Nepali Jungle Journey

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October 4th 2012
Published: October 4th 2012
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The transition from Western Europe to the jungle primeval was stark to no one’s surprise, but it provided many beautiful encounters. The park is far away from the madness (and general filth) of Kathmandu and affords the opportunity to see all manner of wildlife. Chitwan National Park is known for its bird life, rhinos, elephant breeding area and the elusive tiger. We didn’t see hide nor hare of a tiger, but then again, few do….even the guides. But it’s a great tourist hook, we’re sure.

The drive from Kathmandu to Chitwan is a five-hour drive that would challenge the shock absorbers and framework of the best of vehicles. To merely describe the roads as full of pot holes and the like would be letting the general description of the road off easy. The route (calling this a road is stretching it) took us along a rather rugged up and down hill journey sharing while sharing the road with every conceivable form of transportation. The road conditions on this stretch of highway are treacherous by any standards, yet it serves as the main conduit into Katmandu. Traffic lanes are not marked and there is an ebb and flow to traffic across
Elephant BathElephant BathElephant Bath

the water feels good
those imaginary lines you have in your head that will either make you laugh or cry or shriek depending on your level of experience with this sort of thing. Merry Jo was just starting to feel better after a case of gastrointestinal issues and this ride was doing her no favors. Our driver performed well and safely delivered us to our destination.

On this drive we did view a few incapacitated vehicles—victims of ill-timed driving decisions or vehicular failure as some were seen in potholes with broken axels or on the side of the road upside down. And yet the bicycle riders and motorbikes seemed un-fazed or worried by all this mayhem.

The Chitwan National Park is located near the town of Sauraha, Nepal. The temperatures have been around 32C (94F) and feels like 100% humidity. Breezes are practically non-existent, so welcome to the jungle. You have to remember that not only have we been living in San Francisco these past 15 months, but also encountered snow in Iceland just a few weeks ago. Our middle-aged bodies cannot possibly adapt that quickly to this rapid sultry onset, so we soaked our clothes with perspiration each day and that was that. Our activities here included 3 showers per day!

Day one, we got settled in, had lunch and took an ox-cart ride (cross that one off the list) and came back to take a quick shower, only to hear a bit of commotion from the camp. A rhino had been spotted! This elicits quite a reaction from even the staff as they spread the word and whip the tourists into a rhino seeking frenzy. We quickly scrambled to a van, which transported us to a nearby river, where a male was lazily lounging in the water not 25 yards from us, clearly unimpressed with the 75 or so strangely-dressed visitors to his watering hole. In the distance, a female was spotted who was slowly sauntering down to the water to join her mate. When she got almost in the water, we were herded back to the van (for our safety) and taken back to the lodge. Seems the female rhino can become somewhat irritated with visitors and seeing as how she could easily chase us down and do whatever to us, a well-executed retreat to the van was a wise course of action at this point. We are told they can run 40 km(25 mph), clearly faster than anyone in attendance.

The Maruni Sanctuary Lodge was our housing of choice and we found it simple, comfortable and clean. The manager is customer-focused and does all he can to make your stay meet expectations. This is not intended as an advertisement, just our experience. There are fans in the rooms that keep you surprisingly cool given the conditions, and we got by just fine.

Depending on the time of year any number of nature and jungle activities are available. March is the best time to see tigers but we were very happy with all that we saw in our time here. There it is again….the elusive tiger.

Our first adventure into the park the next day was an elephant safari. Essentially, four people are perched atop each elephant on a wooden platform with a cushion. Our sure-footed elephant tromped through the jungle just shy of two hours in search of the brown spotted deer and rhinos. The ride was serene and peaceful through thick trees, brush, and vines. We crossed two rivers and up and down a few hills. Far more comfortable than riding a camel, we can assure you. We saw a few local deer but that was about it. So, a nice ride in the country nonetheless. A short time after this, we indulged in the wonderfully misrepresented “elephant bath,” where we both hopped on the back of these wonderful pachyderms, who proceeded to step into the river, fill their trunks and they drenched us in river water! Then for laughs, they sink into the water, turn on their side so everyone can watch you fall off the elephant for their entertainment. All in all, a wet and wonderful time.

