Our first few days were an enlightening, invigorating and often infuriating, but it was time to head off to our second destination for the trip: Royal Chitwan National Park. Covering 932 sqKm, Chitwan National Park is a UNESCO world hertiage site in the southern region of Nepal (close to the Indian border) that is famous for its diverse and unique wildlife and natural beauty. Consisting mainly of pristine jungle and grasslands, Chitwan is home to several species of animal and is home to an array fo endangered and indiginous animals. According to Wikipedia, “The Royal Chitwan National Park is home to at least 43 species of mammals, 450 species of birds, and 45 species of amphibians and reptiles’. However, most important it is home to the last significant populations of Bengal Tigers and One Horned Rhinoseros inthe wild. In other words, we were in for a few days of elephant safaris, jungle walks, canoeing and general jungle awwesomeness.
We stocked up on snacks for the 5 hour bus journey and set off. The bus is an often terrifying rumble down through caping canyons carved out by the raging river below. As we descended from the cooler alpine climate of the Kathmandu basin into the balmy mess of mid-summer India I began to worry if I would survive the heat. When we stepped off of the bus my worries worsened. 40+ degrees and 9001% humidity. Nice. We were whisked off to our lodge which we soon found was completed deserted but for us and treated to a tasty lunch and my spirits heightened, especially when I found out were were visiting an Elephant breeding centre later that day.
Samantha outside our chalet in the Marundi Jungle Lodge, Chitwan. We were the only guests!
The elephant breeding center was hilarious and our first taste of just how incredible Chitwan really is. We were driven down to a river on the boundary of the park where we hopped onto a tiny boat to the other bank. On arriving at the elephant breeding centre we were shown to a small ‘information centre’ (basically a room with a few photographs and some badly phrased paragraphs on the history of elephant breeding and training in Chitwan), when all we really want to do though was to go see the elephants. When we finally escaped into the open though we had a whole bunch of fun with a few elephants who escaped the barriers.
Soon enough the sun was threatening to set. Before heading home to shower and sleep, we set off to stop by a small shack along the river to watch the sun set over the jungle and sip on a well earned Everest beer. However, on the way there some children came running towards us, jabbering hyperspeed Nepali to our guide and pointing at the jungle. A quick check through the binoculars revealed a rhino and child grazing just at the edge of the tree line. A nice way to end the day.