5th Jan 2010 - Nepal
Chitwan - Day 2
Up at 6.30am for another great meal – omelette, potato, baked beans (not Heinz) and toast with jelly – literally. The first activity that day was to take a dug out canoe down the Rapti River. The canoe only just stayed afloat with the water level barely an inch from the top. We were sat on the smallest chairs, the size of the ones you get at a nursery school, and there was nowhere to put your legs. Comfy! We spent about 40 mins in the canoe during which time we saw Kingfishers, Herons and Lovebirds – these are birds that stay with the same partner their entire lives and when one of them dies the other usually dies very soon afterwards. At the end of the boat ride we got off in the National Park and started our walking safari. First of all, the rules of walking the park and what to do if we see wild animals. There are 3 animals to consider – tiger, rhino and sloth bear. If you see a rhino then:
1. Climb up a tree to a height of more than 2m so the rhino can’t reach
2. Hide behind a tree – rhino eyesight is very bad
3. Run in a zig zag motion – this confuses the rhino
4. Drop an item e.g. a hat on the ground. Their sense of smell is very good so they will find the item and fight with it.
If you see a sloth bear then the guides will beat it back with their sticks. There was no mention of what to do if we saw a tiger! The walking started very close to the riverbank and slowly wound it’s inside the park then back to the river further downstream. We saw plenty of flora and fauna including plants that could be used in medicine and “forest killer” – a parasite that is taking over the jungle, swamping everything in its way and killing everything it. In fact, the park authorities have been taking to experts in the UK to try and find a way to get rid of it as everything they have tried so far, including burning it, has not worked. During the walk we saw tiger claw prints on a tree and a red cotton bug beetle. We went and sat in a lookout for a while and when we came down the guides found a jungle chilli that monkey eat. We got to taste it and it wasn’t that great – had a bit of a kick to it. At no point did we see any animals during the walk and we couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
We went back for lunch which included the most delicious apple fritters we’d ever tasted. After lunch we set off on our jeep safari – whilst it was slightly uncomfortable it was far better than the bus! The jeep had to stick to dedicated pathways and in the beginning we saw no animals apart from deer and monkeys. At one point we came to an inland lake and here we saw some marsh muggers. Halfway through the safari we arrived at Kasari where there are breeding facilities for Gharials and a caged Bengal tiger. The cage was made of single wooden planks spaced about an inch or 2 apart. This meant that you could get some excellent photos if you put your lens in the gap. Word of advice though – don’t bend down and eyeball a tiger for too long as eventually it will pounce at you as Melissa found out. Luckily the cage protected her! The gharials look like something out of Ice Age 2 because of their really long noses. On the way back we saw some Egrets and a few more Marsh Muggers.
After a dal bhat dinner – we thought we’d seen the last of these – we went off to see the Tharu cultural programme. This was in the village hall and was compeered by a man with the weirdest English accent – we couldn’t quite figure out where he’d picked it up from. The programme consisted of stick dances which were very impressive, a peacock dance which was not bad and a cross dressing dance which was just odd.