Chitwan National Park

Nepal 2012

February 27, 2013

So, for most of you who know us, or have worked with us before, you know Doug and I have a lot of banter in our daily lives…
Inevitably this transfers to our blog posts too. We’re constantly “correcting” each other… actually, we would probably do really well on a reality TV show.
So, as usual, we went back and forth about how to articulate our travel experiences as well (actually, Doug has asked me what I’m typing five times since I started…)
Each of us tried to write an accurate account of our experiences in our own writing style, I’ll spare you the overly formal and dry “former English teacher” version I wrote, and let’s just say Doug’s sounded something like this: “They’s was elephants…” over, and over…

So as usual, when we finally decided to work together it ended up making a little more sense… we hope.
Here’s the result…

After trekking through the highest mountain range in the world, Chitwan was a real 180 in everything from altitude and temperature to people and customs.  Chitwan National Park is located in south central Nepal, close to the Indian border. It is renowned for it’s wildlife facilities, preservation efforts and for being Nepal’s first National Park.

We headed to Chitwan with a package deal that would allow us to see everything this portion of the country had to offer, from the ancient Tharu (traditional people of the region) culture to the modern elephant preservation efforts. At only 492ft above sea level, we were venturing into the unknown yet again, but this time it was a tropical jungle. We spent most of our time on safaris, whether that meant an early morning jungle walk, paddling down a croc infested river in a hollowed out log (otherwise known as a canoe), riding in the bed of a truck or on the back of an elephant; any way you dice it, the jungle is an amazing place!

We decided we’d had enough busses (and we’d certainly had enough walking!) for the time being, so we rented motorcycles as our transport for the six hour adventure between Chitwan and Kathmandu.

The resort we stayed at was really, really nice…flat screen tv, HBO, super hot shower, almost regular power and you could look out the window and see the amazing Chitwan farmland and sunset from our bedroom.  This photo was taken early one morning before we left to go on one of our daily adventures.  The fog was pretty amazing in the morning.  The humidity kind of just hung in the air before the sun rose and burned it off.  Everyday the resort’s caretaker swept up the property and removed the fallen leaves from the night before. 

One of the included activities was a canoe ride in traditional Tharu canoes carved from trees.  The canoe fit around 10 of us on little makeshift seats.  The flat bottom and large displacement of the canoe meant whenever someone moved we felt precariously close to tipping over… Not good when there are crocodiles near!  The river was shallow in most places and really warm.  This shot was taken while in the canoe of another group on an elephant safari.

The driver and paddler of the canoe stood on the flat stern of the canoe, a real feat of balance considering the squirmy tourists they were transporting (and yes, that pun was intended).  Our tour guide stood on the front.  It was amazing to watch these guys maneuver their boats through the currents, shallows and fog on the river… not to mention the lurking crocodiles!

Before lunch one day we stopped off at the elephant bathing area.  They told us that if we wanted to go in and help bath the elephants we were more than welcome!  A lot of people actually did.  The elephant trainer would then have the elephant roll over or lay down or fall over so that the person would slide or be thrown off, although amazingly, we never saw a trainer lose his balance. Regardless, pretty much everyone was soaked!

  Chitwan has many different elephant farms and reservations.  At some of them they also do breeding and encourage the wild elephants to come and mingle with the captive bred elephants.  This is a typical “elephant house”  where an occupant is catching a few more minutes of post-dawn sleep before heading to work for the day (sounds fairly relatable). 

Early in the morning trainers take their elephants into the jungle to gather food for the residents of the breeding facility. These guys were out on a bambo run before the sun came up so they could spend the hot part of the day playing in the river.

One of the coolest, and most unique parts of our time in Chitwan was going on an elephant safari.  I do believe this was Nima’s first time riding an elephant!  This is the best kind of safari because if you get lucky you can get up close to the wild animals without spooking them or putting yourself in a precarious position. While we didn’t spot any tigers, leopards  or rhinos, we did see wild elephants, a bunch of neat tropical birds and a lot of jungle from our traditional elephant “basket”.”

Ya, that’s me on the way home.  The ride from Kathmandu to Chitwan is about 300km and took us about 6 hours or so to complete.  If you have not driven in Nepal or India or somewhere similar (Nepal is not as bad as India I hear) then you have no idea what “driving” or “riding” between these places means and I cannot even come close to explaining it, but let’s just say that it’s only somewhat paved and rarely looks as nice as this little “rest area” in town… It was quite an adventure!

More to come!