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Leopard Safari Rajasthan


Guest Nappa

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Not so much a travel report but a response to a question from Sangeeta about Leopard Safari's in Southern Rajasthan & regretfully we only had old point & shoot pocket cameras I was videoing so not many photo's.

 

i'll edit the trip video this WE.... I hope!

 

Leopards have always eluded us be it India or Africa so when we heard of a new venture away from the beaten track we jumped at the chance for a Leopard safari, little knowing what was in store for us.

 

After 6 days of Tigers at Ranthambore we caught the train to Jodpur & over night at the Ajit Bhawan A former palace constructed originally for the Maharaja Ajit Singhji by his brother Maharaja Umaid Singhji.

 

The vintage cars owned by the Maharaja are displayed at this impressive stone built hotel.

 

The following morning we travelled 300k to our Hotel? deep in rural Rajasthan.

 

The Hotel was deserted & nobody spoke English but then why should they?

 

Our room, hmmm, our room.........

 

Scarlet & gold decor with white marble floors & bathroom, no hot water!

 

Oh well, we like to be away from the beaten track.

 

We quietly unpacked, you could hear a pin drop the hotel was deserted.

 

What was our agenda?

 

What happens next?

 

We went for a look around & sure enough the hotel was deserted! not even a member of staff!

 

Back in our room we wondered if this was the trip to far, perhaps we had got this one wrong!!

 

We sat & watched goatherds cutting fodder from high in the trees & dropping the branches for their goats to feed far below.

 

A knock at the door, three words "Safari time sir", we gathered our gear & headed down to "Reception!"

 

To be greeted by the owner in English with patties & chai! Outside sat a Mahindra (Jeep) & the khaki uniformed guide looking very uncomfortable in his new uniform.

 

We later learn't that he was a goatherd from one of the villages with a major understanding of Leopards.

 

The owner of the hotel was our guide - driver & Interpreter while our uniformed guide tracked & called the Leopards into us.

 

Regretfully & to my shame I cannot remember names.

 

This trip was nearly 10 years ago & I remember little of each Safari drive, we would set out at 1630 each evening to return to the hotel about midnight & out again at 0330 - 0400 in the morning.

 

Some drives lasted for ten hours or more.

 

They tried so very hard to please us I think as especially my wife & I were the first guests of a new venture.

 

We saw plenty of Leopards & other wildlife & the Mahindra went places I would think impossible to drive. Not for the feint hearted!!

 

Goat herders would greet us with a slight bow, their hands together in a greeting. We would meet large moving bushes on the tracks which would stop, a head would appear to greet us from the "moving bush" of goat fodder that he had collected for his animals.

 

A surprise for us were the villages at night as we passed through the narrow tracks our headlights would Illuminate Herders in traditional clothing & red turbans walking together deep in discussion in the dark.

 

On the village corners the young men would gather in the dark, on the other side of the road the young girls giggled in their colourful saris. no street lights, no lights at all yet the social life of the village continued in the pitch black between the thorn stockades keeping the goats safe at night.

 

I should mention the hotel some more, a great merriment to us.

 

The hotel advertises Oriental, European & Indian cuisine, before each evening drive we were asked what we wanted for dinner when we returned, remember no English was spoken, so each evening there was great fun trying to select our meal.

 

No matter how we selected every night we ate the same dinner, no matter what we ordered or what we thought we ordered, Chicken Curry with Chicken Noodles & Roast Chicken !!

 

After our first morning drive we returned to the hotel to find a 6 foot tall bright red fridge had been placed in our room, it was enormous!..... Our Mini bar!!!

 

We concluded that there was another guest who must have checked out that morning & the hotel only had one "Mini bar!"

 

Every morning we would have Brunch on the lawn, coffee boiled eggs & chapatis.

 

A list of juices would be offered but no matter what we asked for we were always served apple juice!

 

We aim to return, it was an excellent excursion & one we would recommend to anyone although I expect the charming naivety is now a fully functional slick tourist hotel.

 

Everything was done to please us & everyone went out of their way to do just that, even a 12 hour game drive!

 

 

The team

 

lepgroup.jpg

 

A mother & 3 cubs lived on the hill out of picture behind the cactus, we were waiting for them to emerge

 

sunset.jpg

Early morning Chai, 2 hours into the drive!

Chai.jpg

 

Spot the Leopards, we did get much closer than this but I was videoing.

 

lep1.jpgLep2.jpg

Edited by nappa
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Super LEEDS

Shaabaash!

 

Thanks for posting - this kind of trip seems fascinating to me. When you first mentioned it, I started looking things up and saw this place:

 

http://leopardlairresort.com/activities.html

 

but it seems you stayed somewhere else.

 

I really like the sound of the timetable too, a complete difference to the normal safari tour. You used a spotlight, I take it?

 

Can't wait for more :D

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Here is the link to our trip Woodlands Palace Hotel

 

The Hotel was very Indian in decor & I think catered for the Indian holiday market.

I believe I have also found it listed as a resort.

The area is rich in wildlife & I think attracting westerners to the area for the Leopard Safaris was seen as a way to improve income.

I have noticed that the area is sold as a Leopard Reserve but we saw no evidence of this.

