Kathmandu. Chitwan National Park, the third most popular tourist destination in the country, has suspended tourism activities from June 30 onwards. Due to monsoon season, the park has temporarily closed its regular programs within the park premises. Last year, the park was also closed but with a delay of 15 days. Ganesh Prasad Tiwari, the information officer of the park, mentioned that the decision to restrict park entry for tourists during this year’s monsoon season was also delayed.
“We are closing the park for 15 days this time due to the delayed monsoon,” he said. The park will only reopen after the Dashain festival.
Along with the closure of the park for tourists, jungle safari activities within the park are also halted. The increase in the rivers within the park during the monsoon season, difficulties in transportation, obstruction of roads due to fallen trees, and the impact on tourists are the reasons why the park administration imposes an entry ban on the park every year during the monsoon season.
“We restrict park entry during the monsoon season to prioritize the safety of tourists,” he said. Currently, jeep safaris are more popular within the park. Gunaraj Thapaliya, the secretary of the Regional Hotel Association in Sauraha, mentioned that when elephant safaris take place in the middle forest area outside the park, it affects the service provided in Sauraha.
“Although activities within the park are restricted, jungle activities are not stopped in the forest areas outside the park,” he added.
Suman Ghimire, the former president of the association, stated that the park itself releases information and does not close it. “When we release information and close the park, it sends the wrong message that all tourism activities are halted. It is better not to issue such information,” he said. Ghimire argues that if jeep entry into the park is not allowed during the monsoon season, it should also apply to jeep safaris.
Chitwan National Park is home to 64 species of mammals, 145 species of birds, 59 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 120 species of fish, as reported by various studies.
Similarly, there are more than 50 species of grass, 16 species of orchids, 73 species of ferns, and over 100 types of vegetation in the park. According to the park, in the fiscal year 2079/80 (2022/2023), a total of 288,359 people visited the park during the current fiscal year until the month of Jestha (11 months). In the previous year 2078/79 (2021/2022), 190,458 people visited the park.