If you want to get away from the cold in the Himalayas and the traffic of Kathmandu and Pokhara, there’s still the Terai to explore. The lower plains in the south of Nepal are home to the largest and the first ever National Park in Nepal. The wildlife preserve is on the right on the border of Northern India and Southern Nepal.
The climate in the south is much warmer than Kathmandu, though it is a comfortable warm in the winter months. It can be in the high 90’s to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months. It’s best to visit between October and April.
The village of Shuraha is probably THE MOST chilled out of any town we’ve spent time in here in Nepal(hence all the greenery you see in the above photo). Even more so than Pokhara, if you can believe that. It’s very tourist friendly but it doesn’t feel super “touristy”. Matt and I agreed that most people must eat, drink and mainly hang out at their hotel because the majority of the restaurants around town we’d frequent didn’t have nearly as many tourists as you’d expect them to.
The best way to experience the Chitwan National Park is by signing up for a jungle trek. You can go for a half day hike and up to a two day long excursion, sleeping one night in cabins in the jungle. Matt and I opted for a canoe/trek/jeep safari combo because he chose not to do the jeep ride on his first visit 10 years ago. We wanted to see what the hype was for each activity.
The boat ride was nice and mellow with lots of bird sightings and some crocodiles, deer and monkeys. Our guides were very knowledgeable on the bird species we were able to see. The boat ride was about an hour down the river where we disembarked and began our jungle trek.
We were warned days prior about a notorious wild elephant that had been named by the townsfolk. Rolando, or Ronaldo (depending on who you talked to) was the alpha male elephant who had a troublemaker reputation for breaking trees and fences around the village. He’d also freed several elephants out of the elephant breeding center a few weeks prior to our visit. Supposedly he was the father to many of the elephants at the breeding center. We also heard an Indian tourist was killed about a month back.
When jungle trekking, the animals you have to worry about most are the wild elephants and rhinosaurus. They will charge you or attack if you get too close, especially if they have a baby in tow. There are tigers at Chitwan as well but you’d be extremely lucky to see one in real life. In fact, if you do, you should probably go buy a lottery ticket as well. It’s likely they won’t attack you unless you are 100% alone and you are lucky enough to see one. The term “scaredy cat” wasn’t coined for nothing.
Our jungle trek was the highlight of the day as we saw not one but two rhinosaurus within the first half hour. We were almost charged by one but luckily there were trees around to climb if the need arose. Luckily it did not. Being that close to one will sure get your adrenaline going though. We saw several species of deer throughout the morning as well as many peacocks. Also some tiger scat, or poop, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “scat”.
There was some miscommunication about lunch when we signed up for the trek but luckily we ended up having granola bars in our pack and very kind and generous guides who shared their snacks and fruit with us as well. If you do all day combo activities, make sure to bring plenty of snacks and lots of water. Our trek ended just after lunch with a climb up a tower to overlook the grasslands while we waited for our jeep to pick us up.
About 20 minutes later our vehicle showed up and we climbed onto the back of a vehicle carrying 7 or 8 Indian women. We saw another rhinosaurus within the next 30 minutes and SO many peacocks, which the Indian women seemed to love. I got a real kick out of it because every time someone would spot one they’d get all excited and start imitating the male peacock calls.
After driving around the jungle for over an hour looking for wildlife, the jeep brought us to the crocodile breeding center where young crocs are raised for several years before releasing them into the wild. It was semi interesting but not the highlight of the day. We grabbed a Fanta and popped a seat outside the gates. We started to hit a wall having started our day around 6 AM so it seemed like a good time to take in a rush of liquid sugar.
After the crocodile breeding center we piled back in the jeep and rode around for another hour and a half, catching another rhino sighting, a slew of peacocks, as well as several sloth bears. They look similar to the Asiatic black bear but they are much smaller. Standing only about 6 feet tall when on their hind legs. All the Indian women started bubbling about “Baloo” when we saw them. Here we were, in the real life jungle book. Though we hadn’t yet seen Sheer Khan yet.
It turns out we wouldn’t see him, or Rolando/Ronaldo for that matter. Probably for the best though. After the wild elephant stories we heard, I didn’t really have a desire to meet him. All though a tiger sighting would have been cool, I knew how rare they were going into the day.
We ended up spending a whole week in Shuraha, despite only going into Chitwan for one day. There are other activities you can do outside of the park like rent bikes and ride to 20,000 lakes. You can also watch the elephants bathe in the river everyday from 10AM to NOON. The village itself lends itself to nice strolls as there is very little traffic aside from domesticated pet elephants being walked down the street during the day. All in all, if you’re looking for a nice place to relax and have a little down time, Shuraha might just be your secret jungle paradise.