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February 23rd, 2011 | Asia

Elephant Safari…

My elephant safari was great fun, and I had the company of a trio of Irish folk as company, and with their sense of humour, our ride was always going to be a laugh…!!

"All aboard...!! Elephant safari into Chitwan National Park...!! Last Elephant leaves in five minutes...!!"

Once Deborah, Luke, Paul and I had squeezed ourselves into the tiny wooden frame on the elephants back, we set off across the river and into the park…

Crossing the Rapti River into Chitwan...

It was not the most comfortable modes of transport I have experienced, but we soon got into the “sway” of things, and enjoyable the silent padding through the forest… That is, as long as we were able to avoid a party of eight Chinese aboard a pair of elephants, who whenever they were separated, bellowed loudly to each other, presumably to be kept abreast of what the other party were seeing… Even our mahout became irritated with them and called for them to be quiet… This made little impression on the Chinese, so we urged the mahout to steer clear of them for the rest of our safari…

We were able to sneak up on a pair of sleeping wild boar...

And a resting Samber Deer, the largest deer in Nepal...

While trying to urge our elephant through a particularly thick part of the bush, our mahout leaned forward and gave the elephant a mighty whack on the head with the stick he was carrying…!! Paul and I exchanged glances, and as gently as I could, I explained to the mahout what I would do with the stick if he hit the elephant again…

Knowing that the nearest proctologist was probably miles away in Kathmandu, he refrained from beating the elephant for the remainder of our safari…

Single file through the marshland close to the river...

It was whilst on the elephant safari that my trusty camera began “acting the goat”… I guess after almost 20 000 photos, it is getting a little “tired”…!! I had to use my video camera to take photos, but the quality of these is extremely poor compared to that of the Canon D10 I have been using…

And just at that moment as my rotten luck would have it, we stumbled onto an Indian Rhino and her calf…!!

My first Indian Rhino, wearing a pair of baggy trousers...!!

It looked as though they were wearing ill-fitting suits of armour… Their hides are “segmented” and not nearly as smooth as those of their African cousins… Both male and female Indian Rhino have only one horn, and are also known as the Asian One-Horned Rhinoceros… They are the worlds fourth largest land mammal, and it is estimated that barely 3 000 of them are left in the wild…

Indian Rhino and her calf... Great sighting...!!

We wound our way back through the forest, seeing monkeys, spotted deer, wild boar and a host of bird species, including the ubiquitous Peacock…
I couldn’t help but remember the pair that we used to have in Swaziland… The male used to come into the house on occasion, and had taken a huge liking to my wife… He would spread his beautiful tail feathers in the kitchen, trapping her between the stove and exit, while he rattled his plumage and bobbed his head in apparent ecstasy…
Getting him back through the narrow doorway and out into the garden, took some time, as you can imagine…!!
By the time we got back to base, both my legs had “gone to sleep”… The circulation had been cut off from sitting on the hard wooden frame, and I fully expected to have to be dragged off it and onto the stairs leading down to the ground…

"This pole ain't good for the jewelry box, Dudes...!!" Not to mention that it feels like I've left my legs back in the forest...!!

And then the Ellies went home to rest...!!

On our ride back to the hotel, we came across the elusive animal that we had all wanted so badly to see…!!

Finally, in the dying light of a Nepali afternoon, we saw our Tiger...!!

Interesting menu... Wouldn't give fish a go in these parts though...!!

I am considering surprising the Big Fella with a new luggage system...!! Then again, maybe not...!!

With that, my short stay in Sauraha had come to an end…

The highlight of my stay was without question the interaction with elephants, and I would gladly return here if only for this purpose…!!

Sauraha itself is an interesting little village which at this time of the year was not nearly as bust as it is in October and November, the height of the tourist season…

Apart from the annoying lack of power, I enjoyed my stay at the River Side Hotel where the management and staff were always on hand to give advice and make any form of travel and booking arrangements a breeze…

s you can see, there is plenty to do here...!!

The River Side Hotel as seen from the southern bank of the Rapti River... A great place to kick back and relax...!!

And a "Heartly goodbye" to Sauraha from the Gypsy Biker...!!

The following morning I would be on my way to the mythical Kathmandu…

©GBWT 2011

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