Nature and wildlife are great draw cards for Chitwan National Park, but they are not the only ones. A visit to Chitwan can be as much a cultural experience as a safari.
Barauli is a small Tharu village on the edge of the park, its people long living in harmony with the wildlife. By staying at Barauli Community Homestay you meet the people who live around the park, learn about their lifestyles, and witness how nature and culture coexist.
Chitwan National Park was the first national park in Nepal, established in 1973 and made a World Heritage Site in 1984. With an area of over 932 km2 and an altitude of 100 m to 815 m in the Churia Hills, it is home to 68 species of mammals. You may see the “king of the jungle,” the Bengal tiger as this is reported as being one of the best tiger habitats in the world. More commonly sighted are the one-horned rhinoceros, sambar deer, red muntjac, hog deer, rhesus monkeys, Hanuman langurs and wild elephants.
Transfer from Kathmandu to Chitwan (Barauli).
From Kathmandu the drive offers impressive views of the Trishuli River, villages, terraced farms, suspension bridges and the mountains beyond. FromMugling, turn south, slowly descending from the central hills to the fertile lowlands of the Western Terai and Chitwan National Park.
Arriving in Barauli you will be welcomed by the homestay host and you can relax and enjoy the food and culture of the local Tharu community.
In the late afternoon cycle through other Tharu villages in the area – a good way to observe the lifestyle of this ethnic group from the southern parts of Nepal. You will see their vibrant green rice paddies, immaculate mud homes with giant piles of hay outside as you go down to the banks of the Narayani River for a blood-orange sunset – you may be the only tourist around.
Jungle Activities: Jeep Safari, Cycling, Tharu Cultural Stick Dance.
Jeep Safari: With Barauli located on the edge of Chitwan National Park, jungle safaris are one of the many highlights of our homestay. We have our own jeeps and excellent naturalists. There is no chance that you will miss anything there is to see on your jungle safari.
Cycling: We assure you that cycling via small Tharu villages and fish farms to the shore of the Narayani River is an experience you will recount often. We recommend cycling towards evening when the sunset looks like a golden ball sinking into the Narayani River.
Cultural Dance: Tharu are proud of their culture, perhaps because they have one of the best cultures in Nepal. The famous Tharu stick dance; when women dance and sing, is simply amazing. The dancing takes place in front of our homestay, normally at night, to provide a bit of recreation and relaxation from the days’ activities. If guests enjoy the dance, then they are more than welcome to join in.
Drive from Chitwan (Barauli) to Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is about 177 km from Chitwan (Barauli). You will leave the lowlands, climbing into the Central Hills to join the Prithvi Highway at Mugling. It is then a slow journey towards the east for approx. 6.5 hrs along the busiest highway to Kathmandu. It is however a scenic route with steep rice terraces making a dramatic backdrop to the river, funeral pyres, suspension bridges and villages. Kathmandu is a diverse, historic city with amazing architecture, exquisite wood carvings and metal craft which showcase the skills of the Newar artisans of centuries ago. Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed in Kathmandu valley from time immemorial and the valley residents make a little distinction as they worship in both Hindu and Buddhist shrines. Kathmandu is a city where ancient traditions are zealously guarded while at the same time embracing modern technology.
The community homestay program is a really valuable an authentic way to experience Nepal as well. Welcoming host families, comfortable accommodations, and conversations and activities you won’t have anywhere else!