High temperatures and women drying rice and maize on the main road is what welcomed us to Chitwan. The topography here is quite different from we experienced in the early part of our road trip. Instead of rows and endless rows of mountains, the land is plain but green. Chitwan is the home an elephant sanctuary and Chitwan national park. Owing to its rich endowment of nature, Chitwan was declared a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site
At Chitwan we stayed at Green Mansions Resort. If you are looking for a place with spacious cottages and no distraction from the modern world through television or internet connection this is the place to stay. Green Mansions also boast of a wonderful restaurant where we had the best chicken curry in Nepal to date.
They have friendly staff who are and punctual in attending to guests programmes. It is from Green Mansions that we visited the elephant sanctuary, went for a Tharu cultural dance and an elephant ride to the jungle. We were the only guest during this season.
The elephant sanctuary
The walk to the sanctuary took fifteen minutes from Green Mansions Resort. On our way to the sanctuary we had to cross BhudhiI Rapti River, 20 km long. It’s called Bhudhi Rapti because its flows slowly like an old lady walking. Bhudhi means old lady and Rapti means river. When we were at the center, there was an elephant which had just delivered twins a couple of weeks earlier. We were told this is a rear occurrence.
Their breeding center was established to increase on the number of elephants needed to help in the conservation activities. According to the workers at the center, the objectives of the breeding center include: to fulfill the number of captive elephants for protected areas, to enhance scientific knowledge related to elephant reproduction, husbandry, nutrition and health. 31 live elephants calves have been born in the center since 1997 till the end of 2009.Only the female elephants are kept at the center except the young baby elephants. Each elephant has three staff to take care of it.
Each elephant is fed a concentrate feed of 15kg of rice, 1.5kg of molasses and 25gram of salt daily. The calves start receiving training when two to four years old. The details of the vigorous training of the elephants are explained to visitors during the visit to the center while there are also some reading materials to take away. But generally an elephant is trained in the course of 20days to one month. The best time to visit the centre is 5.00pm in the evening which is their feeding time.
In the ancient times trained elephants were used in warfare, transportation, big game hunting and cultural, religious and royal ceremonies. As captives elephants can serve as all terrain and all weather vehicles, they have been very useful in forest patrolling, ecotourism and various activities of wildlife management and research in the Terai National Parks and Reserves.
The elephant takes tourists to the deepest end of the jungle and it is safest way to watch the wildlife. We were lucky to experience one such tour jungle. The jungle ride takes place in the morning before the temperatures rise.
My friend Cathy says …”The jungle ride was tiring and scary at the same time since we were five including the driver seated on the elephant. The slow heavy movement of the elephant made want me clench to the protection provided by the cage we sat on. However it was one life time experience”
For me, It was an adventure . I felt excitement mixed with a tinge of anxiety for our safety. I knew this was an experience I could never experience back home in Kenya.
We saw many animals but had the opportunity to see wild boars, deer, rhino, monkeys, and different species of birds. It was a one hour interaction with nature that we shall never forget.
Here are some photos from the jungle visit… ENJOY!!!
The elephant jungle ride is safe and so far their have been no accidents reported. All you need to do is to obey the rules given by the guides.