After the buzz and bustle of Kathmandu, where we began our Nepalese wanderings with Crooked Compass, Chitwan National Park was the perfect place to rest our weary souls and get filled up again for the next leg of our adventures.
We checked into the Barahi Jungle Lodge, a chic bush resort and our base for the next three days, and immediately began exploring.
Chitwan is a one-horned rhino sanctuary; in fact the park recently celebrated zero rhino poaching in the last three years, a huge feat which means numbers are higher than ever.
To get up close and personal with the rare species, we took a safari through the jungle on the backs of huge, graceful elephants. This meant me got about five metres away from the rhinos – almost a dozen of them, by the time we were done.
Loping through the tall grasses on the backs of these majestic creatures, as the setting sun turned the sky fuchsia and we watched in awe as the rhinos swished their way through the grasses, was an experience that has stayed with me.
We explored the park by foot, by boat and by Jeep, and took a bullock cart ride through a local village of the indigenous Tharu people. We spent an afternoon feeding and bathing the elephants, feeling their immense power as we scrubbed their huge bodies in the warm waters of the Rapti river. We were surprised with a candlelit dinner in the middle of the bush, surrounded by fireflies like flecks of stardust flitting through the night air.
Chitwan was truly a place to relax, recharge, and marvel at the perfect magnificence of the earth. I hope you can feel a bit of that in this video, accompanied by my favourite musician of the moment, the inimitable Nicola Cruz.