We woke in the dark and got ready for our second leopard safari. Even though it was before 6am, our smily man was there to serve us morning tea and wave us off wrapped up in warm blankets.
It was still dark when we arrived at the rocks. Our driver switched off his headlights and drove up the rock face blind whilst sweeping his torch backwards and forwards in a search for cat’s eyes. If we had thought driving up in daylight was unnerving, this was a whole other level.
We climbed to the top but there was no sign so we drove down and took a different route through a village to a more desert like area. All the time our driver was looking for fresh leopard tracks in the dirt track and from these he was pretty convinced the male leopard was nearby.
The sun started to rise and it was so incredibly beautiful and peaceful in the early morning light. Monkeys were ranged high up on the hillside above us and we saw several peacocks at the top of the trees where they had spent the night to protect themselves from predators.
Moving on again, we got word of a kill and sure enough we got sight of a young calf. The leopard had obviously tried to drag it back to his cave but had given up. I gave up counting how many times we raced through the village, taking sharp left and right turns like a rally driver. At one point the movement of the jeep was so sudden that we actually broke the bar we were all hanging on to for dear life. Suddenly we got a call from a spotter (there were four ranged over the area) to say that the male had been seen. Hold on to your seats, we were heading back at full throttle. We were pulled up short when we came round a corner to find the camp’s second jeep stuck on the track in front of us. Our driver jumped out to help but couldn’t get it into gear so the other two guests piled into our jeep with us. We drove so fast on the way back through the desert that Jackie’s hat flew off and we had to go back for it.
Sadly, by the time we reached the rock the leopard had gone back inside. As it was starting to get hot by now we had lost our chance of seeing any leopards this time. The consolation prize was heading down to the lake where we were served a cup of tea. Sad though we were not to have seen the leopards, our morning drive had been so much fun we had loved it anyway.
Back at camp, we packed yet again and after breakfast we said a final namaste and headed off on the 3 hour drive to Jodphur. I’m pretty sure the jeep driver could have made it in one!
The drive to Jodphur was long and tedious but pretty uneventful although Jackie did have to try out the facilities at a service station. Indian style and you definitely need your own toilet paper.
Arriving in Jodphur we first stopped at a lovely outdoor restaurant where we ate chips and enjoyed wifi for the first time since Udaipur courtesy of a local shopkeeper who Jackie sweet talked into allowing us access to his personal hotspot. We were like teenagers checking our social media and not talking to one another!
We met our guide for our city tour and headed off to Jaswant Thada – a mausoleum to Maharajah Jaswant Singh. We were told that Maharajahs used to be taken out of the city to be cremated but Jaswant Singh was overweight so they created a new site beside the fort. Members of the ruling family are still cremated here. There was a huge pile of logs all ready for the next one.