Friday 13th January 2006
The country in this southern part of Nepal is very flat which seems strange to say with all the huge mountains in the rest of the country. There are rice fields stretching from the road into the immediate distance. The standard of living seems very poor with many shanty style houses, yet there is an electrical supply to every little hovel no matter how humble, a many sport television antennae.
Royal Park Hotel, Chitwan
The standard of housing seemed to deteriorate as we moved further from the main road and closer to Chitwan. It was a pleasant surprise then to drive into the hotel grounds to find very pleasant grounds with rooms spread throughout the gardens. We took our bags to our rooms and then had a bowl of soup and some toast as a very late lunch at 3pm.
We then went off for an hour and a half elephant ride through the national park nearby. This took us across the Rapti River and through tall grasslands on the other side. The grass here is up to 3 metres high, higher than us on the elephant. We were delighted to have good views of a rhino for about five minutes. I took some great photographs.
Birding in Chitwan National Park
The bird watching was frustrating. An elephantâ€™s back is not a good or stable platform but I did manage to identify Green Bee-eater, Red Wattled Lapwing, Baya Weaver and the Black Bulbul. Later in the ride we saw about five Spotted Deer (Chital) and a magnificent Indian Peafowl which is native to this area. On returning to the hotel we were treated to a cuppa and a plate of hot potato chips because we had missed out on lunch.
At 6:15pm most of the Royal Park Hotel guests gathered in one section of the garden to watch a 30 minute slide show. This was presented by the resident hotel nature guide called Kamal. He was particularly knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the national park and specialised in birds, which pleased me. As it turned out he was our guide for the rest of our stay. He stated during his talk that there were still about 300 tigers in Nepal but only about 1% of visitors ever see one.
At dinner we spoke to another Peregrine guide who has been coming here regularly for 22 years and he had only ever seen two tigers in all that time, both on the same day. We had a long talk to him. He is here on holiday with his wife and daughter. Having worked for Peregrine Travel he knew both Dorgie and Ananta.