Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal

Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal

-John Eickert


In the morning, we had ridden elephant in the search for a Greater Indian One Horned Rhinoceros. After several hours of gliding through the brush atop our moving giant ‘bristle brush,’ during which time we saw a Sambar stag and a male peacock in full flight, we did indeed get to meet a young female rhino. Elizabeth informed me that she, the young rhino, was very cute.

We returned to the vehicles and said good-bye to our elephant and mahout. Our guide, Raja, seemed most interested to note how much Elizabeth enjoyed our time riding through the tall grass and Sal forest. He was especially keen to hear about Elizabeth’s fondness for animals and now elephants. He smiled. We drove back to our camp surrounding by that peculiar rising-ticking heat, which consumes all lowlands in the Indian subcontinent, another tropical day, was at hand.

We ate our lunch; rice, lentils, curried chicken, and tea, then went to our small hut to wait out the heat. Far ahead of his schedule, Raja came to our bungalow to fetch Elizabeth. He had arranged for her to accompany a mahout as he took his elephant to the river for a bath. Elizabeth was delighted, though nervous, but she quickly changed into attire appropriate for elephant washing. Elizabeth rode the elephant to the river with the mahout. Raja and I walked along behind. Soon, elephant, mahout, and American woman were in and under the brown jungle river. I photographed the event. Raja watched for crocodiles.

Elizabeth and Bishanti, the elephant’s name meaning beautiful girl in Nepali, took to one another right off. Elizabeth laughed and not to be outdone the elephant began to play. Laughing, splashing, stomach rumbling, gurgling, head swaying- play; all occurred at once and at times it was difficult to determine who was having the most fun. The mahout stood fascinated. The brown river swirled by. I ran out of film and loaded another.

Time passed and the mahout signaled Bishanti to go back to work. Elephant and American showed their displeasure as one. Those moments in life, you can count them on one hand, are fleeting. The mahout invited Elizabeth to drive Bishanti back to her paddock, something I had never seen or heard of before, a rare honor. Elizabeth sat just behind Bishanti’s great ears and directed her with voice commands. Then, it was over and time to say good-bye. Bishanti and now American female number one Nepali elephant driver, Elizabeth, shed tears, the warm parting of friends.

We spent four days in all at Royal Chitwan in southern Nepal. We observed gharial at sunset and marsh mugger before breakfast. The jungle parted long enough for us to see birds, deer, and rhino. Tiger and leopard remained hidden, though no doubt they witnessed our passing. It was a magical visit. Elizabeth acquired a friend for life and I will be hard pressed to remember a time when I had laughed so much. Life is the great adventure, cheers.




See the trailer of “Wilderness Nepal” shot mostly in Chitwan National Park by clicking here

See this film online at



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