Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano
Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

23 February 2012

Rhinos, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!

On Friday I took a 6-hour bus ride to Chitwan to meet up with Emily. On Saturday we took a 1- hour bus ride with her Habitat for Humanity group into Chitwan National Park.

Our destination was the Island Jungle Resort. We arrived via dirt road and knew we were in the right place when we saw the sign above. However, there were no buildings around - all we could see was the jungle, river, and a couple of wooden canoes. Oh right, we're staying on an island! So we took the wooden canoes across the river, packed in with our backpacks and about 10 people per canoe. Ours gained a bit of water as we crossed, but we made it safely!

We were greeted with a cup of mango juice and our "schedule for the weekend." Our first activity was an elephant ride!! We had four people on our elephant - Emily, her Habitat roommate Sonia, our driver, and myself. It's hard to get a picture of yourself on an elephant, but here's a glimpse at us while riding the elephant; you can see another group of riders in the distance.

We journeyed through tall grasses, rivers, and jungle trees. Splashing, crunching, crushing whatever was in our way!

Here is a closeup of our little lady:

After returning from our exciting ride to our gorgeous riverside resort, it was time to eat lunch. After lunch we changed into our "bathing costumes" (shorts and t-shirts, since we didn't bring bathing suits) and headed down to the water...

So that we could wash (and ride!) the elephants. Here is Emily surfing on an elephant who is lazily lying on her side.

Later in the afternoon we went on a walk through the jungle looking for rhinos, tigers, and sloth bears, among many other animals. Here are scratch marks that a tiger has left on the trunk of a tree, in order to mark his territory. We saw fresh tiger poop, fresh claw marks in the sand, and the half-eaten carcass of a water buffalo - but we never actually saw a tiger up close. Fine by me.

Hard to see in the photo below, if you look close - on the sand across the way - is a crocodile bathing in the evening sun.

We returned at dusk via wooden canoe.

"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains
and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and
all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."
Isaiah 55:12 (NIV)

We enjoyed watching the "stick dance" performed by a group of teenagers. The dance was originally danced with the intent to ward off malaria. Later in the evening, Emily and I joined the dancing fun.

I woke at 6am the next morning for an early morning "bird watching walk." Though the weather was a bit too misty to see the birds, we definitely heard them. Best of all was when we saw a giant rhino rise from the water into the mist. He's hard to see below, but he is there! The scene was quite majestic.

We enjoyed breakfast, another hike, reading by the river, and lunch before heading back to Emily's hotel in a nearby town. Who ever though Em and I would end up in Nepal together?! God works in crazy ways.

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