The next day and a half spent at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge allowed me to indulge in a few of my favorite things – namely taking pictures, reading, and writing.
It may surprise folks but I really enjoyed the time spent in the great outdoors. Our rooms had minimal electricity and I had to walk on a path through the jungle by candle and/or flashligth in the dark. All of our meals were by candlelight. Hot water was only availabe at night as a result of solar heating. It was all so simple and enjoyable and outside of what I consider my comfort zone – you know with the whole need to sleep with mosquito netting and being in the middle of the jungle thing.
During the full day spent at Tiger Tops, we went on two jeep safaris and also one 1.5 hour trek in the jungle. As with the first elephant safari, we saw some wild boars, rinos, a sloth bear, birds, spotted deer and lots and lots of vegitation. The worst part, however, was that one of the jeeps carrying people not with my group spotted a tiger. However, the amatuers didn’t manage to get a picture, so I say it doesn’t count. 🙂 Especially since none of our group got to see a tiger during our visit. If I ever go back to Tiger Tops, I’m totally bringing along a large glitter ball, a bit of cat nip, and laser pointer. That would totally work to lure a tiger out of the woods for a photo session, right?
The trek through the jungle was amazing. We had a naturalist guide that pointed out a variety of plants and animals and also made sure we didn’t do anything to endanger ourselves. I mean, we were in the middle of a jungle that is home to tigers and jaguars – serious business. Before embarking on the trek, we had to learn some basic commands in case we came across any sketchy situations – a jungle version of “stop, drop, and roll” if you will. Thankfully we didn’t need it. However, as we were making our way back towards the lodge, we came across a random woman walking on a path – she was with another group at the lodge and felt that “feel free to roam around the grounds” meant she should just take it upon herself to leave the main lodge area and wander randomly around the jungle. Our guide told her she needed to head back and she was pissed at this. Seriously, lady, you could have gotten lost or hurt. I don’t get people at times.
We also had a briefing with a naturalist about the elephants at Tiger Tops and then also got to watch (and for those that wanted to) or participate in their daily washing in the nearby river. I didn’t get in the river, but did manage to get a photo with the youngest elephant in their herd. It was amazing to learn about these giant animals. My mom even got to feed one of the elephants part of their afternoon snack. The humans also got a snack at this point – the most amazing lttle onion string things made with chickpea flour. I will totally be attempting these at home. They wre likely the best food item we had the entire trip.
In the downtime between activities I enjoyed sitting around the main building, indulging in a bit of reading and writing and chatting with my fellow travellers. Taking in some sun while looking out over the jungle and river was pretty much perfection. Who knew I had such a strong inner outdoorswoman? I honestly can say I’m looking forward to getting out to commune with nature again. Maybe I’ll wait until Minnesota isn’t headed towards cold and snow, however.
The final morning at Tiger Tops kicked off with an early morning elephant safari. While we didn’t see a tiger (no gatooooooo) we did come across more rinos up close and personal. And seeing the jungle through the early morning mist is something that I won’t forget. Simply stunning to see other elephants head towards the jungle and disappear into the mist. One sad thing we saw was the damage done by an invasive species – a vine from South America – that is taking over parts of Chitwan. They think it was brought over by migratory birds, and don’t really have anything to do to stop it. I just wanted to jump off of my elephant and start clearing it away to limit its impact, but know that it really wouldn’t do much.
After lunch, we headed back to the ariport via a jeep ride (a rowdy one at that – Group 2 FTW!), river crossing via boat, and then another jeep ride. Our group also cleared out yet another gift “shop” – if it was one thing we did well was shop. After another security check we were back on our way to Kathmandu.
I’ll recap the last few days in Kathmandu later today or tomorrow and then share some of my general thoughts and observations from the trip. I’m going to try to get some sleep so I’m not a complete zombie at work today.