Staying at Barahi Jungle Lodge next to the Rapti River in Chitwan National Park.
After a week exploring the towns and cities around Kathmandu, it was nice to spend some time in the jungles of Nepal. I was particularly interested in visiting because I heard of their high rhino population. (While on safari last year in Tanzania, the only Big 5 animal I didn’t get to see up close was the rhino.) I also saw Barahi Jungle Lodge on many lists of top luxury eco lodges and knew I had to pay a visit.
Location: Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park was the first national park of Nepal. It is located in the south-central part of the country. Renowned for its protection of the one-horned rhinoceros, royal bengal tigers and gharial crocodiles, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
The park hasn’t had rhino poaching for 3+ years, and they’ve had an increase of around 90 rhinos in 1973 to more than 650 rhinos today.
How? A mix of park entrance fees, rewards for information about poachers, army presence and support from the local communities. Sadly, there’s also been criticism about the communities being forced out of their indigenous lands and abuse by the army. Nonetheless, an incredible conservation success story.
To get to the lodge, it’s only a 20-minute flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur Airport, then a 1.5 hour car ride. Located on the remote northwest side of the park, it feels like a true getaway.
Barahi Jungle Lodge
Upon arrival at the lodge, I was impressed with the way it seamlessly blended into its natural surroundings. It is a beautiful mix of local Tharu design with modern touches.
Amenities include a pool overlooking the river, an on-site spa, dining room offering Continental, Nepali, Indian and Chinese cuisine and a bar next to the pool.
There are many activities to stay busy at Barahi. Located next to the park and a village, most center around wildlife and the local culture. I came for the rhinos, but also enjoyed learning about the park’s conservation efforts and Tharu culture.
It’s never a guarantee you’ll see animals on safari, so it’s always special when you come face to face with a 5,000 pound rhino! I did two jeep safaris—one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and saw monkeys, rhinos, an assortment of birds and spotted deer.
The best part about staying at Barahi is its close proximity to the park. Literally across the river, all we had to do was take a boat to the other side, where our jeep was waiting for us to enter the park.
It’s important to note that Chitwan is not like an African safari with it’s open plains. In the jungle, there is mostly tall grass and tangled forest that make animal spottings more difficult. It can be a hit-or-miss experience so don’t come expecting it. However, there are certain times during the year where you’ll have a better chance.
During our morning safari, our naturalist guide led us on a few jungle walks explaining the different flora and fauna. They also set up a breakfast in the jungle, overlooking a field full of monkeys and deer running around!
I went out on both a sunrise and sunset riverboat safari. This was my favorite activity, being out on the water only hearing the sounds of the jungle, slowly drifting downstream. Even better, we spotted rhinos and crocodiles during both trips. Also, at the end of the sunrise boat ride, the lodge had a beautiful breakfast spread waiting for us on the banks of the river. Such a special surprise!
Tharu Village Visit
The lodge is located next to a Tharu village, the indigenous people of the region. Around 90% of the staff is from nearby villages. I enjoyed visiting a family in their home and learning about their culture, food and daily life.
Other activities includes nature walks around the park, cultural performances by the Tharu tribes, treatments at the on-site spa and a bullock cart village visit.
Barahi has 34 standalone cottages and one family villa. They are all built from local materials including bamboo and sustainable wood.
The cottages are equipped with 24-hour electricity with private balconies, air-conditioning, a fan, television, telephone, laundry service, bathtub and hot water.
The villa has two bedrooms each with their own bathrooms (bathtub, overhead rain shower, standing shower). In addition, the villa has a living room, dining area, TV, kitchenette and private WiFi. The outside area overlooks the river and includes a private pool with lounge chairs, dining table and a fireplace.
I’m always seeking the most unique accommodation and activities wherever I go that honor the local culture and practice sustainability. Barahi Jungle Lodge fits all of the criteria and is truly is one of a kind. If you’re looking for a safari adventure with luxury amenities, delicious and authentic food and the friendliest staff, definitely put Barahi Jungle Lodge on your list.
How to Get There
There are many ways to arrive at the lodge from all major hubs in Nepal depending on your budget and time.
Ground Transport: The most economical way to travel to Chitwan are tourist buses that leave from Kathmandu and Pokhara every morning. These take 5 to 8 hours depending on the road conditions and number of stops. Upon arrival at the bus stop in Bharatpur, you’ll need to take a cab to the lodge.
Scheduled Flight: There are direct flights with Buddha and Yeti Airlines in the morning and afternoon. Fly to Bharatpur Domestic Airport from Kathmandu and then drive 32 kms (90 min) to the lodge. Contact the hotel to arrange a pick up.
Chartered flight: Another option is to take a private helicopter to the lodge. It takes 40 minutes from Kathmandu and 20 minutes from Pokhara.
Barahi Jungle Lodge
Thank you Barahi Jungle Lodge for a beautiful stay in your jungle escape. All opinions and photos are my own.