Friday June 1
Nima’s final job was to arrange bus tickets and a taxi to take us to the bus pickup point for a trip to Chitwan National Park. We joined Jon, Sue and Pema at the bus “depot” on the outskirts of Kathmandu Old City. The depot is just a line up of busses along the road. Street vendors filled the footpath in the early dawn selling hot coffee and snacks. We identified the correct bus and settled in for a long torturous ride. We had to leave early as a section of the road in the mountains was closed between 10.00am and 4.00pm every day to allow for roadworks. Miss the 10.00am deadline and you are stuck for the day.
The journey had beautiful scenery as we wound our way from one valley to the next and followed rivers flowing through deep gorges below. A bit to close to the edge of the road for Lea’s liking.
There were hundreds of brightly coloured and decorated trucks coming the other way. These were all coming up from India loaded with imported goods.
We arrived at the Jungle Wildlife Camp located on the river late afternoon. At $30.00USD per night including breakfast and wifi it was good deal. The rooms were nice and had A/C and a view from the balcony.
After check in we had the hard sell by the tour operator for Jungle Safari’s, canoe trips and other tourist traps. We politely listened to his spiel then headed down to the village where we booked the same Jungle Safari for half the price for the next day. As we returned through the village Elephants were walking back to their home for the night.
Dinner at the Camp restaurant was dreadful so we crossed it off our list.
Saturday June 2
Our Jungle Safari was a very long hot day in a jeep. Lea was feeling dreadful but stuck it out as the wildlife we saw was amazing. The driver focused on the road while our guide scanned for signs of wildlife. We all sat in the back of the jeep with forward facing padded bench seats.
Our guide had sharp eyes and soon spotted our first Rhinoceros.
The elephant grass was high at this time of year but our guide had sharp eyes. We saw deer, fresh tiger tracks hornbills, kingfishers and many more, together with abundant orchids and wildflowers.
In the afternoon we visited the old and famous Tiger Tops Resort. Now under caretaker control this Resort, within the Park was once a world renowned exclusive destination until the government shut down all accommodation within the NP.
It was a tough day at the office.
We were glad to get back and enjoyed a great dinner at a local village restaurant.
Sunday June 3
A rest day and sleep in for Lea who was feeling dreadful. The same virus I caught in the mountains was now knocking her for six. Some justice here as she is finding out just how bad I felt. Sue and Pema went off bird watcvhing. We were content to watch a local Mahout bring his elephant down to the river for a feed of fresh grass.
Lea spent most of the day in bed.
Monday June 4
Lea still very ill and the bus broke down so we were stranded for over an hour while mechanics were called to fix a ruptured brake line. Nobody spoke English so we had a a hard time finding out what was going on. The driver kept the engine and aircon going thank goodness. However, with no airflow condensation filled the ducts so when we got moving again every corner produced a deluge of filthy black water out of the aircon vents. We were unlucky enough to be sitting in one of the worst affected areas and our clean travel clothes were clean no more. I used the bus curtains to clean what I could.
The traffic was horrendous.
And it got worse as we approached Kathmandu. It took us 8 hours on the bus before we got a taxi to Pema’s House for a shower and a meal before catching our flight back to Singapore then the ferry back to Sebana Cove and the boat. Goodbye Nepal!