For the next two days our horses worked incredibly hard carrying our asses up and down steep inclines. Very rocky in places, rivers to cross, stunning views and we quickly became used to the assortment of animals that freely wander around.....pigs, goats, cows, peacocks, water buffalo
and dogs being the most common. We passed through one village that had two trees brimming with hundreds of fruit bats. By the end of day two our butts were feeling a little pain. Dinesh and his team can not do enough for us, we appreciated the beer and whisky he would buy for us, and loved the price of the whisky at eight dollars a bottle !! For medicinal purposes of course. On day three we finished riding slightly earlier to be driven to Kumbalgarh fort which boasts the second longest wall after China. It was a nightmare to get to by car and we opted to walk amongst the toot toot of the cars as they got into a road block. The fort was amazing and gigantic. Vicki and I decided to walk straight to the top then work our way back down taking our time to explore. We didn't bargain for our super star status. We were only a handful of tourists and could not go more than a few feet at a time without being stopped for photographs, hand shakes, to practice English, to the extent of being asked to hold babies for photographs. We did not get to explore as much as we would have liked but enjoyed an hour of fame.
We spent the night at a farm belonging to one of Dineshes friends, even with whisky it quickly became cold and we had an early night.
We were now into a routine of waking between five and six thirty depending on how loud the temple music was. A shower would depend on if it was hot or cold outside and I think we all enjoyed being dirty girls, wearing the same clothes and jamming hats on for the really bad hair days. we were being fed delicious vegetarian food with paneer becoming one of my favorites.
On day four we started out with the steepest climb of the trip. The horses were soon glistening with sweat but the views were stunning at the top and we found ourselves surrounded bu hundreds of dragon flies. We gave the horses a break at the top before working our way on stone paths to Kumbalgarh nature reserve. The terrain changed quickly to lush jungle. We did not see any jaguar or jackal but enjoyed watching the monkeys and bird life. After lunch overlooking a beautiful lake........disappointed not to see crocodiles...........we continued our ride for an hour when we had to say goodbye to the girl from Italy. She had been so much fun it was sad to see her go. We continued onto our stop for the night at a Marwari horse farm. Dinesh showed us around his friends horses then it was back to our field camp supper and whisky !!!
Day five we started in the saddle by eight thirty. I had spent some time riding Dineshes horse Beauty in the last few days whom I had enjoyed riding very much, today I was back to Padam who had learned to jog since I had last ridden her and quickly became a pain in the ass. We split into two
groups with myself, the lady from Germany and Dinesh taking off for some canters and gallops. The terrain was getting flatter and the tracks sandy,
so it made for some great gallops.....I was glad to get away from the jogging !!! This turned into a very long day as we could not find camp. Still
split into two groups, it was soon dark and we were glad to get off the horses and walk with a nomad and his herd of forty camel !!! The jeep
eventually found us and the German lady opted to drive to camp which left Dinesh with three horses. With my thighs on fire I agreed to ride the
German ladies horse so he only had two horses and we jumped back on and rode the black roads to camp. I was so glad to get off that night and
the horses were very tired. We drank a lot of whisky and chatted to the other group who had also been lost in a local village but agreed it was all
part of the adventure.
Day six started out with a jogging Padam but within thirty minutes everything seemed to click for her and she began to walk out, stretching and by the end of today was walking on a loose rein.....yay for my bum!!!! Vicki and I stayed together today instead of me going for gallops and we enjoyed our first views of antelope with their babies and the changing landscape as it became more arid. Camp was set up in a field beside a temple and we arrived with the sun still out and enjoyed being able to wash our hair and some clothes before settling into a camp fire and supper.
Day Seven was a great day. Padam was still being a good girl and we enjoyed some lovely canters. Vicki was starting to experience cantering behind me, Padam has a huge trot extension so Vicks horse would break into short canters. We would stay behind everyone else if they were going faster so Vick could practice two point. Dinesh was teasing us around twelve that we still had thiry km to ride......we got a lovely surprise as we rode into
camp at one !!! We all quickly cleaned up and washed clothes before going to visit the temple we were camped beside. The temple was hand.
Carved marble and very beautiful. We arrived in time to watch a small ceremony with a visiting guru. They were chanting and burning coconut the
Guru went into a trance and became possessed during which he would jump into the air with his legs crossed. Afterwards we sat and enjoyed chai
with them. They offered us some opium as well which we learned was mixed with brown sugar. The temple put out grain for the birds and we spent
the evening playing cards and watching the hundreds of parquet and peacocks that came to feed.
Day eight started out fast. Straight into long canters. The lady from Austria was a novice rider so Dinesh had her ride by him as her horse kept taking off with her. Vicki and I stayed well away and let them ride ahead so we could enjoy slower controlled canters. Vicki was starting to adjust to
two point and was doing so well, I was so happy for her. By the afternoon I went. With Dinesh and the German lady for some long canters and
gallops. We rode 40 km again today
We camped in a field and were joined by a local family at our fire. They were fascinated by the iPad and were soon playing solitaire and listening to music. A couple of them danced for us and all in all made for a very nice evening.
Day nine and Padam had a girth rub. One of the 'horse boy's rode her without a saddle so Vicki kindly let me ride her horse and she took the role of photographer. I was not too keen on Vicks horse, a little too quiet and sweet. We had a morning break at a small temple and we were invited into a
Small dark room for chai. The guru was sitting in his orange robes smoking marijuana in front of a small fire. The local villagers soon made room for us and we were soon taking photographs of each other. After break Dinesh switched me to the Austrian ladies horse and we took off........and it was fast. This mare was only 15 hands but she could run like stink. After a brief fight she settled in her place and we whipped along the trails with sand
and dirt flying....breath taking. Camp was in a peanut field so we arrived in full gallop. Vicki was already at camp......giggling. Apparently she was changing in the tent when a nomad popped his head in. Vicki came out to be surrounded by a large herd of sheep. This was our last night camping
out before pushkar and we stayed up around the camp fire chatting about our trip and our next travels.