Chitwan NationalparkApril 3, 2018 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C
We didn’t expect a nationalpark in a poor country like Nepal to be so well maintained (although it is world-famous). It was absolutely amazing (and scary!) to hike through the high elephant grass in this beautiful jungle, knowing that there were dangerous, wild animals (the Bengal tiger as well!) around. But in fact we're looking for them, the two of us with two guides, one in the front, one in the back, armed with bamboo sticks. Our safety procedures were a mixture of running zigzag, climbing a tree and punching the rhino's nose with the bamboo :) When we encountered a rhino mummy with its baby in the high grass, we were overwhelmed and felt that our guides were even more scared than us...
Canoeing in the smooth, sluggish Rapti river, which is the natural border of the park and full with crocodiles wasn’t that scary but great to watch colorful birds like kingfishers, peacocks, herons, storks and many more.
A half-day jeep safari gave us the chance to see a larger area of the park and the continuous change of vegetation alone would have been absolutely worth it. But we saw more rhinos (grazing and bathing), a black bear, deers, bisons and monkeys and were so happy to see all this wildlife!
Some notes on the elephants: There are many wild elephants in the deeper areas of the park. Unfortunately, we didn’t see one. The elephants we saw were all ranger or government elephants, they are treated well and spend their whole day in the park, eating, bathing and playing, doing what they want, accompanied by a ranger who counts animals or takes care of the park (the elephants allow the ranger to get close to the wild animals without scaring them away). Since this measure was established among with others, they say there has been no poaching anymore although still Chinese people come to pay poor Nepalese to hunt rhinos for their horns.
Back to the elephants: The ranger elephants are taken back into elephant camps around the park at night where they need to be put in chains, at least in the mating season. Recent projects to keep them in fenced enclosures failed because elephants are just too smart. They learned how to switch off the electricity and overcome the fence, wild elephants came to make them pregnant or they rampaged in the villages. We don’t like animals being captivated but in this case it‘s necessary to preserve the park. Good news: Elephant riding tourism is declining, it’s been banned from the park and is only allowed in the bufferzones around. Several projects are doing a great job in training elephant owners and raising awareness for proper treatment. Some are offering alternatives such as accompanying elephants for a couple of hours to watch them while they’re doing what they want and eventually feeding them.
By the way: The hygienic conditions in general have not been easy from the first day in Nepal and we can feel that it is the poorest country we’ve ever been to. Not surprisingly, Silke got sick.. However, we went back on the road, going slowly after a couple of rest days. And these days we’re even trekking the Annapurna Circuit, impressions will follow, but connections are quite difficult in the remote area we’re in at the moment :)Read more