In the Jungle...


Advertisement
Nepal's flag
Asia » Nepal » Chitwan
October 12th 2011
Published: January 27th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

October 12, 2011

...the mighty Jungle...otherwise known as Chitwan National Park, the next leg of our journey through Nepal...

After a long, hot, six hour bus ride from Kat we arrived in the town of Tandi Bazaar where we were to hook up with a shuttle from the Chitwan Jungle Lodge, our destination for the next three days...

Being on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Chitwan National Park is one of the more popular destinations in Nepal, and it is certainly worth the visit...at almost a thousand square kilometers, it hosts a variety of flora and fauna, including one-horned rhinos, deer, sloth bears and the elusive and sought after Bengal tiger...

Most accommodation is on the fringe of the park in a town called Sauraha, but we opted to spend more and stay at one of the lodges inside the park, fantastic...(side note: while we were there some of the staff were hinting that the government may be shutting the resorts inside the park down in the near future in the name of conservation, I recommend taking advantage of them while you can...). So we connected with the lodge's Land Rover in Tandi Bazaar, and with another couple from Winnipeg we were off...

Getting to the lodge was half the fun; after about 45 minutes of bouncing around in the Land Rover (over some less than ideal roads) we came upon a shallow river, and the only way across was to transfer to these narrow wooden dug-out boats and connect with another Land Rover on the opposite shore...so we loaded our gear and some supplies for the lodge into the boats, seated ourselves and let the local guides take it from there...wasn't a far distance to travel, but with the fast-moving water it sure was a quick ride...haha...

Arrived at Chitwan Jungle Lodge and were immediately greeted by the manager, a really cool guy (whose name escapes me) and gracious host who addressed any question or concern and ensured everything ran smoothly, not an easy task I would imagine...it was a pretty slick operation; a typical day would unfold thus: 6am-activity, 8am-breakfast, 10am-activity, 12pm-lunch, 2pm-Elephant Bath Time, 4pm-activity, 7:30pm-short film in an outdoor theatre, 8pm-dinner, 11pm-lights out...sounds a bit rigid but to accommodate everyone it certainly worked out, with plenty of downtime in between to relax and just soak in the surroundings...there was a big chalkboard next to the bar that listed your name/group name and all the activities you were assigned for the day (usually posted the night before) so you knew exactly what was going on and when...

The activities included in the stay were Elephant Safaris (four people and a guide on a platform on the back of an elephant), Canoe Trip (down the same river we had to cross to get to the lodge, with a hike included through the grasslands and jungle), Nature Walk and Bird Watching...as it was mid-afternoon on the day we arrived we were left with just one activity, Nature Walk, so after checking in, dumping our gear in our room and completing the lodge's orientation talk we headed out with a guide to check out the surrounding jungle and learn about some of the flora from the area...

The orientation chat was interesting, and certainly brought home the fact that yes, we were in the middle of the jungle...we were informed of the scarcity of electricity; it was only available in the rooms for a couple of hours in the morning and evening if I recall it correctly, although we never saw the electricity
Land RoverLand RoverLand Rover

Arriving at the river where we transferred to the boats...
on in our cabin...not a big deal at all, kinda cool actually...especially at night when they would drop off lanterns at everyone's door, made for a beautiful sea of light in the compound...

The most interesting part of the orientation was when we were informed that there were no fences surrounding the lodge, meaning the animals had free rein of the lodge grounds (there was apparently a rhino in the lodge's parking lot the morning we arrived...). We were then instructed to stay in our cabins between 11pm and 6am and not to wander out on our own no matter what due to the potential animal dangers...yikes! This was immersion, and certainly added to the ambience of the place...

6am certainly comes early, but up we were and off to our first activity of the day: Elephant Safari! Oh man, couldn't wait; saw the elephants the day before and it was my first up close and personal encounter with the magnificent beasts...there were five elephants in total I believe, so four of us at a time would climb this tower the lodge had built, they would back the elephants in so the platforms on their backs would be more or less level with the platform and then one by one we'd climb on and take our positions on the corners...again very slick...

Once everyone was settled we all went off in single file; it was at this point I figured we would continue like this over a set path for a couple of hours but to my surprise and delight we all parted ways soon thereafter and no trail was seen again, straight through the jungle and elephant grass! Within fifteen minutes we were completely alone, watching the sun come up on the grassy plains, absolutely magnificent...the guides and elephants seemed to know where they were going, but to my eye we were just plowing through jungle wherever the elephant wanted to go, frequently dodging low hanging branches...the advantage to being on the elephants like this was the ability to get closer to the wildlife in the park, as they were used to the elephants and wouldn't run at the sight/sound of them...that was the theory, we ended up only seeing a couple of deer the entire time we were out but a fantastic way to start the day and see the jungle proper...

