In the ‘Heart of the Jungle’ at Meghauli Serai
Discover the wild side of Nepal with Taj Safaris’ MeghauliSerai, the first International Taj Safari Lodge, for a heightened experience!
CHITWAN OR “Heart of the jungle” is one of the best wildlife-viewing national parks in Asia and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984. With the MeghauliSerai resort in the lap of it, there is something new for Taj safari members as well as nature enthusiasts to whet their adventurous spirit.
A visit to this natural haven is not just enthralling but also enlightening. Located in the Terai lowlands of Nepal; it is a mere 20 minute flight from Kathmandu international airport. The park is famous for its success in conservation of the rare and endangered Greater One-horned Rhinoceros. From about 3000 animals of the species remaining in the wild; 605 are in Chitwan alone; affording excellent photographic opportunities to visitors. Meet this magnificent animal and a host of other creatures namely tigers, leopards, sloth bears and the unusual looking Gharial (crocodile) which is endemic to the Indian subcontinent. An elephant back safari will help you sight the beautiful Hog deer hidden away among the Elephant grass: one of the tallest grass in the world standing at 4metres! The excitement continues with a bird count of 543 making Chitwan National Park a nature lovers’ delight.
According to Preet Singh, COO - CG Lifestyle Collective, there is a lot of interest especially from high net worth business travelers looking for a new experience. He says, “Our target market is high end groups from overseas. These include both high net worth Independent travelers and corporates looking for exotic destinations for leadership conferences and small sized MICE events. We also target people wanting to celebrate their birthday or anniversary in an exclusive manner.” Apart from them, they target couples or groups of friends in the age group of 25-38 years who love adventure. Wildlife enthusiasts are a key segment though families just looking to get together for a shared experience in the scenic landscape can also be seen. Not long before potential parties discover this idyllic destination for their dream wedding setting. During the past few years 25-35 percent of the tourists have been from India though the number goes up to 40-45 percent during months of May-July.
From the in-house luxury to the beguiling outdoors, everything at the resort captivates the senses. In a land of snow peaks and sherpas, yaks and yetis, monasteries and mantras, where ancient temples, shrines, palaces and monuments offer a glimpse into the past, Chitwan National Park is a real jewel. Its dramatic landscapes of dense Sal groves, thick grasslands and meandering water bodies, coupled with the breathtaking wildlife, make it one of the most sought after destinations in Nepal. Nestled on the banks of the Rapti river, MeghauliSerai occupies prime position offering spectacular views of the park across the river from its 30 rooms and suites.
The National Park is home to an astounding 550 native bird species, including the Great Hornbill, Ruddy Shelduck and Pied Kingfisher, and approximately 68 species of mammals. The majestic Royal Bengal tiger, leopards, wild dogs and sloth bears are in abundance in this natural paradise, but the park’s main attraction is the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros. With its armour-like body plates and a solitary horn, the rhino is the Park’s local celebrity.
The resort offers something for everyone. The safaris hold appeal for all age groups. Families can experience one of the best Safaris in the world – they can enjoy the elephant Safari or experience the Jeep Safari, jeep ride into the forest, cross the river on a boat or even jeep, river crossing in the jeep – which is an absolutely exhilarating experience.
The culture of the region with the tribal dance and the food at display are an experience by themselves. Especially for the city dwellers, this escape from the maddening crowds is replete with experiences provided at the Biodiversity Park that comprises an organic farm, elephant grass, natural ponds- offering an authentic experience.
In all, the whole MeghauliSerai experience can be a great educational or learning journey for children and can bring them closer to the wilderness.
Local meets luxury at Meghauli Serai
From its 13 well-appointed rooms that offer elevated views over the jungle-scape to the 16 independent villas that come with their own private plunge pools and the palatial Rapti Mahal presidential suite, the lodge takes local traditions to a luxurious setting. MeghauliSerai has incorporated local hues into its design and operations for truly sustainable touches. From its Newari and Tharu-inspired front doors and the use of natural earthy tones that reflect the landscape, to the locally-sourced ingredients that integrate Tharu tastes in inventive cuisine, the lodge offers a relaxing setting for discovery. Interestingly The Tharu people are an ethnic group indigenous to the Terai in southern Nepal and northern India.
The attention to detail and personalised service is more than conspicuous with the Resident Manager Camelle Feria overseeing every little thing and with her affable smile. She was earlier with the world famous and iconic health resort in the Philipines. One of the highlights of the property is the breath-taking view it offers of the Rapti River and the Chitwan National Park, that can be enjoyed in many ways- from the comforts of the Meghauli Room private balcony or by Rapti Pool Villa’s plunge pool or simply having a barbeque lunch or dinner by the riverside deck.
There are interpretive wildlife experiences available to allow guests to discover and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of Nepal. Safaris on elephant-back, by jeep and jungle walks give a whole new perspective on jungle life. Walks through the local Tharu village showcase traditional village life, where guests can learn the tricks of moonshining for traditional brews or get a taste of fresh homemade Nepalese pickle. Canoeing on the Rapti river or trekking through the awe-inspiring Himalayan foothills will satisfy the adventure-seekers. When it’s time to relax from the day’s overwhelming activities, nothing more appealing than the signature spa treatments or to lie down by the cool water of the infinity pool, overlooking the tranquil flow of the Rapti river.
The park is the last surviving example of the natural ecosystems of the ‘Terai’ region and covers subtropical lowland, wedged between two east-west river valleys at the base of the Siwalik range of the outer Himalayas. The core area lies between the Narayani and Rapti rivers to the north and the Reu river and Churia hills in the southern border. The spectacular landscape, covered with lush vegetation and the Himalayas as the backdrop makes the park an expanse of exceptional natural beauty. The forested hills and changing river landscapes serve to make Chitwan one of the most stunning and attractive parts of Nepal’s lowlands.
The destination is only set to grow in popularity as they plan to launch campaigns ranging from Food Safaris to Wildlife conservation drives on international platforms with special attention to Tigers and Rhinos, as also a remote exotic destination offering that “something more”.
“Over the next few months, we will be doing a focused campaign in alliance with BMW, American Express, EO, Quintessential. The campaign will focus on select corporate, MICE companies, Event Management companies and Wedding planners. Also, we are doing campaign in partnership with international wildlife organizations focusing on tourism and wildlife for the Indian subcontinent,” says Singh.
With the luxury resort, Nepal’s tourism is all set to grow further. Singh says, “2020 is our year to promote the rich wildlife of Chitwan and for Nepal to be considered as a destination for Luxury Safari experience with MeghauliSerai. Our campaign will be all about creativity and uniqueness by promoting new concepts such as Yoga Safari and more. In association with Taj we will be focusing on Luxury Safari travellers and regulars who otherwise tread to Africa and would like to experience India-subcontinent luxe-safari lodges.”
Come experience this one of a kind experience in your neighbourhood that promises to leave you with memories and rare sightings as you return refreshed and reborn.
Best months to travel:
November to March when game viewing is at its best. April-June is warmer, but sightings are good. July to October is sultry with good sightings.
Meghauli is easily accessible from Kathmandu by road or by flight. It takes a short 20 minute flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur airport, followed by a 45 minute or 30 kms drive to Meghauli Serai Jungle Lodge in Chitwan National Park.
An alternative is to take a private charter from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, to the Meghauli Airstrip in Chitwan. Helicopter charters are also available from Kathmandu to Meghauli Serai Jungle Lodge.
This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'The Spice on MICE'
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