6 Jan - this a truly memorable day with lots of elephant interaction. It begins after breakfast when we hear the magical sound of trumpeting elephants. They have come to the resort to meet us. There's 4 of these massive, gorgeous creatures with painted trunks, gorgeous big eyes and extremely wrinkly bodies. They are very well trained by their mahouts, friendly (although slightly intimidating at first due to their size!) and perform various tricks with their trunks. It's four people to an elephant so Heather and Dallas (the Aussie couple), Bhup and me board our elephant.
We have a great 2 hour elephant ride round Chitwan spotting several Indian one-horned rhino, wild boar, rhesus monkeys and sambar deer. Like tiger-spotting in India, it's an amazing experience to get so close to these animals on elephant rather than by safari jeep. The rhinos look so different close up than they did from a distance in Africa. The scenery during the ride is also beautiful. Jungle, forest, grasslands and then crossing the river 10ft off the ground on a wobbly elephant is quite an experience! When the elephants start trumpeting in the middle of the forest I feel like I'm living a
scene from the Jungle Book. The mahouts are gentle with the elephants rarely using their stick, instead they talk constantly and reassuringly to them and massage their bare feet behind the elephant's huge ears to steer it.
We reluctantly get off our elephant then have a pleasant stroll through rural scenes back to the resort. We meet lots of cute kids on the way and give out sweeties we have for them with lots of 'namaste' greetings. Explore the village of Sauhara then back to resort for a quick change into swim wear ready for our bathing with the elephants!!!! Again, the elephant comes right into the resort, we get on then take the short ride to the river which flows behind the resort. Bathing with the elephants was a memorable, hilarious and extremely wet experience :) I was riding mine with Bhup who was also having great fun. We waded into the river then had fun while the elephant sucked up the water with his trunk and then sprayed us continually. He then sank to his knees and to my utter surprise rolled us off into the river. Although I was only under the water for a few
seconds there was much spluttering and swearing from me while Bhup just laughed...I HATE being under water. To get back on the elephant, I needed to face him, grab his ears and put one foot on his trunk so it could lift me over his head onto it's back...it wasn't very graceful (see photos below!) but I got on...backwards....only to be submerged yet again, a few minutes later. Back on board, we rode up to the resort to dry out. V wet but great fun with lovely photos to remember this experience of a lifetime.
Lovely hot afternoon. Enjoy leisurely al fresco lunch of tasty veg pakora, salad and beer. We then head off on our trip to the nearby elephant breeding centre. There's about 20 elephants of all different ages at the centre ranging from cute wee babies of two months, to adolescents being trained, to huge mammoth looking creatures.
Back at the resort I relax on the verandah and watch the sunset over the fields. Bhup and I head for dinner in the village then catch the end of a Nepali cultural event in the village hall, which is reminiscent of being at a comedy club
event bizarrely! Stroll back through the dark village streets as there's restricted hours of power here...as there is in most of Nepal it turns out... A wonderful, unforgettable day with the elephants :)
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