Nepal's

SAURAHA (CHITWAN)
by David Woollan

Global Mark : to come

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
                   

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
         


Description & Comments ?
  A quickly growing but still small village that caters to the needs of the visitors to Chitwan National Park, the best known safari park in Nepal. It is located 160 kms by road from Kathmandu, 155 kms by road from Pokhara and 160 kms by road from the Indian border at Sunauli. The Chitwan National Park (R500 entrance fee) is home to Bengal tigers, rhinoceroses, bears, leopards, crocodiles and monkeys amongst others, and hundreds of species of birds and butterflies. The village of Sauraha is separated from the national park by the Rapti River, which is safe to swim in. During the dry season one can wander the sand dunes of the shrunken river. It is possible to walk for miles along the mud roads west, north and east of the village to other, rural Tharu villages. 

What to do ? Watch the sun set over the National Park/ Go for a ride on an elephant / Bird watch on the oddly-named 20,000 lake / Stay overnight in the jungle spotting wild animals from the lookout tower / Watch a Tharu cultural show/Hire a bike and wander about Tharu villages / Swim in the river and watch the elephants being bathed / Drink cool beers at one of the "beach" bars / Go for a jungle safari on foot, by elephant or by jeep / Go for a canoe trip on the river.

What you may not like ?  Mosquitoes at certain times of the year (nets are provided in hotels/lodges) / The overzealous hotel touts at the bus park (simply board any jeep that will take you the 3 kms to the village. If you stay in the hotel the jeep goes to the ride is free. If you don't like the look of the lodge, hand the driver R30 for the ride and choose another place).

How long ?  You might really like the laid back atmosphere and stay longer than you had originally planned. The small village has a few restaurants a la Pokhara and Thamel, but local-style eateries as well. There are no asphalt roads here, just dirt/mud tracks and hardly any traffic. Life is tranquil here. You will want to spend at least one day in the national park, and a couple more days to walk/bike around about. Give yourself at least a minimum of three days.

When to go ? The dry season would be best (November-April) and March would be the ideal time. The daytime temperature is not too hot and the elephant grass in the national park has been cut, allowing for better animal spotting.

Where to stay ? Twenty years ago when Sauraha was a one horse village, the only places to stay were the lodges inside the national park, and these are not exactly cheap accommodation. Now there are upwards of fifty hotels/lodges in and around the village and the competition for guests is fierce. Except in the peak season, you will find a room for a very good price. The most convenient places are on the main track that leads into the village or, once you get to the river, turn right and choose a lodge along the river bank (especially if you want to watch the sun set from your lodge/hotel).

  • Jungle Wild Life Camp (tel. 056-80093) Along the river bank. Semi detached cabins with their own porch and attached bath. Clean and fairly basic. Small garden and overpriced restaurant. Sgl R250, Dbl R400.
  • Tharu Lodge. Next door to the above place. Semi detached cottages with attached bath R300 and some dilapidated rustic huts at R150. Unfortunately the river view has been obscured by the new and ugly Jungle Sunset hotel.
  • Jungle Sunset Hotel. An ugly 3-storey hotel that looks out of place on the river bank. Clean rooms with attached bath Sgl/Dbl R300.
  • Sauraha Resort (tel. 056-80114) A new place still under construction. Semi detached cabin with attached bathroom at R300.
  • Holiday Safari Jungle Lodge (tel. 056-80069) A guesthouse-style building in a large garden with basic and clean rooms at Sgl/Dbl R200.
  • Chitwan Resthouse (tel. 80017, 80117, 61017, kingfisher@wlink.com.np) Semi detached cabins with thatched roofs. Very clean with attached bathroom. Sgl/dbl R200 off season price. In an untidy garden with restaurant. Cut price elephant rides if you use their elephant!
  • Traveller's Jungle Camp (tel 056-80013, 80014, tiger@mos.com.np) The usual fair; clean and basic semi detached huts with attached bathroom in a garden setting. R250 Sgl, R300 Dbl.
  • Jungle Tourist Camp (tel. 056-80030, 80031, hlc@mos.com.np) Smallish, basic semi detached cabins with attached bathroom. Sgl/Dbl R300.
  • Rhino Lodge and Hotel. (tel. 056-80065, rhinolodge@mos.com.np) Rooms in a large building in a big garden. Clean with attached bathroom. Sgl/Dbl R400.
  • Hotel Riverside. At the end of the road that leads to the river, on the right hand side. (tel. 056-80009, hotelriverside@hotmail.com). Clean rooms with attached bathroom. Trpl R850 includes breakfast. Best river views from these rooms. Dbl R550/450. Sgl R450.

Where to eat ?  Probably not in your lodge/hotel restaurant where the prices tend to be too high. Fairly basic meals can be had at the three beach bars. In the village Peacock Restaurant serves decent multi-continental food at good prices. If you fancy American or Mexican fare then you can give Hotel California's Terrace Restaurant a go. It is found in the heart of the village. Those on a tight budget can eat well in the small, local eateries found on the main drag as you exit the village.


Getting there and away ?
From Pokhara and Kathmandu many tourist buses leave, usually at 7 or 8 a.m. Just pop into any ticket and travel agency for all the details. From Kakarbhitta or Raxaul, take the bus for Narayangadh and get off at Ratnanagar, 7 kms from Sauraha. The last 7 kms can be made by jeep.
When leaving, your lodge/hotel will organize a motorbike or jeep to take you to the bus park to pick up the tourist bus or take you the 10 kms to Ratananagar where buses connect with Sunauli, Kakarbhitta and Raxaul.