Chitwan, one of the most sought after wildlife destinations has yet another reason to attract tourists, blending wildlife and culture perfectly. Chitwan National Park is a majestic for wildlife hosts one of Asia 's finest national parks, renowned for its dense concentration of wildlife. Seas of elephant grass ripple beneath a magnificent sunset and pervasive sense of relaxation.
The newly developed Chitwan Chepang Hill Trail is unique because of one of the most ethnic cultures of Nepal- Chepang Culture. Chepangs, believed to be influenced by Tamangs, speak their own distinct language, leading a nomadic life and their primary lifestyle, hunting, foraging for wild roots and fishing and traditional farming near jungles. A Praja Pande (faith healer) might be an interesting figure for cultural tourists to be introduced to. They inhabit the remote and sparse contours of Makwanpur, Chitwan, Gorkha and Dhading districts. Other ethnic groups found in this region largely comprise of Tharu, Musahar, Satahar, Danuwar, Tamang, Kumal Gurung and Magar.
The Chitwan Chepang Hill Trail offers a rare combination of cultural and sightseeing experience. A stay in the beautiful homes of the villagers as guests and sharing their meals is a journey of discovery in itself. The unique culture in this area, bird watching, and other natural attractions makes it a once in a lifetime experience.
Highlights of major places
Hattibang 1410 mtr. - the first night halt on the way from Hugdi Bazaar, offers good scenery of the surrounding mountains and touch of Magar, Chepang and Giripuri culture, at the several home stay and community-managed guest house. Villagers give a unique cultural performance for visitors on request and offer Local handicrafts on sale as souvenirs.
Siraichuli (1,945 m), one of the highest hills of Mahabharat range, offers spectacular views of the mountains and magnificent sunrise and sunset views. The view includes a wide range of Himalayan peaks such as Rolwaling, Gaurishankar, Langtang, Gorkha Himal, Peak 29, Himalchuli, Manaslu, Annapurna range, Dhaulagiri , and the Royal Chitwan National Park in the Terai. The trek to Siraichuli from Hattibang is challenging through rough landscape and vegetation.
Jyandala village- on the trail is a Chepang settlement where tourists can have a cultural experience. A tour of the village and accommodation at village home stay is recommended.
Chisapanitar- a popular bird-watching site. More than 250 varieties of bird species are found here. The dense forest in this region is also home to other wild animals.
Uppardang Gadi 1275 mtr. - used to be the headquarters of Chitwan till early 1962. The remains of a historic fort that defended the surrounding countryside are still here, which is said to have been built by Shatru Bhanjan Shah. Offering spectacular views, camping service is available through community along with Home stay facilities.
Shaktikhor 355 mtr. - where the trek formally ends gives ample opportunity to visitors for a wholesome cultural experience. Home-stay experience, Cultural shows, Chepang Museum and Visitor's information centre, Caves and waterfalls around Shaktikhor make Shaktikhor a unique experience. Travelling to Chitram waterfall on the next day and stay at Chepang houses in Majhbang village of Siddi VDC is yet another attraction.
A Chepang Museum has also been established at Shaktikhor with the view to preserve and promote primitive cultures, originalities, costumes, life styles of the people. Different materials used by the Chepangs and relics like catapults used in killing birds, slings and bows used for hunting animals, crushing devices, dhiki and janto (traditional stone tools for beating and grinding grains), pots, wooden containers, drums have been kept in the museum.
Tourist Information Center at Shaktikhor:
Visit to the tourist information center at Shaktikhor is recommended for current travel information, while trekking in the Chitwan Chepang Hills. The tourist information center at Shaktikhor has resource materials that can provide cultural and natural attractions of the Chepang Hills. The information center also makes provision for trained tour guides, cooks, informative books, tents, utensils, and facilitate Chepang museum tours, local handicraft sales and crop sales, documentary show.
Besides home-stay facilities in Shaktikhor, Gadi, Chisapanitar, Chitram, Majhbang and Hattibang, resting places, porter shelters with bath rooms/toilets are also available. Teahouses are available in Siddhi, whereas camping site is available in Uppardang Gadi, Hattibang, Chitram and Jyandala.
Wholesome and organic locally produced agricultural items are available along the Chepang Hills Trail. Millets, wheat, corn, buck wheat Dhido (Nepali food item) and roti, baked corn, soybeans and other beans, dal and rice, gundruk (partially fermented edible leaves), seasonal vegetables and fruits, ghee, milk, honey, curd, other juices, poultry/goat items, edible roots, etc. are available. Other items like Kheer (pudding), sel-roti (fox bread), black dal's phuloura (a type of fried item), crab, tama (bamboo shoots), fish, nettle, etc. are also available on demand.
Access to the Trail
Hugdi Khola/ Bazaar: Drive 82 km from Kathmandu to Hugdi Bazaar between Mugling and Krishna Bheer of Dhading District, on Prithivi National Highway.
Shaktikhor: Drive 18 km north from Tandi Bazaar of Ratnanagar Municipality , if the visitor is coming from Sauraha or National Park.
The best time to trek in this area is from September through to Mays warm, temperate and pleasant.
Day 01: Kathmandu – Hugdi Bazaar-Hattibang
Drive from kathmandu to Hugdi about 3hrs. and trek to Hattibang 4-5hrs. In the evening, normally observe cultural show and local handicrafts. Over night at home stay or community guest house
Day 02: Hattibang–Jyandala
Trek to Jyandala about 3-4hrs through some of the beautiful local villages and Himalayan views. Jyandala is a pure Chepang village. Over night at Home stay or camping
Day 03: Jyandala –Siraichuli- Chisapanitar- Gadi
Trek to Siraichuli for 1 and half hour. This is the perfect place for mountain and sunrise or sunset views. Then we trek 4hrs to Chisapanitar for Bird watching, 2hrs to Gadi to observe historical fort. Over night at Home stay or camping
Day 04: Gadi-Shaktikhor
Trek down from Gadi to Shaktikhor with its rich cultural experience and observe Chepang Museum , MUVIC. There are site trip to Sinti waterfall and Sinti Cave . It takes 3 hrs. to trek from Gadi to Shaktikhor and 2 hrs from Shaktikhor to Sinti. Over night at Shaktikhor (Home stay)
Day 05: Shaktikhor-Chitwan
Drive from Shaktikhor to Sauraha and transfer to the lodge. F resh up, lunch, culture tour, tharu stick dance, dinner. Overnight at lodge.
Day 06: Chitwan
Wake up call, breakfast, canoeing and elephant breeding center visit, lunch, elephant ride, and dinner. Over night at lodge.
Day 07: Chitwan - kathmandu
Wake up call, tea/coffee, bird watching, breakfast, and departure by tourist bus at 10 am and arrive in kathmandu around 4pm . Over night at Hotel.