Chitwan National Park

Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
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Trip End May 02, 2013


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Where I stayed
Wildlife Adventure Resort

Flag of Nepal  , Chitwan District,
Sunday, November 11, 2012

Heading south from the big city the road wound down through the hills, some steep and some rolling, but most converted into agricultural terraces. Grasses flourished and marigolds bloomed around simple dwellings.

There was a slow and endless stream of two-way traffic so the daring attempted to pass at every brief opportunity.  Sylvia became nauseous, but a Gravol helped by putting her to sleep.  We snaked along beside a wide river.  A thick mist hung over the valley.  

Passing through several small villages we saw children walking to school in variably soiled uniforms.  In one of the towns we dropped off some river rafters, then stopped for a bathroom break.

Further south the valley became more V-shaped and the busy road narrowed.  We occasionally escaped precipitous falls or head-on collisions by slim margins.

The backs of all the colourful trucks and buses were labelled with cautious phrases encouraging road safety.  One large purple and white one read 'Good Luck' at the top and 'Slow Drife, Long Life' at the bottom.  Spelling mistake aside, the message was clear.

As we parted ways with the river a gorgeous forest emerged.  We travelled on to another dusty city and dropped off a few more riders.  Eventually the land levelled out and true Nepali countryside living flew by in a blur.

We were the only two people to travel all the way to Chitwan.  From the last stop we took a rough jeep ride and shortly thereafter finally arrived at the tranquil Wildlife Adventure Resort.  We received a warm welcome and were shown to a comfortable cottage. It felt like we'd been to three totally different worlds in the span of only a few days.

The buffet lunch was simple but hearty.  We sat and watched the river water drift past for a while, then took advantage of the free wifi to book a hotel in Delhi.

In the late afternoon we took a brief walking tour of a Tharu village, one of over 60 ethnic groups that occupy parts of Nepal.  Despite a few modern advancements, the people still live simply off the land.  The walls of their houses consist of elephant grass cemented together with a paste made from cow dung and mud.

The area cooled off substantially in the evening, but nothing compared to the night time temperatures we'd endured during the trek.  We had a restful sleep that night under the mosquito net.

The following morning we rose early for bird watching, but the whole area was covered in a blanket of mist so we had our doubts.  We witnessed a spectacular smoky sunrise over the village and river where a local girl washed her hair in silence.

The avian sights were highlighted by a tiny but bright turquoise kingfisher and a group of colourful Alexandrine parakeets.  Tilak, our guide, proved to be a master bird spotter.

Afterward we enjoyed a big breakfast and simply could not get enough of the amazing masala tea.  We chatted about the gentle nature of the Nepali people, drawing comparisons to Cambodians and Laotians.  However, the next generation were clearly being subjected to Western influences, both positive and negative, so who knew how much longer it would last.  We did our best to minimize the latter.

Sitting by the river we watched kingfishers and egrets fishing and also spotted our first rhinoceros moving gracefully through the very long grass.

After lunch we were driven through the town of Sauraha to the riverside.  A large meat-eating crocodile sat on a sandy isle.  

We got on a long boat and crossed the river, entering the park for the first time.  Our jeep safari group was comprised of two French, three French Canadians, a guide, driver and us.  The benches lining the back of the rickety old vehicle were not very comfortable and, although we were misinformed earlier that it would be about a two hour tour, the final word was to prepare for four.

While rumbling along the rocky dirt road and crossing several wooden bridges we did get to see some of the local wildlife.  Large storks looked down from their treetop nest, monkeys leapt from branch to branch and deer slipped silently through the underbrush.

Well into our third hour, we had a close encounter with a wild rhino.  Several jeeps had stopped on the road and the giant creature initially went deeper into the jungle, then re-emerged a little further on.  Sylvia captured it on video while Jason shot a few blurry stills.  The guides warned us not to get too close and at one point it looked as though the beast might charge toward us.  Luckily, it turned the other way and walked off.

We were then taken to a gharial crocodile nursery, which was much like a one animal zoo.  The long, narrow-snouted, fish-eating reptiles were separated by age, varying from tiny recent hatchlings to huge monsters over 30 years old.  Shortly after leaving there we spotted another meat eating crocodile in the wild.

That night we took in a Tharu culture theatre show which included traditional dance and music.  Young local men performed wild, fast and dangerous stick dances and the ladies also circled and sang in beautiful black and white traditional dress.  The resort served up a variation of dal bhat on trays for dinner.  It was hearty and delicious.

In the morning we went for a bicycle tour through the surrounding villages.  We observed the local people starting their day with fires, food and chores.

We had the same expert birder as a guide and this time to our amazement he pointed out many large and colourful hornbills as well as an owlet, a small fluffy owl.  We also visited a Tharu culture museum.

In the afternoon we drifted down the river on a short canoe ride.  Kingfishers and crocodiles eyed the serene scenes just as we did.

After that Tilak took us on a jungle walk.  We saw deer, more bird varieties, rhino tracks, termite towers and of course the beautiful forest and little lakes.

Then it was on to the Elephant Breeding Centre where the young and old swayed their trunks and amused the throngs of onlookers.  One particularly playful baby elephant wandered through the crowd, touching people and being touched.

Back at the resort we sat by the river one last time at sunset.  A sloth bear sauntered down to the river for a drink, completing our wildlife viewing in fine form.  The only major animal we hadn't seen was a tiger.

Our final night came and went too quickly.  Jason hung on by staying up to post as many blog entries as possible while Sylvia slept.

For breakfast we shared two pots of masala tea, six eggs, 11 small pieces of toast with butter and jam and fried potatoes with green pepper.  We were sad to leave our real resort vacation behind, but Pokhara Lakeside was still something to look forward to before returning to the madness of Kathmandu one final time.
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Comments

Steph & friend on

You guys should try out for Amazing Race Canada! You'd be great at it :)

http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/the-amazing-race-canada-to-be-a-love-letter-to-canada-ctv-exec-1.1064088

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