May 7: Chitwan National Park

5:30am wake up, 6:00am tea -- 6:30 off on the elephants and to the middle of the National Park to see the wildlife awaken for the day. The sky is cloudy with a slight drizzle, but as we settle into our spots on the elephants' backs the skies behave and send a slight breeze to keep us cool. The temperature this time of year could easily be in the hundreds, but we are lucky and have a nice morning to explore without dripping in sweat.

The elephant is an amazing animal -- while big in stature, it is also very gentle. Each elephant was rigged with a seat for three directly behind the "keeper" who would guide the animal along the pathways within the park. Once all were mounted it was "off with the caravan" and to the river. The official park is located across the river from our lodge, so into the water we go. Sitting high on the back, there was no way we would get wet as the elephant waded across. Then the real excitement starts. As if to disappear into a wall of greenery, each animal slithered through the trees and brush deep into the jungle.

The elephant grass is so high that if not on the back of an elephant, there would be no way to see. The grass named after the animal that loves it the most as its main staple, grows to over 20 feet high in places. But perched high on the back of this majestic animal we stroll through the park looking for wildlife. Within a short period of time, we spot a rhinoceros! The animal is grazing and not happy to see five large elephants loaded with camera snapping tourists come up to get a closer look. The keepers had the elephants circle the rhino to enable us to get a closer look. The poor thing just stood there and tried to only to have a large elephant move to block it. But to the happiness of the rhino we only stayed a few minutes before moving on down the pathway to the jungle. An alligator was nesting in a hole as we moved by, birds were singing, deer scampering by, all in total tranquility of life. The park is also the home of the Bengal Tiger, but we knew that by traveling by daylight we would not see one. Even the sloth bears were in hiding. The monkeys, however, swung from tree to tree.

Bouncing around atop an elephant is an experience -- one that is well worth the early morning wake up call! But then it was back to the lodge before the heat of the day took over. The Naturalist gave a interesting and informative lecture on the elephants as well as giving each one of us the opportunity to feed one its favorite treat -- an elephant grass burrito!! Elephant grass woven around a core of rice!!! But then the chore of cleaning the elephants!!!! Each keeper drove their "friend" down to the river bank with the entire group in tow. The elephants waded into the water and then submerged themselves to bathe. Four of our group decided to help which meant climbing up on the elephant and riding out into the water. What looked like great fun turned into a trick on the rider!! As the elephant stood knee deep in the river it filled its truck with water and with great gusto sprayed its back. Of course, there sat the "washer volunteer"!!! Great fun!!!

Back to the lodge for lunch and dry clothes and off again on foot into the jungle. This time to the crocodile farm deep within the brush. It was necessary to take two additional guides with us to keep an eye out for animals that may see us as dinner!!

The crocodile farm was established in order to prevent extinction due to the changing habitat. It was established in 1978 and has been very successful in bringing the animal back to a nice population. After leaving the farm we trudged through the brush and thick forest of the jungle. The temperature and humidity are now on high so clothes became glued to the body and sweat made its steady stream down the back. But again as with everything the scenery was fabulous. We learned of the habitat and nature's ways -- we saw a great variety of vegetation as well as animals. Each turn in the path opened up to another experience. Even a rhino was sighted within a few feet of where we were.

The final evening in the jungle was a treat of the local men performing four of their native dances. The dances are done while hitting each others sticks creating a perfect balance of rhythm.


Indiana Peg!

Elephant Parking Spot

My Limo!

Off We Go!

Look Out, Here We Come!

Hang On!

Rhetta, Elaine, and Susan


Surprise, Mr Rhino!

Up Close and Personal


Pete and Lurline

Crocodile with Nest

Elephant Grass

One More Shot


Crossing the River

Bath Time!

Gail Wanting to Help

Gail Getting The Bath

Gail: "Now that wasn't nice"!

Elaine Getting a Bath!

Peg Getting a Face Full!

Peg: "I kept my mouth closed, but where are my contacts??"

Peg: "Nice Elephant!"


Pete Helping with Bath time

Pete's Bath

Pete: "Now why did you roll over?"

All Done!!

Wood Apple

Trillion Foot Worm

Canoe Ride

Indiana Peg: "I know the way!"

Jungle Walkway

Crocodile Farm


"Stick" Dancers

Happy Dancers

More Happy Dancers!