Chitwan

Trip Start May 01, 2006
1
15
28
Trip End Feb 08, 2007


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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Adventure No.1
Off to Chitwan National Park - Nepal's largest. A 5hr bus ride and 20min jeep ride took us to Sauraha - a small "tourist" village bordering the national park. Once we arrived in Sauraha our task was to find cheap accommodation - not too hard considering it was 'low season'; no shortage of touts willing to accept our cash (in fact, all the hassling left us feeling quite disgruntled with Chitwan). We found a nice guesthouse by the river whose manager promised to give us cheap rates for any activities, "no pressure" (we couldn't even eat a meal at a nearby restaurant without being hassled by this guy).

After 3 days of relaxing (kind of) in Sauraha, we still hadn't been inside the national park or taken part in any activities: elephant riding, trekking etc. We decided not to ride the elephants as the guides were far to cruel to them, and the 'price-fixing' syndicate that the locals had arranged left all other activities outside our budget.

Feeling a little disappointed and very jaded we decided to head to a smaller town about 2hrs bus ride (and about 1 1/2 hrs walk, we found out!) from Sauraha. Much to the locals' disappointment we all piled into a rickshaw and headed for the bus stop - taking our cash with us!

Found the bus just in time, but had to ride on top as it was already full - we didn't mind a bit, in fact this is now our preffered method of travel, unless a tourist bus is available.

We didn't mind our walk into Gatgai, barely a human in sight! We found another nice little guesthouse by the river and Joe and I settled into planning a trek inside the jungle - Joe is a Kiwi guy and a fellow volunteer, he accompanied us on our trek also - Great guy, tonight is our last night together and we will miss him -. The next day Joe, myself and two guides(by law you must have 2 guides to enter the jungle due to a number of Rhino attacks in the past) crossed the river and began our trek, our guides gave us a quick run-down on how to avoid tigers, rhinos and bears and asked us to keep quiet so as not to scare the wildlife (too bad about Joe's nylon pants). About half hour into the trek we saw some tiger prints, which got us very excited. We followed these paw prints for about 2 hrs but unfortunately we didn't see any tigers (even for the locals it is quite rare to spot a tiger). For 9 hrs we walked through grass more than 4m tall, we saw some spotted deer and more tiger prints but no tigers, bears or rhinos - this had no effect on the adrenaline level, more than once we stopped in our tracks at the sound of rustling in the nearby grass! We arrived back at the guesthouse just before sunset, after tracking rhino prints for about an hour. Gatgai was a really nice little place that so far has managed to avoid Lonely Planet's radar, there were no other tourists and we quite enjoyed our stay there.

1 1/2 hrs by jeep, 4 1/2 hrs by bus(where we had some money stolen from right beneath our noses) took us to Pokhara - the starting point for our trek in the Himalayas.
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