Royal, Chitwan National Park : Jungle Survival Skills, other sights and thrills.
Sauraha Travel Blog› entry 82 of 268 › view all entries
āGroooan!ā Why do I still have half my clothes on? Why is my room door open? F**k! I hope none of those f**kinā bees got in!!! Where are my glasses? Oh, what are they doing on the floor behind the S-bend of the toilet. Hmmm? Something went a little wrong here last night didnāt it. Why do I have ā75 girlsā on the brain? Oh yeah I remember. I missed all the action. Still, at least I slept right through all the noise that would have been involved. The sleep of the dead. The sleep of Rakshi.
Nevermind, itās time to don my khaki trousers and shirt and get out on jungle safari peepsā¦ the ladeez will still be here later! And, actually after the initial first-moments of daylight fog lifts from my mind Iām feeling pretty fresh despite the fact my blood currently constitutes 51% Rakshi.
The Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP), formerly a renowned Big Game hunting reserve was finally established as a conservation protected area in 1973 (I think?) and covers an area of approx 930 square kilometres. It is the oldest national park - of which there are several - in Nepal and comprises the wealthiest bio-diversity of flora and fauna in the country including many rare and endangered wildlife species. Some of which I am privileged to see in my time there. It is most famous for the population of single-horned Indian Rhinocerousā¦ practically the last community of its species in the world. We also are lucky to see the Great Black Stalk (largest bird in the park) and the very rare Forest Eagle Owl (which Laxman only spots about twice a year).
First activity of the day is an elephant top safari trek into the park. Itās four people to an elephant (Rebecca, her father Michael, Yeesh & I) and my initial fears of how someone as diminutive as I gets his leg over a all that tonnage of elephant are dispelled by the presence of large wooden staircase platforms up to the level of the elephantās back. Today we will be riding Corina. We set off, a small procession of pachiderms and people lurching and lolloping into the deep green flora flood of the Park.
We are very fortunate indeed on our 90 minute or so safari with regards the wildlife that we are privileged to witness in the wild.
We are lucky today to frequently come across several types of forest deer. Females, and males with the elegant antlers. Two more rhinos are soon spotted. This time a mother and child, hunkered down and resting on the jungle floor. An early morning doze. I canāt get over how cute such ostensibly hard-ass, and ugly creatures that these are can come across with their tiny black marble-sized eyes (rhinos are practically blind and operate predominantly by the use of smell) and there flopping, flapping ears.
We cross some ditches and waterways, mesmerised by the richness of the natural surroundings all the wayā¦ not too put out by the fact that our ribs are being slowly ground to dust by the lurching, battering theyāre getting on the wooden platform we sit with, legs wrapped around struts to ensure no falling to the jungle floor. You have to constantly bat branches and twigs out of your way. I donāt want to lose my glasses to a stray bit of tree. We bumble along the banks of the river. Other tourists float atop of it in canoes.
Later having dismounted from Corina I stroll back to Eden Jungle. Time for some lunch. Preparations are in full swing for another party for the 75 female anthropology students and their teachers tonight. Theyāve requested some traditional fare for food tonight so at some expense two goats have been purchased to be roasted over an open fire and Laxman and Sunni are in the middle of the grim task of executioā¦ sorry, food preparation. This involves my first experience of seeing a live animalās head lopped right off!! āYuk!ā Laxman and friend straining at ropes to keep the poor goat in place, Sunni raises his traditional, curved Nepali kukhuri sword far above his headā¦ and itās goat on the menu tonight ladies and gentleman.
Next I stroll back down to the rivers edge where the many elephants of the park are brought to bathe in the river waters. They seem to enjoy this part of the day very much. Elephants really, truly can smile and seem to laugh. Itās quite fascinating watching them splash, swim and roll about in the waters. Their trunks merrily flailing about whilst their owners try to scrub them down with rocks, a form of elephant massage and exfoliation.
In the afternoon, Laxman and I go for a drift down the river, courtesy of an old Tharu boatman, in one of the old long canoes. Laxmanās eyes, with years and years of training miraculously pick out species of bird at almost every turn of the head to show and explain to me. We also get to see a good many crocodiles resting up on the riverbanks. Some of these guys are big and as Laxmanās keen to point out āman eatersā. The canoe eventually pulls up on the far riverbankā¦ and here we are. Time for the real deal. A trek on foot into the bowels of the Chitwan jungle.
At one point, strung high up in the jungle canopy Laxman points out a rather foreboding looking sight. The shredded, dripping carcass of a deer dangles from the branches up above our heads. A fleshy, drying cobweb of furry animal hide, bone and hoof. A leopard kill. It looks like something right outta Arnieās Eighties movie āPredatorā. A corpse suspended, stripped high up in the forest roof.
Itās been a long busy day. Heading out of the confines of the forest (thankfully without having sat down to tea with Mr Rhino or Mrs Tiger!) we enter the Chitwan elephant breeding sanctuary. A long L-shape of large elephant pens where they are looked after from birth, raised and trained in the ways of being elephants comfortable with a life of jungle trekking and all the interpersonal, human-pleasing skills that requires. Only 2 days ago or so a set of identical twins have been born to a mother elephant. This is extreeeeemely rare apparently and this is only the second known twins set to have been born in captivity in the world.
It is here at the sanctuary that we come across the vast armada of female students staying at the Eden Jungle and Chitwan. We hitch a ride back with them in their several busses and get ready for the spectacle of fire-roasted goat and the troupe of traditional Tharu stick-dancers that come to the Resort to dazzle us with their unusual, stick-thumping dance.