Covering an area of 968 sq kms, Bardia is the largest of the Terai's national parks. It also emerges favourably from the inevitable comparisons with Chitwan, with a consistent bardiamajority of those who have visited both expressing a preference for Bardia.
Bardia has more than 30 species of mammal, over 400 species of bird and several reptiles. Since its designation as a national park, conservation efforts have succeeded in raising the numbers of several threatened and endangered species. Several of the larger mammals and birds are migratory, with individuals and groups trekking between Bardia, Sukla Patna and Corbett National Park in India. It is said to be the best place in South Asia for tiger sightings. Bardia combines dense sal forest, riverine forest and isolated pockets of open grassland, or phanta.
Best Time to visit: November-April are the best months. After periods of heavy monsoon rainfall (june-september) it may be possible to ford some of the streams / rivers on the road between Ambasa and Thakurdwara. Most lodges remain closed during these months. Leeches are present in numbers and the Khaura river, between the park entrance and the main area of the park, is also often too high to cross, further restricting visits.
The park is bordered to the west by the Geruwa River, a major tributary of the Karnali, and extends into the forested slopes of the Churia Hills to the north and east. The Mahendra Highway joins the boundary from the south, passing through the park's 'buffer zone' before veering north to cross the Karnali Bridge at Chisapani. The Babai river runs an east-west course through the park.
Designated a national park in the 1980s following the extension of the Karnali Wildlife Reserve, Bardia has been slow to attract tourism on the scale of chitwan, due largely to its distance from Kathmandu. Since the 1980s, however, a few lodges have been established in Thakurdwara, the small village near the park entrance. Thakurdwara, the small village near the park entrance. Thakurdwara has no electricity, a situation considered by some as crucial in maintaining a pleasing sense of proportion and avoiding the profligate commercialism embraced by numerous Chitwan operators. Activities include 'jungle walks', elephant rides and rafting. Most of the lodges are run by locals or by those with some years' experience of the area.