We flew 25 minutes to Pokhara in a little, tiny prop plane, holding twenty passengers, with only one seat on each side of the center aisle. The stewardess barely had time to pass by with a tray of candy and a plastic cup of water. The previous Gate1 travelers took 17 hours to drive to Pokhara, which may give you some idea of the infrastructure here, which needs a tremendous amount of help. I’m very happy they decided to change it to a flight.
The Chitwan National Park is located next to the village of the Tharu Tribe. Nepal is actually made up of over 40 different ethnic groups and tribes, speaking 123 languages. This tribe has lived in this area for hundreds of years, calling themselves the people of the forest.
We flew 20 minutes via a small prop plane to the city of Chitwan, then drove one and a half hours to find ourselves at the Tiger Temple Green Jungle Resort in the middle of the Chitwan National Forest.
I’ve never been much of an REI clothing girl but ok…I get it now. The animals don’t like red, yellow, orange, and white. They will hide if they see all those bright colors. We are supposed to blend in with the background. I guess this pink girl is going to learn to like khaki, grey, and green.
In 1973, Chitwan National Park became the first National Park in the country. It is home to over 65 mammals and 872 species of birds. We had high hopes of seeing the almighty bengal tiger, but our tour guide has been on this trip over 100 times, and he’s only seen a tiger three times, so we tried not to get our hopes too high. The group from France staying in our same hotel went out the day before and didn’t see anything in a whole morning’s ride. After the first fifteen minutes, all we saw was a wild chicken. I was so hoping that we would not have the same experience.
And then…our luck changed.
This crocodile has 110 teeth, eats only fish, grows up to 20 feet long, and can remain underwater for four hours. When he does that, his heart rate slows to one beat per minute.
We saw many spotted deer (just like Bambi), and barking deer, wild peacocks, and seven rhinos in all. There are over 600 rhinos in this park, with less than 2000 remaining in the wild in the world today. In the entire country of Nepal, there are only 198 bengal tigers left in the wild of which 120 are in Chitwan National Park. We saw tiger footprints, but alas, no tigers.
Near the end of our trip, our eagle eyes naturalist park guide Kamal, spotted a rhino hiding in the bushes right next to our Jeep!! We stopped and watched in total silence since the rhino was just ten feet or so away from our path. Kamal figured that he was probably waiting for us to leave so he could cross the road. We quietly backed up the Jeep, and collectively all held our breath for the next two minutes. With cameras poised, hoping for the best, this is what happened…
If you are so inclined, we donate to WildAid. It is a wonderful charity whose charter it is to reduce global consumption of wildlife products and increase local support for conservation efforts. They use high profile celebrities like Prince William, Yao Ming, Maggie Q, and Leo DiCaprio to advocate wildlife conservation. Let’s do all we can to save these precious animals on this earth for future generations.
I think we had a really fabulous day in the jungle!!