With excitement levels sky high we left to the much hyped and anticipated Royal Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, one of the many in Nepal and the first in our bucket list. The morning welcomed us with thick fog, mist and dew settling on our numb fingers. The roads were amazing to ride on with thick jungle on either side, the climate was very pleasant making the ride even more charming.
For the entire stretch of 200 km we were in awe with Nature's beauty. There were green pastures, beautiful paddy fields, rivers cutting through mountains, snow clad mountain peaks & forests all along the way.
Chitwan is the place to be if you want to experience the life of Tarzan. The massive park is blessed with grasslands, a perfect habitat for the One horned Rhino & Royal Bengal Tiger, wetlands - that attracts plenty of local and migratory birds plus the lurking and silent killer - the crocodile. The park is also home for massive sal trees. This park guarantees a perfect jungle experience & the safaris are not just limited to jeep but also offer the popular elephant safari, canoe ride & the adventurous jungle trek. It was our very first experience to take an elephant safari in a national park and it was brilliant. The best part about an elephant safari is that it lets you venture deep into the forest and gives you a glimpse of the wildlife in their natural habitat.
Unlike the national parks in India, Chitwan UNESCO World heritage site, lets you experience dense jungle. The scrubs are really thick & green virtually making it impossible to see any barren land. There are plenty of massive trees in the park towering several meters high making it difficult for sun rays to penetrate through. The pride of the park is the One Horned Rhino which is endangered.
Chitwan offers a very unique and thrilling experience - 'jungle trek.' We ventured into the jungle by foot in search of wildlife. As thrilling, exciting and adventurous as it may seem and sound, this is a very dangerous trek. The trek lasts for 2 to 3 hours and during this time we spotted wild boars, deer, birds and toward the fag end of the trek, our guide spotted a massive Rhino grazing. We tip toed and inched closer towards the rhino. What an experience that was, we had an adrenal rush and felt a chill in our spine as we were mere meters away from this massive creature. We stood there admiring this wonderful creature and our hearts felt heavy at the though that this animal species is being mercilessly hunted down for their horn which is falsely believed to cure terminal illness and boost fertility.
Be warned before signing up for this trek as it is very common for Rhinos and bears to charge at unsuspected tourists. You can neither outrun nor outfight these creatures. Also, Rhinos and bears killing humans inside the National park is not unheard of. If all of this is not scary enough, during our trek we saw fresh pug marks of a fully grown tigress. We were told by our guide that we were in her territory.
Canoeing in Narayani river - If you are an avid bird watcher this ride is something that you will absolutely love. The manual powered canoe floats effortlessly in the river and is ideal for bird watching. Commonly seen birds are kingfisher, egrets, ibis, stork, hornbill, pond heron, lapwing etc. No matter how tempted you might be, do not put your hand in water. Do so only if are willing to lose it to one of the many crocodiles in the river.
Right after the canoe ride, we visited the Elephant Breeding center. This was initiated as the population of elephants in Nepal is decreasing rapidly. It is said to be one of the only 2 Breeding centers in the world. You get a chance to watch Elephant calves ranging from a few days to a couple of years.
We checked into Chitwan adventure resort, there are several nice thing to say about this place. Being foodies we enjoyed their food and they never compromised on the lavish spread and quality. The resort is beautifully done with great aesthetics. If you are hopelessly romantic, this resort is the one for you as it offers a chance to gaze at the stars from the sit out. The rooms are spacious and clean. There is plenty of greenery around the resort. They have expert guides and it was with their expertise that we were able to spot a rhino during jungle trek. The service is outstanding and they were kind enough to provide our friends free pick up from Sauraha chowk. They take extremely good care of their guests.
Next Stop Kathmandu.