Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
As the golden sun painted the November sky, a familiar gratitude overcame me. Chitwan, with its whispering trees and roaring beasts, was about to witness the arrival of three excited city dwellers – Me, my ever-chatty sister Manisha, and her equally animated friend, Anisha. Prompt as always, we boarded the tourist bus at 7 a.m. I shared my journey with a friendly local, and we exchanged silent pleasantries. Meanwhile, in the opposite row, the universe of giggles unfolded. Manisha and Anisha seemed to have formed a two-person comedy club, the jokes from which I was sadly excluded.
Lunch, Not so Much; Landscape, Very Much
Lunch led us to a pause at a nearby diner, where we took our first culinary risk of the journey. The serene river and lush surroundings of the restaurant contrasted with the disappointing flavor of our food. However, every dining experience tells a tale, and this particular one, though momentarily regrettable, was overshadowed by the breathtaking environment around us.
Arrival at Chitwan: A Symphony of Nature
As we moved down to the Terai plains, everything changed. First, there was the warm breeze, then the sight of lush fields, and all around, birds sang their welcome songs. In Chitwan, it wasn’t just the friendly staff of the Safari Lodge saying hello but the whole stunning scenery, too. It was so beautiful, you’d think you were dreaming!
Village Vistas and Feasting on the Unknown
Chitwan is where the Tharu community lives, known for its amazing culture and traditions that go way back. When I visited Tharu village, warm smiles met me everywhere, and the beauty of life played out in simple yet profound acts: buffaloes being buffaloes, bushes being bushes. Here, there were no scripts, just the art of existence. My heart still holds onto the memory of the sun casting its golden embrace upon me. Bringing humour to our food quest, I dared to try Ghonghi, the local delicacy of mud water snails. Let’s say the experience was… unforgettable. I mentally vowed to stick to my comfort foods.
The Crocodile Close-Call
Now, speaking of adrenaline, day two deserves a special mention. During our tranquil canoe ride along the Rapti River, a notoriously dangerous crocodile, known locally as a ‘magar’ and for its aggressive behaviour towards humans, suddenly disrupted our peace. With a Certified Nature Guide and one paddler fiercely defending our canoe, my overactive imagination pictured headlines of our encounter, and I silently recited all the prayers I knew. However, later, it became a humorous tale we shared and laughed about. All’s well that ends well, right? Our jungle safari, interspersed with sightings of majestic Chitwan animals, like rhinos and spotted deer, was nature’s way of making amends.
A Cultural Show and Unexpected Guests
Later that evening, the Tharu cultural show beautifully transitioned into a vibrant display of colors and emotions. The authenticity of their performances evoked immense pride and appreciation. Dancing unhesitatingly with strangers, including the delightful Sara from Italy, I felt an unparalleled connection— a shared human spirit, unburdened and united. But wait! Chitwan had one more adrenaline-pumping episode for us. Our nighttime ‘tuk-tuk’ ride turned nerve-wracking when we were alerted about Ronaldo – not the footballer, but an aggressive wild elephant! The situation was straight out of a movie – dark roads, heightened tension, and the looming threat of a wild beast. With bated breath, we navigated the dark roads, praying to avoid an encounter. And oh, the relief of reaching our lodge! Humor became the coping mechanism – “Fear, the unexpected weight loss program”.
Epilogue: Until We Meet Again, Chitwan
As we journeyed back to Kathmandu, I reflected on my experiences. Chitwan offered me a glimpse into the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature. The Tharu people’s culture, the majestic wildlife, and the untouched beauty of the land had etched a permanent mark on my soul. Chitwan is not just a destination; it’s a reminder of the delicate balance we share with the natural world and the responsibilities we carry as stewards of this earth. This journey had been more than just a trip; it was an awakening. Until then, I hold close the laughter, the scares, the dances, and the quiet conviction that somewhere in the lush greens of Chitwan, a piece of my heart remains, beating in rhythm with the land that is Nepal.