We woke up in the early morning and it’s freezing. Thankfully, we’re all prepared for winter so we put on our winter clothes from North Face. They were life savers! Meals at Chitwan Jungle Safari Lodge are one of the more delicious ones of the trip. They have a very home-cooked quality to it. Ask for a 2nd or even 3rd serving of their mushroom soups and oats!
Our transport took us to an elephant reserve nearby where we got to ride on elephants into the forests of Chitwan. Surrounded by morning mist, we spotted herds of wild boars, deers , rhinos, peacocks, monkeys, foxes and a whole myriad of animals. With the early morning fog and cool weather, it was a truly magical experience straight out of a Bambi movie!
In the afternoon, we traversed the waters of Chitwan Safari in a long canoe made out of a tree trunk. These are incredibly sturdy and bring you close to the water surface. At times, you can spot large crocodiles basking under the sun by the banks of the river. We spotted these huge reptiles during our first trip but unfortunately, they went into hiding during our 2nd trip. To paddle in the canoe with these large magnificent creatures basking at our left and right is an exhilarating experience. Our guide tells us that the crocodiles only come out to bask for long periods during the coldest part of winter, which is around late December. Again, the foggy morning made the trip seem much more magical. There is a quiet serenity to the entire experience. Yet we were reminded about the struggles of life and death that lurks beneath the peaceful surface of nature. One crocodile surfaced about 5-10m away from our canoe and started swimming menacingly towards us. As it picked up speed, so did our boatman. Thankfully, perhaps because of the winter cold, the crocodile gave up chase after a few seconds.
To explore the safari, we opted for a 3hr jeep ride to go deeper into the forests of Chitwan. While most of the ride was relatively uneventfully (I even fell asleep), there were a few awesome sightings that more than made up for it. Right at the forest’s edge we spotted an egret’s nest with a pair of tiny birds. Going deeper, we caught up with wild boards, monitor lizards and a huge rhinoceros! The rhinoceros had a stare down with us for about 10 seconds before it bolted off. During that 10 seconds, everyone in the jeep were snapping away like crazy. yet trying our best not to move. It was a pretty intense 10 seconds. We stopped by a crocodile (or rather cayman) farm midway through the jeep trip – I’ve never seen so many of these reptiles in one place!
We LOVE the Chitwan safari to bits. The nice cool weather in December makes trekking easy and the our guide is totally awesome. Request for Dave from Chitwan Jungle Safari Lodge as a guide, if you can. Dave is a simple yet honest person whose love for nature shines through. We got him for both our 1st and 2nd trips to Nepal, and he has taught us so much about nature during our Chitwan safari trek – from learning how to identify animal poop, finding tiger scratch marks and discovering plants you can eat. One thing we really love about him though, is his care for the people under him. Once, while we were walking along a small dirt path surrounded by grass the height of our torsos, there was a loud snorting grunt which came from a patch of grass near Qi Yun (and it didn’t it definitely didn’t come from me!). Before we could comprehend what happened, Dave pushed Qi Yun behind him, putting himself between the animal that made the noise and protecting both of us from any potential danger. Thankfully, the wild boar that likely made the noise ran away. Another incident that happened was when a huge rhinoceros was the way of our route. It was hiding among tall grass and was not visible to us. There was another group which stopped in front of us and were unable to proceed, as it was unsafe with the rhino nearby. Dave told us to wait where the other group was and went on ahead to check out the situation. Later, he made some mating calls and managed to attract the rhino to come out of the tall grass, walk in FULL VIEW on the dirt path we were supposed to pass through and then lumber into a forest area across the dirt path. We were about 50-80m away from the rhino, cautiously clicking our cameras away when the rhino came out. It was like an army tank! This incident once again cemented our faith in Dave’s ability to keep us safe and provide us with the best experience possible. Dave is like the Chuck Norris of Nepal!
Nights are usually filled with campfires or an exploration trip around town. You can safely venture out at night, just be sure to bring along a torch light as it gets pretty dark. Like many places in Nepal, infrastructure at Chitwan is relatively backward and many hotels invest in their own power generators. Chitwan is a definite must-go destination if you ever visit Nepal. Be sure to get good guides like Dave from Jungle Safari Lodge to ensure you get the best experience! We’re thankful our friends from Mountain Adventure Trekking recommended us to this wonderful place. In the next post, we’ll move away from the wildlife adventure of Chitwan National Park, come along with us as we explore the scenic side of nature. In the next post, we’ll be trekking up Dhampus Hill and exploring the city of Pokhara. Journey Nepal Part 1: A Majestic and Beautiful Country
Journey Nepal Part 2: Onward to Chitwan! Journey Nepal Part 3: Just in Time for the Elephant Festival + Gorgeous Sunset