Friday, December 30, 2016

Nepal Part 3: Chitwan National Park

Nepal Part 3: Chitwan National Park

This addition to my trip was Rick's idea and was a pretty cool experience as well so. Rick, nice call! Chitwan is one of the few places where tigers still live in the wild. This was the main attraction and unfortunately we didn't see one, but, we did see a handful of wild rhinos. Pretty cool if you ask me. There are a ton of other wildlife in the area which, as you can see from my pictures, can be quite difficult to photograph without really great (expensive) photography gear. I did my best.

Our trip in Chitwan was a 2 night 3 day walking tour with a short canoe ride at the beginning. Other than the wildlife the highlights for me were the first nights stay in a very small village called Madi, and the awesome tour guides. To get to Madi (as well as leave) we had to cross a river. The food out our home-stay in the village was the best Nepali food we had this trip. Also, I haven't seen stars like that in years. After dinner in Madi our tour guide told us about an infamous wild elephant in the area who has killed tens of villagers in Madi and surrounding areas. In the morning or first military checkpoint (the place you show your pass to enter the park) had been visited by this famous elephant. Some damage had been done to the fence and one of the buildings but no one was hurt.

Other than the dozens of deer, boars, crocodiles, monkeys and different birds, there were a couple of wildlife highlights to the trip as well. Very early the first day the guides stopped us and told us to be quite because they heard some rusting in the bushes. To my untrained ear I thought the rustling was so loud that it must be an elephant or a rhino. After a few seconds I noticed that the animal was extremely close, so close that I could hear the deep breathing. Turns out this was a pair of sloth bears. They dig into the ground to find termites and breath deeply to suck them up. We didn't spot them but they couldn't have been more than ten feet away.

The other cool wildlife spotting was a time that our guides really showed their tracking ability. We followed the guide off the jeep path into the unbeaten path like many other times before. After walking around for some time, clearly looking for something that they smelled or sensed or saw signs of that were completely invisible to me and rick, both of our guides started to climb a tree. They quickly told us to climb the tree and before we could even start climbing the loud stomps of a rhino mother and its child came toward us. Luckily they were running away from us because I'm not sure the tree would have been enough. From the tree we could see the two rhinos clearly.

As for tigers, we could see where they clawed up the trees and ground to mark their territory. There were also tons of tracks in the sand and mud every day. One time I think the guide must have got us very close because we got to an area where something had been freshly killed and we could smell the scent of the animal marking its area. The guide eventually decided it must have been a leopard by the way the tracks disappeared.

Overall Chitwan was quite fun and despite not seeing any of the harder to spot animals we both had a good time walking through the jungle with our guides.

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