We went on multiple jungle walks in Chitwan, including a visit to a watering hole. On each of these adventures, the highlight was pairs of rhinos, each a mother with a calf. Young rhinos stay with their mothers for about four years, until her next child is born. One of the calves was pretty small. It was fun to see them wander around, with the mothers always watching nearby. We also had a great time watching the tame elephants, who provide security and continuously munch on their favorite forest plants.
*Pachyderm is a term often used to describe elephants, rhinoceroses, and hippopotamuses, all large vegetarian mammals with thick skin. Despite their similarities, these animals are not closely related, and are all taxonomically grouped into different orders.
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One of my favorite things about my time in Kenya was the wildlife and birds I saw from my porch. Chitwan National Park in Nepal is similarly rich in diversity. We were fortunate to see tame elephants and wild rhinos (more pictures of both to come) on our short trip there. But we also had a lot of fun birdwatching at the resort, and seeing all the animals in the trees and vines around our tent. Some of my favorites were the fantail bird and the eyelashes on the hornbill.
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Last weekend we went on a hike from the small town of Bad Kösen that looped through woods to two castles: Rudelsburg and Naumburg. Built as border posts in the 11th and 12th centuries, these two castles still overlook the town and the Saale river. One houses a museum and the other a lively restaurant. Along the hike were other monuments to important points in German history: a carved lion memorial to Germans who died in WWI, an obelisk to Kaiser Wilhelm I, a statue of Otto von Bismark and his dog, and a monument for soldiers who fought in the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870’s.
Wrapping up my trip through 2011 photos was a September trip to Yosemite, another one of my absolute favorite places. Of all my trips there, this one stuck in my mind for negative connections with a family emergency that happened just afterwards. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed returning to these photos. The short trip was packed full of classic Yosemite moments: an icy morning in Tuolumne Meadows, a scramble hike to Gaylor and Granite Lakes, afternoon and sunset along the Tuolumne River, a quick stop at Fern Springs, ravens and El Capitan views from Taft Point, and a final sunset on Sentinel Dome. My approach and style has changed in the last eight years, but there were still a lot of shots I like. I hope they make you smile too.
We spent our second week in Nepal at Chitwan National Park, at the Tiger Tops lodge. The lodge is situated near the edge of the park, and hosts guided walks through the jungle to see the wildlife. In addition to the naturalists walking along with us, mahouts rode elephants at the front and back of the group. The elephants acted as security detail. If wild animals were to charge, the mahouts would move the elephants in front of the group as a very hefty protective wall. This provides security for the hikers and employment for the mahouts without overburdening or harming the elephants. Just a few minutes into our hike, we saw three rhinos (a mother and baby, and another female) and got to watch them interact. Later on the hike, we came across the mother and baby again wallowing in a waterhole.