Elephants and leeches
It was only a six km hike into the jungle
Anyone can hike 6km right?
Well I beg to differ
Elephants are apt to go their own way. And who’s going to stop them?
So using two superhuman local guides ,Hussain and Charang, we followed old logging trails and cut our way through the occasional tree and bamboo blocking our path
We were heading for the last known GPS location of an elephant which had recently been captured and transported from a farming area.
We saw the tracks of a Gaur (described as a huge, wild killer cow. Literally a killer. )
Heard the calls of gibbons and watched a hornbill fly above us.
Huge black millipedes crawled across the track
And then there were the leeches.
Even with long socks tucked into trousers the bloody things got to most of us.
I saw my first one burrowing through my sock and pulled it out just in time.
But its brothers came back for more.
At the end if the day I had one free flowing wound. And I was one of the lucky ones.
Ahimsa , our leader , gave us advice on dealing with a tiger – should one appear from the jungle.
“Keep eye contact and move backwards, slowly,” he said
Which is kind of counter intuitive to me. My movements would be anything but slow.
Ahimsa is passionate about the jungle, wildlife, flowers, seeds and the environment in general
Tigers are so rare here he doesn’t want to harm one. He would prefer to lose a human…
Though I can’t help thinking he was looking at me when he said this…
We walked through the jungle , slithering up and down steep muddy slopes and crossing a crumbling path high above a waterfall.
Even the plants can hurt you here
I grabbed one tree trunk to prevent myself falling 20 feet and came away with a handful of painful prickly thorns
We passed by a bees’ nest, thousands of them swarming in the cracks of a tree.
Two of us were stung.
For lunch we sat in a small clearing where Ange ,a young masters student declared this was :”The easiest trek ever.”
Just try and picture my response to that ….
The radio signal finder was now picking up strong bleeps (like that scene in Aliens) and Ahimsa held up his hand for silence
The bamboo was moving. Elephants were around …
An advance party disappeared down into the valley to find the one male elephant they’d targeted for research purposes but the terrain was difficult and the elephants had moved on
On the two hour return trek one of our guides made a very slight error in his path finding. Only about 100m or so
But it seemed to injure his pride so the rest of the return journey felt like it was carried out at double pace.
The jungle is a real place of contrasts …beautiful but potentially dangerous
I loved it.
But oddly it has made me miss my dusty Derbyshire road even more