It’s up early and out the door by 6am, as my trip south through Nepal and across India starts. We catch a mini-van across a rising Kathmandu to the overland truck. We have a quick introduction and hit the road.
We cover some of the highway I had already taken to Pokhara, and then head south to Chitwan National Park. The scenery changes as we get close, as does the general atmosphere – much more relaxed.
We arrive at Rhino Lodge Hotel, de-camp to our rooms and have lunch straight away. The atmosphere in the lodge and national park is great. Everyone is in good spirits after the reasonably long drive.
After lunch we all jump in a jeep and head to the Elephant Breeding Centre. We learn a little about the Elephants and have the chance to feed the younger ones.
I have some mixed views about the treatment of animals, some of which I don’t understand fully myself. Whilst the adult elephants in the centre are chained, so they do not wander off, the baby animals are not as they do not leave their mothers. I consider the elephants in the national park as the guardians and future of the park. Those that are in captivity safeguard the future of the wild animals. They allow some of the stock to be managed, and provide information about the habits and behaviours of the animals, important to understanding the wild animals. The working animals, whether lifting logs or carrying paying passengers, provide financial income for the park, which goes a long way to keeping the loggers and poachers out.
Chitwan national park is a great place. The visitors numbers have fallen greatly since the Maoist troubles, but I hope the tourist return to the park and secure it’s future, and all of the animals in it.