I went to Sauraha – the eastern entry point to the Chitwan National Park to spend a couple of days with family and friends. Sauraha, a popular tourist destination, is a must if you are visiting Nepal. Accessible by road (4-5 hours) from Kathmandu and Pokhara, if offers entry to the wilderness from within the moderately developed small town.
Here is how we spent three days at Sauraha as tourists and enjoyed every second of it.
Tourist buses from Kathmandu leave early morning at 7 am to 8 am. It takes 5 to 6 hours to reach Sauraha Bus Park as it stops for breakfast and lunch on the way. If you have booked a hotel, they will pick you up at the bus park and your hotel shouldn’t be more than 10-minute drive. If you want to explore hotels yourself, you have to walk 10 to 15 minutes from the bus park.
We stayed at the moderate hotel called Travellers Jungle Lodge (on main road between Elephant Square and Rhina Square). Once we settled down, the early evening stop is Riverside, the bank of Rapti river, from where you can see the sun setting over the forest.
Sunset from the riverside. You can grab a seat in one of the eatery having beer and barbeque or just stand on the dam to see the beautiful sunset!
While watching the sunset, keep an eye open for birds flying in various beautiful formations!
Next stop will be to grab a seat at the Tharu Cultural Center for a local Tharu cultural show. It starts at 7pm so plenty of time to make it after the sunset. It’s ticketed event and first-come-first-serve no seat number hall so go early to have front seats. The Peacock Dance is the best of it all.
The Next Day
On second day morning, go for a 45-minute elephant ride to see the rhino. One elephant carries four people and you are almost certain to see rhino. Bonus will be peacocks, spotted deers and other animals.
Once you finish the elephant safari, you can feed them some bananas or give them money which they will pick with their trunk.
Elephants are everywhere in Sauraha – they occupy roads along with horse carts, vehicles and people.
The 14-year-old Sambridikali, on front, won the award of Most Beautiful Elephant and will keep the title in 2016. You could lucky enough to get a ride during elephant ride; if not, visit Travellers Jungle Camp and have a look.
After lunch, go for canoe boating. A bit scary but it’s fun and moves past peaceful environment where you are likely to see a lot crocodiles, birds and if lucky spotted deers.
The boat are made of one tree trunk and narrow. Make sure you as seated as comfortably as possible for 45-minute row and don’t put your hand in water because there are crocodiles in the water.
Mas Magar Crocodiles are kings of the river here.
Basking in the sun!
I was lucky enough to see this spotted deer which descended to river for some water and grass!
The ride will take you near the elephant breeding center. It takes around 5 minutes walk to reach the elephant breeding center.
You can meet a lot of small adorable elephants at the center. I was hoping to grab a just-born one for a photograph but they told me even the newborns are 100 kgs.
Spend the evening at leisure! Ask your hotel if they are arranging a barbeque in the garden.
You can go guided bird watching on the river bank or sleep just like me. But book a seat for jeep safari after lunch. The guide will pick you up from hotel, cross the river on canoe boat at the Riverside and walk a few minutes to reach the open hood jeep that can accomodate 10 people. Front three seats are prime or you can also sit with driver if you are alone.
Jeep jungle safari is 4-hour long drive into the jungle to spot wild animals – hopefully the Royal Bengal Tiger!
The sighting of Royal Bengal Tiger is rare; but not impossible!
You will be back at dusk. Sleep over and next day, you can catch a bus to Pokhara or Kathmandu after breakfast.
All photographs are taken by me; and you can use them for non-profit works with credit to Ujjwal Acharya or linkback to this post.