Thursday, September 12, 2013

Exploring the Jungle on Elephant Back

This is Day 7 of Nepal Travelogue (May 19, 2013)
Chitwan's Flagship One-Horned Rhinoceros is the Largest of Rhino Species
Today we woke up early enough in the morning to make it for the Elephant Safari in the adjacent community reserve forest. The USP of Chitwan, this fascinating way of exploring the jungle is probably the main reason why tourists, especially from the neighboring India, visit Chitwan in flocks.

We reached the starting point, through the transport included in the package, just in time where elephants, in a bunch of 4-5, were emerging from the jungle carrying tourists whom had to be dislodged and replaced with fresh ones queued up near the high platform. It was supposedly their last round of the day! Lazy us!

Experience was unmatched, even better than the Jeep Safari, we did yesterday. Tusker’s high back provided better and wider views and since the animal was not bound to follow a particular jeep trek it could sneak closer to animals without disturbing them much. Highlight of the day was again rhinoceros, this time a family, having bath in one of the ponds.

Unlike the poor elephants we met the previous day at the river these ones appeared kept well also.

Among all available methods of jungle exploring I would rate this Elephant Safari the highest; so much so that I would retake the ride, maybe at a different location, forgoing the jeep trip altogether

Post lunch, we made a round of the Sauhara town: did window shopping of souvenir shops, bought a few bottles of arguably pure jungle honey, watched a cricket match, visited a laundry shop, and met a Nepali Muslim.

So it was our last day in Chitwan; tomorrow we would travel back to Kathmandu but with a little twist; a detour to Manakmana temple through a high rising cable car.

Kids Duo is Ready for the Excursion
Elephants Coming out of the Community Jungle
Tourists Queuing up for the Ride
Getting Aboard
Opposite Directions!
Ticket Counter
Happy Go Lucky
In the Deep Jungle
We Spotted a Peacock There
Rhino Family Having Chilling Around
Salami or Namaste

Walking Around the Sauhara Town
Walking Around Sauhara Town
Omnipresent Elephants
Buffalo Taxi?
Cattle on the Road
Some Engines Too
Rip-off Souvenir Shops
A Wooden Model of Rhinoceros
A Modern Umbrella!
Bicycles Available for Rent
"Pure" Honey
Hair-Cutting in the Jungle!
Under Construction
Cricket in Nepal
Laundry Bill
KC: The Finest Restaurant in Town
Today’s Bills – in Nepali Rupees
120 Sight Seeing Elephant Tip
550 Food Dinner KC
500 Gift Honey
200 Food Milk, etc
770 Food Chitwan Hotel Food Bill
1500 Sight Seeing Jungle Activities - Balance Amount
2100 Accommodation Hotel Room Charges
5740 Total for May 19, 2013
22620 Total as of Today

Traveler's Tip # 14: Chitwan Excursions
In Chitwan, jungle tour is the main activity which can be done either by joining a guided walking tour or through a jeep ride or on the back of an elephant. Other activities include canoe ride, Tharu cultural show, and visiting breeding centers, etc.

Although Chitwan excursion packages can be booked in advance, either in Kathmandu or through internet, but it is convenient and a lot cheaper to buy one once you are there. We negotiated the package with the hotel manager. The package included entrance ticket (NPR 1500 for foreigners and 750 for SAARC nationals), jeep safari (NPKR 1500), and the elephant safari (NPR 1000): Total 6500 for the whole family. These rates are reasonable because I compared the Elephant ride rate with a Nepali tourist who paid 850.

We watched the cultural show (NPR 100) separately and missed the canoe ride as we would be doing that anyway to cross the river for the jeep safari. We paid only partially in advance. No charge for children and for watching the elephant bathing, however, mahouts expect tips based on what you do.

Bypassing the agent, or hotel manager in our case, was not practical as buying each activity directly could not only be time consuming but also almost impossible because of the weak bargaining power of tourists. However, make sure you include activities of your interest only as the agent will try to include as many activities as possible.

National Park Entrance ticket is also arranged by the agent which is supposedly valid for one day, however, we were told that it can be used for an additional day at the community reserve for elephant safari.

We also tried the Elephant Safari run by the government but the guy at the tourist facility center was too discouraging, don’t know why!
Chitwan National Park Entrance Ticket
This is What You Can Do in Chitwan
Good for Nothing - Government Visitor Center
The Canoe Venue
There You Go!
Traveler's Tip # 15: Useful Links for Independent Traveling in Chitwan·

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