Chitwan is Nepal’s most famous national park for safaris. We chose to hike instead, even though we got a lot of warnings about the dangers. The guides are unarmed and we would be walking among tigers, rhinos, buffalos, wild elephants, snakes, bears, crocodiles… It turned out to be an unforgettable experience due to one event in particular – a close encounter with one of the most beautiful and impressive animals in the world
DAY 0: Hanging out around our lodge
The day before the trek we just took a small walk near the village, and found this rhino laying in the water
We also did a little elephant safari to see some more rhinos. The rhinos felt nervous about the precense of tourists with flashing cameras, which took away much of the joy for us…
We slept in this tower house in the middle of the jungle, from where we saw a lot of deer.
DAYs 1-4: the hike!
We started out a prty of four brave hikers. Wieke, Alfons, Sara and me (Benjamin & Eva were elsewhere, but would join us on the third day of the hike). And two guides: Sanjay and Ganesha.
We started in the morning with a canoe ride to get deeper into the national park.
Our first animal encounter was by sound. The barking sound of “Barking deer” that barks when danger is near.
Sanjay also showed us various insects.
A crocodile near the path.
Claw marks from a tiger that had marked its territory here!
Fresh tiger footprints!
Sanjay with some old, dry tiger droppings
Insects had drilled the logs, and all the sawdust had piled up on the ground below
And then it happened… We were standing on a track with high grass on one side, and a lake on the other. The crocodiles swam slowly towards us, and I turned around to ask our guide if it wasn’t dangerous to be so near approaching crocodiles. But crocodiles was the least of our concern. Suddenly a TIGER jumps out from the gras!
The tiger first jumped towards Wieke and Alfons with a roar and swung its paw towards them. It then jumped towards me in the same way, as close as 2 meters away only! And finally it jumped back into the high grass… it all took just a few seconds.
We hurried away, trembling and walking fast while giggling. We were terrified with a close-to-death-experience yet very happy at the same time. A very strange feeling
We returned the next day and re-visited the hole in the grass where the tiger jumped out from. Sanjay speculated that perhaps the tiger was feeding there (we found a bone) and we accidentily stopped right in front of it, and disturbed its meal. The mock attack was simply a way of telling us to move away.
From a tower we got a bird’s eye view of the place where we saw the tiger (and at the same time crocodiles in the water…)
In the evening we drank some beer of suitable brand
The following day cantained new perils. Here rhino tracks on the ground. Rhinos are more aggressive and less shy than tigers. Sanjay complained that I had a bright-blue sweater, bright colours makes rhinos pissed off!
We saw rhino twice. Once in the forest, but this time in an open area where we had no trees to climb if the Rhino would attack. They run 50 km/h… So we had to hurry past it. Scary! But also exciting
And in the evening when we reached a villge, a nice surprise: Benjamin and Eva had joined us!
We talked about the tiger of course, but also about rabies. Apparently rabies can be spread also by getting bat pee in your eye. We laughed about this since it seemed so unlikely to happen. But then all of a sudden Wieke felt something wet landing in her eye… we looked up and there were bats in the ceiling of the hut! (she didn’t get rabies though )
The beautiful “sal forest”
Skin from a cobra
A nice bug
Having a drink at a luxurious lodge. This place had real (and clean) toilets which we hadn’t seen for many weeks!
Footprints from sloth bear. Another aggressive and dangerous animals in these woods.
Early morning river crossing
Our room in a village.
This night Sanjay woke us up. He was drunk and holding a large yellow snake. He told us it was so poisonous that a bite would kill you. I ran out dressed only in my underwear. I was upset because I didn’t understand that it was all a joke. He was drunk, but the snake was nor poisonous
It turned out that the village we finished out hike in was hosting the World Championships in Elephant Polo… It felt like being back in the colonial era, with posh brittish men drinking tea from porcelain cups inbetween the games