Chitwan: Cycling and Canoeing

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Pausing for a family snap on our cycle safari

Cycle Tour

In the spirit of experiencing the area multiple ways, we took a cycle tour to 20,000 lakes.  20,000 lakes is in the buffer zone to the park, but still part of it.  At 8km from our hotel we figured that we could manage.  The first two thirds of the bike trip we meandered through the local villages admiring the farms and rustic lifestyle.

We then turned onto major thoroughfare that was nerve racking.  Big trucks and steep shoulders mean no margin for error.  I had Kylie walk her bike through these parts.

We made it to the park and rode on the dirt road to the lake.  The very bumpy ride created sore bums, especially for poor Kylie.  It took us nearly two hours to get there, so we didn’t have long to stay.  We enjoyed what we could and took in the serene settings.  There was hardly anyone there so we had the place to ourselves.

Kylie did amazing.  It was her first time riding on a street with traffic and her first time with hand brakes.  She crashed several times, but got back on each time!  Winners never quit and quitters never win.  Atta girl Kylie!

Heading out through town at eight in the morning
The dirt road into the park.
Coming back in the afternoon with acres of mustard along each side of the road
We couldn’t resist at least one campy shot!
This was a common site in 20,000 lakes and along the canoe ride (both in buffer zones).  Many locals went into these area to gather wood and greens.  They frequently brought these greens back to their livestock, so the livestock would not have to forage close to the park, which would in turn bring apex predators out of the park.
An Indian Grey Mongoose and his mom

Canoeing

During this time of the year, the water was 2-3 feet deep, at its deepest on this section of the river.

The canoe ride was too short.  Even though the seats were uncomfortable, it was hard to beat floating down the river in a dugout canoe.  We saw so much bird and wildlife and came so close to it we felt lucky.  Some of the highlights were seeing a lesser adjutant, red naped ibis, green peafowl, and crocodiles.

Red Naped Ibis
The Lesser Adjutant is over three feet tall and weights nearly 9 pounds.  Even though it isn’t even in the same class as the heaviest flying birds, when this bird took off and flew right by us we were pummeled by the airflow its wings made and the whosh-whoshing of its flaps.

We had seen one before in captivity at the Angkor Center for Conservation and Biodiversity.  With less than 10,000 of these threatened species in the wild according to the IUCN red list, it was fantastic seeing one of these adjutants in the wild.

This Gharial was just meters from our canoe.  It has been fitted with a tracking device that is used for census data.

The Gharial was one of the oldest and most endangered species we’ve come across.  Being 42 million years old and with less than 900 left in the wild (IUCN Red List status), seeing these creatures was a real treat.  In part because of the good work being done the the The Nature Conservatory Trust, this species has increasing numbers.

The scariest part of the trip was getting closer and closer to a crocodile resting on a very small island.  When we were within 5 meters, the crocodile slipped in the water.  When we approached the island the water was less than a foot deep, the boat got stuck, and we couldn’t see the crocodile anywhere!  They really do disappear, which made us wonder about how easily they can reappear as our guide tried to get the boat going again.

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