Nepal is a country with a plethora of natural wonders. Yes the grandest, tallest, most mystical mountains in the world are located inside its borders, but within this small country, are subtropical lowlands filled with wild animals and breathtaking landscapes.
Chitwan National Park is the oldest national park inside of Nepal, and boasts over 68 species of mammals, including the ever-elusive Bengal Tiger. The park also holds the highest population of sloth bears, around 200-250, as well as leopards, rhinos, and wild elephants. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is highly popular with tourists (that’s us!) who hire young locals to take them on 2-day walking safaris to seek out connections with nature, and if lucky, catching a glimpse of some magnificent creatures.
The Elephant Breeding Center in Chitwan might be one of the only places to see elephants, unless they are wild, and in that case it’s almost better not to come across one because they are extremely aggressive and are known to charge villages and kill at least one local per year. Although the elephants bred at the center are primarily to be ‘riding’ elephants, it was fascinating to see them up close, especially watching the 40,000 muscles multitasking in their trunks!
Day one of the safari began with a sunrise excursion to find a rhino, and a sleeping rhino we found (thank you for not waking)!
The watch towers are located all around the park, and were lovely to climb up into for sunsets and animal spotting. Just don’t assume that a tiger can’t climb up there!
We ‘tracked’ a tiger for 5 hours early morning of the second day. Really, how much can you track a tiger, if anything it was tracking us. Our guides were phenomenal when it came to searching for clues of where the animals had gone. Checking for urine, scratching posts, and taking time to connect with the noises of the forest helped us get very close to rhinos, a sloth bear, and even a tiger. The only problem was when we finally came in close contact to a rhino, they gave us sticks and rocks to defend ourselves, more likely to knock ourselves out if the rhino charged our way.
Hakuna Matata Pumba!
We weren’t the only monkeys in the forest, if only we could move around as quickly as they did!
To get back to the main city, we had to hop on the back of a construction truck because there was a bus strike and barely any buses were operating in the region. There was no way we could have seen any more animals as that truck rumbled through the trees, but it was quite the experience!
Both of us enjoyed every moment of our Chitwan Safari. We were able to see many different animals, and spend time with our guides who were just as exhilarating to behold how they tracked the creatures. We still had one more stop as we traveled by land from Nepal to India, and just a few days after traversing in the jungle, we round up on Buddha’s doorstep.