Day 3 (continued…)
The bus was pretty comfy and we had air conditioning. We were pretty confident we would survive our 8 hour trip. Leaving Kathmandu we slowly made our way through the busy roads, cows and people trying to sell us food through the bus window. Once we had left the city we drove down a windy mountain road. The edges of the road were just sheer drops down. I was so glad we were on in the inside of the road for most of the journey to Chitwan. About 4 hours in we had a pit stop and some food. I bought some biscuits and MK had some traditional Nepalese food. It was like a Indian veggie samosa. The rest of the journey to Chitwan was on a windy road which followed along side river. There were some pretty narrow bridges we had to cross in the bus and some hairy moments when the bus would over take another bus on a corner. The next stop was in a busy town and all the tourists on the bus got off, but not MK and I we just sat there. We had been told to sit on the bus until the last stop so we did. Maybe we should have used our common sense and got off when all the other tourists did. After the town the bus went out into rural Nepal dropping off the local people. On the last stop we got chucked off by the ticket boy with our bag…this did not look like Chitwan.
We stood in a small village surrounded by dirt roads, fields and a few huts. There was a lady who was trying to get MK’s attention and a man stood behind us. It did not take us long to figure out the lady was just trying to sell something to us or worse. I turned to my phone and saw we where a hour from Chitwan. I called the hotel and gave the phone to one of the local people stood behind us. The hotel asked the villager to flag down a tuk tuk for us to get to the resort. About 10 minuets later a tuk tuk drove through and stopped. Finally we were getting out of this village and heading to the right destination. The tuk tuk driver agreed a price and I showed him the map. We were about to leave when two motorbikes pulled up with men on the back. They got off the bikes and ran up to the tuk tuk window and started to hand us Nokia phones asking us to wait. We realized they were all arguing over who got to drive us. It got a bit intense when more and more villagers started to surround the tuk tuk and they were asking us to get out so they could take us. In the end we just asked the driver to go. A hour later we were in Chitwan national park and at our hotel. The hotel manager was very confused on how we ended up where we did. We showed him our tickets and he explained the bus company we were on sometimes turns into a local bus and you have to change…lesson learnt, always follow other tourists!
We were staying at the Chitwan Village Resort just outside of the main village. Whilst we had some dinner the hotel manager ran us threw our options for our stay. We had one full day in the park. We decided to do the Jungle Trek in the morning, watch the elephant baths and then go for a jungle Safari in a Jeep in the afternoon. That night after a long day of travel we headed to the village to watch the cultural show. The show was a hour of traditional dances put on by the local people. After the show we had a early night as we had a long day of exploring the park the next day.
We woke up early to have breakfast before our jungle guide came to pick us up. Our jungle guide picked us up, a man called Ram. We hopped into the car and drove into the park. The first part of the morning was going down the river in a traditional kayak. The kayaks where trees hollowed out. They were used to transport goods across Nepal until roads were built. When the roads were built the people used the boats for tourists. We climbed inside the tree boat and floated down the river with our guide and a local steering the boat. Only a few seconds into us leaving the river bank we spotted our first crocodile sunbathing. The next 10 minuets were full of crocodiles in the water and on the river bank. The craziest thing was seeing locals picking grass and just meters away there would be a big crocodile chilling on the river bank. We arrived at the Elephant Sanctuary. The sanctuary was not what we expected at all. The elephants where all chained up. We do not support that at all. We just smiled and nodded as our guide took us around, they are very proud of there elephants and how they take care of them. It didn’t seem it was our place to bring up our views on elephants being chained up.
The jungle hike started from the back of the Elephant Sanctuary. Before we began the trek we had a safety briefing from Ram. There were two basic rules…
- If you see a Rhino, hide behind a tree
- If you see a elephant, run in the opposite direction
It was at this point I became a bit nervous about the next two hours. The grass was long as it was coming to the end of Monsoon season. It was humid and we were walking under the midday sun melting. I did get a leach on me but Ram was quick to remove it off my leg. The jungle was beautiful and we saw a lot of deer. I am relived the only animals we saw on foot was a group of deer. Mike did spot some tiger footprints in the mud as we were coming to the end of the hike. We crossed the river in a wooden kayak again and headed back to the hotel. On the way back they showed us the elephants bathing in the river but again it was not something we really wanted to see as they let tourist climb on them. We had a few hours for lunch and then we met back up with Ram on the Safari Jeep.
Again it was just MK and I on the safari tour with Ram. We drove through the national park for 3 hours. Ram could spot a deer in the bushes miles away, he had eyesight like a eagle. There was no sign of any Rhinos. After 2 hours of driving around taking in the views we had began to loose hope on seeing a Rhino. We were on our way out of the park when Ram spotted a Rhino. We drove right up to it as it munched on the grass. It seemed un-phased by us approaching it in the jeep. We took a few photos then all of a sudden many other jeeps came roaring up to the Rhino. Ram asked us if we could leave in case the Rhino spooked. We left the jungle on a high seeing a Rhino that close was incredible. It was so big and I was also so relieved we did not see one that morning whilst on foot. Our guide explained they do charge and tourists have died. Traveling back to the hotel we got caught in a huge down pour. Luckily I had my rain jacket, not so much for MK who got soaked, but we didn’t really care after just seeing the Rhino. On our last night we had dinner in the village centre and had a early night as we had to be up early again for the bus back to Kathmandu.
Our tour company had phoned the hotel to ensure they made sure we got on the right bus after our disaster on they way to Chitwan. We were basically hand held to our seats, which I didn’t mind as I was nervous about us missing something on the way back.
The bus ride back to Kathmandu was pretty terrifying as the driver seemed to love taking over on corners, it was raining and we were on the edge of the road the whole way back. MK went to sleep and I was so jealous as I just wanted to wake up and we would be back in Kathmandu. The last bit we slowly made our way up the mountain road with the drop just getting higher. I tried to just look out the front window and not to the side. I was so relieved when we got back into Kathmandu. The bus pulled up on the street we had left a few days prior. I saw our guide Raju waiting for us. Raju walked us back to the hotel and let us know about the plan for the next day. We would be having a day to ourselves in Kathmandu and our welcome meal in the evening with Raju.