Tiger, Tiger, in the night?

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October 18th 2008
Published: October 18th 2008
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Hi all,

OK, so I haven't been as prompt with all the updates as I promised. But, there are not a whole lot of internet connections in the jungles of Nepal. So, I write this from my hotel in Lhasa, Tibet. More on that later.

Nepal is beautiful. The scenery is awesome...rivers, jungles, I hear they have some hills too.
Chitwan Park was my favourite. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and so there are massive conservation efforts underway. The recent civil war and poaching didn't help. Now that the war is more or less over, attention is directed towards the poachers.
The place where I stayed is one of the oldest establishments and is located deep in the Park itself. They have no electricity from outside; it's all solar-generated. Also, they grow their own food. So we had fresh veggies every day and fantastic meals.
A routine day would consist of a safari in an open Jeep in the morning, followed by a walk along some of the jungle trails, an authentic Nepalese lunch, a river trip and an elephant safari near dusk.
The main attractions are elephants(of course), the one-horned rhino, tigers, deer, wild boar, crocodiles, snakes, birds(about 300 kinds I think), insects(OK, maybe not for everyone) and monkeys.

Alas, I didn't see any tigers in the 3 days I was there. I did see many deer and dozens of monkeys, including a troupe that insisted on hanging out in the tree outside my balcony one morning. I also got to sneak up on a sleeping rhino. By the way, if you do this, make sure there is a very, very large tree nearby so if the rhino awakes and charges, you can hide behind the tree. My guide didn't have much to tell me about what to do if there were 2 rhinos or if the one ornery one decided to wait you out. Or if a tiger came around. Or a snake. You get the idea.

The buildings in the lodge are all built in the traditional style of the people who live in this part of Nepal. They are built of dried grass and have thatched roofs and have bamboo and other natural products combined. In some cases, trunks of the huge sal trees that dominate the region are incorporated as main columns in the buildings.

The Park is easily accessed by road after a 5-hour drive on Nepal's less-than-ideal roads or by air. I flew into the area and our tiny plane landed on a field that is also used by elephants for elephant polo.

The Nepalese Army maintains a presence in the Park and there are several checkpoints to be passed as we travelled around looking for animals. They are there to deter poachers as this has been the largest threat to the tiger and rhino in the Park.

Next, I returned to Kathmandu to visit some temples and see some hills.


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