Chitwan National Park, Nepal



the bus to Sauraha is relatively straightforward

but it’s a longish walk into town

so jeep drivers rush you

willing to give you a free ride if you stay at their lodge

and it’s no wonder

the guidebooks suggest you take your tours with your hotel

otherwise you wander through town

hard to distinguish who to book with

how do the many companies differ?

Are they any different at all?




The truth is not much

you pay what you will

what they can get out of you

and you end up in a vehicle

or on a walk

with others who may have booked elsewhere

so why not book from your hotel

I suppose



but if you

like us

think it’s better to spread your money around

you might go for a walk

talk to the friendly locals


or try not to

someone this or that




we tried three activities

with two different companies

a meander in a canoe

through kingfishers and storks

time cut short

our guide using a school kid on his way to school

leaving us on foot


fresh rhino prints sunk into the mud

got me worried

our guide Suraya assuring us

they only charge if they smell or see us

so I suppose they didn’t

and we not them

getting back to the river




in the end we found the Dynamic Eco

speaking to super friendly Raj and Doma

who donate 10% of what you pay to local communities

yet don’t charge more

Doma Paudel an ornithologist

Nepal’s first female guide

Raj a keen guide and photographer

there might be others similar in Chitwan

but we didn’t see them

lucky enough to find Dynamic Eco

a small office on the main street down near the river

the World Heritage park across the narrow waterway where gharials lie




our afternoon jeep trip

(I’d walked once before but never again)

though slow to get started

went on until dusk

and though we saw mostly spotted deer, gaur and crocodile

it was nice to be in the park

the possibility that a rhino

or tiger

might appear

make it all magical

they say it happens



the next day we go on an elephant ride

and just when we think it’s a bit of a gimmick

through the underbrush

four elephants surround

a rhino and calf

almost on top of them

the rhinos

they say

only know it’s elephants

they can’t smell or see us

just elephant power-pole legs


we’re glad to be up high

a French guy we’d met told us

how a murderous wild elephant (so far 4 people killed)

was close to them on their jungle walk the day before

and they had to back track

he was laughing

drawing hard on a cigarette when he told us

but it is no joke

and I’m certain he wasn’t that relaxed at the time

running through the tall grass for his life


while spotting Royal Bengal tigers and Asian one-horned rhinoceros

might be the aim

drinking Nepali tea with Raj and Doma

and downing a cold beer in the excellent KC’s restaurant


the safari town has enough charm

in itself

to justify a visit



~ by Drifting, Rambling on April 4, 2014.

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