Chitwan : The Chitwan district is a popular tourist destination, known for its Sauraha region which used to be famous for elephant safaris, where tourists would ride on elephants to explore the jungle and observe wild animals. Thousands of domestic and international tourists used to visit this area. However, in recent times, the trend of riding elephants for safaris has decreased, and local entrepreneurs are exploring alternative options.
Elephant safaris, which were once a major attraction for tourists in various countries, have faced criticism due to concerns about the treatment and well-being of elephants. As a result, a shift towards a more responsible and sustainable model called “Elephant Sanctuary” has been initiated. This model aims to provide a better environment for elephants, where tourists can engage in activities involving elephants without riding them.
In the Sauraha region, a collective effort was made by tourism entrepreneurs to create a package that offers tourists the opportunity to interact with elephants in various activities. One such package is the “Elephant Sunrise Bush Walk,” where tourists can walk alongside elephants in the jungle. The package includes breakfast with the elephants, and tourists can engage in activities such as feeding, bathing, and spending quality time with them. This package is priced at around 3,500 Nepalese Rupees (approximately $30) per person.
Another package, “Day with Elephant,” also includes the “Sunrise Bush Walk.” After the morning activities, tourists return to the hotel for lunch and then join the elephants in various cleaning and care activities. This package costs around 15,000 Nepalese Rupees (approximately $130) per person.
The shift to such elephant-friendly packages has been driven by concerns for the well-being of elephants and the desire to provide a more ethical and sustainable tourism experience. Sauraha’s tourism industry, which previously relied heavily on elephant safaris, is now exploring these alternatives to ensure the continued attraction of tourists while promoting responsible tourism practices.
It’s important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic and various restrictions have temporarily halted these efforts and impacted tourism activities in the region. However, the transition towards more responsible and elephant-friendly tourism models remains a significant development in the Chitwan region.