Ronny the rhino

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Flag of India  , Bihār,
Sunday, May 8, 2011

  Bye bye Kathmandu, hello Chitwan.  We caught the 7am bus out of Kathmandu and it took us five hours to get to Chitwan.  The bus journey was fine considering the roads are like dirt tracks and the buses are from the seventies, I actually jumped out of my seat at one point it was so bumpy.  We arrived just after midday and what I noticed straight away is the lack of noise (horns beeping, people shouting) it was heaven; we checked into our resort room and had some lunch while we looked over the National Park.  We booked to do a half day jungle jeep safari for the following day and chilled out in the sun for the rest of the day.  That night we went to a local small theatre to watch a culture show which to be honest we thought would be a little poor, but we were pleasantly surprised, it was great.  It lasted about one hour and it was put together by the local guys who showed it their traditional dance, using sticks.  A little like Morris dancing but far more manly and much faster.  They also used sticks on fire to juggle which was brilliant.

The Rapti River separated us from the Chitwan Park and there are three parts to it, Sal Trees (70%), Grassland (20%) and Marshland (10%) and it covers over 932 square kilometres which is now protected from poachers by the army .  There are over 450 species of birds live here and it is also home to the majestic Royal Bengal Tigers (lesser spotted).  A little crazy to think I was in a cage with a tiger in Thailand.  There was seven of us in the jeep, myself, Justin and five others from Chek republic, none of which could speak a word of English (apparently).  It took us about 20 minutes to drive through the marshland and when we got into the grassland we saw an elephant, woodpecker, paradise fly catcher and some kingfishers, we were hoping to see Sloth bears and rhinoceros but it was all dependant as to where they are that day, so our driver took us through the grass land and into the Sal forest where we saw lots of spotted deer.  We did catch a glimpse of a rhino in the distance but not really close enough to get a photograph.  Every time the driver stopped and the guide would point out an animal one of the women in our group kept talking really load and we would all shout "Shhhhh" it was getting really annoying, even the guide at one point shouted for her to keep quiet.  We stopped to look around a Gharial Sanctuary (small crocodiles) the off we went again in search of a rhino.  When all hope had gone the jeep stopped to a halt and there in the woods we saw a Sloth Bear, they are quite dangerous so we kept our distance, it was amazing to see searching for food, until Gob made a noise to which he looked up and walked away into the forest.

On our drive back I started making birdie whistles and all of a sudden the jeep ground to a halt and the driver turned around, the guide started laughing at me, apparently when the guide spots an animal he has a special whistle he makes to the driver and that tells him to stop, it saves scaring the animal off, I had cracked the code!  We did get to see a One Horned Indian Rhino on the way back, there was one lurking in the bushes so as we waited he came right over next to the jeep looked at us for a while then crossed the path right behind us, it was amazing to see, I think the driver was a little worried he may charge us because he kept saying “I drive now?, I drive now?” we kept saying “No”.  I was chatting with the Marco our guide on the way back and he was telling me that a wild elephant had killed a few local people in the park two weeks earlier so he had to sit on the roof of the jeep to keep watch out. Mhhhhhh!

When we arrived back we caught sight of an amazing sunset over the park, we sat with a cold drink and watching it go down, whilst the elephants were having a bath in the river....perfect! The next day we realised how lucky we had been when we awoke to really heavy rain, what a great reason to move on we thought and jumped on a bus to Pokhara.
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