With an aim to boost living standards of local residents, Chitwan National Park is developing a 24km tourist route from Sauraha to Madi, covering four Village Development Committees (VDCs).
It takes around two days for tourists to reach Madi from Sauraha. If the new route comes into operation, tourists can hike till Madi by the evening if they start early in the morning.
A team comprising tourism entrepreneurs, conservation officers, members of consumers association and media persons , among others, travelled along the proposed route on Friday. It took around 12 hours for them to cover the route.
Chief Conservation Officer (CCO) Kamal Jung Kunwar said cottages, with the facility of overnight stay, were being built along the trekking route. The cottages will have a sleeping room, a bathroom and a kitchen. “Tourists will get to see the wildlife from the cottages,” he said. “We are also thinking of home stay.”
Regional Hotel Association’s former president Narayan Bhattarai said the national park management has to ensure safety of tourists and make sure wild animals like tiger, hippopotamus and elephant do not attack them.
The route features plain land till the midway, from where trekkers will have to climb up the Chure hill. According to the national park, the route was explored as per the entrepreneurs’ demand. Authorities are planning to introduce different activities so as to extend the tourists’ length of stay.
“This is a one-day trekking route,” Damodar Regmi, secretary of Regional Hotel Association said. “If security of tourists is taken care of, the route has the potential.”
He said this first-of-its-kind route, which allows visitors to walk through the central part of the national park, will “definitely attract them”. As the route is longer for hiking and shorter for trekking, “it has to be reduced to 4-5 hours. Tourists should be transported till Chure through vehicles, and make them walk from there,” said Regmi.
The development has excited Madi locals. Around 2,000 locals gathered on Friday to welcome the team travelling along the route for the first time. According to local conservationist Prabhu Prasad Mahato, tourists travelling from Sauraha reach Shiva Dwar in Ayodhyapuri-4 of Madi. “The news has enthused the locals,” Mahato said.