From the bus station, I could see the blue sky being cut by the razorlike mountain tops of snow, rising high above town in a circle all around me!
At that moment, to finally have a perfectly clear sky, I was heartbroken to be boarding a bus to head south, but my days in Nepal were numbered and I had to continue as planned.
It was a 6 hour bus ride to Chitwan, and luckily I knew some of the other passengers, because I had met them on the trail a few days back.
I arrived around 1pm to my resort in the jungle, checked in , had lunch, and then went out on a jungle walk with our appointed guide.
Our guide was great at pointing at native birds and fauna, but no big game was in sight. We did, however, get a tour of a local village, where we met a woman who was over 100 years old!
The families who lived in the jungle had lineage that traced them back to India. They migrated to Nepal years ago during the last world war, to escape the religious persecutions that were being enforced on the locals.
We then headed to the edge of the river to watch the sunset.
The following morning was an important day in Nepal and India. It was the 9th day of Dasain, the religious festival marked by thousands of animal sacrifices. I was more than happy to not be in a highly populated region of the country, where I would have to bear witness to the massacre. Local families celebrated quietly, though there was still proof that celebrations and sacrifices were being carried out.
We set out that morning for an early canoe ride.
Our vessel was a hand made, dug out canoe that we would trust to carry us through crocodile-infested waters.
We saw tons of crocs sunbathing on the shores, in addition to beautiful birds, monkeys, and other wildlife than were relaxing by the water.
After the canoe ride, we went to an elephant breeding facility, where there were plenty of new moms hanging about.
One of the highlights of the day was watching the elephants bathing in the river. This was a blast to see, as tourist were allowed to get in the water with the elephants and help with the bathing. The tourists would pay the equivalent of 10USD to partake in the play time. Elephants love the water, and once they entered and got wet, you could really see the child in them.
For the tourists who joined them in the river, the elephants repeatedly would take water in their trunks and blow it at the tourists (on que from their handlers, of course!). Then when the tourists were on the elephants backs, the elephants would fall onto their sides, dumping the tourists into the water for a good soaking.
It was a blast to watch, and probably even more fun to participate in, but I didn't have my bathing suit on me, so I enjoyed it from the shore line.
Our final excursion of the day was our elephant-back safari.
Though we did get to see some great wildlife, I had my heart set on the sighting of a large cat, so I was a bit disappointed.
I knew the odds of seeing a tiger were slim to none, considering it was late in the day and they generally avoid the paths the elephants take, because the elephants make too much noise, but I had my fingers crossed and was hoping luck would be on my side.
Unfortunately, it wasn't, but we did get to see some wild rhinocerous'. We got up really close to a mom and baby pairing who were feeding on some weeds. I'm told that these animals are incredibly dangerous in the wild, but from the safety of the elephant, they looked perfectly docile.
We saw tons of monkeys as well, but other than that, the big game would remain hidden.
That evening after dinner, I attended a local show of tribal dancing, which was fun to watch.
The following morning, after a brief visit to the tourist information center, I boarded the bus and headed 6 hours to my final destination - Kathmandu.
From Pokhara and the Annapurna region, I headed south in search of a jungle experience. Chitwan National Park is world renowned for its amazing wildlife viewing opportunities, as it provides a sanctuary for some of the countries most dangerous wildlife, including rhinoceros, tigers, and cougars. In Pokhara, I purchased a 2 night/3 day package jungle tour that I had hoped would allow me the opportunity to witness some of the wild animals. On the day that I was leaving Pokhara, I finally got the view of the surrounding scenery that I had heard about.