we left kathmandu today early for a 6 hour ride to nepals first national park, royal chitwan. we arrived in Sauhara, the village near the park entrance, and were picked up by a representative of Eden Jungle Resort. this is the off season, so we were the only two guests there. i guess most people like to come and suffer through the heat of the summer. it was a pretty nice place to be - quiet and relaxing with great food. the night we arrived, our guide, Don, took us for a walk through one of the local villages. they still live a fairly primitive lifestyle. there are farm animals running everywhere, with the occasional elephant demanding the right of way (more on this later). the tour of the village was interesting, but the visit to the elphant stables was really cool. theyre big. after that, he took us to see the sunset over the Rapti river. that night, we went to see a cultural show of Tharu stick dancing. i wasnt too excited about this, but it turned out to be really impressive.
the next day we got up, ate breakfast and climbed on top of an elephant whos trainer would steer her in the direction of the jungle. we cruised through town at human walking speed and reached the entrace to the park. our search for wildlife was very fruitful. because we were on elephant back, we were able to see and approach rhinos, wild boar, summer deer (look like elk), alligators, peacocks and monkeys. the park is also home to the royal bengal tiger, but to see one youd be incredibly lucky. the ride lasted a few hours. after lunch, we floated a canoe down the rapti and saw more alligators, the everyday life of the local Tharu people, and tons of birds. the jungle walk back to the camp took bout 3 hours. of all three - the ride, float and hike - the ride was my favorite.
we rose early the next morning to catch a 7am bus to kakarbhitta on the nepal/india border. we had heard it could take anywhere from 6 to 48 hours to reach the border because of the checkpoints along the road. we had both decided to not worry about it. wed get there when we got there, then we deal with whatever we had to deal with when it needed dealin' with.