Elephant & Jungle Safari

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

From Mahendranagar the border town in Nepal I caught a local bus to Bardia National Park, the bus is packed, and we’re all squashed in so it’s pretty uncomfortable.  I’m just glad to be away from Banbasa though so I really don’t mind, on the way in I got another one month visa for Nepal, I need to be out of India for two months before I can apply for another entry visa, so after Nepal I’ll need to make some decisions, although they are all based on me getting to Beijing for August, hopefully to meet friends to start cycling with (will keep you posted when I know myself).

When I get off the bus at Bardia I’m completely bombarded with people wanting me to go to their hotels, I actually lose the rag a bit and I’m a bit off with them, it was just too much.  Anyway on route I’ve checked out a few places and I borrow a phone and call one of the resorts who send someone up by motorbike to get me although while I’m waiting I continue to be surrounded, mostly by kids now that I don’t mind as much.  So my lift arrives and I must look a sight trying to get on the back of the bike with my rucksack, I’m seriously going to need to downsize (which I plan on doing soon), it’s around 13km down to the village beside the National Park and the sun is just setting so I get stunning views on the way.  I’m shown to a lovely thatched cottage which I have to myself, it has a couple of single beds and an en-suite and thankfully the beds already have mozzie nets on them (I was eaten alive in Banbasa, probably another reason why I didn’t like it).

There are a couple of large groups of Nepali staying tonight to celebrate their New Year, the year for them in 2069!  It’s weird.  Most of them are all from Nepal Ganj which is around 100km away and although I had planned to visit they actually put me off saying it’s not worth going to.  They are really good fun, up singing and dancing the whole night and I’m asked up a few times, it’s funny, they are doing their Bollywood moves and I’m trying to follow… I have to say with little success, but it’s a great night.   

Meanwhile I arrange with the owner to visit the Elephant Breeding Centre, go on an Elephant Safari and a guided Jungle Walk, in which he will be my guide.  I’m really quite nervous about the jungle walk and very nearly chicken out at the last minute, but I’m sure they are designed to scare you a bit so I just go with it, who  knows if I’ll be in this position again.  We walk round to a really precarious bridge, I thought the ones trekking were bad enough but this is ridiculous, there’s no safety involved at all, and head into the jungle!  At one point my guide runs up a tree… should I be afraid?  Should I follow?  I didn’t quite know what to do and I didn’t see any animals around, anyway he soon comes back down so I take it as a scare tactic. 

We climb the steps of one of the watch towers and although I’ve spotted deer, peacocks, loads of different types of birds and in the distance buffalo and elephant, the illusive tiger has yet to be seen.  Thankfully, I am ‘unlucky’ and don’t spot one of the tigers, I would have run a mile, but I’m more relieved than anything else!  Next up is the elephant safari, now this is more like it, we’re taken deep into the jungle, there are two elephants each with four persons, I love the movement of them ambling along, grabbing branches on the way for a munch, it’s a slow steady pace and is really enjoyable.  It’s mainly birds, deer and monkeys that we see and again I’m a bit relieved although I definitely feel much safer up here rather than on foot with my guide running up trees!

That evening four of the crowd from Nepal Ganj decide to stay for another night, they really are good fun and once again we end up dancing the night away.  I enjoy my visit to Bardia, it’s apparently what Chitwan was like 30 years ago and has still all the originality.  The owner took me out to the Elephant Breeding Centre and through nearby villages which are very traditional, it’s not tarmac’d or built up like Chitwan is apparently now which is why I decided on Bardia instead and I think a good decision. 
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