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Royal Chitwan National Park.

Written on: Monday June 29th, 2009

A journal entry from: London to Beijing overland!!

Well I have to say it's been one of the best days of the trip so far, we had lots of fun got really dirty and got to play with elephants all day!

We started our day in Chitwan at 6:30am and went for a canoe ride down the Rapti river in a dug out tree canoe with the guys propeeling us along with bamboo poles.  So off we went the group of us in 2 very rocky canoes down the river.  We were all nice and sweaty early on so we were quite pleased when it started raining. 

It took a while to make our first sighting which we thought was an elephant - but was in fact a Rhino.  The guides were reluctant to take us past in the canoe as the water was shallow and the rhino could easily have caught our canoe if he had decided to cross the river.  Lucky for us he was more interested in eating and just lifted his head long enough for a few pics before we floated past.

Our next animal sighting was the Gharial - which is a distant relative of the Australian saltie croc.  He has a slender, elongated snout filled with ill fitting teeth.  They are endangered but they are breeding them in Chitwan.  He too was unfazed by us and disappeared off down the river.  It was so nice on the river, quiet and peaceful after the constant noise and chaos that was India.

After about 1hr on the river we stopped and began our short walk to the Elephant Breeding centre.  Our guide was nice enough to share some Rhino attacking tourist stories whilst we walked amongst the rhino poo!  In case anyone needs some natural remedies, he said that the poo can be mixed with tobacco and smoked as a remedy for a cough, whilst the pee (collected by using your shirt to soak up the puddle of pee) can be sold off and drunk to aid asthmatics. 

Oh so cute!  Thats about the only way to describe the elephant breeding centre.  They had lots of baby elephants of different ages, the mums were all chained up but the babies could roam as they wished.  They had 7mth old twins that kept running between their mum and the next door elephant for a drink of milk.  The cutest little one was the 1mth old baby that was busy having a feed off it's mum.  There were 2 2yr old elephants that were out of the enclosure playing around so we all got to feed them and have a play with them, so much fun.  We caught a ride back to our lodge in a jeep and had a quick lunch before bath time.

Swimming and playing with the elephants was fantastic - it cost us 100Rupee which is the equivilant of less than 1pound so it was definiately the best pound ever spent!  Russ and I jumped on an elephant and headed out into the river where he sprayed us with water and soaked us before lowering himself into the water and tipping us off.  I was a bit scared of getting trapped under our Dumbo but after the first dunking it was bring it on!  All thoughts of water pollution safely went out the window - if we get sick we certainly had fun doing it.  After all the fun in the water we got given stones and set about scrubbing the dirt off the very course, rubbery elephant skin.  Our female had short tusks which were nice and silky smooth.

OUr next stop whilst still wet from the river was to a local rice festival.  The locals wre planting rice and they were having a ceremony we think to celebrate and bring good luck to the crops for the year.  After the ceremony, which was of course in Nepalese hence our lack of knowledge of what it was really about, the planting begun.  So in we got mostly the women and began planting the rice - the locals in nice uniform lines and us tourists haphazardly whilst trying to keep up with the local women.

We were mid calf deep in mud and it didnt take long before the locals started a mud fight and we all got covered in mud.  Russ and Becky another girl from the trip got interviewed by the local TV station and they took pics of myslef and Becky plowing the non planted section of the field.  No tractors of course in this work so cattle it was.  We finished the festival by eating their local dish they had prepared, ground rice flakes, sugar and natural yogurt eaten with our hands with mud caked under our fingernails.

Time for a snooze!

At 3pm we set off for our Elephant safari into the community jungle.  With 4 people to an elephant we were a bit squashed and uncomfortable for the 2 hours but still managed to have some fun.  We saw 3 rhinos including a young 2 yr old, a few deer, some monkeys and lots of bird.

So after a long day of fun, too much sun and lots of elephants we headed out for dinner to celebrate the 3 birthdays and to have our first red meat since our goat in Pakistan.  No beef of course but buffalo steaks, not too bad.

Off to bed under our mozzie nets ready to head to Pokhara tomorrow.



From Caroline on Jul 1st, 2009

Sounds like so much fun guys. Can't wait to see those photos.