Best time to visit Chitwan National Park

Chitwan rolls to a three season rhythm – summer, monsoon and winter – with the rainy months of June, July and August flooding rivers and wrecking roads.
Most trips to Chitwan National Park run from late September to May, to avoid the monsoon rains that fall between mid June and mid September – 80 percent of Nepal’s rain falls in this period. October to early March is the best time to visit Chitwan for pleasant 25°C temperatures, but if you can stand the heat, come in April and May, the end of the dry season when wildlife gathers at waterholes – expect meltingly hot temperatures in the mid 40°Cs. January is the coldest month, skimming freezing at night. There’s high humidity from late November until the monsoon, but November, December and January offer good visibility and clear views of the Himalayas. At other times, haze and pollution from traffic, industry, brick kilns and waste burning can obscure the view.

Chitwan National Park Weather Chart

RAIN (mm)

Things to do in Chitwan National Park…

Bring the children. Tailor made family holidays introduce children of all ages to the wonders of Nepal, with Chitwan a wild and wonderful highlight where they can ride a canoe deep into the jungle, spot exotic birds, and take a jeep safari on the lookout for tigers, rhino and mischievous monkeys. An experienced and local naturalist guide will keep little ones excited and engaged.

Take a birdwatching safari. These are often an optional extra while in Chitwan, but you don’t have to be a 24/7 twitcher to enjoy them – Chitwan’s birds, in all their feathery diversity, win over anyone. By the river, look out for storks, kingfishers and fish eagles and in the grasslands and forest spot parakeets, woodpeckers and beautiful peacocks or, more accurately, peafowl (only the males are peacocks fyi). From September to November and February to April migratory birds fly in, adding to the avian abundance.

Walk. Chitwan is one of the only places in the world where you can see tigers while on foot (that’s you on foot, not just the tigers). It might seem dangerous to take a walking safari in tiger territory, but they are a safe and immersive way to see wildlife, with no rattling jeep engine and only footprints left behind. Two guides accompany each group, one in front and one behind, armed with stout sticks. As they’re local and know the park intimately, they are expert at finding wildlife.

Things not  to do in Chitwan National Park …

Don’t go on an elephant safari. While there’s no question that these rides provide useful conservation revenue for the park, at Responsible Travel we do not promote riding elephants anywhere. Today, the wild capture of elephants presents one of the biggest threats to remaining populations of endangered Asian elephants. In addition, elephants have to be broken in, a horrific process which involves ‘crushing their spirit’, using bullhooks and chaining them up. Jeep safaris, walking safaris, boat and canoe trips are more ethical ways to enjoy Chitwan.

Don’t come purely for the tigers. Sightings are pretty infrequent in Chitwan National Park as, despite their fearsome reputation, tigers prefer to hide in the long grass than parade around in plain sight, so it’s not easy to see them. If you’re really determined to spot one, join a dedicated wildlife watching holiday that explores Chitwan for a week or more – the more time you spend, the greater your chance of a sighting.
Nepal isn’t short of highlights, so don’t limit your time here to Chitwan – make your air miles matter, stay longer and see more. Most tailor made and small group Nepal holidays that take in Chitwan include exploring the capital Kathmandu, travelling to Pokhara in the foothills of the Annapurnas for some trekking and Himalaya gazing, with perhaps a visit to the ancient city of Bhaktapur, too.

Our top trip

Nepal tiger safari holiday

Nepal tiger safari holiday

Track tigers on foot and in jeeps in Nepal's best parks

From £1630 11 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made between late November to early May to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Chitwan or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Responsible tourism in Chitwan

Come to Chitwan and you’ll see tourists riding elephants into the park on safari. It may look fun – authentic even – but riding elephants comes at a huge price. Elephants are not domesticated animals, like cats or dogs. In order to be ridden, they must first be trained, a horrifying process that involves breaking the animal’s spirit, chaining it up for hours and using a bullhook. In addition, young elephants are taken from the wild to be put to work, further endangering the already at-risk populations of wild Asian elephants that remain. Obviously, some of the tourism revenue generated by offering elephants safaris is pumped back into the conservation work that Chitwan National Park does, but at Responsible Travel, we have decided that, on balance, we can no longer promote or support elephant riding of any kind, including elephant safaris. You can read more about our stance in our elephant conservation guide.

Rest assured that elephant safaris are not the only way to support the conservation work of Chitwan National Park. Your park entry fees also contribute to it, while jeep and walking safaris provide a career and livelihood for the local guides that accompany you. In addition, shopping and eating in buffer zone villages or attending a Tharu dance performance will spread money into the wider community, and ensure their ongoing backing of the national park. Local people who live on the edges of a national park such as Chitwan are often its eyes and ears, aware of poaching activity and able to report it – provided they feel and understand the benefit of the park’s existence.

Chitwan National Park travel advice

Martin Royle, from wildlife holidays specialist, Royle Safaris, has this advice on visiting Chitwan National Park:

Are walking safaris safe?

“The risk from tigers is extremely low. The risk from rhinos is far higher, but even that is negated by the fantastic experience and expertise of the local guides we hire. Tigers pose no real threat in the park; they do everything they can to avoid ever coming into contact with people. The biggest safety aspect when walking in the park is that the local guides are very well trained and are experienced in coming into close contact with the dangerous animals in the park. They give a safety briefing to all clients before entering the park and in general stick to paths and roads which give a good overview for sighting potentially dangerous wildlife in the distance. Large and heavy sticks are also carried, which are remarkably affective against rhinos and bears (which are the two potentially most dangerous animals in the park). We also send at least two guides with all of our clients, so one at the front and one at the back for extra safety.”

Best time to visit Chitwan

“I love to visit in the dry season (April-May), when the weather is hot and dry and animals become a little more predictable in their habits, congregating around dwindling waterholes, but other seasons offer good things, too.”

Chances of seeing a tiger

“We achieve a sighting on around three quarters of our trips as we include many full day jeep safaris and go deep into the park. On the generic tours and without the full day jeep safaris the chances are far lower. To have a proper chance of seeing everything you need many days, to be honest.”

Tips from our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Chitwan National Park travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
It was very cold and humid in the morning and evening. Take warm clothes.
– Laure Bollini
“The walking safari was exhilarating. Just to be in and amongst the wildlife was brilliant. But the whole trip was fantastic from start to finish. Be prepared for long days bouncing around in a jeep. Its harder work than you think.” – Dawn Howarth

“The pollution and smoke haze in April is unfortunately quite thick and spoils the views of beautiful landscapes. The Haze wasn't just in Kathmandu Valley but also in the hills and in Chitwan. Most locals suggest year end (Nov, Dec, Jan) is a clearer time to be in Nepal.” – Angela Ryan
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: natalia_maroz] [When to go: WomEOS] [Jeep safari: WeRoad] [Responsible tourism: Devaiah Mallangada Kalaiah] [Walking safari: Jonny] [Morning: safal karki]