Chitwan safari!

It was meant to be a white water rafting adventure, but it was really a brown water rafting experience! Mostly, I was just happy to get out of the stinky hot bus and traffic jam, don a sexy yellow helmet and puffy life jacket and get wet!
The river was pretty tame and meant I could sit back and enjoy cruising down the river. We came across groups of young boys jumping off rocks and playing in the river, clusters of people sitting back and resting in the shade and even a soccer pitch on a small sandy bank!
The guide made sure we all got wet at some point, angling the raft sideways so waves broke over us in the middle of the larger rapids.
Where we stayed…Jumanji!

 

Our next day was fully booked up and started with an early 6am wake up call! First up was a leisurely ride down the river in a dugout canoe. This time a guide was doing all the hard work paddling so we were free to relax, listen to the quiet jungle sounds and keep a sharp eye out for crocodiles. We came across 3…and they weren’t small! Thankfully, they stayed asleep on the banks and ignored us.

A trek through the bush was next up. Right at the start, a rather large leech latched onto one of the girls hands and reminded us to keep checking our legs and arms for the hungry critters.

 

We zig-zagged through the forest, around swamps, over fallen trees, across ditches and past anthills. Our guide had warned us what to do in case we came across came across tigers, rhinos or elephants. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – we missed seeing any of these creatures and only saw a few deer.

 

 

 

 

Next up was the elephant breeding centre. There were about 8 adult elephants there, each with a young elephant or two by their side. They were so cute to see although I did wonder what the rest of their life held.
Elephants are used here for work and tourism purposes. The tourism side was most obvious at the elephant bathing area. It was a busy Saturday. Hoards of tourists clambered for the opportunity to jump on the back of one of these enormous creatures and lumber into the murky brown river. Four of us decided to take the plunge and join in.
Watching the melee of tourists, elephants and trainers from so close was a little disturbing. It felt like the animals were on a continual cycle of getting out of the water, picking up more people, back in the water, tip them off and repeat. I think we all nearly pulled out as the whole situation just felt weird and unnatural.
When our turn arrived, we went through with it, more out of curiosity than anything. I have to admit, being that high up, feeling the elephants super rough, leathery skin beneath my hands and experiencing its immense power had me speechless (for a few seconds!) As per the schedule, we lumbered into the water, got thrown off the elephants back a couple of times and got to give him a bit of a wash down. It was an incredible experience but not one I would be keen to repeat again.
After an afternoon nap, we headed out again, this time for an elephant back ride through the jungle. Four people were crammed into a cage that was strapped to the elephants back. I wouldn’t say it was comfortable, but it did provide us with some cool views across the plains and over the elephant-height grasses. We bumped into a few more deer…and a rhino lounging in a pond. She had a tiny young rhino by her side and both were quite content to relax in the water and ignore us.

 

We were treated to a cultural song and dance performance in the evening. Like many other cultures, drums featured prominently, the rhythms changing frequently and dancers still managing to keep in time.
I had a fab weekend but was so glad to get away from the inescapable humidity in Chitwan and return to the relative coolness of Pokhara. (It’s still hot and humid here but at least I can still function semi-normally!)

 

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