Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More Adventures In Chitwan (Nepal).

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Because I love zoos, I’ve seen my share of rhinoceroses over the years. But the zoo does little to match the exhilaration one feels on spotting one in the jungle. First, you feel a bit of triumph, because the Park covers roughly 400 square miles and rhinos can be hard to spot. But you’re also seized with a mixture of awe and fear, especially when you realize that, if the rhino charges—and they do charge—only 30 yards and two guides (armed with sticks—no guns) stand between you and the angry animal. Our guide later told us that over the years five of his fellow guides were killed in rhino attacks and his parents refused him permission to be become a guide because of the risk.

We’ve made two sojourns into the Park and the nearby “Buffer Zone.” We spent the night in an observation tower which, provided you remain quiet, can provide unrivaled views of wildlife in the late evening and early morning hours. Not to brag (ok, I’m bragging), but in the last 24 hours we’ve seen, in the wild: rhinos, elephants, a mongoose, 2 different owls, male peacocks (I didn’t know they could fly!), buffalo, 2 different species of monkey (rhesus macaque and langur), crocodile, several species of ducks and birdlife (egrets, kingfishers, hornbills).

As part of the observation tower experience, we ate a typical Nepali vegetarian dinner with a family in their clay and grass dwelling (pictured). I was surprised to learn that they don’t have HBO. Heather also had fun participating in the daily ritual of bathing the elephants in the river.


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