16 Jan 18
Chitwan National Park: Safari
We boarded dugout canoes at 8:00 a.m. The river was misty. We saw many birds, especially ducks. We stopped for a ten-minute break in a dried mud flat, where we were able to see many varieties of animal prints.
We reached our designated shore around 11:00 a.m. Before setting off walking, our guide instructed us in how to ward off each kind of dangerous animal.
Elephant: run faster than 30 km/h- you must run at least 31 km/h!
Rhino: act like a cartoon! Hide behind a tree and walk around the trunk if you need to to stay on the opposite side of the rhino. Or you can climb 7 ft. or higher- you pick.
Sloth bear: stand close together in a big group and start yelling to confuse it!
Tiger: not much. Just hope it doesn’t start crouching and wiggling its hindquarters like it’s about to pounce. If it does, try backing slowly away while keeping eye contact. Luckily, these are nocturnal.
Just as we set off, the sun came out for the rest of the day. When we reached the first fork, we encountered a tree full of monkeys. After watching, our group split, so our larger group would be less likely to startle wildlife. Each group was led and followed by a guide with a large stick. We walked on a road through the grasslands until we encountered a ranger on patrol, riding an elephant. Though we didn’t see anything besides peacocks, we stopped for a packed lunch at a park station and ate in the raised lookout there. Hardboiled egg, vegetable patty, fruit, juice, and oreos. After we resumed our walk, we entered the woods. We never saw any large animals besides deer and we certainly never encountered or put into practice the more dangerous animals the guides were obligated to warn us about, but we did see evidence of them: plenty of tiger tracks, and holes that were dug by sloth bears in order to find and eat termites.
That evening, we were able to arrange an impromptu meeting with the owner of the Chitwan Gaida Lodge. It turns out, he is a ornithologist and very much into conservation. He was able to tell us some of the history of the Chitwan National Park and the troubles with poaching within the park and how they’ve been able to combat this.