That same afternoon, we took off on a jungle jeep safari, which turned out to be four hot and bouncy hours in the back of an open jeep. We were rewarded with many bird sightings, including a stork, multiple kingfishers including the white throated Kingfisher, the Paradise Flycatcher, the Eastern Imperial Eagle, the Rollerbird, the Bee-eater, the Bulbul, the Cormorant along with herons and cranes in their gorgeous natural habitat. We heard the calls of cuckoos and parakeets and spotted some woodpeckers. We also enjoyed the company of a Dutch couple and also Cary (an American ex-pat who is now in NZ). We hung out with him for most of our short stay and enjoyed his company. He was awaiting his wife to come in and they were both off to a rather lengthy trek up in the mountains.

Never a dull moment at the Sanctuary. The next morning, we found ourselves up and at it early for a leisurely canoe ride, followed by a visit to an elephant breeding area, followed by a jungle hike. The elephant breeding area included a darling little one that stole the show. There were also twins. The jungle hike allowed us yet another rhino sighting, so now we’re up to three on this trip. They seem to just sit all the time in the water and eat…sounds like a good deal.

We are tired, yet happy travelers lucky enough to see many different things in a special habitat. And we are just getting started here in Nepal…..

Additional photos below
Photos: 29, Displayed: 26


Rhino Resting- maleRhino Resting- male
Rhino Resting- male

love that water
Cultural eveningCultural evening
Cultural evening

Fire twirling
A lonely pathA lonely path
A lonely path

in search of the tiger
Momma and babyMomma and baby
Momma and baby

one of the twins
Goat headGoat head
Goat head

OK,let's make some soup!

4th October 2012

what a ride!
wow -didn't know you were going to Nepal- that is something! Here i am at work and you are riding on an ox cart! love the pictures!
4th October 2012

You are killing me...I'm laughing.
Nepal is a diverse land.... This has been an education. Tougher travel than the other Asian countries we have been to. And as is is hot. Enjoy your day at work.
4th October 2012

Loved hearing about the adventures in Nepal. We rode elephants on both of our trips to SE Asia, once through the forest and the other from one town to another. There were two of us perched on the wooden seat and having never ridden a camel I thought elephants were quite uncomfortable .... but a fun experience. Your pictures of the hanging bridge and the clothes being washed in the river were also reminiscent of the upper reaches of the Mekong river. Can't wait to hear your next addition. I'm especially eager to hear about your time in Myanmar which we will visit in February. I'm still pondering the culture shock you must have experienced going from Germany to Nepal. Wow.
5th October 2012

Yes, there was a bit of culture shock
It took a couple of days to make the transition. We are on track now. So much to see. We have a guide you can hire in Myanmar if you are interested. Many things are similar in each Asian country and each has a unique personality. More to come. Off to see the birth place of Buddha.
4th October 2012

good memories
of all the places that I have been Nepal remains at the top of my heart and list for places to which I would return in a heartbeat. My most distinct memory of Chitwan was taking a walking tour with a guide armed with a stick and we spent the whole time looking for the next tree we were going to climb as everything in the forest was far above us on the food chain. As we walked through 12' high grass we heard a large commotion ahead and our guide turned around with the greatest look of terror on his face ever and screamed RUN!!! Holy shit you've never seen 5 20-somethings move so far so fast. We stopped after a while and realized our guide was no longer with us. I started back to see what had happened and found him on the ground laughing - at first I thought AT us but after I got him to spit out what had happened realized he had collapsed with relief...what he had thought was a wild (and typically angry) elephant was actually under the control of a friend of his. It was 13 years ago but I can remember everything about that moment. What a trip - Annapurna, rafting the Kali Ghandaki and Bote Kosi, dysentary that almost killed me in was all living about as vividly as you can ever hope to. I cannot wait to return to Nepal. :) Iook forward to the rest of your posts. Alisa
5th October 2012

Loved your elephant story
Yes, the grasses are tall and many large animals could hide in them. I'm with you on the dysentary in Kathmandu. That will come in a later blog....not too many details. So much to see at Chitwan.
4th October 2012

That is one heck of a transition! The Oktoberfest to Chitwan, now that is travelling. Merry Jo, get Dave on the Nepali Ice as soon as possible. It's the best beer in Nepal in my humble opinion. If you're going to Pokhara...send me a PM, I know a guy who is a superb guide and will make your trip there a complete joy :)
5th October 2012

Beer's a plenty
We have not seen the Nepali Ice yet but will start looking. So far Everest & Ghorka. We will head to Pokhara in a few days. We will write more soon.
4th October 2012

