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Bardia National Park, Nepal

Elephants, Rhinos, and Tigers, Oh My!

sunny 90 °F

Bardia National park is a 968 sq. km. (+327 sq.km. buffer zone) ‘jungle’ that consists of about 70% Sal trees. Getting to Bardia is quite an adventure in itself. It is on the opposite side of the country from the popular trekking destinations that are accessible from Kathmandu, and so there are no tourist routes or buses here. Thanks to a suggestion from our new friend Genevieve, we took the 16-hour local bus overnight, arriving at 5am in the morning. As usual, the local bus was full of drama and entertainment with people bargaining their fair, the conductor over filling the bus so people had to either sit or stand in the aisle, and since this overnight bus was without beds, people were sleeping in the most amazing positions in their chairs.

The scariest part about heading to Bardia this way is that we might have arrived anytime between 3am and 8am depending on which person we asked and what might happen to our bus along the way. We told the bus conductor and driver numerous times that we wanted to get off at Ambassa (a tiny little military checkpoint that is about 10k away from the park entrance) and were assured every time that they understood... Luckily, at one stop around 5am, a guy poked his head into the bus and asked for Kevin. This was the legendary Mr. B who saved us from missing our stop! We prearranged to have him pick us up at Ambassa, but didn’t expect him to be waiting the whole time for us! It was just about dusk as his boys gave us a thrilling ride to his cottage on motorbikes through a river and bumpy dirt roads and made it safe just as the sun hit the sky above our cottage.

We explored the village in search of samosas and ended up meeting a group of three travelers from the UK, all of whom were named John. They described how much they loved Bardia and how they have been coming to the park for the past 5 years. Life seemed to be pretty simple, you trek through the jungle one day, and the next day you go for a swim, hang out in the village, and just chill out. The village is so small, that we ran into the Johns every day of our stay in Bardia. That evening, we rode through the village, past some elephant stables, and past countless children running at us screaming ‘Namaste!’ to reach the river for a sunset swim and Gorka beer.

We may not have seen a Royal Bengal tiger in the Bardia National Park, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort. We spent two days tracking tigers in the park on foot and on an elephant. Tiger tracking is a lot like trying to get to that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that keeps moving off into the distance. According to our guide we must have been very close to the tiger numerous times as we followed humongous tiger footprints in the sand. The most exciting part of our tiger tracking was hearing some monkey alarm yelps coming from a tree line to our right, and then turning to watch deer after deer leaping out of the trees and racing across the meadow. Then, against any natural instinct to run away with the deer, we followed our guide towards the tree line as fast and quietly as possible, dipping behind trees and crouching behind rocks to get closer to what sounded like a deep growling. What we thought was going to be a full day walking through the jungle, turned out to be about 3 hours of walking, with 7 hours of sitting still at vantage points waiting for animals to appear. For those who know Robin, waiting was the most challenging part of the day! While we didn’t see the tiger, we did have fun watching rhinos, monkeys, a python, and loads of different birds and deer.

Riding through the dense forest on an elephant was totally amazing! The elephant would just blaze a path, pushing over trees and crushing vines and anything else in the way. We saw tons more animals from the elephant than we did on foot since the other animals weren’t spooked by the elephant, so we could watch them from our higher vantage point as they milled around. The most amazing part of the elephant ride was how quiet the elephant can walk through the jungle. It is amazing that an elephant has softer steps than a human, even though he weighs 100 times more!

The number of surrounding villages seemed endless as we rode on smooth walking paths for miles. We eventually found an awesome natural water flume where we swam against the current, staying in the same spot. We thought we would show off our dives to the local children who were watching us intently, but it turned out that they were all professional front and back flippers, and totally showed us up!

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 00:50 Archived in Nepal

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Hi robin and Kevin. Your journey through Nepal was amazing and adventurous. I liked your photographs. Wow... It was awesome. Good luck for your rest of journey. Miss ya guys... Bye...

by Rajanpreet singh

I have been part of Travellers Point for years traveling around the globe and had great stories traveling with friends and new people I have found on here traveling to same place.

I'm starting a website that is all about stories and our newest section is about travelers like us with great stories to tell. Please send us a story of a great trip you had with a photo please so we can post on our site.


by dunning

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