Chitwan National Park: The jewel of Nepal

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of Nepal

The ride to Chitwan

We left Kathmandu early in the morning for our ride down to Chitwan. While the park is only about 90 miles south of Kathmandu it took us five and a half hours to make the trip by private car. We traveled on what is considered the main highway in Nepal…all the buses and trucks traveling between India and Nepal use this road. The road might be the worst road I have ever been on….I bounced, rocked, rolled and jerked until my eyes rolled around in head like an old fashioned slot machine. By the time we arrived I was exactly like one of Mr. Bonds Martini’s….shaken not stirred.

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of Nepal

Foot bridge in Chitwan, Nepal

While the ride was from hell, the scenery was heavenly. Majestic rivers winding through the Himalayan mountain valleys…broad blue gray expanses of water fed by the  snow melt of Tibet and littered with giant boulders left by some ancient glacier as it retreated. Every once in a while I would spot a modern foot bridge stretched across a chasm which was perhaps a hundred feet or more above the water …taunting the faint of heart to try and make the journey across.

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of Nepal

Villages and fields around our resort

We arrived at our hotel the Wild Adventure Resort in one piece and after having seen several accidents along the way where cars were overturned or had rolled over a cliff… we felt lucky. The resort was only nine months old and while the landscaping was skimpy the views were splendid. The cabins lined the ridge above the Rapti River which offered guest a chance to see wildlife coming down to the river to drink in the mornings or evenings.  One morning I watched peacocks glide across the river, their long tails trailing out behind them as they soared gracefully above the surface of the mist shrouded river. I have never seen peacocks fly so it was a revelation.

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of NepalThat afternoon upon arrival we had a walk around the area which is surrounded by fields and Tharu Villages. Until the 1950’s the Chitwan Valley was scarcely inhabited and the Tharu who are blessed with a natural immunity to Malaria were its main inhabitants.  After major malaria eradication programs were completed hill tribes swarmed into the valley clearing trees and decimating the Rhino and Tiger population. The King declared the area a National Park in 1973 and since then animal populations have made some recovery.

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of NepalOur first morning in, the resort scheduled us for an elephant safari! Off we went in the morning mist to ride through the forest looking for the Asian one horned Rhino, tigers, sloth bears, crocodiles, spotted deer, moneys and anything else we might spot.

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of Nepal

Loaded and ready to go on a safari.

First let me say that elephants are tall…now this is good for being above the low growth plants as well as out of the reach of most of the animals we were looking for but it makes them  hard to hop on and dangerous to fall off. Special loading platforms were in place for us to climb up and maneuver ourselves onto the backs of these amazing animals and even then it was a test of one’s agility and flexibility.  Once aboard we set out to shoot big game….with our cameras of course. Unlike when Britain’s King George V and his son the young Edward VIII manages to slaughter 39 tigers and 18 rhinos during one safari to Chitwan in 1911.

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of Nepal

Rhino without social graces

It was not long before we spotted a young rhino that seemed to take little or no notice of out giant mount. We were able to get relatively close before the rhino turned and wondered off, so I was able to get a few nice photos.

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of NepalWe were not lucky enough to see a tiger which is not surprising since there are estimated to be only about 150 left in the park and their habits have become more nocturnal in an effort to avoid humans. However, we did see wild boar, spotted deer and a variety of birds and monkeys.

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of NepalI felt my first elephant ride was a success…the young mahout knew where to go and we saw a good sampling of what wildlife the park had to offer…plus I did not fall off or make a fool of myself getting on. Who could ask for more?

Chitwan National Park: The jewel of NepalOf course I am always conflicted about this sort of thing and worry about the animals…if they are treated well, is the load of people on their backs harming the elephant in some way. This is part of the burden of tourism which I understand and try to place in perspective…always asking when the costs to a country outweigh the benefits. A big question for another post I think.

 

About Larry Bosco

In 2010 I had one of those “Is this all there is” moments and so in January 2011 I retired from Real Estate Appraising, sold off all my worldly goods and headed out as a solo traveler in search of a new place to live. Since then I’ve traveled around the world, made new friends and had many great adventures and some not so great. After staying almost a year in Cuenca, Ecuador I have headed back to South East Asia where I began the journey in 2011. Currently I am living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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2 Responses to Chitwan National Park: The jewel of Nepal

  1. I was looking for a picture of the resort, imagining that it was a series of huts like the ones Darrelyn booked. What a different national park than we are used to here in the states. The roads leading there sound like the way roads were here in the US back in 1790. Just finished a book about Jefferson and Eaton and the roads were just like that.

  2. Lee Levine says:

    Larry, I sincerely hope you crossed one of those hanging bridges. They look spectacular, even if scary. Lee

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