What do you do for 3 days, 2 nights when you find yourself in a lodge at Chitwan National Park? In the “Heart of the Jungle” you wildlife watch, of course. That is only for starters, however.
Chitwan National Park is known as one of the best wildlife-viewing parks in Asia. Established in 1973, the park is a 932 square kilometer nature reserve of jungle, forest and marshland awarded world heritage status in 1984. It is located in the Terai region, on the west side of Nepal, bordering India. (It is north west of Kathmandu.)
Engaged travel, signature to Inspired Exploration, includes engaging with people, nature, culture, ritual, and anything local to the region. So while in Chitwan National Park, immerse yourself in nature and in the quietude and adventure of wildlife viewing. An experience would not be whole, however, without also seeing the villagers who live here. Exploration of Chitwan National Park should include all of it.
Riding atop an elephant guided by a mahout lifts you up above the tall grass, adding to the likelihood of spotting the Greater One-Horned Rhino! This species is the largest type of rhinoceros. Although they are mostly solitary, keep your eyes open for these armored animals drinking together at the river, or with a baby/adolescent. Other wildlife sitings can include monkeys, spotted deer, a huge variety of bird species. If you are particularly lucky, a wild elephant, sloth bear, or a leopard might grace you with a view. With about 68 species of mammals in Chitwan National Park, you are likely to get to see wildlife in its natural habitat. The Bengal Tiger is one of the residents here, yet sitings are less likely.
In the open-air seating from the back of a jeep you can get deeper into the jungle while you learn more about the flora and fauna directly from your guide.
Canoe Ride on the Rapti River
Sitting on the water in a canoe gives you a great vantage point to spot the Gharial Crocodile. Don’t worry though, this croc is known to have a “pleasant disposition” according to a wildlife article in The Guardian! A canoe ride on the river gives a different perspective than a land safari. Birds might be easier to spot than in the treed forest too.
Visit the Tharu and Darai villages and wander through beautiful fields of mustard
Tharu and Darai people are one of the earliest inhabitants of this region. The Tharu perform cultural dance and entertainment for visitors. As you walk through the villages and farms, be sure to also take in the sites beyond the tourist performances. Learn more about their history from your guide and by talking to a villager or two yourself if you have the chance. Hand gestures and smiles go a long way.
Eat fresh, local, organic foods during meals at your luxury lodge
Inspired Exploration travelers will be staying at the Jungle Villa Lodge where three meals a day are included. The Jungle Villa Lodge is beyond the tourist village, in a much less crowded area. It is on the outskirts of the National Park boundaries where there is access to the more remote areas of the park. The Jungle Villa Lodge provides fully organic vegetables and dairy products produced by local farmers in their kitchen. If I had to guess, I’d say that the other luxury lodges on the outskirts do as well.
Watch the elephants as they take their daily bath in the river
My fingers are crossed that I will be graced to see these beautiful creatures in the wild during our stay. Even if that is not the case, you can watch and even partake in the working elephants’ daily bathing ritual.
Sit on the terrace and soak in the quiet peacefulness, as you keep your eyes open for one-horned rhinos and other wildlife
Traveling can sometimes be tedious and tiring, even if you are loving up every minute of it. So take advantage of your beautiful surroundings. Sip on a cup of chai on the terrace. Invite the jungle to immerse your senses.
The jungle air and quietude will put you in the perfect state of mind to transcend it. To transcend your mind, that is. Even a glimpse of that transcendence will allow you to perfectly be.
Sandy Kingsley is the founder/owner of Inspired Exploration Travel, Travel to Delight the Heart and the Senses. She is an experiential travel enthusiast. Trip & retreat designer. Bowspringer. Yoga instructor. Mountain girl. Suburban dweller. And grant writer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati. Check out what people are saying about her small group travels to India www.inspiredexplorationtravel.com. The 2017 Illuminate Your Soul – Journey to India and Nepal still has a limited number of spots open for you. Check out the itinerary: Illuminate Your Soul and register now!