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Chitwan National Park

Rhino what you did this summer..

semi-overcast 28 °C

We arrived to the most beautiful setting in Chitwan, a fantastic wooden lodge perched on the bank of a meandering river. The lodge had plenty of lovely huts surrounded by beautiful gardens full of flowers, swings and hammocks. The lodge - Sapana Lodge - even had its own pet elephants!! There were lots of kids playing in the river, some local women carrying baskets of leaves on their heads across a wooden bridge and a big elephant eating grass and leaves by the river bank. BLISS.


This was to be our awesome home for the next few days.

Sapana lodge was run by a gent who had a dream that he would one day own his own guesthouse and be able to give back to his community. In his former job as a guide, he had met a Dutch couple who had listened to his dreams and promised to help them become reality. They asked him how much he needed to set up his own place and then they had to return home. He didn't give it much thought until they contacted him and sent him $10,000 that they had raised for him. They told him he could use it to party or he could use it to make his dreams come true. And he did. He set up Sapana Lodge and hired lots of his local neighbours. What a story eh? Inspiring!! He also has more plans to build a new school nearby. He has saved up some more money and bought a plot of land nearby.
In the bedrooms of the lodge, there was a pamphlet with some information on the lodge and all the staff. Each staff member had their picture on there and a blurb about how long they've been working for the lodge and a bit about themselves. Some of their stories were so cute! One cleaning lady said that she 'loved (her) job and was so greatful to be able to provide fo her family''. It brought a tear to my eye and made me feel like a greedy materialist for always wanting more in my life!! ;)

Anywho we all got a cocktail and sat out on the balcony in the sun, while perusing the Lodge brochure. There were lots of activities to do at Sapana, mostly involving elephants! You could do a jeep safari, jungle trek, bathe an elephant, go for a walk in the nearby villages, put make up on an elephant, go for an elephant safari in the jungle and lots of other stuff. Dushyant and the local jungle guide Sanjay brought us on a tour of the local villages. We met all the neighbours and young children who lived nearby and greeted their goats, chickens, baby ducks, cows and other petting-zoo-type animals. It was ace! :)


After our village tour we had a fabulous dinner by candlelight on the balcony. :)

The next morning we all piled into jeeps at 6.30am to go on a jeep safari in the jungle. We were hoping to see rhinos and tigers. I didn't hold out much hope for seeing a tiger, but I was praying for a rhino, even though I knew driving around a wildlife reserve in a convoy of 3 noisy jeeps (one of them rattling loudly as the door was held on by string!) would probably scare most animals away!
And they did. We saw a couple of deer and tons of peacocks. It was mostly a peacock safari. Although this was a great fun ride through the jungle, I was pretty disappointed with not seeing any rhinos. :(


We returned to the lodge for lunch and I decided to do the elephant safari through the jungle in the afternoon. Maree, Jeff, Ruby and Sandra decided to do the safari too. After a quick nap (I hadn't slept much the night before due to the excitement of going on safari), we bundled into the jeep. ELephant safaris are supposed to be way better than jeep safaris as you can get much closer to the animals. If you're on an elephant, all the rhinos see is an elephant! If you get down and wander about yourself, they will see you and charge straight at ya!

So off we went to the elephant riding station. Jeff and Maree were put on one elephant with a US couple and myself, Ruby and Sandra got our own We had to sit into this square box on top of the elephant, and off we went.


As we lumbered off, we saw how many other people were also heading off on elephants and I began to think we'd never see any wildlife with this many elephants simultaneously trundling about. We plodded into the stream and the elephant next to us did a massive wee in the river, while the elephant on the other side took a big dump in the river! he he. Potty humour. This is the river we were going to go swimming in later!! I made a mental note to politely decline! Anywho, back to the ride, we lumbered through lots of dense lush vegetation and after a while, we lost the other elephants and were on our own in the undergrowth. Our elephant had a bit of an attitude problem I reckon and kept fecking us into the nearby branches. We were getting splattered with white dusty poo and our faces were strewn with cobwebs. Our trainer seemed to be giving our poor elephant a hard time, he kept whacking her on the ear and she kept trumpeting away in annoyance.


We spied some deer on the side in the bushes and then branched off (boom boom) that way. We were prowling around looking for signs of wildlife, (as much as 4 people on a giant elephant can prowl) but weren't seeing many signs of life! Suddenly, our trainer just jumped off the elephant to go for a whizz in the bushes. Our elephant took this opportunity to get herself some tasty leaves from the nearby trees. I tried to pet her a bit but she whacked me with the bunch of leaves in her trunk. he he. So when our guide returned we hup-hupped onwards and emerged onto a big flat open grassy space. I saw 4 elephants ahead staring at what looked like a rhino. ''RHINOOOOOOO '' I said, and shouted and pointed elaborately! And off we raced towards it. Then we spotted another rhino on his own to our left, so headed towards that one. We rocked right up to him as he munched his grass. He wasn't even that bothered by our presence even though we were about 10 feet from him. It was awesome. He looked exactly like that rhino from Ace Ventura Pet Detective. :D


We watched him for a while, took a few more snaps and then mosied onto the next grassy space where we spied 2 more rhinos - a mother and baby. They spotted us and started to run off across the road...

So we gave chase as they disappeared into the bushes.

Our trainer and the other trainers on their elephants had a quick pow-wow together and came up with a plan to surround the rhinos in the bushes. They all took an angle and started to work their way in. I thought cornering a rhino and her baby seemed like a mad thing to do, but what do I know! :D So off we went - all 5 elephants trampled their way into the forest looking to catch the rhinos in the middle. The trainers were hooting and whistling at each other the whole time. When we all met in the middle though, the rhinos had legged it. We all had a chuckle and headed off separately to continue the search. It was gas - the trainers were teasing each other saying ''they're here!!'' every few minutes when they plainly weren't. ho ho ho.

We were delighted to see 2 more rhinos in another spacious clearing a few minutes later. (could have been the same two from earlier) Then we saw one more big rhino too at the very end of the safari. We were chuffed and I was so excited to finally have a successful safari. YAY! We had lost Jeff and Maree earlier so I was hoping they had gotten to see some too. And they had! phew. Smiley faces all round afterwards. We bounded back to the lodge ecstatic and couldn't help boasting to everyone about our rhinocerousy afternoon. A few of them had painted an elephant - which looked cool. And a couple of others had gone on the jungle walk and had seen some wild boars and tiger poo. All in all a great day and an awesome time at Chitwan! RHINOS RULE!


Posted by squeakylee 01:12 Archived in Nepal Tagged elephant village safari lodge rhino chitwan sapana Comments (0)

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