Nepal: Chitwan National Park

The traditional trekking holiday in Nepal I believe goes like this: go trekking, do 3 days / 2 nights in Chitwan National Park, go to Pokhara to unwind a bit. We did exactly this, and following the success of hiring a guide for the trek we felt sufficiently trusting in the travel agent to just ask him for a package to Chitwan. This time, I believe, we got rather ripped off! We seemed to be paying quite a lot more than a lot of other people there, and really, it just wasn’t that great. Chitwan is near the southerly border with India, and at an altitude of only about 200m – it is quite tropical. The larger park itself sounds amazing, but the tourist packages are a bit, for wont of a better word, canned. Everyone does the same 3 days / 2 nights, and nothing changes, so not surprisingly the guides seem a bit jaded as well. The activities organised sound enticing (jungle safari, etc), but were also a bit underwhelming. On the first evening there was a visit to the elephant conservation centre, which was a bit distressing as they were all displayed on very short chains, many of them obviously upset about it (we were assured that was only for a couple of hours a day). All in all, I suppose if the park is using tourist visits to maintain conservation work then I’m OK with that, but we more or less tuned out and lounged around reading for the most part. The highlight of the walking safari was probably the baby crocodile sunning itself on a rhino! (I should say that it wasn’t all bad; while I’m not sure I could live in the tropics, they’re a fascinating place to poke around. Everything grows so quickly that there’s life, usually freaky-looking, in every nook and cranny and under every leaf).

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