• Responsible Tourism
  • 17 April, 2023

Bardia: A Sustainable Tourism Destination for Wildlife and Community Experience

Bardia: A Sustainable Tourism Destination for Wildlife and Community Experience

Bardia is a district located in the western Terai region of Nepal and is known for its rich biodiversity and cultural diversity. The district is home to a number of protected areas which include Bardia National Park and many surrounding community forests home to a variety of wildlife such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, Asian Elephant, Gharial crocodiles, one-horned rhino, and many species of birds. The local community has put effort into developing sustainable tourism in the area, and the impact has been positive for both the environment and the local people.

Tharu Cultural Dance Bardia
Traditional Tharu Cultural Dance of Bardia

Community-Based Tourism and Local Empowerment:

The impact of community-based tourism in Bardia has been significant, particularly in terms of local empowerment. The development of the Bardia Community Homestay program has provided an avenue for the Tharu communities to showcase their rich culture and traditions to visitors while generating income for their families. This has empowered the locals, particularly women and youth, who are now trained to be homestay hosts, prepare meals for guests, and participate in conservation activities such as birdwatching, tree planting, and organic farming.

Jungle Walk at Bardia
A Local Nature Guides Scouting for Wild Animals during Jungle Walk

Moreover, the community-based tourism initiatives have promoted sustainable practices that benefit the local communities and the wildlife in the national park. The locals have realized that wildlife is an important resource that must be protected for future generations. Therefore, they have come up with ways to coexist with wildlife while promoting conservation. The community-based tourism practices have helped to spread awareness among visitors about the importance of conservation and the need to protect the environment.

In addition to providing employment opportunities and promoting sustainable practices, community-based tourism has also helped to preserve the community forests and wildlife in the area. The Tharu communities have a long history of living in harmony with the natural environment, and through community-based tourism, they have been able to share their knowledge and practices with visitors while also promoting conservation.

Women and Youth Involvement in Tourism via Homestay:

The community homestay program has empowered women by providing them with employment opportunities and a means of generating income. The homestay hosts have been trained to prepare traditional meals, giving visitors a chance to indulge in the local cuisine. This has allowed women to use their existing skills and knowledge to earn a livelihood and interact with people from different parts of the world. By staying with a local host family, visitors can learn about the culture and gain exposure to new ideas.

Local Young women cultural group of Bardia Community homestay
Local Young women cultural group of Bardia Community homestay

The involvement of the youth in the homestay program has been equally important. The program has provided them with opportunities to participate in conservation activities such as bird watching, tree planting, and organic farming. This has allowed them to develop an interest in environmental conservation and learn about sustainable practices that can be applied in their lives. They have also been able to gain valuable work experience and develop important skills such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork.

One inspiring example of youth involvement in conservation in Bardia is the Community-Based Anti-Poaching Unit (CBAPU). This group of young people works tirelessly to protect the wildlife and forests in the community. They regularly patrol the community forest to prevent poaching and illegal logging. Additionally, they have been actively involved in raising awareness among the locals about conservation issues.

CBAPU has been successful in its efforts to reduce poaching and illegal activities in the area. As a result, the wildlife population in Bardia has increased significantly in recent years. Their hard work and dedication have earned them the respect and admiration of the entire community.

Through their involvement in CBAPU, the youth in Bardia have gained a sense of pride and ownership in the conservation efforts in their community. They have also developed valuable skills such as teamwork, leadership, and communication. This has not only helped in their conservation efforts but has also provided them with a platform to showcase their talents and potential.

The CBAPU group is an excellent example of how the involvement of youth in community-based tourism initiatives can have a significant impact on conservation efforts. It shows that when given the right opportunities and support, young people can play a vital role in building a sustainable future for their community.

How to get To Bardia?

For travelers planning to visit Bardia National Park in Nepal, there are two main transportation options: by air or by land.

