February 17, 2013: Chitwan Elephant Safari
Remember the pony rides your parents took you while you were young? You were put on what seemed to be a huge horse and led around by some hapless teenager around a circle for a slow walk while you wanted to run at full gallop. Just exchange the tired pony for a 2-3 ton asian elephant, exchange the saddle for what can only be described as a crib on the back of the animal and add a mahout (the elephant driver) and head off into the jungle…hoping to see rhinos and tigers. This is the elephant safari in Chitwan, but even for the many shortcomings, the ride is quite fun, as long as you find a way to get comfortable while being maytagged in the jungle. I would suggest you buy the 4 spots available on the crib, take only one friend and enjoy the more comfortable ride. Try to do a couple of elephant safaris if you can…they are much more interesting that the tired pony rides of yesteryear. These elephants are bred and trained for these ‘safaris’, so we visited the elephant breeding camp to see how they are doing. They are big, strong and opinionated animals so they need to be restrained (chained) after their AM/PM sessions. It’s a sad story, but then not everyone gets to ride on the back of an elephant every day. The good news is that they let the wild elephants mate with the captive females in order improve the gene pool. Those lucky pachiderms!