The heart of the jungle
Reading time 7 min
Moisture, steam, green wildlife, and a tiger are a combination of words that leads you to the conclusion that follows the story of a magical jungle and untouched nature. On the very border with India, the second-most populous country in the world is the Chitwan National Park, which name means The heart of the jungle.
It is positioned at only 150 m above sea level. In its wildlife live Asian rhinos, elephants, king cobras, river dolphins, crocodiles, bears, and probably the most famous and endangered inhabitants of the park – Bengal tigers. It is just what we were looking for in that part of Asia – the primordial heart of the jungle.
After a long ten-hour drive from the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, we arrive in Chitwan. Immediately after getting off the small bus, we were amazed by the magic of that untouched nature. The park’s kind rangers came by canoe to pick us up and our companions on the opposite side of the river that separates Chitwan National Park from Nepal’s mainland. Namely, the national park is located on a large island, surrounded by a river teeming with life. Its most common inhabitants are snakes, crocodiles, and the least dangerous inhabitants, frogs.
Out of deep thoughts, we were suddenly alarmed by a running ranger. He was shouting for us to climb a tree because an immense rhino arrives. That unpleasant announcement scared us a little, so we decided to conquer the massive tree in our vicinity
The adventure began as early as the first day after the rangers showed us the place that would be our home during our stay in Chitwan. We changed into Indiana Jones-style clothes and set off in search of wildlife on enormous Asian elephants. The first impression is difficult to describe in words. The elephants, clearing the way in front of them, led us through a large, dense, and moist forest. Riding on their backs, we began to ask ourselves questions – does the key to human existence lie in the jungle? Did it all start there? Is there a possibility that wild animals, among other things, are more intelligent than humans for some things? Because in you, this wilderness starts to raise such questions and you hope and expect that the forest will give you the necessary answers.
The first part of the trip went pretty smoothly. The forest is so calm in the morning, but our newly awakened primordial instincts told us that we would still come across some, in our opinion, unusual wild animals. But unfortunately, the senses disappointed us, at least for the first part of the day. We spent the afternoon swimming with elephants, which is a beautiful and unusual experience. We took the opportunity to bathe in the magic of the river ourselves. Namely, without an immense elephant, a guardian angel, this would be impossible because there are crocodiles in the river. In those moments of gratitude, we wanted to declare the elephant The uncrowned king of the jungle.
The next day we set off in search of tigers and Asian unicorn rhinos, which can weigh up to an incredible three and a half tons. Walking through the woods at one point, we spotted a fresh footprint of a Bengal tiger in the morning mud. We knew he was somewhere nearby, but it is hard to reach and see him, yet he is a hunter who hides wisely. At the very thought of the tiger, the adrenaline reached unprecedented levels.
After hours of walking, we spotted a place where a tiger had marked its territory. In front of us stood a carved tree, on which the Bengal tiger, one of the most mighty and dangerous predators of Chitwan, signed with its large and (should we emphasize?) sharp claws. At dusk, exhausted from the all-day search for wild animals and dissatisfied that nothing interesting came up, we were preoccupied with gloomy thoughts that there is not as much daily life in Cithwan as we expected.
Still, most residents are night hunters. Therefore, it is not allowed to leave the bungalows located on the river bank at night. Out of deep thoughts, we were suddenly alarmed by a running ranger. He was shouting for us to climb a tree because an immense rhino arrives. That unpleasant announcement scared us a little, so we decided to conquer the massive tree in our vicinity. Since we had not seen any dangerous animals in the last few days, despite the general panic of our companions, for a moment, we thought it was a show for tourists, and they would tell us how some rhino passed, and we will not even notice it.
Suddenly, the girl from the group shouts that something big is coming and is tearing down everything in front of him. And the very next moment, from the top of the tree, we watched the rhinoceros facing us, and he was not in a friendly mood. As we sat on the tree waiting for the monster to leave, the devil awoke in us and did not give us peace. We wanted to go down, watch him, and try to take at least one photo, which we eventually did. Despite the warning of the rangers and inviting us to return, we remained true to our hunting (photographic) instinct and approached the rhino cautiously as close as we could.
Wondering what the first impression was? We watched a great knight preparing to fight for his life, angrily looking at his opponents, more precisely at us. Fortunately, after a few minutes, he decided to look for the fight of his life elsewhere and returned to his intact wild empire.
We welcomed the evening overwhelmed with pleasure because we experienced that close encounter during the day. Although, we were a little worried about why instead of a rhino, it was not a Bengal tiger, which first attracted us to Chitwan.
The following days in the jungle were unforgettable. A man accustomed to the city cannot imagine the feeling of waking up at five o’clock in the morning in the untouched wilderness and the sound of silence with the occasional pleasant noise of insects spreading around you every day. And magical foggy mornings create a special mystique that you will probably remember for a lifetime.
The nights in the jungle are pleasant for sleeping because after a hot and remarkably steamy day. The air becomes enjoyable and moderately cold, and it is then that Chitwan comes to life.
Every night the rangers gave us lectures on how we must behave if we encounter a dangerous animal. Believe that even from listening to and imagining such situations, you shudder. But that did not stop us from exploring the beauty of nature. Although we did not get a chance to see live all the power of life coming from the forest around us, we enjoyed listening to it.
You must visit
- Narayani river – canoe ride
- Tiger Residency Resort
- Chitwan Jungle Safari
- Bishazari Tal – trip into lakes area
- Nepal Tourism Board
- Chitwan National Park – official website
- Embassies and Consulates in Nepal
- Go to and from Nepal – Tribhuvan International Airport
The night before we left, the rangers from the park prepared a surprise for us. They gathered children from a local tribe that still lives in the jungle and shown us traditional dances and costumes. It was unforgettable, mainly because we joined them in dancing their dance ourselves. They received us kindly and gladly showed us the steps. Although we are not some dance talents, we did our best, and through the pleasant company, we learned something about their dance and culture.
After all the days and nights spent in the mystical jungle, with many amusing encounters with lesser-known animals, we came to some positive insights. Although we may not have discovered whether the key to human existence is hidden there, we have concluded that in that wilderness humans, and animals live in complete harmony, which is possible if they respect the rules set by Mother Nature. And the rules are simple – people have the day, and wild animals the night. As long as everyone sticks to an unwritten agreement, there is no problem. A wild animal will never attack for no reason because, among other things, it is afraid of man and gives him the respect which also expects in return.
Life in the jungle fascinated and intrigued us, and at the same time, taught us to respect living and time spaces.
Immeasurable sadness overwhelmed us at the moment when we realized that we had to leave the tiger jungle and return to ours, perhaps more cruel, concrete.
TEXT & PHOTO – Andrea Grabunda