Ghanerao to Leopard Camp – part one

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Ready for day 2 of trekking with Bheemjeev as guide

We were awake early for our second day of trekking. Jacquie wasn’t feeling so great but took some precautionary medication and declared she would walk. What a trouper.

Several of the dogs followed us thinking they would go on a nice morning stroll. When we got to the village Bheemjeev tried to get them to stay behind as this was a one way only trip, however two remained completely determined and actually followed us all the way to where Chotu picked us up several miles later.

Our trek would take us on a track through desert like, arid forestry land with small sparse trees and gorse bushes. Even at 8am it was already very hot and there was very little shade. Our legs still ached from the previous day and whilst the terrain was mostly fairly flat even the smallest uphills seemed pretty hard going. Interestingly we all ached in different places – we must use different muscles when we walk!

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The two Js with Sipi

We passed several cows which were let out to roam during the day and brought in at night time to avoid them falling prey to leopard and hyenas. We spotted lots of monkeys and wild hares, also strange looking animals with a bouncy, Zebedee type gait in the distance that Bheemjeev called wild cows or blue bulls. We tried to creep up on them to get a closer look but the dogs kept chasing them off so we really didn’t have any idea what he was talking about.

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The ladies stopped for an al fresco loo break so I took advantage of sitting in the shade
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After several miles, we stopped to have a short break under the shade of an old banyan tree. These trees are considered holy.

Eventually the forest track opened on to a slightly wider road and in the distance we could see women with pick axes working on the roads. Apparently the government recognise that it is extremely hard to eke out a living for rural people in Rajasthan and they give 100 days work to women for 100 rupees a day to help supplement their income. That’s about £1.20 per day to do a full day’s back breaking work.

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We asked if we would be allowed to take some photos and Bheemjeev said that would be fine as long as we gave them about 20 rupees in return. This seemed such a tiny amount but later realised this supplemented their daily wages by 20%. No wonder they were so keen to pose. One lady actually tipped out the dish of earth she was carrying on her head in order to rush over and get in the photo.

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The white bangles on their upper arms show that they are from the shepherding community. The lady without bangles would be a widow.

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We gave out some pencils and pens to the younger girls and were immediately swamped by all the women who rushed over to see what they could get.

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It was humbling to see how much pleasure and excitement a gift of a pencil or pen could bring.
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Slightly further up the road we stopped for a photo with the tribal elder from the village. Great shoes!

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By now, it was extremely hot and we were all relieved when we spotted Chotu’s car coming towards us and piled in to enjoy the air conditioning. We felt a bit bad for the two dogs who had followed us all the way and would now have to find their own way back but Bheemjeev assured us that it was not the first time they would have done so.

Before we said goodbye to Bheemjeev he took us for another short hike to Crocodile reservoir. It was a really peaceful spot and we climbed up on the rocks to get a look down at the crocodiles sunbathing on the banks of the lake. There were a load of cows just the other side of the cake but clearly the crocs weren’t hungry at this stage.

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Note to self – tall people should stand lower down the rock unless they want to look like the giant in Jacks and the Beanstalk
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