By Air:

The nearest airport to Bardia National Park is Nepalgunj Airport, which is approximately 80 kilometers away. From Kathmandu, there are multiple daily flights available to Nepalgunj Airport. There is also one flight per day from Pokhara. Once you arrive at Nepalgunj Airport, you can either hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Thakurdward Chowk at Bardia, which is approximately 80 kilometers away and takes around 2 hours to reach.

By Land

If you prefer to travel by land, regular bus services are available from Kathmandu and Pokhara to Bardia National Park. The journey takes approximately 12 hours from Kathmandu and 8 hours from Pokhara. Alternatively, you can hire a private vehicle or rent a car to reach Bardia National Park.

Accommodation Options In Bardia:

If you’re planning a visit to Bardia National Park in Nepal, it’s important to choose the right accommodation to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Here are the top 3 accommodation options in Bardia:

Community Homestay:

For travelers seeking an authentic experience, community homestays are an excellent choice. You’ll stay with a local family, who will provide you with home-cooked meals and share their culture and traditions with you. The community homestay program is designed to benefit the local community, so you can feel good about supporting sustainable tourism.

Bardia Community Homestay
A homestay host waiting to welcome guest at Bardia Community Homestay

Resorts and Hotels

Bardia National Park offers a range of resorts and hotels, from budget-friendly options to luxury accommodations. These properties provide a comfortable and convenient base for exploring the park, with amenities such as swimming pools, restaurants, and guided tours. Some popular options include the Rhino Lodge Bardia, Bardia Forest Resort, and the Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge.

Source Bardia Forest Resort

Private Homestay

Another great option for those looking for a more personal touch is a private homestay. You’ll stay with a local family in their home, but with more privacy than a community homestay. Many private homestays offer comfortable rooms and home-cooked meals, as well as the chance to interact with your hosts and learn more about their way of life.

Source Bardia Homestay

Tourism Activities and Experiences In Bardia:

Bardia, a beautiful region in the Terai region of Nepal, is a popular destination for travelers seeking adventure and natural beauty. One of the key features of Bardia is the Bardia National Park, which is a vast protected area that covers an area of over 968 square kilometers. The park is home to a wide range of wildlife, including tigers, elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, and many more. Visitors to Bardia can enjoy a variety of activities within the park, including jungle safaris, birdwatching, and elephant rides.

One of the unique features of tourism in Bardia is the community-based tourism practices that have been developed in the area. The Bardia Community Homestay program is an initiative where locals provide accommodation and meals to visitors in their homes. This program offers a unique and authentic local living experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture and lifestyle.

Another exciting experience for travelers visiting Bardia is a night stay at a Machan (Tree House) in the community forest. This experience allows visitors to sleep in a treehouse, surrounded by nature and the sounds of the forest at night. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful and relaxing night’s sleep, waking up to the beautiful sights and sounds of the forest in the morning.

Tree House Machan at Bardia
Tree House Machan at Bardia

Tharu cultural programs and homestays are also available, offering visitors a chance to experience firsthand the rich culture and traditions of the Tharu people. The Tharu are indigenous people who have lived in the Terai region for centuries, and their cultural practices and way of life are unique and fascinating aspects of Bardia.Overall, Bardia offers visitors a wide range of tourism activities and features, from wildlife safaris to cultural experiences and community-based tourism initiatives. With its stunning natural beauty and unique cultural heritage, Bardia is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the beauty and diversity of Nepal.

tharu Cultural Dance at Bardia
Tharu Cultural Dance At Bardia

What to Expect at Different Seasons:

1) Winter (December-February):

Winter is the driest and coldest season in Bardia. The temperature can drop down to 10°C, making it an excellent time to go on a jungle safari. The vegetation is less dense, making it easier to spot wildlife. You can also enjoy camping, hiking, and bird-watching during this time. However, the cold weather can be challenging, so make sure to pack warm clothes and gear.

