Sukhlaphanta is a similar version of Bardia National Park. It has an area of 305 sq km. which is located in southwestern extreme of the Kingdom; its topography is primarily riverine floodplain, open grassland and sal forest. It also has a large lake and the Bahini River flows through the park.
The park is home to tiger, leopard, and a good number of Swamp deer (prime habitat, often sighted), otters, his’s-pid hare, blue bull (nilgai), hog deer and wild boar.
The park also has over 300 species of birds and most of the tourists who make the trip here are keen bird watchers. Reptiles include gharial and mugger crocodiles, python, cobras, kraits, rat, snakes and monitar lizards.
Some 54.7% of the reserve is covered by mixed deciduous forest, grassland and marsh in the south-west where soils are of recent alluvium. The rest is moist deciduous forest and savanna, supported by the better drained soils on higher terrain in the north-east (Balson, 1976).
The main vegetation types distinguished by Schaaf (1978a, 1978b) are: sal Shorea robusta forest; sal savanna, which is part of a continuum between climax forest and grassland that is maintained by fire or floods; mixed deciduous forest, which is patchily distributed among the more extensive grasslands in the south-west (sal is absent); grasslands, which may be dry (locally known as phantas) or wet in the case of areas inundated during the monsoon; lowland savanna, which occurs on the fringes of all main grasslands and covers most of Karaiya Phanta; khair-sissoo forest, dominated by Acacia catechu and Dalbergia sissoo and forming an early succession in riverine areas; and marsh, in which tall dense grasses are predominant (e.g. Phragmites karka, Saccharum spontaneum and Sclerostachya fusca).
- Predominant sal (Shorea robusta) forest is associated with asna (Terminalia alata), semal (Bombaxceiba), and karma (Adina Cordifolia). Khair, (Acacia catechu) and sissoo (Dolbergia sisso) forest is found along the river side. The main grass species of the phantas are Imperata cylindrica and Saccharum heteropogon which are extensively used by the local people for thatching.
- The reserve provides prime habitat for swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli). An estimated population of 2000 is found in the reserve. Other wild animals in the reserve are wild elephant (Elephas maximus), tiger (Panthera tigris), hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus), blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus), leopard (Panthera pardus), chital (Zxis axis), hog deer (Zxis porcinus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa).
- A total 268 species of birds has been recorded in the reserve. Many grassland birds along with the rare Bengal florican can be seen in the phantas. Marsh mugger crocodile, Indian python, monitor lizard and snakes like cobra, krait and rat snake have been recorded in the reserve.
The area has a tropical monsoon climate with four different seasons:winter ,spring, summer and monsoon .The months of December and January are fairly cold and misty with occasional frost.The mean monthly minimum temperature varies from 10 to 12 o C in winter , gradually rising to 17oc in the spring and 26oCin the summer.Over 90% of the annual precipitation fall during monsoon between June and September.Mean maximum temperatures are 40-42°C in summer (April-May), when hot westerly winds of up to 160km per 4hour have been recorded. (Balson, 1976).In February and March ,the maximum temperature rises up to 22o to 25ocC.The relative humidity remains fairly high throughout the the year except in the dry months of the pre-monsoon period.
Elephant safari, Jungle walk, Bird watching, Camping.
The best time to visit is February- March.
How to get there:
The reserve is accessible by road as well as by air. The reserve will be easily accessible by road from any parts of Nepal with the completion of the far-western sector of East-West Highway. There is once a week flight from Kathmandu to Dhangadhi which is 51 km. far from the park headquarters. There is regular public bus service from Dhangadhi to Mahendranagar taking 3 hours drive and the reserve headquarters is 8 km south-west of Mahendranagar. The reserve can be reached by East-West Highway through Nepalgunj-Dhangadhi-Mahendranagar.