Hunting tigers by bicycle
They did so and the next morning I set off with my guide for a fun day of cycling around the park.
You may be wondering why I took a bike around the park. Well, jeep rental costs NRS2500 and then an extra NRS2000 to take it into the park. A bicycle costs NRS100. NRS4400 is a lot of a difference and I'd rather keep the cash.
I could have saved the bicycle rental money and walked but I figure that cycling was bad enough with all the tigers, rhinos, elephants and other monstrous animals roaming about the park ready to trample on or eat me.
So anyway, here is the story.....
My guide, who was called Eshwar, met me in the reception of Hotel Gangotri at 6.20am. He let me use his cycle and I for him I rented a girls bike from the hotel. (He chose it.)
The parks entrance was 5km away, the first 2km was by road but the next 3km by a stony path that was not quite so easy to cycle on.
We arrived at the park entrance and went in. We cycled along and saw lots of big deer behind some trees. I got my camera out and they ran away.
We cycle on a bit more and found a wooden viewing tower, we climbed up and looked at a pond. Tigers sometimes visit the pond to quench their thirst but none did while I was there.< br> We cycled on a bit more and found another tower with adjacent pond. This one was a bit swampier and during monsoon season gets a lot bigger. There was lots of birds flying around, one was a hawk. Eshwar said that beyond the swamp rhinos and elephants lurk. But there was no way to get over there without going through the swamp area. We didn't do that.
We cycled on a bit more and came to a bridge. Under the bridge was, not some trolls, but some greeny water in a very still river. Crocodiles sometimes snapped up and down here but there were none for us. We did, however, get to see some birds trying to eat fruit out of a tree but dropping it all in the water.
After the river we reached the end of the forested area and the begining of the grasslands. This was about 12 o'clock and, although the day was quite cloudy, I was quite hot and qu ite sweaty soo. By this point we'd cycled roughly 20km inside the park.
The grasslands were not so much fun. The path was much easier to cycle (the forested area had pathches of sandy group where bicycles sink and become stuck) but the grass at this ti me of year is about 5ft tall, thus covering most animals we should have chance to see.
Luckily for me a dozy peacock strolled out into the path, and with a bit of forward planning by myself I had already hangin from my neck my camera, so, with lightning speed, I got a picture.
We cycled on a bit more and climbed another tower from which we could see some baby deer, I got pictures of them.
We cycled on further to a place with more deer but no tower, I had to sneak up on them to get a picture. Even then I had to zoom as much as my camera could.
By this point we'd traveled 32km in the park. There was a shorter way back to the entrance at a mere 20km so we went that way.
I was nearly dead at this point. And nearly out of water too. Fortunately there were some park guards ahead who, very kindly, filled up my water bag with their water. Unfortunately , I, who had been rationing water up until this point, now though "Wahey, lots of water" and then drank it all with 10km still left to go.
Soon after, I was really struggling. Eshwar was very encouraging but I was weak and tired and very stoppy.
With 5km left to the gate my mouth was dry and I was very very thirsy. I stopped and got my water bag out of my backpack and slurped out the last few drops. That helped me for the next ten metres.
We continued further, with lots of breaks until, with 1km to go, I had to stop and walk.
It wasn't really walkking because my feet didn't leave the ground. But walking sounds better than admitting that I was dragging myself.
Three years later I could see the gate in the distance and, with a bit of encouragement from Eshwar, I managed to return to my bike and cycle the last leg. At least the people on t he gate got a good impression of my finish.
Eshwar, as well as being a guide, also acts as a health worker for the area around his home conveniently placed just outside the park entrance. We got some water from the well and then went into his office where he made a tasty glucose drink for me.
I found out, upon drinking it, that my throat was quite sore. I had some painkillers to help that.
Some children came along to say hello. I was a bit too tired and my brain a bit shrivelled to be totally enthusiatic but I tried. Eshwars son was there and he taught me a few Nepal i words. Arp is Mango, Patti is Wall and Banka is Fan.
After a long enough time recouperating I bid everyone a good farewell and cycled the 5km back to my hotel.
I had a rest in my hotel room for an hour, then went down to the restaurant and ate lots and lots of food.
I didn't see Malu or any tigers or any elephants or any rhinos or any crocodiles but I did manage to give myself an aching bum, aching muscles and a sore throat for the next few days. I suppose it's some sort of compromise.