The 171 km from Pokhara to Chitwan is a test in endurance due to the ongoing road work on the highway. I am coming to understand that when a Nepalese calls something very bad it is time to batten down the hatches. Following an 8 am start we reached the outskirts of Pokhara and then the fun began.
Driving in Nepal is first come first served ( two wheel, four wheel or two legged) and size does matter. The highway areas under construction are rutted, edged by sink holes and washouts: dangerous areas are delineated not by traffic cones but by rocks in a row. Machines are absent for the most part with the majority of labour done by workers with shovels. Horns sound continuously warning of intention to pass or simply telling the vehicle ahead to get out of the way. Trucks went through gaps in traffic with inches to spare, dust was everywhere, interesting gestures made out windows. On some areas of the road I cranked up Van Halen or AC/DC on my iPhone – both seemed fitting accompaniments to what was happening outside…. Gravol quickly made its appearance early in the trip creating a generally mellow atmosphere in the bus.
Goats were present in large numbers today – in many different circumstances ( the first two photos from today) which dovetailed with a discussion last night on the levels of service that Intrepid offers to its travellers. Hope you enjoy the cartoon courtesy of Mary.
About an hour from our Lodge, The Kasara just outside Chitwan National Park, the ruts and dust turned to blessed concrete and it was smooth sailing for the remainder of the journey !
Once settled in the Lodge we set out again for a visit to a local Indigenous group The Tharu – originally from Rajasthan. Our open safari vehicle took us quickly down the road towards the park – lovely cool breeze in the top row seats! We spent an hour with the children of the village, photographing them and the amazing sunset seen through a smoking fire behind the main houses. Magic!
Once we said our farewells we headed into the park for our first visit to view the end of the day and listen to the jungle settling into the night. A bonus was the sighting of a gavial crocodile resting on a mudbank below the bridge. These are an endangered species that are the subject of a captive breeding population program aimed at repopulating Nepal rivers with these magnificent reptiles.
Tomorrow our explorations begin with an early morning canoe ride on the river. Stay tuned!