Ranthambore 4

Final Safari Number Four, Zone Ten in the Ranthambore National Park
Our final safari was a late pick-up (half an hour) by a disinterested guide but an enthusiastic driver. We settled in the back of the jeep and five minutes later stopped at a hotel to pick up a delightful family of four from Delhi. Rachel (the little girl) sat beside Bear and mum, dad and little chap, Ryan in the middle seat. The guide was fairly quiet, especially after announcing we were going to Zone 10, the driver on the other hand chatted and was very informative – translated for us by the family. If you read any of the reviews about jeep safaris, Zone 10 gets the worst write-ups as it takes nearly an hour to get through town and then through a very dusty, bumpy roadworks that is very busy with traffic and several miles long. We got to the gate of Zone 10 at 15:50 to bump along even more, bracing ourselves was necessary. Give the driver his due, he went round twice checking carefully for the very dominant male whose territory it is. In his younger days he has been known to threaten the jeeps and today, if he is lying across the track, the jeep has to reverse and find another route. There are three females but as the zone is vast there is less chance of success. Any time we stopped it was just for a couple of pictures and off we went. The terrain went from scrubland, winding track rising very steeply, across a vast valley and a very stony area, just one waterhole. Nothing special to report but we did see a black stork, a vulture and a huge troop of langurs (own blog). Ooo, and a black cobra sunning himself at the side of the track but no sooner than my camera was up, he shot off at high speed and out of sight. We passed a jeep that had stopped to change a tyre and another that was waiting for help for a leaking fuel line – all passengers looked disgruntled.
We left the park at 18:35 and as we were five minutes late for curfew (the drivers and guides face a penalty and fine for not clocking out of the park by half past, so we took a back way through several villages and ‘a long way round’ to get back through the roadworks just as it was beginning to get dark and then on through the town. Town was a bustle of wedding parties, the early stages of nightlife and of course, the usual crowd of cows mincing along. We finally got back to our digs, dusty, windswept and tired as we had had to brace ourselves so much at 19:45. Quick wash and straight down for supper, then shower and bed. Off on the morrow to Jaipur. Pictures of the ‘stuff’ of the day.
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                     THE DRIVER TRIED HARD TO NO AVAIL