Chitwan, Bandipur and spotting rhinos in Nepal
After an uneventful stop in Bandipur (well except for New Zealand beating South Africa in the rugby world cup semi final) we proceeded to Chitwan National Park.
In the afternoon we went on a Thrau village walk, I initially thought this would be some type of tourist village but it was refreshing to be walking through a genuine traditional village, we continued on our walk to an elephant sanctuary and got to see some white tusked elephants, but it was walking back along the river edge bordering the national park that we saw our first wild Asian rhino. It was lying down in the river and less than 40 meters away from us, the questions came thick and fast from the children to the guide around safety as we were quite a bit away from the road with only a guide with a stick. The guide dealt with the questions effectively and manged to calm the nerves of the kids. Along the river we also saw a few crocodiles but each time they were on the other bank.
The next day we had a programme of activities planned which we were all excited about and first up was a safari into the jungle riding an elephant. Up early we boarded our elephant, the elephant was very quiet and could walk into dense jungle allowing us to see more wildlife than in a noisy 4x4, we saw monkeys, deer, lots of birds but the highlight was a female rhino with a 3 month baby, we all stared in ore as we watched the baby rhino suckling the mother from around 10 meters away sat on top of an elephant it was brilliant to see.
After breakfast we went to watch the elephants bathing in the river, this was one of our highlights in Nepal as we rode bareback on the elephants as they dipped their trunks in the river and soaked us, it did get scary when the elephants rolled over to get us off their backs, I couldnt stop thinking about my leg being crushed by and elephant and quickly swam away every time the elephant threw us off.
After lunch we planned a canoe ride down the river, all the kids were terrified of canoeing down a crocodile infested river and although all protested all went along. We did see a few crocodiles on the 1 hour trip and no one fell out of the canoe. We were dropped off on the river bank in the middle of the jungle and had to walk around 1 hour to get out. Early I had made up moves for Luca using a stick in case we met any animals on our walk and repeated to Luca "show me rhino", "tiger", "king cobra". I think the guide worried the kids the most in his safety briefing, "If you see tiger or rhino, jump down the river bank, but watch out for crocodiles first". Around 5 mins into our walk we saw another rhino, luckily it was on the other side of the river, we stopped and watched it eat and sip water for 5 mins and then carried on with our jungle walk, as we left the river side the guide told us our new tactic if we see rhino or tiger, "hide behind bush", umm hopefully that will work.
After 1 hour we reached the end of our walk at the elephant breeding centre, on entering there was a small museum which we entered, suddenly the kids started to giggle intensely, I walk over, "Look Daddy, the elephant is giving the other elephant a piggy back ride." They were in fact at the mating information display, "It's not a piggyback, they are making baby elephants" I reply. "No way, you're kidding right?". It was at this point that I thought I would let this point go as I wasn't ready to give my birds and bees lesson for the kids.
We absolutely loved Nepal, its people, culture, food and what we have seen have made this a very special time. But we are looking forward to Malaysia, Nepal is the end of our pre-arranged tours, the tours have been great to ease us into travelling and looking back still wouldn't have done it any other way, but now we are looking forward to our independence and no predefined timetables to follow.