Chitwan – by jeep

We clambered into the back of the tourist jeep – two Swiss girls, a couple from the Czech Republic, Kyle and I. We were thrilled to find that Harka would again be our guide into the jungle. He was energetic as ever and he clung to the side of the jeep as our young driver tore down the dirt roads of Chitwan.

Standing on the sides of the jeep, Harka was able to see over the tall-standing elephant grass and watch for wildlife. At various times, Harka would let loose a whistle, signaling our driver to stop. At this point, Harka would point out the peacock or spotted deer that had caught his attention. We would, each of us, “ooh” and “ahh” on cue, though secretly wishing to move on to bigger and better subjects.

Our wish is granted after just half an hour when we stop short and Harka cries “RHIIIIINOS!!!” I jump up onto my seat and peer around me, excited for another close encounter of the one-horned kind. I look and look and still see nothing. The group is confused until Harka pulls out a pair of binoculars and points off into the distance. Even with the binoculars, it is hard to discern the two white blotches of gray moving about at the far reaches of the elephant grass. I am pleased to once again see rhinos, though the disappointment of the rest of the group, who had no such previous experience, was palpable. Harka understood. He assured us that we would continue on in hopes of a closer encounter.

Again we take off, and soon enough, Harka whistles us to an abrupt stop. He tells the driver to back up and points ecstatically to the nearby trees. Again I am up on my feet, and to my surprise I look out to see a big black shaggy face staring back at me from the base of a large tree.”SLOTH BEAR!!!” Harka cries. We all fumble for our cameras but, before a picture can be taken, the bear turns and we see not one, but two shaggy butts go tearing away. Harka grabs Kyle and they both begin to give chase to the bears through the loud, rustling trees. “And that,” I stated solemnly to the group, “was the last time I saw my fiancee.” The group snickers and we watch Harka and Kyle turn back after a few yards, the sloth bears long gone.

Our adventure continues. With each new location, we come up empty-handed until, finally the jeep pulls off the main road and we screech to a halt. “RHIIIIIIIIIINO!”. Twenty feet ahead, lounging comfortably in a cool mud puddle, lie a huge rhino. The entire group is ecstatic.

Harka, again, takes the men from the jeep and shows them different vantage points from which to capture great pictures. Us ladies remain in the safe confines of the jeep.

After several minutes of picture-taking, Harka calls out to the driver in Nepali. The jeep starts backing up…TOWARDS THE RHINO! The Swiss are squealing, all the while being told to “be very quiet”. The rhino stands up, perturbed by all the ruckous. Harka and the Czech man jump into the back of the jeep as we prepare to escape should the rhino become aggressive. We look around for Kyle and, finally spotting him, the entire group bursts into laughter.

He is squatting on the hood of the jeep, clinging to the windshield, not about to be left behind. After Kyle gets into the much more comfortable front seat, the driver whisks us back to the park entrance. And so ends another successful experience into Chitwan National Park, full of memories, great snapshots, and fun.

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~ by Rachel on July 3, 2011.

One Response to “Chitwan – by jeep”

  1. Probably your greatest article to date…

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