Had some
That's our boat?That's our boat?That's our boat?

Everyone looking a little concerned...haha...
breaky and then we were off on our second activity; Canoe Trip and Hike. So it was back to the river we had initially crossed to get to the lodge, hopped in the same boats and then followed the current downstream for around half an hour...great time; the boats were moving at a good pace, weaving our way through some minor rapids and bearing witness to daily life of the locals along the riverbanks...as mentioned half an hour later we landed and began our hike back to the lodge, first through the tall elephant grass and then the jungle, great experience...

2pm drew near which meant one thing: Elephant Bath Time! An Australian couple had urged us to take part the night before, so when the bell sounded to head to the water I threw on my swimming trunks and joined the group...Elephant Bath Time is basically that; they bring an elephant down to this creek to soak and relax in, and us tourists are invited to get in with them, actually climb up on their backs and then basically get showered with trunkful's of water...how cool is that? So in I waded, and when given the nod by
Away we go...Away we go...Away we go...

Wasn't very deep but man was it moving...
the trainer I scrambled up the back of the elephant lying in the water...weird skin texture, almost rubbery and surprisingly hairy...haha...sat down and settled in, and then proceeded to get drenched with shower after shower from the elephant, laughing my ass off the entire time! The trainer then instructed the elephant to stand up with us on her, the power and absolute grace of the animal absolutely blew me away...this then continued with more showers until I was thoroughly soaked before she lay back down in the river and I slid off...what an experience! (Side note: hung my wet suit and t-shirt up in our cabin, then discovered they smelled SO bad that I ended up throwing out the shirt...wear something you aren't attached to bringing home!).

Our last activity that day was another Elephant Safari, and this time we were on an elephant whose baby came along for the stroll as well...it was fun looking down from our perch and seeing the baby ducking in and out of the foliage...Safari was cool, though not as much as the sunrise one from the morning (and again we didn't see a whole lot of wildlife which was a bit of
View from the JeepView from the JeepView from the Jeep

Making our way through the elephant grass..
a drag)...the ride was drama-free until we were almost back at the lodge, then things turned a little scary...

Baby elephant had lagged behind us, and as we were nearing the lodge it let out a trumpet blast, which instantly got the attention of mom...in a split second you could feel every muscle in the beast tense up, and she stopped, swung her head around and let out a massive blast...the guide got her under control very quickly and we thought everything was back to normal but a few seconds later the baby called out again, and now mom was really concerned...in the blink of an eye she tensed up again, turned and took off at a run, with the four of us clinging to the platform...she didn't go far before the guide got her under control, but it was pretty scary...you realized pretty quick at just how insignificant you are in comparison, and needless to say we were relieved when we got back onto terra firma...think that was K's last elephant ride, I'd probably do it again, although I'm sure with some hesitation...

Then it was dinner and drinks with some folks we had met from Seattle
Don't need no stinkin' bridge...Don't need no stinkin' bridge...Don't need no stinkin' bridge...

Man I need to get me a Land Rover...too cool!
to finish the day, everyone was pretty much in bed by 10pm...We were leaving the following morning after breakfast, and although we were signed up for one more activity at 6am (Bird Watching) we decided to skip it and sleep in...and of course we missed another rhino sighting...gah!

This was a fantastic experience, something I'll never forget...the jungle is beautiful, and the lodge and all the folks who worked there were amazing, really made for a wonderful stay...three days/two nights is enough time at the lodge, we were content and ready to go (our friends from Seattle were doing the four day/three night package and felt like that was a bit long as well)...

Onwards and upwards, next stop Pokhara and our four day trek...


Additional photos below
Photos: 56, Displayed: 29


Advertisement

Moon over Elephant GrassMoon over Elephant Grass
Moon over Elephant Grass

Heading out on the early morning safari...stunning...
Deer!Deer!
Deer!

I know this is fuzzy, most shots were from the back of the elephant, just proof we did see some wildlife...
Rest StopRest Stop
Rest Stop

...and elephant drinking hole...
K in the early morning light...K in the early morning light...
K in the early morning light...

...looking happy to be off the elephant...haha...


Tot: 0.171s; Tpl: 0.027s; cc: 9; qc: 35; dbt: 0.0362s; 35; m:apollo w:www (50.28.60.10); sld: 1; ; mem: 6.6mb