Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai

Chitwan National Park

Experience

Chitwan National Park is one of the biggest tourist hotspots in Nepal, and rightly so. Home to one of the final strongholds of the Greater One Horned Rhinoceros, over 100 Bengal Tigers and over 10% of the world’s bird population, Chitwan is a wildlife lover’s paradise. The real-life Jungle Book in fact! With Sauraha being the main hub of the action, filled to bursting point with visitors, there are still ways to have a truly authentic experience in the Terai.

The Tharu and Barauli Community Home stay programmes lie about 70 km west of hectic Sauraha and offer a magical insight into rural jungle life in Nepal. From the moment I stepped over the threshold of my simple, rustic but so homely traditional Tharu hut I felt at ease. Although the language barrier is prevalent there is no way you could confuse the generous hospitality of the Tharu people with anything other than sincere kindness and acceptance.

Over the course of my short stay, I really felt like I was one of the family. My hosts called me ‘bhiyni’ which means little sister in Nepali, and they really meant it. Simply observing how the rhythm of Nepal plays out in the village is amazing. Talking of rhythm these guys and girls can groove! During my stay, I was privileged enough to be invited to a traditional Tharu cultural show featuring the Tharu stick dance. Of course, Nepali classics like the trekking song “Reshram Fi Riri’ were thrown in there too but watching the villagers play out there traditional songs brought a genuine smile to my face and a warmth to my heart.

The beauty of the Tharu and Barauli Community Homestay programmes is that they lie in the community managed buffer zone of Chitwan National Park. I was staying as close as is possible to the jungle, less than 250m away is the playground of rhinos, tigers and bears! On my second day, I joined with the community leader Prem to explore the jungle by jeep. We saw 6 Greater One Horned Rhinoceros in the late afternoon which was the most exhilarating experience. Prem explained that there are over 600 Rhinoceros in the National Park and Buffer Zone and that the anti-poaching programme here is one of the most effective in the world. We saw tiger footprints and at least 30 different species of bird.

Throughout my stay, I was fed and watered more than I ever have been! Nepali’s love their Dal Bhat (rice with lentil soup) and using organic vegetables grown from their own garden, my family ensured my stomach never growled!
On the third and final day of my stay, there was a big wedding in the village of which I was invited. My family dressed me in traditional Tharu dress and I even tried the typical wedding breakfast of snails! Quite the experience! Washed down with home-brewed raski (rice wine) which I much preferred!

If you want to experience real Nepal, without the frills, without the fuss, a truly authentic and ethical travel experience I cannot recommend the Tharu and Barauli Community Homestay programmes enough.

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SEE – Photos & Videos

WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai -Molly in traditional Tharu dress
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - Traditional Tharu dress
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - joined the wedding in the village
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - Birthday cake
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - Amaltari Buffer zone Community Home stay
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - sign to the home stay
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - Home stay
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - Bedroom
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - Sunset
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - Trekking
WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - One Horned Rhinoceros

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GO – Getting There

You can get the tourist bus from Pokhara or Kathmandu to Danda. This ticket costs approx $10 and takes 7-8 hours. Once at Danda someone will be there to collect you. You must liaise directly with the homestay team for this.
Alternatively, you can fly to Bharatpur and then get the public bus to Danda.

WSE Travel - Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai - Map

Rural Nepal Homestay in the Terai – Map

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Do – Activities & Attractions

There is so much to do! Everything from river and jeep safaris to exploring the jungle on foot. Village walking or cycling tours with cultural education and cooking classes too. If there is a festival on (and there’s almost always a festival in Nepal) or a wedding, guests are invited to attend the celebrations and learn how and why festivities are held the way they are.

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Stay – Accommodation

Accommodation is simple and basic but comfortable and clean. Bathrooms are either attached to the traditional hut or adjacent. In the winter you can ask for extra blankets but it’s recommended that you sleep in your thermals. In the summer months, mosquito nets are provided. Malaria has almost been eradicated in the Terai but you should still take precautions.
Bathrooms have western style toilets, a shower and a sink. Towels and sheets are provided for you. If you need hot water for a shower let your host know. Some homestays have solar heaters and others must boil the water up!

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Eat – Restaurants

You will be fed and watered by your hosts. You can expect dal bhat for lunch and dinner with different vegetables and meat curries every time. It’s such a treat! Served as spicy as you like.

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Time – Seasonality & Schedules

The cooler but sunny months of October and November or February and March are best. Wildlife sightings are best in April and May. The winter months of December and January are cold but nothing an extra layer or two can’t solve!

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Safety – Possible risks

Your hosts will give you a brief about wildlife and how to react in the jungle. The village is incredibly safe and the people are wonderful and can be trusted. If you’re walking around at night make sure you use a torch. Lock your doors when you’re not inside, more because your hosts will remind you too!

Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar with their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.

Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.

Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).

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Pay – How much does it cost?

Nepal is a relatively cheap country to travel in. Your homestay experience costs $15 per person per night. Safari experiences, half day costs approx $30 (depending on numbers), plus $2 for your buffer zone entrance fee. The bus from Kathmandu or Pokhara costs approx $10.

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Responsible Travel – Best Practices

Both Tharu Village and Barauli Village are incredibly eco-conscious. Respect this by not littering and reducing the use of single-use plastics.

Always ask (or gesture to ask) before you take a photo of somebody and be sure to show it to them afterwards for their approval.

The Tharu culture is quite reserved so be sure to wear long sleeves with no revealing neckline and long trousers.

Be conscious of showing your tech off too much but equally share it with those who are interested and want to find out more about your camera, your phone, your iPad etc.

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Reality Check – Be Aware

This is such an amazing place to visit but remember that the programmes run on ‘Nepali time’ the pace of life is a little slower here to be prepared to take a step back and go with the flow!

Although the homestay families are learning English their conversations are limited. Be sure to bring a phrasebook with you and be prepared to play charades! It’s fun and a great way to make new friends!

Recommended reading

For full information about the homestays check out – https://www.communityhomestay.com/chitwan/1542/barauli-community-homestay

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JOIN US! WSE Travel Packages

This sounds like quite the adventure, right? We thought so too! Though we realize it can be pretty intimidating to get out there into the world on your own, especially when travelling to some of these off the beaten path locations. We love it when our readers give it a shot and try it for themselves! In fact, please leave us feedback if you do!! If trying something ‘this’ adventurous on your own is just a bit outside of your comfort zone, WSE Travel is here to help!

Follow this link for our ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Tours – packages that are highly personalized and tailored at your request.

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Have you ever been to a city that had a really unique historical or cultural feature? Where was it and what made it so unique?

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