Tips for an Unforgettable Stay in Chitwan

Tips for an Unforgettable Stay in Chitwan

When I first traveled to Chitwan, I thought I had fallen into a horrendous tourist trap. It was hot, I didn’t see any animals, and I endured a really, really long and bumpy bus ride to get there. Fast-forward a few years and at the urging of friends, I decided to give this place another try. I’m so glad I did.

This time, I spent two nights at a beautiful resort. Candlelit dinners, organized excursions, a swimming pool, and smiling faces greeting me with scented towels and refreshing drinks. Call me a Chitwan convert.

Go, I say. And use these tips to avoid the tourist traps and have an unforgettable stay in Chitwan.

DETERMINE YOUR PREFERRED MEANS OF TRAVEL

My first visit was on a bus. A bus that took a good half day from Pokhara. A very hot bus that seemed to never end.

For my most recent visit, I flew. In fifteen minutes, I was at the airport walking towards happy hotel staff helping me with my luggage. Sure, the flight was bumpy and the passenger next to me became ill, but I would choose those fifteen minutes over that extended bus ride any time. In my opinion, the price difference is totally worth it.

CHOOSE YOUR ACCOMMODATION WISELY

Familiarize yourself with the main areas of Chitwan. Meghauli, home to many luxury resorts, is about a 40-minute drive from the airport and on the banks of the river. Sauraha is a bit more dense, but with plenty of accommodations for budgets of all sizes. There’s also the small village of Barauli, in the western part of Chitwan, which is very quiet but has a couple of good accommodation options, includingcommunity homestay.

Most hotels or homestays offer package deals for two and three-night stays. Though at first glance, resort prices may seem high compared to other areas in Nepal, keep in mind that activities and food are often included. Be prepared for some hidden costs, however, as many establishments count on you to spend money on overpriced drinks and additional safari tours.

My final thought on hotels: It will most likely be hot. Pools are always a good choice.

Tips for an Unforgettable Stay in Chitwan

Sunset over the Rapti River. Photo: Michelle Welsch

PICK YOUR SAFARI ADVENTURE

My second visit to Chitwan was focused on relaxation. I wanted to refresh and chill, so the idea of sitting in a Jeep for four to five hours wasn’t something I was eager to do. I passed on the Jeep safari and chose to hang out with elephants and at the lodge, instead. It is possible to see animals (I saw three rhinos, two kinds of deer, all different species of birds, and some coyote-hyena-thing) without stepping foot in a 4×4.

I know some travelers are obsessed with tiger sightings; for that you’ll need to venture deeper into the park (or to Bardia, in Western Nepal). Hotels will charge to organize a Jeep safari for you. Another option is to participate in a “walking safari.”

GO OUTSIDE YOUR RESORT

I woke up early one morning to stroll through the surrounding village. For obvious reasons, life beyond the gates of the luxury hotel was a lot different. Lands are plotted thick with banana trees, and houses are clustered along the main roads. I was greeted by locals and stared at by curious families, and smiling children wanted to practice English with me. This is a beautiful way to get to see more of Chitwan.

EMBRACE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

One of Nepal’s highlights is the variety of cultures, customs, religions, histories, and traditions. Chitwan is no different. The Tharu tribe has braved the jungle, battling mosquitos and jungle animals to tend fields and build homes made from clay, mud, and grass. This group developed their own social structure, with village chiefs managing intricate maps of irrigation canals bringing water to communities’ farmlands.

Most hotels and resorts organize cultural performances and arrange tours to local villages. As with any place in Nepal, ask questions, watch, be curious, and act with respect.

Tips for an Unforgettable Stay in Chitwan

Photo: Michelle Welsch

GO ON A SUNSET BOAT RIDE

The colors of dusk are phenomenally vivid in Chitwan. My hotel organized a sunset boat trip for me, surprising me with cold drinks and snacks to nibble on the banks of the Rapti River. I was told sunrise is an equally enchanting time.

Whether you are a morning person or a night owl, the boat ride is peaceful and serene and reveals a whole different aspect of the park: sleeping crocodiles and villagers hauling baskets of elephant grass across crystal-clear waters.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH ELEPHANTS

Elephants are equal parts thrilling and terrifying. I was so captivated by “Kali Rani” (Black Queen) that I made plans to see her twice. Standing next to an elephant is an incredible, unforgettable experience. I was thrilled to watch this giant animal wade into the Rapti River, bathe, drink, and squirt water on her trainer and me. When she came out of the river, we fed her elephant sandwiches — grassy husks tied around grains and rice.