2) Spring (March-May):

Spring is the best time to visit Bardia if you are a bird enthusiast. The weather is warm and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 32°C. The park is filled with colorful flowers and trees, making it a perfect time for nature walks and hikes. The wildlife is also active during this time so you can see tigers, rhinos, and elephants in their natural habitats.

3) Monsoon (June-August):

Monsoon season in Bardia brings heavy rainfall, making it difficult to move around the park. However, this is the best time to see the lush green vegetation and abundant waterfalls. You can also witness the unique mating behavior of tigers during this time. The weather can be humid, so be prepared to deal with mosquitos and other insects.

4) Autumn (September-November):

Autumn is the peak tourist season in Bardia. The weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 32°C. The park is teeming with wildlife, making it the best time to go on a jungle safari. You can also experience the local culture and festivals during this time. However, the park can get crowded, so make sure to book your accommodations in advance.

Multi-Day Options around Bardia: 

Option 1: Cultural Immersion and Wildlife

Day 1: Kathmandu to Bhada Community Homestay

Take an early morning flight from Kathmandu to Dhangadi. From there, it’s an approx 1-hour drive to Bhada Community Homestay. Once you arrive, you’ll be welcomed by the local community and shown to your homestay. Spend the rest of the day exploring the village and learning about the local culture.

Day 2: Bhada Community Homestay

Start your day with a traditional Tharu breakfast prepared by your host family. Then, take a guided walk around the village to see the local farming practices and learn about the traditional ways of life. You can also visit the nearby ponds or try your hand at fishing. In the evening, enjoy a cultural dance performance by the locals.

Day 3: Bhada Community Homestay to Bardia National Park

After breakfast, depart from Bhada and make your way to Bardia National Park which is about 3.5 hours of drive via the infamous Karnali Bridge. Check in at your accommodation and take some time to relax. In the afternoon, embark on a guided jungle walk in the park to see wild animals like tigers, rhinoceros, and elephants.

Day 4: Bardia National Park

Today, you have a full day to explore the park. In the morning, go on a jeep safari to see more of the park’s wildlife: the elusive Bengal tiger, gharials, crocodiles, spotted deer, and Asiatic elephants. In the evening, enjoy a quiet night enjoying the stars.

Day 5: Bardia National Park to Kathmandu

After breakfast, depart from Bardia and make your way back to Nepalgunj which is about a 2.5-hour drive and take a flight to Kathmandu.

Option 2: The Bardia Experience:

Day 1: Arrival and Sunset Experience

Upon arrival in Nepalgunj, transfer to Bardia National Park by road which is about a 2-hour drive. Check into your accommodation and take some time to rest. In the evening, enjoy a peaceful sunset experience from the Karnali River beach.

Day 2: Full-Day Jungle Safari

Today, you have a full day to explore the park. In the morning, go on a jeep safari to see wildlife such as tigers, rhinoceros, and elephants. After lunch, take a guided jungle walk to see more animals and learn about the local flora and fauna. In the evening, relax at your accommodation and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Day 3: Tharu Village Visit and Bird Watching

After breakfast, visit a nearby Tharu village to learn about their culture and way of life. In the afternoon, go on a bird-watching excursion in the park to see the many species of birds that call Bardia home.

Day 4: Local Tharu Dish Cooking Class, Sunset View, and Overnight Stay at Machan

In the morning, enjoy breakfast at your accommodation before heading out for a cooking class to learn how to prepare traditional Tharu dishes. After the class, head to a Machan (tree house) for a peaceful sunset view over the park. Spend the night at the Machan for a unique and unforgettable experience.

Day 5: Departure

After breakfast, depart from Bardia National Park and transfer back to Nepalgunj for your onward journey.

In conclusion, Bardia is a prime example of how sustainable tourism practices can positively impact the local community, environment, and culture. By promoting responsible tourism practices, we can ensure that tourism continues to benefit the local community while preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the region.

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