 

I think it is normal rural farming with an abundance of wildlife & I must admit I greatly admired the goat herders tolerance of the Leopards & Hyena.

I've tried to work out what year this was, 03 - 04 - 05, I think 05 but I'm non to sure.

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks Nappa ....... interesting!!!

 

For Leopards in India, I would suggest Kabini in Karnataka - great sightings on a regular basis. Anyone on facebook, please look up Kabini Jungle Lodge or the Bison.

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It's a great coincidence that I was around this area (Village Bera) 2 months back during my last visit to India. The place is not too far from my hometown Udaipur. It was a last minute arrangement and we decided to go to .... guess what Super Leeds.....Leopard's Lair!

However, after a journey to the interior village, we're kind of unimpressed by the lodge setup. The rooms were pretty unkempt and the location of the lodge is a little too off from the hills and the Jawai Dam where the Leopards are found, and had limited access from the lodge. And we took a turnaround towards Ranakpur where we eventually stayed.

Leopards are fairly spotted in many parts of Rajasthan including Udaipur. What a survivor!!

 

Thanks for the report Nappa, I particularly enjoyed your description of the goat herders.

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Super LEEDS

Hi Shreyas

 

Must be a case of the website being better than reality. I think they have a facebook page too and the owner/guide there sounds quite the celebrity when it comes to leopards.

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twaffle

Thanks Nappa, I found this most interesting.

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I hope to have a video ready tomorrow of this trip with many Leopards but unfortunately at that time I only had an old camcorder so for most the clarity is suspect.

It was after this trip that I decided to save for a semi pro cam with full manual controls but at least the video will give an indication of what to expect on one of these trips.

Half of the enjoyment of this trip was the travel within the local rural area, village night life was a particular enjoyment.

 

A little aside of this trip was the return flight to Delhi from Jodhpur.

A Western family of two adults & 4 children were on the flight. (I wont mention nationality!) biggrin.gif

The Father a particularly tall man of heavy stature insisted on wearing a Turban in the colours of a Rajasthan Camel Drover.

In a loud voice he ensured the whole flight knew he was an honorary Rajasthan camel driver.

Sat in his seat he could not be missed as he was head & shoulders above everyone else with his Turban.

Much embarrassment for the other Europeans aboard but much amusement for the Indian passengers & crew!

Edited by nappa
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wow -this is news to me too ! :-)...but yes, for leopard on trees these days Kabini down south is rocking as mentioned herein !...I've seldom seen leopards in major tiger reserves given how scary and shy they are for obvious reasons !

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Sangeeta

Leeds, as I understand it, there are two brothers. Leopard's Lair belongs to the older brother and that is the place Shreyas visited. I will be staying at the castle with the younger brother who also runs leopard safaris, but only for his guests staying in the four rooms he has opened up for them. From my research, sightings are both regular and quite good, and I believe the younger brother's trackers are quite serious about their jobs. Mais on verra...

 

Shreyas, why no mention of the very latest leopard story!!?This would be the ideal place for the MFL :)

 

Once again, many thanks for all the info, Nappa.

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Super LEEDS

Thanks, Sangeeta. Really is a hidden gem imo.

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A little aside of this trip was the return flight to Delhi from Jodhpur.

A Western family of two adults & 4 children were on the flight. (I wont mention nationality!) biggrin.gif

The Father a particularly tall man of heavy stature insisted on wearing a Turban in the colours of a Rajasthan Camel Drover.

In a loud voice he ensured the whole flight knew he was an honorary Rajasthan camel driver.

Sat in his seat he could not be missed as he was head & shoulders above everyone else with his Turban.

Much embarrassment for the other Europeans aboard but much amusement for the Indian passengers & crew!

 

Nappa, couldn't help but plug this in here ;)

 

gallery_6683_574_43873.jpg

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Shreyas, why no mention of the very latest leopard story!!?This would be the ideal place for the MFL :)

 

Well, my family is having a little bit of wildlife excitement back in Rajasthan. My dad's workplace is a little off town in the middle of the Aravalis and we have a resident Leopard there. The sightings have been confirmed on a regular basis by the workers and the local village folks for past 2 years, but not 5 days ago, the Leopard made a cow kill in broad daylight, which he/she ate and slept right under a tree next to it :o .... this survivor is plentiful in most of India, only if we could help with their conflicts with humans and the horror stories that entail.

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Shreyas, thank you so much.

 

That really made me laugh! I can see the head now towering above the seats!laugh.gif

The exact colours but I think a lot more flamboyant that the real turban.

 

I often wondered how much his honorary membership & turban cost him!!

 

I always try to spread my wealth? laugh.giftongue.gif Ha! Ha! Ha!...... I try to spread my money around but I never give money for nothing, it has to be earn't in some way.

 

One way to do this is to hire something from a local village, we once hired a pair of draft camels from a village, where we spent the day, to carry two small camera bags for us.

The drovers had other ideas & insisted my wife & I rode them, no saddle just an A frame!

And they insisted the camels had a race, my wife against me!!!!!

 

These two Europeans where the highlight of their day, the whole village turned out to watch us & the girls in the fields left their tasks just to laugh, giggle & stare at us!

This was Rajasthan, but I'm unsure where all I know we were a 5 hours jeep drive from Sawi Madhopur.

Edited by nappa
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