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Photo: Tiger Tops

In 2012 several resorts that were operating inside the Chitwan National Park boundaries were pushed out of the park after the expiration of their lease. With the government giving a negative nod regarding the renewal of their lease, the resorts including Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge, Machan Wildlife Resort and Island Jungle Resort moved their staff out of the resorts and settled elsewhere outside the edges of the park boundaries. The past few years have seen various articles on national dailies arguing why it is beneficial to have the resorts back in the national park.

Surprisingly, a news report that came out last week for the first time gives a positive signal as the government is believed to be allowing the luxury jungle resorts to return back inside the national park. While the talk seems like it’s in its early stages, the belief is that the tourism benefits outweigh potential harm to nature. The committee who is currently looking into this has said “Based on the recommendation, we will prepare a new guideline to allow them to operate inside the park”.

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Whilst this comes as positive news for the former resort owners inside the park, it definitely will bring challenges and pave a way for a new discussion for the many resorts that operate outside the national park. New luxury resorts such as Taj’s Meghauli Serai, Barahi Jungle Lodge and Kasara Resort may request for a location inside the park in the coming days. As more hotels and resorts open in the country, high-end luxury resort groups may want a prime location inside the park rather than settling on the edges of the park boundary. Only time will tell regarding how this process will pan out.

I had the pleasure of staying at the Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge and Tiger Tops Tented Camp in 2005, located inside the national park. After that I’ve visited Chitwan about 6-7 times and I have to say that my experience at Tiger Tops was out of this world. Their service, activities and the way they deliver their programs is a step beyond what is offered now. Personally, I look forward to visiting again if the resort opens its doors once again, however I do believe that the road ahead is quite a tricky one and needs to be planned thoroughly.

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