A jeep picked us up at 7.00am and we headed down to the river to catch a canoe over to the park. We held a Chinese parliament last night about whether we should do a jeep safari or canyoning and the safari got the majority vote.
The jeep was open sided and open topped which meant that we could stand up if we wanted a leg stretch and hang onto the handrails.
Initially the landscape is grasses which grow to considerable heights. As the land rises and the ground gets drier it gave way to Sal forest. We saw lots of different deer, wild boar, large monitor lizards, birds of many colours and had a close encounter with a very warty Rhino. We didn't see a tiger, although we saw many fresh footprints and our guide gave us a leaf to smell the territorial marking (think strong ammonia).
We had plenty of shade and breeze during the first 2-3 hours. Mid morning we stopped at a Gharial crocodile conservation area for breeding and reintroduction. Amazing adapted creatures with a very long and thin mouth with 154 interlocking teeth, perfect for nabbing a juicy fish supper.
There was also a turtle breeding
and vulture breeding programme and the government have committed to doubling the 120 tiger population. It appears that the malaria eradication programme of the 1950's led to massive deforestation and a mass migration of hill people into the very sparsely populated terai environment. This has been the cause of the collapse in animal numbers.
The sun breeches the clouds as we left the conservation area and the temperature jumped up as we made our way back to the river crossing.
We lunched in the same local restaurant as yesterday. Tom managed to knock over two bowls of yoghurt, check out that table cloth!
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