Asia | Nepal | Western Tarai | Royal Chitwan National Park – bathing with an elephant
It was very hot and humid at Royal Chitwan National Park (apparently May is the hottest month) but that didnt stop me from having an amazing time. I went with a couple of girls I met (Maria from Finland and Maggie from England).
To start with we saw a baby rhino on the day we arrived, his mother had been killed for her horn and it was only a couple of weeks old. We could get very close and take photos.
We got up at 5 am the next morning to go on a canoe trip to the elephant breeding center and saw a crocodile and many King Fishers and other birds along the way.
There were 4-5 baby elephants at the center and many adult animals, which were all imported from India and belong to the Nepalese government. Apparently there are also wild Nepalese elephants, which are white and can be quite aggressive. The day we arrived one of those big fellows had attacked a group of people working on a view platform in the jungle.
The next point on our packed itinerary was the elephant bathing I didnt really know what to expect but found out quickly when an elephant turned up by the river and we were invited to go into the water with it. It lay down in the shallow water and the elephant trainer helped us climb on its back. There was a lot of giggling and screaming when the elephant got up and it was hard to hang on to the warm, hairy back of our swimming buddy. On the command of his trainer the elephant then started to spray us with water from his trunk and we were soaked in minutes. Then the elephant lay down again and I nearly slid off his back, we were all panicking about getting our limbs caught under his big fat belly but he was truly a gentle giant and after getting back on and off 4 times and being sprayed a hundred times we cuddled and hugged our big, wet friend and couldnt believe our luck to get so close to this magnificent creature. The water in the river was really warm and we stood and observed the trainer giving his elephant a sorrow scrub with a stone (!) which both of them seemed to enjoy very much.
We walked back to our hotel, soaked and very, very happy.
In the afternoon we went on a jeep safari with 4 other tourists and saw a rhino after 15 minutes. The guides hopped off and started walking towards it but it quickly turned our way and started running towards the jeep. Ive never seen somebody get back in the jeep so quickly, I myself was so scared the photo is totally shaken :o)
We saw many deer, birds and monkeys and stopped to see a tiger in captivity, which had killed 4 people.
We stopped for a G&T on the way back to enjoy the sunset over the river and slept really well that night after such an action-packed day.
The next morning we had a 5 am start again and went for another safari on the back of an elephant (this time sitting in a basket though). I didnt really expect much because we didnt have time to go very deep into the forest but we ended up seeing 5 rhinos taking a morning bath and got so close to them, I was starting to feel uncomfortable. They were only about 3m away.
I left to Pokhara after this and Maria and Maggie went back to Kathmandu.