Tarzan and Jane
Wow--elephants and ox-carts, rhinos and wild jeep rides, all at 100% humidity! I'm impressed and can hardly wait to see what you intrepid explorers will find next. And with the number of birds you named, I'm beginning to think that if you weren't birders before, you will be at the end of your travels. Namaste.
5th October 2012

This birding thing is more fun than imagined. We have been fortunate to be in places where beautiful and exotic birds are easy to spot. A lot going on here in Nepal. Today we explore Buddha's birthplace.
4th October 2012
Look into my eyes

So beautiful!
5th October 2012
Look into my eyes

Yes, he was a good elephant
It is always good having a sure footed elephant. It is a long fall down if something goes wrong.
5th October 2012

Very Cool!
Looks like a LOT of fun! Enjoy!!!! Bobbie and Tom
5th October 2012

We are having a marvelous time.
Waiting to read your blogs from Ireland!
5th October 2012

Namaste again
So looking forward to your visit to the birthplace of Buddha--he's really my guy. For the second time, I saw the film The Lady about Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy fighter from Myanmar, so I'm also very much wanting to read your impressions of that country. Stay cool!
5th October 2012

Hello Tara,
Namaste. Good hearing from you again. We will give you our honest impressions. We are eager to see what we experience there with all the changes.
5th October 2012

Thank you - Memories
Another awesome blog from our wonderful roaming nurses - this blog is very special to me as I went to Chitwan in the 80s before there were lodges and did see a glimpse of a tiger...I had heard it was tourist city so Im glad to read your blog and find that Chitwan is still a place of very special magic.
5th October 2012

I'm sure it is more touristy than when you were there
But-- a jungle is a jungle and a few feet into it the crowds are gone. There is a lot of opportunity to experience lots of wildlife. The sunsets were amazing.
5th October 2012
Rhino having lunch

Ace Ventura, Pet Detective!
Are you sure Jim Carrey wasn't hiding inside this? Looking at this pic made us both instantly think of the film Ace Ventura, when Jim Carrey hides inside a fake rhino and freaks people out when it 'gives birth' to him! Love the pics of the heffalumps too, they are absolutely our favourite animal.
5th October 2012
Rhino having lunch

Thanks for the laugh
No Jim Carrey sighting yet but we will stay on the look out. Rhino's are sluggish creatures and the elephant is so very graceful. Thanks for following along.
5th October 2012

Doesn't look like the roads have change any in the 14 years since I was in Nepal...I still have vivid memories of my bus trip even today. However I never made it to the Chitwan National Park so I am dead jealous! Am living vicariously through you at present, so keep it up!
5th October 2012

Hi Rachael,
If I were to place a bet I'd say not a pot hole has been filled in within the past 14 years. In Kathmandu many of the streets have been demolished in recent years with the plan and expectation to widen and improve. Nothing is happening. Glad you are following along.
5th October 2012

Great Album
You really are into climate change here - Oktoberfest to Nepal. Must be a bit of a shock. Chitwan sounds interesting. We will have to get there one day. Trust you sang a chorus of 'Angie' to the goats head.
5th October 2012

Oh, yes
Dave immediately started talking music when he saw that disgusting goat head being weighed....and rotting on the scale. He was cracking all kinds of jokes...some appropriate...and some not. longing for some cooler temps. Ah, Iceland was not that long ago. Good hearing from you again.
5th October 2012

Hi Dave and Merry-Jo, We recently met a couple of nurses with the wanderlust in the Outer Hebrides - we thought of you and put them on to your blog! My Brother, Mike, (aka 'Keep Smiling') is coming to stay next week so that we can plan our Jan/Feb 2013 trip to Nepal and N India with him as our guide, so we're reading your life there with much interest. Enjoyed your Iceland experience and now it's Nepal, both on our bucket list. You beat us to it again! David - and Janice
6th October 2012

Hello David and Janice,
Thanks for sharing our blog with others and thanks for following along. We enjoy your brothers work and follow him. Travel is Nepal is tougher than other parts of Asia. The infrastructure is non-existant for these people. Lots of power outages. Over 600 birds in Nepal..... we recently discovered how beautiful the Kingfisher is. More to explore.
5th October 2012
Rhino having lunch

Lovely rhino shot, showers with Nepal...what a busy life...but always time to party...ah la la Song of the Week...very impressed!
6th October 2012
Rhino having lunch

It is a busy life we have
Makes you wonder how we ever had time to work....

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