We woke up early to the sounds of Chitwan National Park surrounding us. We stepped into the boat to cross the Rapti River next to our Barahi Jungle Lodge for a Walking Safari at Chitwan. The river was still drenched in the mist that was slowly rising from the river like smoke. Everything looks mystical through this mist. Our boat moved slowly towards the other bank of Rapti. Some other boats joined us on the river. Suddenly all of us stopped to let the Rhino cross the river first. When our boatman parked the boat very close to the point where Rhinos had just entered, we had second thoughts about leaving the boat. However, our guides gave us confidence and we stepped into the forest.
Walking Safari At Chitwan National Park
Well, we were on a walking safari. After exploring the jungle from the safety of a Jeep and a boat, today we were planning to walk through the jungle.
Rhino’s entry into the same part of the jungle made us curiously nervous. However, we were constantly reminded that there are more than 600 Rhinos at Chitwan National Park. They are all around whether we see them or not. We were also told that Rhinos are not really interested in humans unless they sense danger from us. I wondered how would they know I am scared of them and they have no reason to be scared of me when all they can see is that I am from a species that is known for killing them.
The beauty of Nature at Chitwan
As we started walking, the fear started subsiding as the eyes started taking in the beauty all around me. Small ponds reflected the tall trees around them as the mist slowly lifted from them. It was like pond revealing itself in slow motion.
We were walking on the bed of dried leaves that create a rustle every time we took steps – I wondered if Rhinos and their other wild friends can hear this and react. It was a lovely scene – a bed of sepia dried leaves and tall green trees emerging out of them. At places, trees formed a canopy as if they are leading you to a special place.
Our walk leader Saket kept pointing out the small creatures. I frowned, how is it that he is able to see all these and I have to strain my eyes before I can figure them out in the direction of his finger. However, it was when he starting looking upwards on tree tops that I could compete with him. We spotted so many colorful birds as we walked along.
See our detailed post on – Birds of Chitwan National Park.
It was difficult to click the birds as they had enough foliage to hide behind. So, for a while I let my camera hang around my neck and just enjoyed the flight of birds from one tree to another. It was when I saw a blood-red bird that my hands automatically picked up the camera. We played hide and seek but the colors were betraying both the birds and me. When I managed to click a picture I was back to my group.
Signs of Wildlife
Saket showed us ant holes, snake holes and numerous footmarks on the ground – he could not only tell us which animal they belong to but also how old they are. Incredible!
We clicked spiders hanging with the web all around them as if they are holding the two neighboring trees together with their web.
Around 8 o’clock we stopped to have our breakfast. Our friendly forest guard guided us to a clearing where a tall tree was lying horizontally. It became our dining table and we opened our packed breakfast. It was a picture-perfect location, a small clearing with a big fallen tree surrounded by trees all around. We munched our breakfast and just as we started walking again, a Rhino with her young one appears – just about 100 meters from us.
We hid behind a tree and hoped that we did not come in the line of sight of the Rhino. It was fun to watch them from such close quarters from the same level as them. Before this, I had seen them from elephant back and jeep.
Meeting the Kanchiruwa
The most amazing experience of the jungle walking safari was the chance discovery of the skeleton of a Rhino called Kanchiruwa – called so because of his cut ear.
Different parts of the rhino were lying scattered here and there. It was when we were standing next to its head that I realized how big the animal is. The ribs looked like long sticks. There was a tooth that almost quarter the length of a human foot.
The students of zoology could have spent hours studying the rhino structure. I was shocked to see the size even when it has no skin on it.
Later when I was looking at the images of this Rhino – I could see the law of jungle in action. Till this Rhino was alive, it must have ruled the jungle. Once it died, it became the food for fellow animals and an exhibit for travelers like us. I also wondered why do we not see more bones scattered in the jungle as animals would be dying on a daily basis. Do you know the answer?
We kept walking and met lots of colorful butterflies and insects. It was fun to focus and find a light green grasshopper over a dark green leaf. We walked along a lake where colorful Common Kingfisher bird sat on branches hanging over the water.
We saw vines that had triangular thorns of the size of a human hand. They looked like giant pimples – but I wonder if they are a survival mechanism for the delicate vines.
We saw mushrooms growing on logs lying around – wonder if we could eat them or if vegetarian inhabitants of this jungle like Rhinos eat them. I am not even sure if I was seeking answers to these questions. I was just getting more aware of the intricate ecosystem of the forest around me.
Red flowers of cotton silk tree
The red flowers of cotton silk tree sparkled through the sandy earth – adding the dash of color. However, the big discovery of the day were small orange colored balls – which leaves an orange powder on your hands when touched. We knew they must be of some use – but could not figure out what. Our forest guide said the local name is Sindhure – which is precisely the name of the color in Nepali, Hindi or Sanskrit. After we returned to the lodge we checked their library for information on this colorful berry-like fruit. Guess what, Sindhure was used to dye silks in good old days.
After walking for 4-5 hours and soaking in the fragrance of the forest we were bang on the banks of Rapti – where a narrow long boat made of a single tree trunk was waiting for us. Before stepping into the boat, I looked back at the forest and then looked at the bank of Rapti – it had its own forest with many types of plants floating above and beneath its waters.
I would remember this walk for a long time. There was calm along with nervous energy, there was a sense of wonder, joy and of course the much needed physical exercise.
Recommend you read about following travel blog on Kathmandu & Nepal Tourist attractions.