A typical view on the road

A typical view on the road

Our room at Castle Bera

Our room at Castle Bera

Shepherds bringing their flocks home...shepherds have red turbans.

Shepherds bringing their flocks home…shepherds have red turbans.

There is a leopard sitting on the rock, casually surveying the world....our guide was making like the goats hoping it would encourage it to come down!

There is a leopard sitting on the rock, casually surveying the world….our guide was making like the goats hoping it would encourage it to come down!

Headed off from Udaipur to Bera this morning with these confident words of our driver, Mr Singh, fresh in our minds: “It is a good road”. For the first time on our trip we were able to travel at 100 kph on a four lane highway mostly devoid of pot holes, HOWEVER……why did the chicken and the cobra cross the road (true)? To avoid cows, goats, tuk tuks, overloaded trucks, tractors, assorted farm machinery, pedestrians and kids selling fresh fruit! After 30 minutes of dodging assorted obstacles on the highway, we turned off toward the small village of Bera, where Mr Singh played a 3 hour game of ‘chicken’ on a one lane road! To avoid oncoming traffic, livestock and potholes that should be more accurately described as craters, we averaged 20 kph for 3 hours and finally arrived at Castle Bera, a 300 year old walled residence owned by a distant member of the Rajasthan royal family. The rooms were obviously heritage and furnished with antiques. The dining room was adorned with numerous photographs of royalty and our host, who was referred to as  the ‘king’ by his staff. He was a delightful host. Initially though, we were met by a young man named Sandik, who didn’t have much english which caused confusion when we first were shown to a lounge room….is this our room? Is he the owner?……eventually, we were taken up to our suite and told to come down to ‘dine’……while we ate the delicious food, he stood there watching us, ensuring we didn’t need anything…..very attentive! He did say to us though, “safari at 5”. Till then we read in the cool shaded garden bar area. We climbed aboard the safari jeep at 5, again hoping for a siting of leopards, at this point we had no idea that the driver was in fact our host. Off road, we headed towards rocky outcrops, again dodging assorted herds of farm animals and their shepherds. Following our previous leopard spotting expedition in Sri Lanka, it seems we are destined to see them at dusk, as we searched for a couple of hours before we finally spied one perched majestically on a rock outcrop, and watched it till dark. At dinner that night, after pre dinner drinks with ‘the king’, we were regaled with his stories and explanations of the many photographs that adorn the dining room. Finally he wished us a good night after he had convinced Noelene that we should rise at 4:30am to do the morning safari, which he guaranteed would result in more leopards. Pleasingly we were not at all disappointed as two were spotted by spotlight along with a huge deer. Later in the morning, some locals directed us to a spot atop a distant rock, where 3 leopard cubs were playing. We were told this was a lucky and unique sighting. The large peacock near our vehicle was a colorful and noisy distraction. A breakfast upon our return, a farewell to his majesty and we were off on a 5 hour road trip to Jodhpur.

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