Nepal’s wild elephant population is estimated around 100-150 individuals, with additional migrant elephants coming from West Bengal. Due to rapid expansion of human settlements beginning in the 1950’s, elephant herds are increasingly scattered in isolated and fragmented areas. Strong conservation policies are needed to ensure the survival of the species.

In the past, Nepal’s royalty kept captive elephants. Today, there are around 200 captive elephants; wild caught, captive bred, and those coming legally and illegally from India. Most are used in tourism and as patrol elephants in and around national parks, notably Chitwan National Park. Privately owned elephants are used mainly to attract tourists to hotels and provide rides in the national park buffer zones. Although eco-tourism is becoming more popular, there is only one elephant-friendly facility we can recommend.


-Tiger Tops

tt-recommendation Nepal’s oldest safari resort is doing something new, and we love it! Tiger Tops is now the first chain free, elephant-friendly, eco-tourism facility in Nepal. Located near the border of Chitwan National Park, Tiger Tops has removed the chains and discontinued elephant riding for its 12 very happy, ex-riding elephants. Under the guidance of Carol Buckley of Elephant Aid International, Tiger Tops constructed night corals using safe solar power electric fencing. This allows the elephants to live chain free 24 hours a day.

Officially retiring the Tiger Tops’ elephants has led to a new form of responsible tourism in Nepal. Unique ‘Elephant Viewing’ has replaced old-style safari riding. To the delight of tourists, the elephants are happier, healthier, more social and playful. Tiger Tops is also considering ending the yearly elephant polo event in 2017. Finding a viable alternative will take time, and we are encouraged by this elephant-friendly transition.

Visitors to Tiger Tops can expect to be immersed in the jungle experience but still enjoy the comfort of luxury accommodations. Join the elephants on their walks and learn about the local ecosystem. You might even see a rhino or find tiger tracks! Watch the elephants bathing in the river, observe natural behaviors, and enjoy their inseparable friendships and expressions of free will. Tourist numbers are kept low, so the elephants and visitors never feel overwhelmed. Get to know the Nepalese mahouts who guard and accompanying their elephant daily.

Getting to Tiger Tops involves a short 20-minute flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur aiport. After an airport pick up, the staff will take you by car to their elephant camp and your accommodations. Travel arrangements and extra excursions can be made by contacting Tiger Tops staff.