We woke up in Chitwan for a big breakfast and then whisked off for the first adventure: a dugout canoe ride down the Rapti River just outside our door. The Chitwan region is not only a refuge for several endangered land animals but also a major sub-continental bird sanctuary and many were evident on the way including the national bird Kingfisher. We saw little lapwings, white egrets (“snowy egrets are crocodile chickens. Haha”), brown herons, a wooly necked stork coming in for a landing, ghaurial crocodiles on the banks, black ibis staring the croc down nose to nose, and more.
The ghaurial crocs are an endangered species located only in rivers in Nepal and India. They eat only fish. Chitwan National Park hosts an internationally supported breeding sanctuary established in 1978 by the Nepali government with help from many zoos and museums around the world. The goal is to maintain the genetic accuracy of the crocs and re-seed existing stocks. Over 1100 have been released reported as a success to save them from extinction.
Then a walk to the elephant barn where we learned tons about the differences between Asian and African elephants. Our two are 35 and 45 years old. They will generally live to 80+ but all retire at age 65. Great up-close-and-personal pics before walking back with them to the river and a full elephant wash including a chance to get in the water and help wash them. One was splashing with her trunk while the other laid down and wasn’t the least bit interested in getting up. I know how ya feel sweetie. It’s too damned hot to do anything but lay around in a pile of water!
And it was super hot when we headed out for a walk after lunch to the Tharu Village. The Tharu are local indigenous peoples with broader faces than the majority Indians now covering this southern terrai (flat plain). Almost exclusively agricultural, this area provides about 80% of the fruits and vegetables for the country. We did see a bunch of rice planted locally but also drove through a banana plantation, saw corn fields and huge gardens all in full production as the monsoons ended a month earlier.
We checked out their homes and gardens and backyards and children playing on the holiday swing set. It was an interesting look at their life style but I was affected by the heat so began to head back on my own. And that’s how I ended up speeding through the rice fields on a motorcycle sent by our worried guide in the Nepali jungle. Ridiculous. Funny. Very comfortable. Wish I had a pic to share with you!
We’re taking a small group to Nepal in October 2019. If you’re interested, please send us a note and we’ll send you some details.