A journey of almost 6 hours from Kathmandu will take you to the plains of Nepal – the Tarai. It will be dusk, the sun will be setting down on the horizon and it will be beautiful. And while you are still enjoying the rustic scene around, you will have reached Jungle Villa Resort. Set on the northern banks of the Rapti River, with the Chitwan National Park on the other side, the resort successfully encapsulates the wilderness of the national park and the organic demeanour of the village landscape all the while retaining the benefits of a luxury getaway.
At a Glance
Every building in the resort is washed in mud-colour paint; the resort exudes calm. Decorative handprints on the walls are inspired by the rich, native Tharu culture. Pebbled pathways hemmed in with shrubs and plants lead everywhere throughout the resort’s premises. There are more trees around than buildings; there are just 30 rooms, the restaurant, the reception, and a canopy-style entertainment area. The entirety of the resort is a seamless amalgam of nature, culture, and up to the minute facilities. The resort is a villa in the jungle, where man-made elements are carefully set to complement the natural surroundings. It is a very well connected, well thought-through establishment where nothing seems out of place.
Staying true to the wilderness that it is set in, Jungle Villa Resort has its rooms named after wild animals such as the Sambar deer. The cottage-style rooms with terracotta tile roofs are mud-washed and tastefully decorated. The interior is minimalistic but not lacking in any way. The floor, tiled with local slates; also replicated in the attached bath, is covered in straw mats – very local. Many things in the room are locally produced; take note of the recycled wooden mirror frame in the bathroom, and the bamboo shades under the sink. The baths as well as rooms are naturally lighted and spacious. Each room is complemented with a balcony that overlooks a lush space. Provided that you will be outdoors most of the time, the room is a respite from the humidity. Take a nice hot shower to relax your muscles that may go sore from all the activities and enjoy the comfortable bed for a good night’s sleep.
The resort has an experienced staff manning the kitchen that makes delectable goodies for every meal. While you can place orders at any time of the day according to your liking, the fixed menu that comes along with the resort’s package is absolutely worth it too. The team makes everything from scratch each day, even the bakery items which deserve accolades. The evenings are alternated with barbecue meals or Nepali buffet dinner, and both are winners.
Even if you aren’t light on your feet or have two left feet, you will be swaying your hips to the rhythm of “Chari Gudaima....” at Jungle Villa Resort. The resort’s staff and the locals collaborate to present an awesome performance of traditional music and Tharu cultural dances. Before too late you too are on the dance floor under the canopy trying to keep up with the performers. You can rest assured you will burn a few calories by the end of it and you will be hoping that it hadn’t ended so soon.
Things to Do
Laze Around: When in the plains of Chitwan, you cannot just lounge in the deck of the resort, sipping beer and getting tanned, forsaking the wilderness around. On second thoughts, when you are at Jungle Villa Resort, you can do just that and yet not miss out on the wildlife. The resort’s restaurant and outdoor bar looks out onto the Rapti River where on most warm afternoons you see crocodiles basking in the sun, one horned rhinos lazily swimming in the water, deer grazing on the lush grass on the other side, and if you are one of those lucky people, even a Bengal tiger. During peak season from February to April, the river banks are festooned with migrating birds and it is a sight you don’t want to miss.
Nature Walk: An experienced naturalist accompanies you during the nature walk in the national park. And while it is soothing and calming, you can’t help but be thrilled as you hope against hope for an encounter with the greater one-horned rhino around the corner. And when you are not concentrating on ways to survive a rhino-attack, notice the many different birds around. Your naturalist will not miss a chance to show you an exotic bird or tree. And if you are quiet enough, the chances of spotting spotted deer or a sambar is quite high.
Elephant Safari: The resort owns two elephants, Villa Kalli and Jungle Kalli. On an hour’s ride on the elephant’s back you can expect to see rhinos, deer, langur monkeys, wild boar, foxes and on occasion, a Royal Bengal tiger. There are times when there are better chances of seeing a tiger such as the time when the tall elephant grass is cut.
Off to Madi: An hour’s jeep ride from the resort brings you to Madi village, due south of Chitwan, behind the Churia hills. The long jeep ride is anything but boring because there are sweeping views of the flatlands. At Madi, you come in contact with the authentic Tarai lifestyle. The endless paddy fields are punctuated by machaans and small clusters of communities spread around the place. A short hike to the Pandav Temple and Pandav pond at Sumeshwor hill is rewarding, as they double up as a historical sightseeing tour. One can even choose to spend a night at one of the home-stays here, and experience the spectacular Tarai sunrise if you will.
Jungle Villa Resort is more than just a resort where you can lounge on for a few days and head back home. It is an experience that you want to go through time and again. The overall setting, its warm hospitality, and its brilliant staff are worth the 6-hour exhausting ride from Kathmandu. Jungle Villa Resort is the excuse you are looking to get away from your routine life.