Crossing the land border from India into Nepal was a relaxed affair. Heading for Chitwan National Park we started with a night train from Varanasi. This was followed by a 3 hour bus ride, which happened to be one of the roughest we had been on.

The recent political tension between the two countries had caused sanctions upon Nepal from the Indian government. Hundreds of trucks parked nose to tail on the Indian side of the border which were full of fuel and other goods were stretched out for kilometers. Once at the border you simply walk across an imaginary line. It seems people just walk back and forth as they please, you could easily cross either way without a visa. Planning to exit the country from Kathmandu we got the legal paperwork easy enough from the immigration office.

Adjusting to new currency exchange rates we worked out what our New Zealand dollar was worth. Negotiating with locals for transport to our first destination, Chitwan National Park. With the option of an 8 hour bus ride or a 4 hour taxi, we choose the more expensive but convenient option of a taxi. The impact of the sanctions were seen immediately with no fuel at gas stations. Locals had their own stashes at their family homes.

Chitwan National Park

Checked into our guesthouse, our host immediately insisted he takes us for a walk to spot some wildlife. Walking only a few minutes we reached a river, with bush on one side and long grass plains on the other. We walked around hoping to spot a Rhino or Elephant, the more common spotted deer seemed to be everywhere. Upon dusk we lay in the grass and watched the deer as they came from the security of the bush out into the open plains. Over a traditional Dal Bhat for dinner we planned out our next day.

Heavy fog filled blanketed the crisp morning air as we rose for breakfast. Excited for the day ahead we filled our stomachs. Meeting up with our guide whom was taking us for a jungle trek through Chitwan National Park. Before the trek we were to canoe down a river in a wooden, hand crafted vessel. Made from a single tree it felt as though you were sitting below the surface of the river. With the fog slowly lifting off the river it made for an incredible atmosphere.

RHINO!

As we were cruising down the river our guide was showing us the local wildlife as we passed by. We saw different types of birds and fish, even a crocodile sitting on the riverbank. Then like something out of a National Geographic film a Rhino was standing in the river. The massive beast with 2 inch thick armour-like skin surrounding its body. We passed by without disturbance and he kept to himself. An amazing sight.

Walking over the fresh footprints of tigers, rhinos and elephants. As these animals had trekked through the jungle we felt out of our element. Believe it or not, but the locals are more terrified of the elephants than the tigers. We walked for a few hours and came across a few deer and heard a Rhino from a distance. Unfortunately we didn’t get the full thrill of a face to face encounter. After half a day we had a couple of encounters with different endangered species. We were stoked and headed back for some chill time before our afternoon activity.

Elephant Rides

Sitting in the back of a jeep driving down a dirt road full of pot holes we reached the area for our elephant ride. When sitting upon the back of an elephant it seems a lot higher up than you think. We wander through some trees and cross a river when we come across a mother rhino with a calf. The calf was surprising small. Our guide mentioned the elephant’s scent masks human scent which allowed us to get within a few metres of the family.

Chitwan National Park had its first official poach free year in 2015. The locals seem to care deeply about the protection of the National Park and its inhabitants. It was incredibly satisfying to see. From not even knowing Nepal was home to such animals to having close encounters was an unexpected bonus. Chitwan should high on the list for anyone heading to Nepal.

Check out there progress : http://www.chitwannationalpark.gov.np/

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