4 Nov 2013
Another early start and this time our adventure was to ride on a local train – cattle class, no allocated seats. Thankfully there are not many local travellers on the day after Diwali and we are able to find seats close together and have space to put all our bags. But the floor is covered with peanut shells, wrappers and paper cups. It is an interesting experience as westerners clearly don’t usually travel this way. One man turned around in his seat and stared at me for the entire 2 hour trip – he was too shy to do anything else but when I got off the train I was treated to a wide smile and a handshake. Gradually people from up and down the carriages started to congregate around us. Taking their photos and showing them the results seemed to break down the barriers and eventually some tried a little English and Naveen helped translate. When we’d taken some photos, more family members were brought along to be photographed too. One Muslim family were very interactive and the mother was very assertive – we weren’t to take her photo but she wanted all her sons to be photographed. She told us that our recently purchased bangles were too loose and should be tighter, and gave Sue one of hers (forced over her hand!)
2.5 hours on we reached our station and were met by our jeeps – one with a trailer. Again we bounced along dirt roads passing through villages on the way. At one point our driver got out and another got in (short shifts or was it something we said?) Out in the middle of nowhere past Bijaipur we turn off the road and head down to a beautiful lake. Our deluxe tents await us – lined up along the lake front, landscaped with paths and rose gardens (we are greeted with delicious smelling roses). I get the ‘penthouse’: my tent is the only one that isn’t a tent, although it does have a canvas roof and awning, it has concrete walls and floor, a wooden door and a glass picture window (and lovely turquoise curtains!). They all have ensuites and power. This is luxury camping. I can’t figure out why #8 in a row of 10 should be chosen to be upgraded but I’m not complaining as it makes sure I don’t accidentally walk into someone else’s tent.
We have a buffet vegetarian lunch and then have a free afternoon to relax. Some decide to walk to a nearby ruined fort (and Hans even walks around the lake) but sleeping and reading appeal to most. Jo is a yoga teacher so once the sun goes down behind the hill we assemble for a yoga lesson (much to the amusement of the locals). Then we adjourn to the fire pit for drinks and nibbles at sunset. Dinner is a non-veg buffet: rice, lentils, spiced potatoes, green onions and spinach with cheese, and chicken in a sauce, and I help Brian with a bottle of Sula red wine. Naveen slept soundly all afternoon and is only starting his meal as most of us slope off to bed. There are small ‘street lights’ along the path! The beds are comfortable and duvets are needed as it gets quite cold in the middle of the night.
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
Note: After people telling me they had booked an Intrepid Tour on my recommendation, I now have affiliate links with the Intrepid Travel group of companies and may receive a commission if you book a tour online within a couple of months after clicking through to these sites. So if you are enjoying my tips and stories and finding them useful in choosing your own travel, please click on these links and help me to bring you more ☺.