nepal for more.

Meanwhile if you plan on visiting Chitwan it's important to read this guide on buying Chitwan National Park tickets ...


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Large elephant safari in Chitwan

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