Chitwan (in Nepal) is absolutely scorching hot!
Like we’re talking high 30sC which hits mid-40s thanks to the humidity! Oh, that humidity is one of the fiercest we’ve ever encountered on our travels – almost impressively so!
Chitwan National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the famed one-horned rhino (officially called the “greater one-horned rhinoceros”) and so it’s an essential part of Nepal you absolutely have to visit if you have the chance to.
Oblivious to the heat, we stepped out of our air-conditioned bus to a wave of heat akin to opening an oven halfway through baking an apple pie.
You very quickly forget this though when you see the villagers at the hotel, welcoming you to where you’ll be spending the next few nights – Nana Holiday Home. (Though at the time, we had no idea they were just the villagers, we just assumed they also worked at the hotel – which they didn’t).
Oh, also every time you arrive everywhere in Nepal you get welcomed with a bindi (a red got on your forehead) and a necklace made out of flowers so you very quickly get used to always having a bindi pretty much the entire time you’re in Nepal.
We were shown into our room, which was more of a mini villa than just a hotel room. It was a 2 bedroom villa, with two bathrooms – both en-suite to the bedrooms, a kitchen area, and a large living room.
The only thing I wished it had was air-conditioning as that heat was intense but once you were sat under the fans, you started to cool off… (if you left the fan though, even if just for a few seconds, that heat would hit ya straight away).
I’ve got to admit, initially, I wished we had air-conditioning. I just was not prepared for the heat but after a few hours (and several cold showers), you slowly start to get used to it. In fact, by the time we left, I was actually pleased that we got to experience what life in the heat was like for the locals.
I’m a sucker for my creature comforts but it’s one thing when you’re on a luxurious island in the Maldives where you know everyone has the option of escaping the heat by cooling off indoors with the AC – in which case it feels great to have the A.C.! Everyone has it so it just feels like part and parcel of the destination you’re in.
It’s another thing when you’re somewhere like Chitwan, where it feels a bit strange and slightly disconnected with your surrounding when you spend all day out in the heat with locals who have no recourse to A.C. and then escaping to your own lap of luxury with your air conditioning and other creature comforts. That whole thing feels very “us” and “them”.
Something about stripping everything back a bit makes you feel a lot more connected to the experience of being in Chitwan. It made it a lot more relatable and meant that we fully got to experience Chitwan in all its glory – right down to the relief when that cool breeze that comes with summer rain came rolling in and that subtle yet magnificent change in temperature when the sun slowly started to set!
I didn’t realise it initially but that’s one of the things that made this experience really stick in my mind long after we left – that feeling of connection by, in some little way, living like the locals would (for the most part anyway).
It also made ice-cold beers taste unbelievably good! I’ve never appreciated beers more than I did over those days in Chitwan. 😀
Okay, enough about my trivial convo about air conditioning! 🙂 Hehehe! I’m only too aware how utterly ridiculous it is to be fixated on such a silly little thing when there’s so much amazing stuff to explore here so let’s just jump right into that, shall we?
After settling in, we had lunch (along with those cold beers I mentioned earlier) and waited for the sunshine to abate. I might also have nodded off for a few minutes on the sofa in the lounge…
Once the sun started to dip a bit, we got picked up in our 4 X 4 jeep for a safari ride in the park, passing by villages who shouted hello as we drove past (I’ll introduce you to them in the next blog post) and others who were going about their daily business.
The drive to the national park from our hotel took only about 10 minutes and soon, we were traversing through the thick bushes of Chitwan National Park.
The big prize on our safari ride through Chitwan would, of course, be getting to see two things – a one-horned rhino (very different from the black or white rhinos you get in Africa) and potentially a Bengal tiger (the chances of which are very veeerrry slim as tigers are nocturnal animals and are also very evasive with human beings here).
We started off with a sighting of a rhino in the thicket, which we could barely see and so moved on before arriving at a lake/pond where the rhinos were well and truly out!
The sighting was absolutely incredible and getting to see these rhinos was such a highlight of our time in Nepal – not least because, who knew there were rhinos in Nepal???
Again, like I said in this post here, Nepal is synonymous with the Himalayas, the most famous sight of which is Mount Everest and so you tend to think of Nepal as just being this area surrounded by huge mountains and not one one with a tropical forest with rhinos!
After driving a little bit more, we got out of the van and edge closer through the bushes for a better look at the rhinos – that is of course, until the rhino noticed us and appeared to start to come towards us! My feet have never moved so quickly, I pretty much raced faster than Usain Bolt and pole-vaulted faster than… er… I don’t know actually – whoever it is that currently hold the gold medal for Olympic pole-vaulting., right into our jeep!
Those rhinos can move surprisingly fast and you don’t wanna be near it when it decides to charge. 😀 😉
We carried on driving through Chitwan, stopping briefly at a vantage view point to see the National Park from a totally different perspective before moving on to a slower ride through more of grassland area of the National park.
In said, “grassland area” we came across peacocks (which always disappeared before I could switch to my zoom lens on my camera – I tend to use more of a wide-angled lens) and also some deer.
So far Chitwan was definitely showing us a very different side to Nepal and we most certainly couldn’t wait to see more of it over the next few days!