Curry breakfast on our bus seats, better beware of the big black bears, and back to being celebrities again.

Day 126: Udaipur & Mount Abu, India. We were up early to finish packing and head to Udaipole Bus Stand, which turned out to be not a stand at all, just a selection of buses stopped at random places along a busy main road.

We eventually located the bus that was going to Mount Abu (one of those occasions where it’s a good thing Lil leaves so much extra time in case things get tricky, or we may not have been going to Mount Abu at all). The driver unlocked the back boot and we slung our backpacks in, on top of a thick layer of concrete rubble.

We had pre-assigned seats on the bus but discovered there was a lady sitting in the ones we’d booked, eating a full Indian meal of curry, rice and nan bread, which she had spread out across the two seats. So we sat further back and waited while she scoffed her curry breakfast.

The bus was pretty old and looked like it had been in a few fights – large chunks of the front were dented or missing, and the inside was pretty manky too. We left the ‘bus stand’ right on time at 8.30am, creaked a hundred metres up the road, and stopped again to pick up more passengers. There were several other random stops to pick up people carrying light bulbs, cement bags and other miscellaneous items as we made our way out of the city. 40 minutes after we’d set off, we’d only gone about 2km.

Another 40 minutes later, we stopped for a 10 minute break, which turned into 25 minutes. Eventually the driver got back on board, hooted the horn, waited one minute, then the bus shot out of the car park. Tough if you weren’t on board at that point, as he wasn’t waiting for anyone.

Not surprisingly, we arrived in Mount Abu a bit late. The scenery as we drove into the town was out of this world – huge green mountains with craggy boulders dotted with palm trees and a smattering of grey langurs. We were keen to explore, so after checking into the guesthouse, we headed straight out again.

We walked around the lake, which is fabulous and very scenic. Part of the way around, we spotted a pathway up some rocks on the hillside, which looked like it might have a good viewpoint. We’d only gone a short way up the rocks when a guy on a motorbike yelled out “don’t go up there, there are bears”. So we stopped and turned around, keen to avoid any bear encounters.

Bears are an increasing issue in Mount Abu – they’ve always been in the surrounding hills, but in recent years they’ve been wandering closer to town in search of food. In November last year there were several attacks on humans, and earlier this year one was spotted in the town, and a few others were caught on the CCTV of a local hotel.

Hiking in the hills is prohibited without a guide, due to bears and panthers, and also because a tourist was murdered some years back.

We’d read about an Indian guide called Charles who comes highly recommended – he has been trekking in the local area for over 15 years, and regularly takes people out on hikes. Lil emailed him before we left Udaipur to say we were interested in doing a trek, and we went and met him at one of the hotels on the lake, to agree details.

While walking to the hotel, a gaggle of young guys and girls were out for their Friday evening round-the-lake stroll to watch the sun setting, and we got held up for a bit while people lined up for photos with us. We’re back to being celebrities again. Eventually we had to say “enough now, thank you, bye!” and walk off, otherwise we’d likely still be there.

We agreed a 5-6 hour trek with Charles tomorrow – starting at the highest point in Rajasthan, hiking down to a village and then back up again. It should be fun, and hopefully we won’t encounter any bears or panthers along the way.

More then.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *