We decided to stop in Sauraha before our visit to Kathmandu since we would be so close coming from India. Sauraha is the town near Chitwan national park in Nepal. They have similar animals as India, but they also have one horned rhinoceros and elephant safaris. We wanted both of those things so we decided to go.
We got an added surprise when we arrived in Sauraha-a food festival! The beginning of the food festival started the very day we arrived. They kicked the food festival off with a parade of elephants and local groups of people competing by performing traditional song and dance. We were in Nepal now and there are many differences we’ve seen compared to India. One that we noticed during this parade was being able to see the parade and not getting pushed out of the front. Granted, there were way less people for the food festival versus the new year parade, but still.
They had a lot of different local cuisine at the food festival. The very first place we went to had local dog meat for sale. We opted to try the egg. We also tried some grilled chicken marinated with nepali spice and a very tasty nepali potato salad. We then rested for awhile, watched the sunset and headed back for some more tasty food, Nepali beer, and live entertainment.
The next morning we woke up real early to catch the first elephant safari. We got up before the sun and headed toward the elephants in the fog. They have platforms the height of the average elephant and instruct the elephant to back up as close as he or she can to the platform. You step on the elephants back and then into the howdah (or passenger seat). There were four to a howdah so two other people joined us. We literally were the first elephant to start that morning. It was still foggy when we started and very cool to see the park-well, technically, it’s the buffer zone-in the morning with all the mist. Elephant riding isn’t the most comfortable ride, but it wasn’t uncomfortable either. It was more comfortable than the camel safari for sure, but maybe that was just because I didn’t have a camel sak in my face.
Anyway, we road around the park looking for animals, specifically a rhino, for about an hour and half. We saw many birds and deer just as we had in India. We must be very lucky when it comes to nature and animals in the wild because we came upon a rhino eating his breakfast-thankfully they only eat leaves. Because we were on an elephant we pulled up right next to the guy. He didn’t even know we were there until the other elephant came beside us. He went from calmly eating his breakfast to agitated very quickly once he realized we were there. So we left before he could charge. I’ll apologize for our pictures in advance. It’s hard to take pictures of moving animals. It’s even harder to take pictures of moving animals when you’re on a moving animal.
It was a short glimpse into the park, but it was all we could afford. We then headed to kathmandu and celebrated the rest of valentines day very romantically with chocolate and a beer.