Elephants and Diwali in Nepal

A visit to Chitwan National Park elephant breeding centre

Updated post with photos. Part of the Indochina Tour.

After trekking in the Annapurna Mountains and relaxing in Pokhara, I joined the G Adventures in one-of-a-kind tour to Delhi, passing through Varanasi and Jaipur.

Our first stop was the Chitwan National Park (Nepal), UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visited the elephant breeding centre and as always, I broke free from the group and went in a village to take photos and talk with the villagers. The people in Nepal are very friendly and the children always ask for photos.

Getting close to elephants is an unforgettable experience. Enjoy the photos.

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant – the only harmless great thing.” – John Donne

Chitwan National Park

Some villagers have elephants. It is a strange thing to see the big elephant “parked” close to a house under a sunshade. The elephants sleep lying down only for a couple of hours, otherwise they sleep standing up. And they eat a lot…

Parked elephant

The elephant ride was one of the highlights of the trip. Four people riding one elephant plus the “driver”, called mahout. The mahout uses the elephant’s trunk to get to the top. He holds the tusks or the elephant’s ears and climbs up his trunk. The ride was quite comfortable. We went into the jungle and were lucky to come close to a rhinoceros with her cub. They look like armored vehicles in their thick, plated skin! Some monkeys and deer have been spotted, but no tigers.

Rhinoceros and cub

It takes 7 years to train an elephant. An elephant has a lifespan like humans. They are smart and listen to the orders of their mahouts. If the mahout rides the elephant, he uses his bare feet to kick the elephant under his left and/or right ear for direction.

Elephant wash

It is fun to go to the elephant wash. The elephants love water. They can go under the water, lie on one side, and let their owners to wash and brush them. Occasionally they splash themselves with water on the back using their trunks.

Elephant wash

Elephant and mahout

“We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behavior.” – Graydon Carter

Elephant wash

Elephant resting


Before entering India we visited Lumbini – the place where Buddha was born. The time coincided with Diwali, a big festival for Hinduism, called also “the festival of lights”. People celebrate the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. They light small clay lamps and ornate their houses with “Christmas lights”.


Time to say goodbye to Nepal and for sure I will visit again this wonderful and surprising country!