Arriving at the base camp in Bharatpur we threw our bags off the roof and headed inside the office to check in. Once checked in we were sent through to the dining room for some lunch before we set off to the Island Jungle Resort, our home for the next three days.
Sat alone in the dining room we were thinking that it could be a quiet few days as no one seemed to be very chatty… cue 6 rowdy Irish guys. Once they walked in and started chatting to us we knew we were going to have a fun few days in the jungle. Gen and I jumped in the back of the Jeep with a family of americans and got chatting about where we`d been and where they`d been and they said they`d been in Beijing at the Olympics. I got chatting to them about the Olympics and it turned out that their daughter who was also in the van with us had been competing in the Olympics. Her name was Anna Goodale and was infact a gold medalist for the USA`s womens 8`s Rowing. We were thinking how cool is this, we`re sat with a gold medalist and were both thinking, wait a minute, she`s not been home yet… i bet she has her medal on her!
Anyways we get about a mile down the road and the traffic is all backed up, turned out there was a strike so in nearing 40 degree heat we had to hike about half a mile down the road and over a bridge to a bus which had already got all our backpacks on. The traffic was equally as bad on that side of the bridge and it took us a good while to get moving but eventually we did and arrived at a quiet river bank in the national park.
We all piled off the bus and got onto two separate boats which took us accross a river and onto the island where we were to be staying. Our hut was a pleasant suprise we had a big double bed in our room, and a single one (i think that was for me if i annoyed Gen) we had our own private deck with chairs and our own bathroom, relative luxury compared to what it was like in the jungle in Borneo. Better still there was a bar in the jungle. Needless to say that within minutes of arriving in the jungle the Irish lads were at the bar ordering beers for everyone.
After an intro to the elephants we were told dinner was ready, the food was fantastic and after a few “quiet” beers with the Irish lads and a look at Anna`s gold medal we all headed off to bed.
5:30am and Bhatta is at our doors waking us up telling us it is time to go on our elephant safari. After meeting our Mahout and our Elephant “Sir-something-or-other-that-sounded-like-Kelly” we got on her and set off into the dense jungle in search of wildlife, The mist lay thick in the jungle and at first it was quite hard to see anything other than the odd bird. After about 30 minutes it seemed like the only thing we were going to see was a jungle chicken….awesome! A short while later we cleared some tall reeds and came accross a small patch of water and right in front of us was a Rhino having a bath, it didn`t seem to care that we were all there atop of a giant elephant pointing and taking photo`s. All it kept doing was farting, which we found most amusing at 6am.
After the elephant safari we went on a jungle hike, unfortunately this walk was in the midday heat and it gets seriously hot in the jungle so after alot of sweat and a lot of walking we arrived back in camp having seen a few tiger footprints and a deer… a bloody deer… if i`d have been interested in seeing a deer i`d have gone to the lake district where there is hundreds of them in a field beside the road!!! But i suppose if we didn`t keep on going out looking our chance of seeing a tiger was going to be pretty slim. We headed out on another walk a few hours later… we saw more footprints and more deer but no tigers. They are pretty hard to find it turns out.
That afternoon after the elephants had finished their work for the day we took them down to the river for a bath. This was by far the highlight of the trip. We all jumped in the river and clambered onto the elephants and started scrubbing them down. The elephants would sit still and then rock from side to side like a bucking broncko trying to throw you off.I can tell you, holding on was way harder than it looked and keeping your mouth closed everytime they threw you in the water was equally as hard haha.
That evening would be our last in the jungle and so us two and the Irish sat down in the bar on the riverside and started having a few beers and that was followed by a few more. another 5:30am wake up call wasn`t going to be fun.
Having been woken at a ridiculous hour yet again we went on another elephant safari, this time only one of the Irish guys made it, the others stayed in bed… too much beer i think. Yet again our efforts to see a tiger were useless :o(
It was then time to say goodbye to everyone as we all went our separate ways, Anna was off to a press conference in Khatmandu (as you do) and the Irish guys were off to Pokhara where we`d just come from. Us, we we`re heading for India!!!