When we arrived in the small tourist village in the early afternoon, just a stone’s throw from Chitwan National Park, our newfound friend was already waiting for us at the Hotel Shiva’s Dream. We had met Dennis on the border, spent a day with him in Lumbini, and visited the Buddha’s birthplace. This magical place, with a multitude of singing and praying believers that could only be visited barefooted, was called to the map for us,thanks to him. We invited him to joing us for a few days on safari instead of heading directly to Pokhara. The shared fate of traveling from Germany by land, bonded us together quickly and so we enjoyed a little holiday mood.
Luckily for us, Dennis, who was faster on his motorbike than we were, had already found an accommodation that turned out to be ideal. In Quetta we had paid horrendous sums for a night in our car in the parking lot of a hotel, while here we were allowed to stay for free, wash our clothes, let them dry on the roof in the sunshine and even wash our car in the driveway with a garden hose. With Arjun, the owner, we got along immediately. He made us,for our plans of the next few days, a fair offer, and also the best, according to our price information with surrounding travel agencies. Without any kind of negotiation, this was a rarity on our journey.
So we went on safari. At 7am he canoe took us over the river, marking the border of the national park, for an hour past relaxing crocodiles, a few grazing deer and various birds. Shortly before we went ashore down the river, our guide Obi jumped up in the very shaky canoe, made from a single thick trunk, and stared concentrated into the jungle. He heard something big, maybe an elephant or a rhinoceros, he told us.
On land, we then set off in that direction in our small group of three Germans and two guides. Two experienced guides are required by the Nepalese government and guarantee the safety of tourists like us in the event of an attack or accident. With that in mind, the tension rose immensely to trace a sound that undoubtedly had to be a ton of heavy animal. Carefully, we felt our way along the small paths, which were not clearly assigned to humans or animals. Suddenly we were in the middle of the jungle. Obi carefully preceded our little reconnaissance squad and again and again we stopped to listen to the sounds of the surrounding area. Suddenly we were stopped to be quiet. We had a lot of trust in our guide and so we were even more careful that the branches on the floor did not break under our weight.
Then we heard a crack, which undoubtedly had to belong to a huge animal. “Elephant” Pbi whispered to us and his tense face showed the seriousness of the situation and so we retreated collectively. At the beginning of our tour, we had learned the basic rules of the jungle.
There are four dangerous animals in the Chitwan National Park for humans. Should a bear attack us, we would make noises and have no problem in a group to scare him away, zigzagging in case of a rhinoceros, as they can only run fast straight ahead and maintaining eye contact with the king of the jungle, the tiger while retreating backwards. In case of an elephant attack, however, the only instruction was to pray.
After the localization of the elephant about 50 meters behind undergrowth, we dared to look around the next bush. While we tried to catch a glimpse of the animal from our cover, the tense atmosphere cut through the next crack and a 15 -meter-high tree crashed in sight into the undergrowth. “Go Back!” Was the hasty instruction from Obi and so we went to safety. He had seen the elephant and thought it was Rolando that we had seen the day before in the “Breeding” Center. The notorious wild elephant, a gigantic animal that already has some locals and a tourist on its conscience, likes to stay close to the females. To our luck, it was not an attack on us. After a few minutes, we decided to move further at a safe distance, as a pursuit of Rolando would be too dangerous.
After we had admired his sleeping place and enormous footprints, we continued on our way along the river. Obi told us about flora and fauna, we heard a tucan in the distance, admired scratch marks of a tiger, which mark their territory by doing this and found a lot of fecal matter. This we followed and were suddenly on the track of a bear. Again and again we found holes that the bear had dug in search of termites and we imagined, after we were told to be able to smell the bear itself. We found him just before the end of our walk. We had tracked the lip bear on foot and actually located it. It was impressive!
In the afternoon we took part in a jeep tour in which we were lucky enough to admire a rhinoceros up close and afterwards we ended the day with a cozy beer in a nice bar around the corner of the hotel.
Thanks to these eventful first days in Nepal, time flew by and then it was time for us two to leave for Kathmandu.
An exciting time in the small orphanage in the capital is inevitable, we are very excited about how we and Travel for Smiles can make a contribution!