Nature Walk from Hell – Chitwan, Nepal
This is Part II to my story: Boat Ride from Hell
Our guide’s safety briefing left me even more confused than if he hadn’t said anything at all regarding what to do if we see each of the deadly animals.
Climb a tree to get away from a tiger? Hug a bear? Stare down a rhino? I know my reaction to any of these animals is going to be instinctively screaming and running in the opposite direction, just like the time I encountered a rattlesnake at Joshua Tree National Park. All the safety talks in the world can’t help me when I’m surprised by an animal that can potentially kill me.
The best part is when he told us to avoid blinking our eyes when staring down a tiger. Are you kidding me?
“The tiger will attack the second you blink your eyes.”
“Most likely you won’t spot a tiger before it attacks though. They usually stalk their prey from behind.”
Well, that makes me feel better. At least now I don’t need to worry about whether or not I’m going to blink.
“If we spot a rhino and it begins to charge at us, throw something to distract the animal and run as fast as you can to the nearest tree to climb.”
I began scanning the trees around me and imagined myself digging my nails into the trunk in order to climb up since I couldn’t find one that looked easy to climb.
“If we see a sloth bear, we must gather as a group and stand our ground. Don’t run and don’t climb a tree because the bears are fast and they can climb trees.”
Just to give you an idea of what a sloth bear can do to a human, I’ll quote Wikipedia on this one. “The sloth bear is also more inclined to attack man unprovoked than almost any other animal, and casualties inflicted by it are unfortunately very common, the victim being often terribly disfigured even if not killed, as the bear strikes at the head and face. Sloth bears rarely killed their human victims outright, but would suck and chew on their limbs till they were reduced to bloody pulps.”
Nice visual, right?
Luckily, I didn’t know this before my nature walk from hell, but regardless, it was another animal that I needed to remember how to protect myself from, if necessary.
As we set off on our walk, all I could think about was how much I hoped we didn’t see any animals. Most people hope to see something cool on a walk like this, but not me. Thanks to my guide, I preferred to have an extremely boring walk.
We stop before a large clearing in the park. Our guide lifts his binoculars to his eyes and silently scans the clearing while the rest of us wait patiently.
Did he see a rhino?
I look at another person in the group and we both give each other the “huh?” look at the same time and start cracking up. I’m sure we are thinking the same thing. That our guide is leading us into the rhino pit.
We continue following our guide, who speedily walks ahead of the rest of the group, along the edge of a large swamp. He is searching for birds or something in the trees. All I am searching for is the camouflaged crocodile that I fear may be lurking near us in the mud.
I find the courage to ask our guide, “Have you seen crocodiles here on your previous tours?”
“Oh yes, all the time.”
I try to laugh it off that this nature walk just keeps getting more and more frightening.
“How much longer on this wonderful nature walk?” I sarcastically ask our guide, hoping he will say we are almost there.
“We are about halfway now,” he says.
I cringe at the thought that we still have halfway to go.
All of a sudden, the girl walking behind me tells me to stop immediately. I instantly figure out why and I wait impatiently as she finds the courage to brush the very large insect off my back. My imagination gets carried away and I wonder if it’s a huge spider like the one I found in my hotel room the night before or the one we encountered earlier on the trail.
Nope. It turns out it’s just a big weird bug.
Our guide then stops along the trail and crouches down to his knees to get a closer look at the ground. He turns to us and says,
“Fresh tiger tracks.”