I am ready to leave Nepal, but before I do so, I needed to do two quick stop over to complete my trip. So from Pokhara, I took an early morning six hours bus ride to the town of Sauraha, to spend time with elephants and maybe spot a rhino at Chitwan National Park.
A World Heritage Site, Chitwan National Park or formerly known as the Royal Chitwan National Park is the first national park in Nepal, covering an estimated area of 360 square mile and known home of rare species such as One Horned Rhinoceros (Indian Rhino), Royal Bengal Tiger and Gharial Crocodile.
Usually, visiting the national park requires buying a package of 3 days-2 nights stay from any travel agents in either Kathmandu or Pokhara. The program includes- bus fee, hotel accommodation, bad food and various activities accompanied by a licensed Safari guide which includes canoeing, elephant ride, jungle walks and cultural program.
The price usually ranges between 80 to 100 USD, obviously depending on how much commission the travel agency is planning to take from you, so I suggest to shop around first and bargain hard.
It feels like my hand was tied since everyone was advising that going there alone and arranging everything by my self is proven to be more expensive, I have no choice but to go for the package.
Arriving at the resort in the afternoon together with other tourists, we were greeted by the lodge owner and directed us to our individual rooms.
After an hour, we met our Safari guide. The rest of the afternoon was spent for a walk in the village of traditional houses made of clay, passing by elephants crossing the lake while making our way to the recommended spot along the banks for a perfect sunset view.
The following day after breakfast, we are set for a full day activity starting with canoeing and jungle walk.
I guess there are some visitors who chooses to schedule the activity in opposite timings, as there lot of tourists doing elephant back safari, what would be our afternoon activity.
It was a cold morning for boat ride, the entire area was covered in fog, making the lake appear more mystical than it usually does. Our mission according to our safari guide, is to spot a crocodile and enjoy the different bird species residing at the national park.
Instead of returning us back to the boat docks, our guide decided that to completely submerged ourselves to this jungle adventure, we must start midway inside the jungle and made our way back on foot to the lodge, thus the start of the so called “jungle walk” activity.
Prior starting our walk, our guide on a very serious tone gathered the group for a briefing on the do’s and don’t in the jungle. Rule number one is not to create too much noise and if you encounter a tiger, don’t run.
I honestly don’t know what to do in case there is really a tiger, I have zero survival skills and on situation like this all I could think of is “I should pay more attention to Bear Grylls’ Man Vs. Wild”.
Good that I decided to wear hiking shoes, since it is not a walk in the park as I imagine it would be instead a real deal jungle walk. We did not spot any tiger or rhinos except their footprints, though we were lucky to spot several deer quietly feeding. There is a beauty on seeing the deer among the golden bush mixed with a peek of morning gleam.
I asked our safari guide why the elephants are chained and it seems that most of them wanted to be freed and just go back to the jungle. He told me that the elephants are not chain for the whole day instead they are only sheltered for a few hours while the government approved caretakers living on the same compound were having their lunch. In fact, these elephants are very much well-taken care of, there are even two to three personnel assigned per one elephant and after their appointed care taker lunch break, they will release the elephant into the wild.