After the chaos that is Kathmandu (not to mention the added stresses our visa situation put on us) we were ready to get back to nature and so we were headed for Chitwan National Park.
The bus trip south was a bumpy 6 hours but with reclining seats and a stop for some delicious pakoras (Lianna agreed) the trip seemed to go by very quickly. Starring our the window at the scenery helped make the hours pass as well watching the mountains slowly change into farmland but the big Himalayan peaks always in view.
Once we arrived at our bus stop the touts and hotel sales people bombarded the few tourists that were not there on package tours and eventually we found a driver with a less aggressive approach and agreed for him to take us into the nearby town. Lianna and I decided against the first option as it was good priced but too far from the small strip so we decided to look else where and chose to stay at Travelers Jungle Camp which suited us (and our budget) just fine.
It didn’t take us long to price out some safari’s and soon enough we had plans for the next few days. That evening was spent on the arduous walk in the heat through some Tharu villages to the elephant breeding center 4 km from town. We could have chosen to visit the center as part of a tour but we didn’t see the point when we could get there ourselves. Once we arrived we were greeted by some baby elephants who were behind a bit of a barrier. They were twins with their mom, and we were told that they are the only twin elephants to survive to their age (almost one) though we didn’t know how true that might be. After playing with them for a while we went to see the rest of the elephants, most of which were tied up. Once they got past the baby stage they tied them up so they can’t trample all over us.
Once we got to the other side we realized the barrier was open and the baby elephants on that side were roaming around being social, touching everyone with their trunks. Unfortunately the experience was tainted by some ridiculously dumb tourists who decided it would be a good idea to feed the babies cookies. When the young elephants would fight over the biscuit the tied up mother would let out a loud trumpet sending chills up our spine showing the awesome power these animals have. Disciplined, the young elephant would retreat to its mother. Among some people common sense isn’t so common.
When the sun began to set we figured we better get back because walking at night in tiger territory didn’t seem smart. We realized why so many came on tours when we had difficulty finding a ride back due to most jeeps being full. Finally we were able to hitch a ride back with a group and we were pleased that we were not walking back in darkness.
We then grabbed some dinner but unfortunately I made the wrong choice of chicken and paid the consequences later on that night. We had stocked up on all the remedies so it was easily dealt with for our safaris the next day.