Continued from 'Royal Chitwan National Park'...
After a shower and lunch we set off on the highlight of the adventure; the elephant safari in search of the one-horned rhino's. We were both optimistic about spotting some kind of wildlife even though the morning had proved unsuccessful. It is much more likely to see wildlife while on an elephant, although our guide repeated said "no guarantees". The seating was four people and a trainer per elephant (amazing what they can carry!). It wasn't the most comfortable ride but what would you expect?
It only took about a half an hour to get to the area where rhinos are typically spotted. As we walked through the abnormally tall grass, which in some parts was higher than us, another group noticed some movements in the grass. Almost immediately afterwards, four elephants were on the chase with anxious tourist being tossed around on their backs. Within minutes the handlers had TWO rhino's cornered! A mom and her child (wasn't really a baby anymore)… and they were NOT happy to see us. We were thrilled to have found not only one of these rare animals, but two!
The uneasy part of the expedition was that we had the rhinos cornered and they had nowhere to go. We literally had one elephant in each corner making a square around them. We knew this couldn't be good but didn't know what was going to happen. It just didn't seem too smart to corner a mother rhino with her child while being stuck on an elephant's back in the middle of the jungle with grass that is 15 feet tall?! After some serious snorting and grunting from the dinosaur-looking creatures, one of the dominate elephants gave out a huge blast to remind the rhinos who was king. Within seconds the rhinos frantically ran around and found an opening… we gave chase but they were gone.
Time seemed to stand still but all of this happened within a few minutes. We couldn't believe it. We got to see two rhinos up close while riding on the back of an elephant in the Terai jungle... what an incredible experience! A moment that we'll appreciate forever.
The next morning we were up at dawn once again. The morning's objective was to catch sight of Mugger crocodiles. We travelled down the river in a dugout canoe, the best way to see the wild crocs. It was a quiet and relaxing boat ride that delivered. We saw all kinds of birds, including bright blue kingfishers, and we were fortunate enough to find a pretty big crocodile! As our canoe trip was about to end we passed another elephant reserve were we saw a male elephant stroll to the riverbank to take a drink. We couldn't get over his enormous size and his long, pointy tusks. It was a great final memory of Chitwan.
We had an amazing time in Nepal. It gave us everything we asked for and more. Nepal is the perfect blend of adventure, culture, beautiful landscapes and unique wildlife. But, like every country we visit, time ran out too soon and we needed to board a bus.
Our next destination was Varanasi in India… and we had a very long journey ahead of us!
August 22, 2009