Sunday, March 19, 2017

Nepal Animal Adventure

Day 1 and 2 TRAVELING-What an adventure and a rough trip too.  Flight delays in Dubai and then jet engine problems-changing planes- we got there 10 hours later then scheduled but we finally arrived!
Day 3-Rhesus Macaque Monkeys at the airport!  Driving through the country towards the jungle we encounters water buffalos, parakeets, and anhingas.  We arrive for afternoon tea at the Jungle Villa Resort in Chitwan, Nepal, Sunday.  As the dusk arrives with a sunset we watch Axis deer cross the river and see our first Mugger Crocodile.  BBQ dinner that evening-but not Texas BBQ-more like pork and chicken grilled on skewers over a fire.
Day4-  waking up to the beautiful song of Orioles and greeted by the friendly red bugs on the porch and bushes.  sunrise birding hike along the river and into the forest, deer, kingfishers, bee eaters, pipits, shrikes, honey buzzards, and huge Kapok trees filled with massive beehives.  Later that hike we watch a herd of deer attacked by a crocodile in the river.  Military Forest Rangers patrol the edges of the jungle on the back of Indian Elephants.  After lunch we drive through villages while the local people celebrate the Holi holiday by painting their faces-I even saw a dog with a painted face!  We then mount on the backs of elephants for our safari.  
Elephants can go places in the jungle where people and trucks cannot and we see our first river in a water hyacinth covered lake.  Our elephant just waded across the water and we stood next to the rhino-so amazing!  From the back of our elephant we saw, hog deer, axis deer, wild boars with dozens of baby piglets, monkeys, and more rhinos, one with cattle egrets walking on its back.  After finding sunbirds and green parakeets we left the jungle and had a nice dinner before we collapsed for the night.  
Day5-- A morning canoe to take us across the river for a jungle hike, searching for more of Nepal's hidden wildlife.  Crossing the river we see our first endangered Gharial crocodile, the other species of Nepal, with the slender long snout.  i spotted the first rhino in the jungle about 30 yards in the deep foliage.  We spotted herds of Axis deer and more wild boar and then suddenly our guides grabbed Gayln and they ran behind a tree whispering as i looked around and saw a big angry rhino about 25 yards away and i also ran and hid behind the big Kapok tree.  We hid for a while until the beats finally stomped away into the jungle.  Rheses monkeys chattered in the trees and we found a big tree with large fresh claw marks about 9 feet high in the bark....TIGER!  nearby...we could hear a low rumbling and the guides looked in all directions armed with their walking sticks.  I asked if they were scared and they said this is alarming a tiger is near and we are invading his territory we must leave this area now. So we headed out of the thick part of the jungle and followed a creek with deep rhino tracks in the mud.  We saw huge holes dug into the ground by sloth bears and came to a series of small ponds filled with crocs and surrounded by purple herons, cormorants, and peacocks.  In that same area in the distance tall grass we saw five rhinos.   Peacock males were displaying and calling all around the area.  We hiked an hour and a half back to the river and crossed by our canoe to our lodge for lunch.
Later that day we set out northward for a canoe safari and we were lucky to find a rhino swimming in the river.  We encounter river rapids and the later arrive downstream at the Crocodile Conservation Center.  The place raises and redistributes the endangered Gharial crocodile into the river.  A great day and in the evening we watched deer cross the river again before we attended the Tharu Tribe and their Stick Dancing celebration.  We danced with them and played tambourine like instruments with them sharing their music.  
Day 6-- 530 am and a hot chocolate to start the day for another elephant back safari and as mists rise off the river and the sun hasn't risen above the trees we are rewarded by two jackals running in front of our elephants and watching us as they play along the river's edge. That mornings safari was excellent with more rhinos, boars, deer, birds, and the two jackals!  after a late breakfast I created some earth art out of sticks, rocks, and flowers near the lodge.   We saw a woman being attacked by a swarm of bees and she just stood there covering her face and body with her wraps, screaming and another girl brought some straw on fire and soon everyone was attacked by bees--I didn't laugh but later it was pretty funny.  We attend an elephant briefing and spent sometime with them, feeding and talking to the elephants.  We then go down to the river to bathe and play in the water with the elephants and that was an amazing time.
That afternoon we head into the National Jungle for a jeep safari.  We had four sloth bear sightings, green woodpeckers, pied kingfishers, fish eagles, and mongoose and then were charged 3 times by a mother rhino protecting her baby.  Langur monkeys filled the treetops as we left the jungle and returned home to dance with the Tharu tribe and their stick dancing.  
Day 7 -- We wake up to a rhino outside our window sleeping below our balcony.  Gayln named him Rodney.  A three hour hike this morning and we caught sight of a jungle cat across the river and found a leopard tree with claw marks all over it.  Another mongoose crawled near some crocodiles by the river and a giant six foot eel.  After a light lunch we head out on another jeep safari and found a rock python near a pond and Langur monkeys jumping from tree to tree.  I got excited as we heard the call of a great hornbill, my favorite bird, but it was not to be as we never could see him in the thick canopy of the jungle.  We found some Sambar deer in the grasslands and more rhinos while about 6 peacocks displayed and called for mates.  Sunset and Geckos on the ceiling while we ate our last nightly meal at the lodge.
Day8--early morning sketching by the river and we leave the lodge for Bharatpur and our flight to Kathmandu.  In Kathmandu we toured the trashy streets and went on foot through temples and visited with Monks.  Galyn had a steel bowl vibration therapy but she said it didn't work...haha...long flight home after awesome experiences.