Kathmandu, Nepal 2012 : Chitwan National Park – Elephant rides, baby rhinos and more!

NOTE: Delayed postings as I was waiting for the video to be ready. Now it seems that there are more issues with the editing so I’m publishing my posts without further delays. Enjoy! 🙂

On the very day that we arrived in Kathmandu, we were whisked from the airport to a quick lunch before heading straight to Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site (in 1984) in the district that extends over four districts: Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Parsa and Makwanpur, covering an area of 93,200 hectares.

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Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 and it’s Nepal’s first National Park. It is home to one of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros and is also one of the last refuges of the Bengal Tiger.

The ride from the airport was tormenting (for me at least) and took over 9 hours. I did blogged briefly about my first day in Nepal here and how I suffered from motion sickness throughout the journey. The roads conditions are bad and the journey was made in almost entire darkness. Thankfully, our driver and guides were very experienced and ensured our safety and comfort are their topmost priority.

Our coach.

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Road condition.

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Darkness sets by 6 pm and by 8 pm the roads were in darkness.

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Every vehicle is fully reliant on its headlights as there are no street lights. Thus it is advisable to make this journey during daytime. We landed on time but we were late getting out of the airport due to on-the-spot VISA application and luggage clearance so we got a bit off schedule.

BELOW: This is all I saw looking out of my coach window.

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With some stops in between and a butt-numbing 9 hours ride later we finally reached our accommodation for the night, Westwood Resort in the area of Chitwan.

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After a cultural performance and a quick dinner we retired for the night. Our room was spacious and clean and the bathroom was equipped with hot water, something essential for me as it was autumn in Nepal and the temperatures dips below 10 C by evening.

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It proved to be the rest I need. The next morning I woke up rejuvenated and my stomach calmed down. After a hearty breakfast we gathered and bundled ourselves into a hired small vehicle.

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The ride to Chitwan National Park was bumpy as expected. I concentrated hard on the countryside around me to quell my uneasy stomach.

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The landscape sobered me. It’s dusty, it’s dry and it’s reeks of poverty. I don’t mean it in a bad way but rather it’s a fact.

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At times the land looked so barren.

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We passed a village on the way.

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It was even more sobering to see their living conditions.

On a happier note, we saw many of these hand build swings throughout our days in Nepal. It’s an amazing piece of engineering; usually right in the middle of a vast open field, very sturdy, made up of just bamboos, swings really high and incredibly FUN! :DD

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Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee! :DD

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Soon we reached Chitwan National Park and the excitement of trampling through the forest on an elephant soared the spirits further.

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Here’s some concise information about the park.

National Parks 5

The jungle safari on elephant back was the most popular attraction. An elephant takes 4 pax at any one time. You’re advised to hang your bags at your front and hold on tight to your camera. And we were told the night before to wear appropriate clothing ie; covered shoes and long pants.

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Getting up on the elephant is not a problem as there are structures for you to climb up and then someone will assist you as you climb on the elephant.

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Hi! 🙂

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There were about 20 -30 elephants in total and each ride is about an hour or so.

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To be frank the elephants looked quite old but they were well trained and seemed well taken care of.

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Some of them even had paintings on the front of their trunks.

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And off we go!

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The safari ride took us over rivers and into the inner territory of the reserve park.

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Once inside, the jungle was dense but thankfully dry. The elephants navigated through the undergrowth and the labyrinth (everywhere looked the same!) of Chitwan National Park easily.

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We were all in hope of sighting a Belgan tiger but we all know that that was a very slim chance. However we did managed to spot a baby rhino! 🙂

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Oh so cute! It’s my first time seeing it “upclose”.
It was rather tame. It just lay there while the elephants moved around so all of us could get a better shot of it. Mind you, there were about 5 -6 elephants in one group and we were quite noisy!

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It then moved a little to the side and hidden beneath the undergrowth, we saw that it was the mother rhino!

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Below: That’s how we view them, from the top of our elephants. Each guide will maneuver each elephant close to the rhinos so the group seated on top could take their videos/pictures. We take turns so everyone gets a chance.

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Here’s my happy face on top of my elephant!

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I have rode an elephant before in Chiangmai so it wasn’t anything new. As usual I had a bit of nausea from the gentle rocking motion of the elephant as it walked. But it wasn’t as bad as the coach over bumpy roads!

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Our hardworking media team, armed with heavy equipment and shooting non-stop along the way.

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We spotted a monkey.

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And some deers.

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And more rhinos.

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The rhino got annoyed and showed us his ass. Heheh! :DD

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And we are back, getting off our rides.

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A prerequisite shot with an elephant.

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Coming out of the park, there were little stalls selling handicrafts, food and drinks. Guess what I bought?

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Not a single souvenir but packets of FOOD!
But I’m sure you would be curious to try this too right?? I’ve said many times before that one of the reason I loved traveling was discovering and sampling the unique groceries in each of the country I visited. This is as “indian” as it gets – Masala chips!

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After a quick toilet break, we headed to a nearby Tharu village for a taste of the Nepalese lifestyle. So stay tuned for the next Nepal post!

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And err yes, toilets in Nepal aren’t the most pristine but if you got to go, you got to go! 🙂

** This is a media trip with the Air Asia team and media from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia. We were in Nepal for the Air Asia X CSR launch of the OCPL programme, a community outreach project in partnership with OLE Nepal.

Nepal 2012 Group Photo

*Group photo credit to Djamilah from Indonesia.

Our 6D5N tour was handled by Incentive Tours & Travels Pvt Ltd who did a fabulous job taking care of us! 🙂
For any enquiries about traveling in Nepal, do drop me a comment here!

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Category : Travel