Our Jeep rounded the corner to the sound of intense screaming and shouting. It was pitch black on the jungle road and as the driver switched off the engine and the lights, – the most obvious thing to do in the dark? – all I could think was that someone was being malled by a Godzilla sized tiger. After switching the engine back on and pulling forward cautiously, my fears were lifted just slightly, by the sight of around 30 local Nepalese, running and shouting in the direction of a very large and very wild elephant. Holy shit balls.
It was an interesting introduction to Bardiya National Park, I’ll tell you that much. We’d got a bus from Tansen to the entrance of the park and had been picked up by the Jeep to get us the 13km in, to Jungle Heaven, Krishna’s amazing jungle retreat.
Apparently the wild elephants can wander in to the village every now and then and the sight we’d seen was totally normal. The locals just make lots of noise and make themselves seem bigger and more threatening to ward the elephant away from their crops. No biggie.
We booked on to a jungle safari walking tour. That’s right, we were opting at our own will to walk, on foot, into a jungle that is home to elephants, rhino, crocodiles and tigers. I mean, we had two guides with us so we would be fine, right? Oh wait, the two guides were 22 and had only given all of us a bamboo stick for protection. I’m sure tigers are terrified of bamboo, so there was no need to worry. What am I doing?!
The whole thing was fantastic. I was terrified the entire time, but it truly was awesome. Right at the start we were given the low down on what we should do if we encounter certain animals, and now I’m going to give that to you, should you, dear reader, ever find yourself walking off into the danger zone;
- Elephant – make yourself big, make yourself loud, you are the boss, my friend.
- Rhino – run away. But run in a zig-zag pattern and throw an item of clothing in the opposite direction to throw it off your scent.
- Tiger – don’t break eye contact and slowly, slowly back away.
Right, so zig-zag running and no eye contact and, wait, yes eye contact? And throw clothes. Okay so naked running and shouting with eyes closed and open. Got it.
Side note – Don’t take any of my advice on this. Please google. Or in fact, only venture in to the jungle with an experienced guide! Or read this Daily Mail article.
Around 4 hours of walking through the jungle, the allusive tiger was nowhere to be seen. I’ll admit I’m a little sad but also very relived we didn’t cross paths. I think I may have peed myself. Seeing the sheer size of a tiger paw print that had been made a mere 3 hours before was enough to give me the chills. We did however, see a rhino. A beautiful, wild and totally free, ginormous grey rhino. It was amazing and such a rare sight to see such creatures in their real and natural environment. Where they should be.
I need to go back. The jungle is an insane place. I mean, I walked through a river that very likely had crocodiles in, I walked through grass higher than me that could of had anything in. I sat on leaves in the middle of thick trees to enjoy my lunch, I pulled leeches off my skin and toes. I walked, head on into tiger territory and I loved it. Every heart-pumping, nail biting second.
Just call me jungle queen.
I’m not sure where they came from, but all of a sudden there was another bike with two young locals right in front of us. We broke, but not enough, and BANG. Hello blood and bye bye knee cap.
I had a massage. In Thailand. It was a coconut oil massage and not the traditional Thai-pull-your-arms-and-legs-off massage but it still counts. continue reading