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Chitwan National Park Jungle Safari Day 2

Chitwan National Park Jungle Safari Day 2

Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park

Day 2 of the jungle safari tour is when the real adventure begins.  I’m talking elephant rides, jungle safari, endangered animals, a canoe trip, hiking through the jungle, and a visit to the elephant sanctuary.  This trip captured my attention and gave me memories that I still fondly look back on.  I’m grinning as I wright this blog post. You can read about day 1 by following the link.

Elephant ride and jungle safari

Elephants lining up for tours
Elephants lining up for tours

We woke up at 6:00 and took a jeep to the entrance of the Chitwan National Park.  There was a line of about a dozen elephants waiting for people to ride them.  I was too excited to realize that the elephant drivers and keepers do not treat their animals well, but more on that later.  We climbed up on our designated elephant and waited for more people to arrive.

Elephant love
Elephant love

Our elephant was a sweetheart. I immediately fell in love. I doubt the feeling was reciprocated though, because its hard to love a monkey on your back.

Elephant jungle safari
Elephant jungle safari

We set out into the jungle after a few minutes. Everything was new and thrilling. The elephant swayed left to right as she walked.  Wild chickens and pheasants ran across the trail with each snap of a twig. People were whispering,
“look at that.”

Rhinoceroses in Chitwan National Park
Rhinoceroses in Chitwan National Park

It was like participating in a drama where you keep anticipating some wild jungle animal to come out of the bushes.  We were, of course, safe from unknown beasts on the back of the elephant.  It was still exhilarating and fun spotting chital grazing in an open area of the jungle or alligators and gharials bathing in the sun on the banks of the Rapti river.

Bird on the bank
Bird on the bank

I saw all types of birds and plants, and even a few monkeys.  The highlight of the jungle safari was seeing 2 rhinoceroses grazing on a burnt patch of grassland.  We came within 20 feet of the rhinos, who didn’t seem the least bit concerned by our presence.  One of them even laid down and fell asleep.

Parrot in a tree
Parrot in a tree

Canoe trip down the Rapti river

Bird on Rapti river
Bird on Rapti river

We finished the elephant ride and jungle safari at the bank of the Rapti river.  A dug-out canoe was waiting for us in alligator and crocodile infested water.  I questioned the “sea worthiness” of the vessel but decided to throw caution into the winds and let the sails catch us on our maiden voyage.

Alligator in Rapti River
Alligator in Rapti River

I jumped into the canoe and immediately regretted it when an alligator on the opposing bank darted into the water.

I thought “that’s it. We’re done for!”

Deer in Chitwan
Deer in Chitwan

Fortunately, the canoe didn’t tip, and we remained safe as we paddled down the river.  We saw all sorts of amazing birds as they hunted for fish along the river. We also saw a lot of deer, some elephants, and lots and lots of alligators and crocodiles.

The canoe trip was a lot of fun.  It stopped on the bank about 2 hours after it started.  Everyone got off and we started hiking through the jungle to the elephant sanctuary.

Jungle hike

I was excited and a little terrified of the jungle hike because tigers eat people. The hike was a lot of fun though.  We saw some more rhinoceroses, signs of sloth bears and huge termite mounds.

We hiked for about 45 minutes with each turn of the trail just as suspenseful as the one before it.  Be careful if you go, because there are leaches on the plants near the trail.  They are more of a problem in the rainy season, but they are there in December too.

We hiked a little further then suddenly, the jungle disappeared, and we were in a grass land prairie. The elephant sanctuary was a quarter mile from the edge of the jungle.

Elephant sanctuary

Elephant sanctuary
Elephant sanctuary

We walked in the “sanctuary” expecting a preserve for happy elephants, but instead we found an elephant prison.  It was pretty much a zoo minus the other animals.  The elephants had chains around their legs to keep them in their pen.

Elephant sanctuary
Wild elephant at the elephant sanctuary

The sanctuary’s intentions are good, to keep poachers from killing the elephants. However, they also use the elephants as taxis.

After seeing this, I started to reflect on the jungle safari. I realized how unpleasant the elephant drivers were to their elephants.

I do not recommend the elephant jungle safari and visiting the sanctuary for these reasons.

Concluding the trip

After we visited the elephant sanctuary we went to the Rapti river and watched the elephants bathe and be washed by travelers.  The elephants and the travelers both looked happy.  I highly recommend this practice.

The next day we left Chitwan a little smarter and as more experienced travelers. I recommend Chitwan National Park to everybody, but be mindful of how they treat their animals.

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