Sunday 06 November 2005

After packing the suitcases once again we went for breakfast not too long after 07:00. And they had a continental breakfast laid out! Sausages, eggs, hash browns, baked beans, it was great! (They also had a selection of Indian foods but the continental breakfast was very welcome and was also very good too!). We changed some more Euros to Rupees and then met our driver who would take us to Bandhavgarh National Park. He was very pleasant but his English was only little and so sometimes it was difficult to understand. He asked a lot about the Western culture, particularly about marriage and sex (I think because he must have seen Heiko and I holding hands – the Indian culture is much different and affection is only shown in private, outside the home there is no touching – we did try this no touching business but its damn difficult!)

We drove on very bumpy broken roads which had been severely damaged by the monsoon. We passed through rural India, way off the tourist track, driving through many poor villages it was quite difficult to see people living this way. We saw many camels in the villages and there were lots of cows roaming about the place. Many people were carrying large and heavy items on their heads quite unbelievable, they made it look so easy and made the items look such light weight (especially the women) when clearly the items were very heavy! and all the women were working hard in their sari’s somehow managing to keep their sari looking clean and elegant even when they were fixing the roads in the very dusty desert parts.

We stopped briefly at a hotel roughly half way. The next stop was at a small roadside café where the driver had his breakfast. We eventually reached the camp Royal Tiger Resort around 13:50. The owner came to meet us whilst we were looking round our tent! Yes, we are indeed staying in a tent! There is like a porch/veranda type of area inside the entrance of the tent which leads to a bedroom. The bedroom then leads to a dressing area and then to the bathroom (which we are currently sharing with a geko!). It is really quite nice! At 14:30 we met our driver and left for our first jeep safari in Bandhavgarh National Park.

At the gate we were joined by a guide before heading into the park. This time it was just the two of us in the jeep which was so much better. We also felt like we were tracking the tigers since we found their spoor and their claw marks on the trees. We stopped several times in places where they had been sighted earlier in the day and listened for alarm calls. We also visited the burial site of Charger. Charger was the dominant male tiger in the park for about a decade, but he died in 2000. Charger had charged at the jeeps whilst roaring so his name was quite fitting! What a great but scary moment that must have been to see that! Now, the dominant male is B2. He has a son named Challenger. Unfortunately, we saw no tigers on this jeep safari. We did see spotted deer and sambar, and just a few monkeys (hanuman langur).

When we returned to camp we soon fell asleep, it was very cosy in the tent. We woke just before dinner and I had a quick shower – it was quick too, since it was not long till the hot water ran out and when the water was cold it was freezing! I came out shivering. The temperature had dropped by quite a lot and it took a while before I warmed up again, still the tent was much warmer than outside!

We had a very nice dinner and later another couple joined our table to chat over tea and coffee. They are staying in the tent next to us! Joe and Anne wanted to hear all about our afternoon safari since they have their first safari tomorrow morning. They are a very pleasant couple and have some good stories of their travels which they shared with us. Apparently they had recognised us from the hotel this morning in Khajuraho, and when they saw us exchanging rather a lot of money at reception (there are only a few places where you can change money) they had guessed we were travelling to Bandhavgarh, and now here we all are!

Our safari begins at 05:30 tomorrow so very early morning! Thankfully our tent is VERY much warmer than the outside temperature so should sleep well!