We started the day off early, with breakfast at 6:00am and immediately left for a canoe ride on the Rapti River. The canoes were wooden, similar to what are called “mokoros” in Botswana, and were poled along rather than paddled. Five to a canoe, it was a very peaceful experience. We saw quite a few birds and two alligators, but very little other wildlife, except for domesticated elephants and water buffalo.
The canoe ride over, we took a fifteen minute walk through the forest to an elephant breeding centre; the second biggest of its kind in the world. During the walk we were asked to “keep quiet” so that the guides could listen out for tigers and bears and rhino. Yeah, right.
The elephant breeding colony was a rather sad sight as all but the smallest of the 30-odd elephants are hobbled on very short chains.
A short drive back to the hotel and a break before lunch, then it was on to the Royal Chitwan National Park for an elephant-back safari. Fantastic! Not overly long, just about two-and-a-half hours, with four passengers per elephant. Shortly after entering Chitwan we saw rhino, wild boar, a mongoose and several deer. They were unconcerned by the presence of the elephants and equally unconcerned with the presence of the passengers. It was an amazing experience and one that Jane would have loved.
After the elephant ride we went for a sundowner on the banks of the Rapti River, watched the elephants being washed, and after supper we went to a short cultural presentation in the town. An exhausting rest day, but one that was filled with new experiences and one couldn’t wish for more than that.
A gallery of some of the animals encountered during this rest day can be seen here.