ENJOY A CANDLE-LIT DINNER

Nights are quiet in Chitwan. Aside from chirping birds and the occasional rustle of leaves, evenings are peaceful. Ideal for dinners beneath the stars. My lodge placed old lanterns and candles throughout their property, creating a warm, romantic ambiance for visitors.

Travel in Nepal isn’t always easy, and Chitwan is a great place to reward yourself with pampering and TLC. If you’re going to splurge in Nepal, Chitwan is the place to do it.

Courtesy: Michelle Welsch | Inside Himalayas

Chitwan’s Patihani Among 100 New Nepali Tourism Spots

More new, attractive Nepali tourism spots are coming to limelight under the Nepal Government’s ambitious plans as part of the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.

Under the initiative, the government has promised of adding 100 new tourist destinations in a move to touch the untapped tourism potential of Nepal.

Patihani of Chitwan is one among the government’s 100 new priority tourism destinations being promoted under the Visit Nepal Year campaign.

Government is turning its promises into reality, say the locals, citing the ongoing development at the Someshwar Hill of Madi.

As the locals say, Patihani is undergoing a fast-paced transformation with the government implementing various tourism infrastructure developments in the region.

Patihani is situated in a prime location of Bharatpur Municipality. This destination for tourism was chosen to keep its natural beauty in view. Apart from several new locations for sightseeing, our diverse culture is going to give a different taste to the tourists,” says Bishnuraj Mahato, Chairperson of the Ward. No.222 of the municipality that Patihani belongs to.

Patihani

Speaking about Patihani’s potential as a tourism spot, Mahato compares it with Nepal’s renowned tourist destination Sauraha, which is known for elephant rides, jungle boating, a buffer zone of wide a variety of flora and fauna species.

“It should have happened much earlier. Sauraha has been in the eyes of the tourists for long. Patihani isn’t any less than Sauraha to mesmerize tourists,” Mahato adds.

Despite the delay, locals are happy about the recognition that Patihani is drawing now.

“Including our place within the 100 new destinations has spread the positive message among the people. Locals are quite elated. Arrival and stay of tourists in our area means our businesses will grow,” says Mahato.

Patihani – The New Tourism Spot

Major Attractions

Kamal Pokhari is one of the major tourism attractions of Patihani, which locals have been urging for due promotion since long.

“Kamal Pokhari is a mesmerizing place. We are trying to fix necessary facilities there in order to woo tourists,” said Mahato. He added that tourists do visit the place even now, but the number is not impressive. After two years, the visit-Nepal 2020 is going make it tremendously popular, adds Mahato.

According to the Operator of Jungle Villa Resort Ganesh Sharma Poudel, Kamal Pokhari is definitely a magical place that can give a thrilling experience.

Jeep Safari Patihani

“There are many other attractions for tourists. But this one is amazing. We must promote this to the optimum,” adds Poudel.

He further informed that the tourist arrivals to the area up by 25 percent last year, with many tourists loving the serenity of the environment and local culture, and a wide variety of wildlife.

“We do have all the components which are necessary to excite tourists. We are blessed to have such a serene natural beauty here. Tourists feel relaxed, charged, energized,” adds Poudel.

Chief Development Officer of Chitwan Jitendra Basnet calls Patihani a place with yet-to-be-explored rich tourism potential. He is hopeful that the region will be a great experience for tourists.

“There are many such places here, which have not been ventured. It is not just an entry point to Sauraha, but a great natural wonder itself. We are building the necessary infrastructure for tourists in the view of Visit Nepal 2020. But while doing so, we make sure that the originality of this place and its uniqueness is not messed up,” adds Basnet.

According to Basnet, there is a growing interest among investors to invest in tourism development of Patihani. Besides, many local ethnic groups and indigenous communities such as Tharu have also been expressing interest to showcase their cultures and tradition to tourists. Tharu food & culture are two of the major tourist attractions in Chitwan, besides vulture and gharial reproduction centers in Patihani.

For the Future

Coming to regional development, Patihani currently has four 3-star hotels operating with nine other hotels offering quality service at reasonable pricing. Famous Belsar and Birendranagar community jungles come under the ambit of Patihani border.

“There are other facilities being built for them. And, then they can take a round of the jungles to watch animals and birds,” Mahato adds.

As the local sources say, three new 3-star hotels and four ordinary hotels are being constructed in the region with an aim to address tourists’ concerns. Big hotels in the region contain over 300 luxury rooms, while the small ones have 150-room capacity.

“We have adopted an integrated approach. All the stakeholders have been asked for due cooperation,” Mahato adds.

It’s now an exciting time for tourists to see when Patihani will take its full form!