On our elephant ride through the Chitwan National Park we didn’t see any tigers. There are about 300 tigers still in Nepal but very few people get to see one in their natural habitat. In the evening our guide showed us some slides of various aspects of the flora and fauna of the national park. He commented that only about one per cent of visitors actually see a tiger. Another guide was holidaying there with his family. Over dinner we had a long talk with him. He said he’d been guiding here for 22 years and had only ever seen two tigers, both on the same day.
During the elephant ride on our first day at Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal we were delighted to see a Rhinoceros in the grassland next to the river. Our guide was very good at getting the elephant into position to get good views and good photos. I wish my bird photos had turned out as well.
Later on we had distant views of a family of Spotted Deer. These were rather harder to see because of the tall grass. They were also frightened away by another several groups of tourists also on an elephant ride.
On arrival at the Royal Park Hotel next to Royal Chitwan National Park we were given only a few minutes to settle into our rooms before a light meal was served to us. Arriving so late – it was mid-afternoon by then – we had missed lunch.
We then walked a short distance to the edge of the national park for an elephant ride through the forest. I was really looking forward to this as it would safely get me into the national park without a great deal of effort. It would also give me a chance to see some of the wildlife and especially the birdlife. I had my camera primed and ready.
What I didn’t realise was that an elephant’s back is a very unstable platform for photography. Still, despite needing to hang on, trying to take in the scenery, look for birds and coping with the lurching of the animal underneath me, I did manage to get a few reasonable shots. The bird photos I took were sadly all out of focus or blurred from the movement of the elephant.
One species I was delighted to get a good view of was a male Indian Peafowl (more commonly called Peacocks here in Australia). This is part of its natural habitat. I also had good views of two Red Wattled Lapwings, several Black Bulbuls and a Green Bee-eater but my photos are blurred.
On the day after arriving back in Kathmandu after the trek Rose and I went exploring this fascinating city. We did some shopping in Patan, went to visit an international school and had dinner with the trekking group in Thamel.
For more details read my travel journal here.
On the following morning we said farewell to most of the trekking group. My daughter Rose was heading off to Bangkok on her way home to South Australia. Kath was also heading to Bangkok for a short break in Thailand. James was going back to London for work as was Russell. Linda and Jenny headed off to India for an extension to their holiday.
Jade, Kane and myself left later in the morning for the domestic airport for the short flight to Royal Chitwan National Park.
I was pleased to have the company of Jade and Kane for the trip to Royal Chitwan National Park. The domestic airport was utter chaos, as it usually is I believe. The tickets said our flight was at 11:15am but we only took off at 1:30pm due to fog at our destination Bharatpur. Unknown to us we had to first touch down at Meghauli which is close to the Tiger Tops Lodge. About half of the passengers got off at this point. The airport there is just a small one with a grass runway, which doubled as a soccer field I think. We had ten minutes there to stretch our legs and use the toilet (which was western style and very clean!). We then flew for about another 6-7 minutes to Bharatpur. This has a sealed airstrip with a well kept looking building. We didnâ€™t need to go inside the building and our Peregrine driver took our bags to his car.
Bharatpur to Chitwan NP
I was concerned that his car wasnâ€™t going to make it out of the car park. It wheezed and rattled, the brakes seemed dodgy and the steering wheel shuddered. Little wonder it was in such a state when we drove the 40 minutes to Royal Park Hotel, Chitwan, near the town of Sauraha. Dodging pedestrians, bicycles, motor bikes, buses, tractors, trucks, goats, ducks, chickens, tempos and taxis is a remarkable skill shown by all drivers in Nepal. And all the time those incessant horns are blaring. No-one takes any notice of them so why do they use them? The buses in this part of Nepal are all decorated Indian style, though not quite as elaborate. Most of the road, except for the last five kilometres, is supposedly sealed. Our driver seemed to know every pot hole. There were quite a few of them!
- Kathmandu, Nepal – extracts from my travel journal written during my visit.
- Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal – also from my travel journal.
The morning after the finish of our trek we were woken up early to catch our flight back to Kathmandu. Our lodge in Lukla was about a three minute walk to the airport terminal. We had breakfast – the little I could stomach – and then waited for the siren. I didn’t want to eat too much, anticipating the flight back to Kathmandu.
The return trip is just as adventurous as the flight in to Lukla, except this time the plane heads down the slope and is hopefully airborne by the time it reaches the end of the runway. The alternative is a plummet several hundred metres to the river below, not the preferred outcome.
This time I had a single seat two back from the pilots and was therefore not as squeezed in and I had a window seat. The flight back to Kathmandu was rough for the first twenty minutes but smoothed out as we approached our destination. On arrival we were soon back in the relative peacefulness of the Shangri La Hotel.
It was great to have a decent shower again, not to mention a comfortable bed for a change. Interestingly, on this day I only took the photo below. It shows the garden of the hotel from our bedroom window.
- The flight from Lukla to Kathmandu – excerpts from my travel diary written while in Nepal.