After enjoying several steaming hot showers, scouring social media to update ourselves on the worldwide events we had missed while trekking, splurging on massages for our aching bodies, and indulging in several delectable meals in Kathmandu, we decided to jump on a bus and check out Chitwan National Park. After sharing the mountains with donkeys and yaks for the better part of two weeks, we were excited to cast our eyes on some new wildlife in Chitwan.
The jungle in Chitwan is famously home to hundreds and hundreds of one-horned rhinos. However, the rhino population began to steadily decrease thanks to the proliferation of poaching. However, conservation efforts followed and the Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 which has saved this unique species.
Having lodged at very basic tea houses during our trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC), we made a unanimous decision to treat ourselves to a room at Chitwan Village Resort after scoring a deal we couldn’t pass up. We had a charming little balcony outside our room that overlooked the resort’s gorgeous garden. In the morning the elephants’ loud trumpet-like call penetrated through our windows and served as our alarm clock. I must say that the elephants served as much more pleasant of an alarm clock than the obnoxious sound of my iPhone alarm.
While we could have easily prolonged our rest and relaxation after EBC, we were eager to see and do as much as possible during our couple of days in Chitwan. It’s not too often that you find yourself in such close proximity to a dense jungle where fascinating wildlife awaits your discovery. We were ready to turn in our trekking shoes for safari hats and become the ultimate safari explorers!
Early Morning Canoe Ride:
After awaking to the elephants’ complimentary “good morning” call, we quickly ate breakfast and headed down to the river as the sun was beginning to peak through the trees. With the jungle surrounding us on either side, our guide navigated our canoe down the calm waters. It didn’t take a trained eye to discover all the crocodiles quietly lurking in the water and along the river bank. Upon finding our boat only a few yards away from these intimidating creatures, all I wanted to do was scream. However, to my surprise, everyone else in our boat seemed to sense no real danger despite those long snouts and razor sharp teeth that were well within view. Everyone else, including Brian, played it calm, cool and collected. If only I were so brave – tightly gripping the side of the boat was the only thing I could do to keep from screaming!
After receiving very brief instructions from our guide as to what to do in the event we encountered a rhino (which included as much instruction as climb the nearest tree), our group then entered the jungle by foot and eagerly began scanning the area surrounding us for signs of wildlife both with enthusiasm and fear. I spent my childhood playing with barbies and baby dolls with my sisters. I was not out playing with bugs and climbing trees so I knew if a rhino started charging, I would be the first to go seeing that I was the weakest link.
Over the course of our hour long trek, we witnessed playful monkeys jumping from tree to tree, beautiful deer scurrying around, a variety of birds soaring above as well as wild boar roaming among the trees. Brian and I fairly quickly realized that seeing larger wildlife was probably not going to be in the cards for us that morning. A plethora of dry, fallen leaves covered the ground which created a constant crunching soundtrack for our trek. As you can imagine, we scared away any rhino, tiger, or leopard that had thought about coming into view as a result of our noisy footsteps. Even so, we loved getting up close and personal with the monkeys, deer, birds, and wild boar!
The jungle safari was, hands down, the most anticipated part of our adventures in Chitwan! Tanveer and Kelly, the couple that we were traveling with from NYC, were safari veterans. They had several safaris under their belt including a safari in Africa. For us, this was our first rodeo and we couldn’t contain our excitement! Literally a minute into our safari, we were frozen in amazement as we stared directly at a massive one-horned rhino which weighed just shy of 5,000 pounds. You better believe that rhino was given the right of way as it crossed our jeep’s path!
With such an eventful start to our safari, what else would be in store? Well, we had high hopes of seeing a tiger or a leopard during our safari ride but unfortunately these animals had better things to do that day. Instead, we settled for another rhino spotting a little later! We also enjoyed the company of many more wild boar, monkeys, deer, and birds. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the thrill that comes with a jungle safari and quickly forget that the animals you are looking for are, in fact, wild animals (not in a zoo) so they’ll come around as they wish!
We didn’t realize this until we arrived but Nepal has much more to offer visitors than just trekking. If you travel to Nepal, be sure to check out Chitwan National Park. You definitely don’t want to miss out on the animal expeditions that await you!