October 13, 2014 - Drive to Chitwan National Park

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Pokhara

October 13- Drive to Chitwan National Park

Thanksgiving dinner for one last night at the Arabic restaurant.  I'm missing the celebration with family and friends but fortunately catching some sense of it through Facebook posts and pictures.  This morning was another bone jarring, nail biting, diesel choked drive from Pokhara to Chitwan National Park.  My hat's off to the driver who immediately turned around and headed back home for a total of seven hours behind the wheel (which is like fourteen hours Western time).  I've left the blue alpine skies for the cloud veiled jungle.  At least the rainfall will settle the dust.  We arrive at Island Jungle Resort smack in the middle of hectic, smoggy Bhaktapur but, happily, it is just for lunch before continuing on to the sister resort by the park.  After a brief respite in Pokhara, I'm back in the land of dal bhat.  I am joined by Kiki and Bas from the Netherlands and a Nepali family and we arrive at our destination mid-afternoon.  To their credit they hustle us out almost immediately for an elephant safari.  For some silly reason I thought I'd be alone on the beast, at least for a minute, so it felt a bit cheesy when three of us crammed onto a wooden platform behind the driver.  That feeling ended quickly when we saw our first 2.5 ton rhino lumbering towards us through the forest; then I was quite pleased with my little cage high above on a 5 ton elephant!  The next two hours were a crazy, thrilling pursuit of rhinos through the bush, across rivers and onto the grasslands.  While most of the time Kumar, our driver, deftly steered the elephant with his barefeet behind the massive ears, there was no hesitation to deliver a mighty, encouraging whack on the top of its poor skull with a heavy stick.  In all we saw 6 One Horn Indian rhinos along with other assorted flora and fauna.  That evening the resort's naturalist delivered a comprehensive (i.e. long) slide show on the Chitwan area and our full program for tomorrow (hiking, boating, elephant bathing).  So an early night for a 6:00 am wake up call.

Marpha

 

Phewa lake