10 days in Nepal : (5) Chitwan National Park (CNP)

When:  December 2014.     Temp:  10-20C

Leica M240 35 summilux.  Sony A55 70-400mm

Just over an hour’s drive from Hetauda is Royal Chitwan National Park, a vast nature reserve bordering India.  I’d been there once more than a decade ago but literally for only one early morning elephant safari…this time it was a bit better…I had almost 24 hours so managed to get in to safaris!

Arriving at the Maruni Sanctuary Lodge, a sister property to the Kathmandu Guest House in Kathmandu, it was obviously one of the nicer and better appointed hotels, right next to CNP.  It was surrounded by greenery and golden yellow mustard fields.

yellow mustard fields

yellow mustard fields

grounds of the Maruni Sanctuary Resort

grounds of the Maruni Sanctuary Resort

 

Right outside my room, there was a little pond with a hide where I spotted these….

spotted dove

spotted dove and some green bee eaters.

 

We were then taken for our first nature trek; now Chitwan NP has a natural boundary formed by the Rivers Rapti and Trisuli…. So to get to the park itself, we had to take a little narrow canoe to cross the river to do the trek.  Only trouble is that later on, to get back, there isn’t a boat to bring you back and we had to take off shoes and socks to wade across the knee deep river waters….not  easiest thing to do when you are laden with 2 cameras and a pair of binoculars!   Our trek started off promisingly enough….almost the first thing we saw was..

the one horned rhino

the one horned rhino

 

he was wallowing in a pond barely 10m from us

he was wallowing in a pond barely 10m from us

 

in profile

in profile

 

and this this jumbo with calf elephant showed up...

and this this jumbo with calf elephant showed up…

 

and there was even a crocodile basking nearby..talk about birding in challenging circumstances!

 

A Himalayan flameback woodpecker appeared

A Himalayan flameback woodpecker appeared

 

followed by a yellow naped woodpecker

followed by a yellow naped woodpecker

 

After crossing the river by canoe, we started our walk in earnest but I would say this segment of the walk on the CNP side of thepark was disappointing….birds were very hard to spot in the foliage.  The only thing that I got a bare glimpse of was the Great Hornbill, something that is hard to see…the pictures were bad though…

a terrible picture of the Great Hornbill with very yellow bill...

a terrible picture of the Great Hornbill with very yellow bill…

 

It was most feisty and I only managed to catch a glimpse of it before it flew off…Fortunately, the next day during our jeep safari, our guide spotted it flying in the distance and I managed to shoot two more distant blurry images…

Great Hornbill in flight

Great Hornbill in flight

 

great hornbill

great hornbill

 

As the sun set, we discovered that we had to take our shoes and socks off to wade across the Rapti river back to our lodge! Not the easiest thing to do when laden with 2 cameras and binoculars!

As the sun set, we took our shoes and socks off to wade across the Rapti river back to our lodge

 

the sunset was pretty enough

the sunset was pretty enough

The next morning, we elected to go on a jeep safari to see as much of the terrain as possible and hopefully see more….it started off dull and misty…

at the canoe boarding station waiting to cross the river...

at the canoe boarding station waiting to cross the river…

 

Whilst waiting for our canoe, three pied hornbills flew overhead...

Whilst waiting for our canoe, three pied hornbills flew overhead…

whilst visibility was not great, it was nevertheless hauntingly beautiful, though cold.

whilst visibility was not great, it was nevertheless hauntingly beautiful, though cold.

 

the birding started off tamely enough with this red wattled lapwing on the track

the birding started off tamely enough with this red wattled lapwing on the track

 

And it was getting a bit boring when our guide yelled out Tiger, Tiger...pointing way down the track our jeep was going...I looked and looked but  couldn't see it...so I just pointed my camera down the rode and snapped off a couple of shots...to my surprise when I looked at my pictures later...there was a glimpse of the tiger stripes just on the left of the track as it curved to the left in the far distance.... does a bluury image seen on camera count as a sighting??

And it was getting a bit boring when our guide yelled out Tiger, Tiger…pointing way down the track our jeep was going…I looked and looked but couldn’t see it…so I just pointed my camera down the road and snapped off a couple of shots…to my surprise when I looked at my pictures later…there was a glimpse of the tiger stripes just on the left of the track as it curved to the left in the far distance…. does a bluury image seen on camera count as a sighting?? It’s the orangy blob right in the middle of this photo

 

After that flurry of excitement, the drive soon settled into fairly quiet progress with not many birds to see….till about 830 or 9am when the sun began to warm the land and light the forest…

pretty green pigeon

pretty green pigeon

 

pied oriental hornbill

pied oriental hornbill

 

 

an elephant sighting brightened up the morning

an elephant sighting brightened up the morning

 

lesser adjutant stork

lesser adjutant stork

 

Ruddy Sheldrake

Ruddy Sheldrake

 

grey backed shrike

grey backed shrike

 

The yield in birds and other fauna in Chitwan was slightly disappointing overall but I guess I should have invested more time, not just 24 hours…

 

 

3 thoughts on “10 days in Nepal : (5) Chitwan National Park (CNP)

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