Riding the elephant

Our last day at the Hermitage Hotel started again at 6pm. This morning there was no breakfast waiting but rather a cup of tea before we headed off to the elephant meeting place at the edge of the jungle.IMG_1097

Sylvia and I were the first to get on and the third person with us on board was an American Greenpeace worker from Peru. Our driver was clearly used to all kinds of tourists because from the first he started to entertain us. But not only that he also turned out to be gifted spotter and with his help I finally saw a rhinoceros close up in wild life (Sylvia, ever the sceptic, thinks that these rhinoceros are part of the show). We actually saw a lot of other animals too, but I figure that wild pigs, deer and wild chickens are compared to the rhinos not so interesting, plus the pictures didn’t turn out so great.IMG_1102
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And this was our elephant Sirkaly (or something similar).IMG_1226

And then it was time to move on again. After all the bananas were fed to Sirkaly we wanted to have breakfast as well. So back to the hotel to have breakfast and to pack our bags and on we moved. We were supposed to have a driver to bring us to Pokhara but he fell victim to the changed circumstances and our agency put us on the tourist bus. Which in itself should not have been a problem, merely a six hour ride instead of four. But that at the narrowest part of road a mountain slide happened and we would get a 10 hour stay on the bus in the end… this was a bit a of a downer. IMG_1241
Water became a rare commodity along the route and resourceful entrepreneurs started a cucumber business.IMG_1243IMG_1248

At least the scenery was beautiful and got only a bit marred by all these buses on the road.
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Eventually though we made it into Pokhara, organized a taxi and made our way to Castle Resort Hotel our safe haven up in the hills. Here we met the dutch people again whom we had already met the first night in Kathmandu and the Austrians from Chitwan. We had dinner, Momos for Sylvia and Dal Bhat for me and quickly called it a night. It had really been a very long day. Yours, Pollybert
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Looking for a tiger

The next morning started with a 6am wake-up call and shortly afterwards breakfast. A bit after 7am we left for our canoe ride with a group of Czech people. Their tour guide was busy on the phone because she had two persons at the airport in Kathmandu poised to go home but of course this never happened on the day after the earthquake. The airport was closed for a while but she managed to organize them a hotel nearby.

See how happy we look at this time of the day? I am sure I never look this much relaxed in Vienna at 7:30 am.IMG_1059

The canoe ride turned out to be super short after all. We were first told that we would go for the jungle tour in the morning and then after a lunch break at the hotel for the canoe ride. This all changed with the addition of the Czech group and all of a sudden we already started to walk shortly after 8am. In the beginning it was really interesting, searching for animals. Our guide Madan stopped every couple of minutes, listened for a while and then moved on; I had the impression he was doing this solely for the purpose of keeping us tourists happy and on the move. Still, we saw some animals, foots prints of different animals and so on.IMG_1067
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The grey blob on the last picture was a rhinoceros, just so you know that we “saw “one. There were actually two, mother and baby rhino.

Then it was finally lunch time because around 11am I started to have enough. Three hours of walking around in the jungle was my personal limit. We came upon a little clearing that looked as if every jungle tour stopped there for lunch. But first we saw some kind of fruit (not edible for humans), had to cross a bridge and saw some leftover antlers. The former attached parts to these had probably been eaten by a tiger said the guide (or maybe the antlers had been conveniently placed there for us tourists). IMG_1390IMG_1075

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And then finally we saw the clearing and sat down for lunch which had been packed by the hotel. Hardboiled eggs, a sandwich, an apple, a banana, some cookies and a juice. By then I would have eaten anything (also a tiger), walking around in concentric circles (or so it seemed to me) really made me hungry. Finally I could relax a bit while reading my book; Sylvia used the time to lie down.IMG_1389IMG_1081

Just 30 minutes later we were on the go again, still looking for the imaginary tiger. Ok, maybe not so imaginary because there are still over a hundred tigers living in the Chitwan National Park. Still no tiger in sight which was probably better because we “saw” some foot prints and the longer we walked the more Sylvia freaked out that we were walking around here in this park just waiting to be served up as tiger snack. That was the least of my problems, tiger or no tiger, I just had enough of all this walking. We were promised a tour of three hours and ended up back at the river at 3:30pm. So after seven hours of walking including a short-cut in the wrong direction, I was bone tired and needed a little rest at the hotel.

Refreshed we met again at 5pm to see the elephant breeding station. We drove through the village and stopped at a small river which in monsoon times is way bigger. The bridge over it is removed at the beginning of the monsoon season and installed again after it.IMG_1088IMG_1089

The elephants were less interesting than the bridge, but maybe I am just saturated with all the elephant programs. They were always behind fences and I was not convinced that they looked happy. Sylvia even less, you should have heard her berating the guide.IMG_1092IMG_1093

After a quiet dinner with our German neighbors we went to bed early and got some sleep. Walking in circles made us bone-weary.
Yours, Pollybert