Edit Blog Post
Published: March 11th 2017
Ouch. Gulp. Hold on. Incredibly bumpy and dusty roads with a sore tummy and lack of food. Thank goodness that the air cooling system worked on this bus. The 6.5 hour bus ride felt like an eternity considering the 87 km distance to get from Pokhara to Chitwan. The roads are that bad.
We arrived at the Chitwan bus depot to find a driver from our booked hotel, Chitwan Village Resort, waiting for us. The hotel staff were friendly and warm. The room was nice, spacious, with the most amazing hot water access. The grounds were immaculate and manicured with flowers and bushes. We only had a couple of days here, so we inquired about different jungle/animal sight seeing tours. The hotel at first provided exorbitant prices, but after we shopped around the town (there are many tour companies) we price matched with the hotel without issue. The next day our tour included: canoe ride, jungle walk and then a jeep ride in the afternoon. We were lucky to meet Demain from Switzerland (also a great photographer) on our jeep tour (www.dkphotography.ch).
Here’s our perspective on the Chitwan jungle experience….
The canoe ride was peaceful
and we were one of the first one’s out. We saw many deer (spotted deer mostly), various beautiful birds, and a couple of different crocodiles (one a carnivore, and the other who eats only fish). One of the crocodiles was huge, maybe 5 meters! The canoe ride was a good chance to get some interesting photos of bird species. The boat is like a canoe, but much longer; therefore it’s important for all passengers to sit in the centre so the boat doesn’t tip over and be able to take steady photos. If you are lucky you will have a boat of tourists who understand that concept, if not, then the boat will be tippy!
The jungle walk was long and hot, with a spirit of adventure. The wild elephants (few left) are in the mountains so slim to no chance of encountering these; but if so, the advice was run and don’t look back. Wild elephants are not partial to humans. The chance of seeing the one horned rhino led to the advice of running zig zag and climbing a tree. Rosalyn considered this a joke, until hours later our Switzerland friend explained this happened to him when
he encountered a mother rhino with her cub! Anyway, we tracked a rhino, but did not see it up close as the guide was very careful and explained we could not go further without escape routes. The tracking experience was interesting. We ended up seeing the rhino crossing the river later on. Otherwise, we saw many deer, birds, a monkey, and Glen may have seen a scorpion. It was a hot walk, 2-3 hours was enough. The senior and junior guides were very professional and informative.
The jeep safari was about 4 hours and there were many jeeps going out. Some people rented private jeeps, others (like us) opted for the less expensive group ride. Although there were a lot of jeeps going out, they were spaced apart and animals are always on the move so you never know who will see what. The chance of seeing something in the wild is still just a chance. The first part of the ride we saw a lot of birds and deer. The last hour or so we ended up seeing a lot of wildlife (near feeding time), including … two rhino (very close), bison, all types of deer, baby monkeys,
macaw, two sloth bears (close), wild pig, boar, and yeti (kidding). The elusive Bengal tiger was not spotted, however, from tourist stories it seems even if you see this tiger it is only a glimpse and not enough time to photograph. Seeing animals from a jeep takes you deeper in the jungle, but we did not see a difference in seeing more animals if you are in a jeep with less or more people (everyone is pretty quiet and intent on spotting animals).
The next day however, we walked around town and ended up seeing a very large rhino near the river who gave Glen and Demian 100s of shots – sleeping in the water, eating the grass, walking, and overall lounging around very close up. It seems this one may be a regular rhino that hangs out at the river and grassy banks for free!
The only drawback for us in Chitwan was seeing the captive elephants, which is a personal perspective. From what we could understand by talking to various locals, these captive animals were bought from India at extraordinary high prices, which of course means the owners would need to get their money back (via
tourists in the elephant rides, breeding centre to create more captive elephants). However, too often, in the short time we were there we witnessed these captive animals being whipped and crying in pain; it was a horrible thing to see and hear. We did not opt for elephant rides as a personal choice. There are probably very nice and compassionate captive elephant owners, but we did not see them during our short stay.
Staying at Chitwan for 2.5 days was enough for us. The taxi to the airport was expensive (only 5-10 minutes past the bus station) so some negotiating had to be done. The airport was small, and the process a bit hilarious. The security was different, as Rosalyn’s security question entailed: “how many Nepali words do you know?” The security officer was disappointed by Rosalyn’s lack of Nepalese language, but let her through. All the passengers were there, so the plane decided to leave a ½ hour early. We were barely in our seats and the plane was beginning to take off! Arriving in the domestic part of Kathmandu airport, we arrived early, pointed to our luggage, and were on our way. Our very kind Nepalese friend
Meen picked us up and we stayed in Kathmandu for a few more days to celebrate a number of Tibetan holidays, celebrations and Buddhist monastery visits!
Short recap of our 2nd visit to Kathmandu:
On arrival we encountered an amazing Tibetan celebration, Losar (New Year Festival), at the Boudhanath Stupa. The Stupa was all lit up, people with candles everywhere (offerings), prayers continually, and there was even a helicopter earlier in the day dropping down flowers.
We also visited the district of Patan and were amazed by the Golden Temple, Mahabouddha Temple, 1000 Buddhas, Dubar Square, and other city architecture. It was hard to turn a corner without seeing an amazing Buddha monument of some sort. Patan was a nice change from the crowds in Kathmandu. The destruction of the earthquake from a couple of years ago is very evident; and many monuments will likely never be repaired. In some places there are piles of rubble with beautiful remnants of relics.
We also went to a couple of monasteries – Pullahari and Kopan - up in the hills, and the visit access for tourists seemed free and welcoming (retreats would be at a cost). Witnessing the
various ceremonies was interesting.
Unfortunately, Glen is 0/2 on his quest to mountain bike. His first booking in Pokhara was thwarted by food poisoning, and his second booking in Kathmandu was cancelled by rain (first time in a month) and potential worker strikes on this day! Note to travellers
: Again we recommend to stay in Boudhanath, rather than Thamel, if seeking a more peaceful stay in Kathmandu. If you require an honest and efficient driver to get to sites we can connect to our Nepalese friend and his family. The Hotel Nabu Sangpo where we stayed was nice, with breakfast, and a short walk to the Stupa. The hotel is surrounded by a school for young monks and a senior monk residency. It has recently undergone new owners and have just replaced their hot water system and have many other plans to expand. Special Note
: We were so fortunate to meet Meen, his wife, and his brother. They were so good to us, and we really feel like long time friends and family! The Nepalese people have been so generous and kind, which made this part of our trip so special.
Tot: 1.945s; Tpl: 0.072s; cc: 5; qc: 46; dbt: 0.0336s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb