23 Oct 2013
We have a sleep in today but I wake early anyway and have another cold shower. Sometime later I hear voices behind my cottage and discover that they are lighting the wood fire under the water tank to heat the water for my shower! After breakfast we meet the new owner of the lodge we are staying in (and have to complete visitor forms in triplicate).
We stop in the village on the way out to look at the Bandhavgarh Art School and Gallery. The owner Mahesh Jangam is a delightful young man who trained at the famous Ranthambore Art School. He sells his exquisite paintings at the gallery to fund the training school that he provides for free. The aim is to increase appreciation (and conservation) of wildlife through art. Sue & Martin buy a tiger painting which takes rather longer than expected so it is after 11.00 before we leave.
We are again crammed into 2 jeeps with all our luggage and retrace the horrendous road we came in on. We have a 6 hour journey with limited places to stop along the way. Several of our group are sick so there are some impromptu stops. We drive through lots of villages. The rice fields are ready for harvest and little stilted huts sprout in the fields where the villagers perch to scare away the birds. The women are the main farmers and we see them walking everywhere with huge piles of firewood and water jars balanced on their heads. Bullock carts and ploughs are common but we see some tractors as well. At one stage we are stopped at a mountain pass where several trucks were trying to pass each other and simply ran out of room – no one could move for quite a while.
At around 1.45 there is a break but no food, so we head for icecreams. At 3.30 we finally stop for lunch – but it is worth the wait! We are treated to a buffet at the Ken River Lodge which is a stunning ‘tree house’ overlooking the river. Their safaris are by boat. We hear about Jennifer Buxton, an English painter in her 80s, who has been coming here to paint for years and her paintings are beautiful. Bhanu has driven her in the park to paint. We also meet another experienced naturalist who just loves his job. We could have stayed for days but had to carry on.
Just another hour to Khujaraho. We drive across what looks like a rubbish dump to some dodgy looking gates and are then blown away as the gates open to reveal a stunning garden and hotel. My room opens onto the patio. There is an Ayurvedic massage available and 4 of us book immediately. I am first but we have to sit having drinks by candlelight while they fix the generator. This keeps breaking down at intervals so I get part of my massage in the dark. He is very good and the massage works wonders for sore muscles.
Some go out for dinner but we sit on the patio and have tea and pancakes. Yvonne is very sick with a high fever and a doctor is called. He and his assistant are with her for a long time but eventually bring her fever down and give her an arsenal of drugs. The assistant also stays at the hotel to administer her drugs – the whole lot cost only $40.
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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