Temple Tiger, Royal ChitwanNature Reserve, NEPAL
Now let me take you on a real safari. Let me put you atop an elephant and go for a gentle glide through the swamps of the Nepal jungle. There you'll see exotic birds, crocodiles, one-horned rhinos, and, if you're lucky, Royal Bengal tigers.
|A trained guide will be your leader as you take your elephant safari ride, and by the time you say pachyderm, you'll be weaving your way through the forests and along the riverbanks. No, you won't be stuck in the mud thanks to your friend who will clear away unsightly bushes and floating debris with its trunk.
But I know what you're thinking. Once you're on such a huge animal, will you get seasick? Logically, this is not possible but to those travelers who feel nervous about scaling heights, this fear will leave you the moment you climb up and sit with other companions on a comfortable wooden seat. With you always will be the elephant trainer and Temple Tiger guide.
How to describe an elephant safari? First let's take something we all know about - a horseback ride. No matter how expert you are with a horse, you will still feel the ruggedness of the pavement. However, with the elephant, any lumps or bumps are absorbed along the way. Plus, its footsteps are as soft as Tinkerbell's.
|Tinkerbell? I can see the hardest thing will be persuading you that elephants are actually light on their feet. This doesn't mean you won't hear them in a stampede, but when you take a safari ride in a place like Temple Tiger, you'll feel at ease and safe. What's more, you'll discover that elephants are not at all clumsy; they're graceful and seemingly tireless. They pay attention to the trainer who pokes their ears gently to indicate which way he wants them to turn. And they listen and move slowly. I was even able to change a roll of film while mine lumbered around the paths.
What's not readily known about these animals is their attachment to their trainers and to each other. For instance, many times when we stopped at a jungle footpath and another elephant appeared, ours began to whimper. As the guide explained, they're lifelong friends, and they're sad when they leave one another.
The author (Linda-Marie Singer and an
|You'll also be sad to leave Temple Tiger which is not only home to sure-footed elephants, but also habitat to one-horned rhinos, spotted deer, the sloth bear and wild boar, 450 species of birds, monkeys, crocodiles, leopards, and the Royal Bengal Tiger. I was disappointed not to see a tiger (royal or otherwise), but this means that I undoubtedly must return for a second try.
For those who enjoy adventure, Temple Tiger has its accommodations perched high off the ground. Twin bedded rooms are spacious and clean. The bathroom is modern but you'll have to shower when there's light as there's no electricity. For some, this will give new meaning to rough and ready; for others this will spell inconvenience. That's why a strong flashlight is a precaution.
But no such precaution about the food. In a word, it's great! Served in a 5-star fashion, you'll find waiters who can't do enough for the guests.
From November-February, the nights are cold, but for the rest of the time, temperatures are mild. Remember when you're going through parks and jungles to wear long sleeved shirts and slacks. Hiking shoes are also better than sandals as there are leeches in the bushes. A wide brimmed hat and plenty of sunscreen are advisable.
Getting there is easy by plane with a 40-minute ride from Kathmandu to Bharatpur airport. Those who like ground transport, brace yourself for a five-hour ride. The good news is that you'll pass through Nepalese villages and be greeted by children who are always happy to see visitors. You might catch a few water buffalo meandering about, and if you arrive on a holiday, the women are sure to be decked out in fanciful saris.
Vacationers will want to visit Nepal, home of the highest mountain in the World (Mt. Everest) and a friendly country filled with the most shrines and temples per square mile. Nepal also remains one of the best countries to trek and go river rafting. But add to it an elephant safari and you'll be ready to rumble in the jungle.
Temple Tiger Jungle Lodges & Camps
Per person per night on twin sharing basis - $200. Single supplement, add $100. National Park Entrance fee - $14.00. Camping fee per person per night - $2.00. All meals are included.
Jungle activities such as elephant safaris, boat ride on the Narayani River, escorted jungle treks, bird watching, nature walks, lectures on flora and fauna by senior naturalists are covered.
Cost excludes transportation to and from Temple Tiger by surface or by air.
For details contact Venture Travel Ltd. And Mountain River Venture.
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"The LIVEWIRE" for Travel
Watch. Former President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, and created the national writers conference, "The Days of Wine &
She is a travel and entertainment reporter living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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