Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is a protected area in the Terai of eastern Nepal. The wildlife reserve covers 175 sq km of wetlands in the Sunsari, Saptari and Udayapur Districts. It comprises extensive mudflats, reed beds and freshwater marshes in the floodplain of the Sapta Kosi River. It ranges in altitude from 75 to 81 m. It was established in 1976 to preserve habitat for the only remaining population of wild buffalo and designated as a Ramsar site in 1987. Government of Nepal has declared the buffer zone surrounding the reserve in 2004. The wildlife reserve can be accessed from the Mahendra Highway. According to a study of the reserve which was conducted between 1997 and 1998 by the Central Department of Zoology, Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, there were serious conflicts between the reserve wildlife and the local people living adjacent to the reserve. The people suffered crop depredations and animal harassment while the reserve managers had the problems of illegal poaching, cattle grazing and other illegal activities. The study made several recommendations such as promoting the area for tourism with the reserve using local tourist guides trained by wildlife experts. The largest river in Nepal, Sapta Koshi River, flows through the reserve. The vegetation of the reserve is dominated by Reverie and Sal forests and grasslands. Due to the combination of vegetation and wetland, the reserve proves to be a special site for birds and animals. The main mammals at the reserve are the Wild Buffalo, Blue Bull and Gangetic Dolphin. There are around 300 species of birds have been recorded in this reserve. The globally threatened Swamp Partridge can be also seen here. The Sapta Koshi is one of the three main tributaries of the Ganges-Rapid and intense flooding of the reserve occurs during the rainy season. There have been constructions of embankments parallel to the river to control the flooding. In terms of climate, the reserve experiences three distinct seasons. Firstly, summer which is from February through May, is intensely hot with minimum precipitation. The monsoon starts in late May/early June and it lasts until September bringing heavy frequent rainfalls. July is when the rainfall is greatest but there is usually high humidity and temperatures throughout the season. During winter which is from October through January, there are clear skies and the temperature is moderate. During winter, many of the migratory birds can be seen on the Koshi Barrage and on the river channel. The best time to visit the wildlife reserve is between October and March. In these months, many migratory and local birds can be seen. The wildlife reserve can be reached easily by different transportation options. There are daily buses available from Kathmandu to Kakarbhitta and Biratganar. Visitors should get off the bus at Jamuha, 4 km from Laukhi and walk 2.5 km to the Reserve Headquarters. There are also daily flights to Biratganar.

Top Things to Do

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve offers many activities. The first option is birdwatching.  Every lodge has a resident ornighologist who leads bird-spotting walks around the park. The prime birdwatching times are early morning and late afternoon. Some of the lodges also have bird hides that can be a good spot to see different species. Secondly, there are river trips to explore the park on the river via a canoe or a wooden boat. It is a great way to see larger wildlife. This cannot be recommended for birdwatching. Next, many lodges offer morning or late afternoon jeep safaris as part of their package. It is not possible to see a huge amount of wildlife; however it is a good way of getting a feel for the park and its habitat. Jeep safaris are normally combined with a birdwatching walk. Next, elephant safaris are a popular way to explore the habitat of the elephants and wildlife. Next, rafting down the Koshi River is another way of exploring the reserve. It is possible to view water birds, kingfishers, marsh muggers of Ghariyal crocodiles. Even rare Wild Buffaloe and Gangetic River Dolphins can be spotted. Lastly, viewing life in the reserve on foot is quite interesting. Tharus are the early inhabitants of the region and they have their unique way of living. It is untouched by the western world. The village is plastic free and it is one of the few environmentally aware and clean villages in the country.

Where to Stay

Aquabirds Unlimited Wildlife Camp

Aqua Birds Unlimited Camp is the first Eco-lodge in Nepal approved by Green Globe Organization. The property offers free Wi-Fi and a garden. It is set in Kanchanpur. Free private parking is available on site.  All units are air conditioned and feature a seating area. Towels and bed linens are available. Guests can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant or a drink at the bar. The property also offers packed lunches. Bike hire is available at the property. Address: West Kusaha – 4, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Kanchanpur, Nepal.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Resort and Camp

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Resort and Camp is the very first luxury camp established in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. The camp itself is a place where the rare and exotic birds can be seen easily. The camp is staffed with local naturalists and bird specialists. It consists of 12 large deluxe safari tents with easy twin beds and simple modern toilet amenities including hot and cold shower. The restaurant with fully stocked bar is located centrally on the thatched house.

Koshi Camp

The camp is centrally located at the reserve’s eastern edge which is a known site for birds and wildlife. It is easily accessed from the east-west highway which is only 6 km away. The reserve headquarters is also a similar distance from the camp. Koshi Camp is furnished with 11 large natural-color luxury safari tents with a spacious dining and a bar. At one time, the camp can hold maximum 22 guests.

Hotel Namaskar

The hotel features free Wi-Fi, a restaurant and a children’s playground. The hotel offers pet-friendly accommodation in Biratnagar. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Free private parking is available on site. Rooms come with a TV with cable channels. Some unites feature a seating area. Rooms include a private bathroom equipped with a shower. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property. Bike hire and car hire are available.