After all the stress of the last couple weeks, and the uncertainty whether Rupert would be well enough for me to travel, I was very relieved to meet up with Marcel and Arie at Schiphol yesterday morning, after staying up all night to write an assignment for my Infectious Diseases course. After stocking up on a few last minute essentials, our flight left on time, and we arrived into Delhi an hour ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, we were so early that our gate was still occupied, and we had to wait an hour before we could disembark.
Having expected to be hit by a wave of heat and noise in the airport, it was quite a relief and a surprise to find ourselves in a modern and not too busy hall. Immigration and baggage claim went fairly quickly, and we found our driver very easily. By this point it was already midnight, so we were taken straight to our hotel, through the overwhelming Delhi traffic. Our room looked over a mosque, and there was a (wedding?) party taking place in the street. Fortunately for us, we were able to appreciate the view, but weren’t disturbed by any noise.
This morning brought our first Indian breakfast, a mixture of spicy snacks, and very British toast with jam. After taking a few more photos of daily life on the street below, we were collected and taken to the train station.
If we thought the roads had been busy last night, we saw a whole new scale of traffic this morning. The train ride to Sawai Madhopur took us 5 hours, with views on small villages and fields. We saw some birdlife, including about 50 white egrets, some cranes and what appeared to be a flying peacock. At our destination we were met again by our driver, who had driven the 300km down to meet us. We drove the 20 minutes to our jungle lodge, the Pug Mark, which is named, like all the other lodges we saw in the area, after the tigers which we are hoping to find.
After a relaxing couple drinks in the garden, we had our first Indian meal – paneer with peas, potatoes with green pepper and a dal makhani. We also risked the desert, a yellow liquid with strange floating bits (which turned out to be paneer also). Slightly strange, probably not to be repeated!
After enjoying the stars, time to head off to bed, as we have an early start in the morning for our first tiger safari.