Python – Keoladeo National Park

Posted on February 25, 2014

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After being disappointed at missing out on seeing a tiger I was rewarded last night by seeing a fat snake in Bharatpur. I was walking along the pathway of Keoladeo National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and a naturalist persuaded me to climb down the steep bank into the bushes to peer closely at a rather large fella curled up on a branch. He didn’t stay, he hot-footed it out of there to continue his tour with his paying customers. I would have got even closer but I was a bit nervous. My sources tell me it was an Indian python (Python molurus). See photo below, now more on the park itself…..

…..As we pulled up to the gates of Keoladeo National Park Ashok wound down his window. It was almost four and the light was perfect. The sky was a soft blue and sun gently lit up the long concrete track into the park flanked by tall bushes.

He leaned out of the window. Something was said in Hindi which didn’t sound positive. Then the seat belt was un-clipped and he left the car slamming the door.

Five minutes later after a lot of loud protesting he crouched down and pushed his head through the driver’s seat window.

“Asha, you have to pay to enter the park, even though you have a hotel inside the park. It is a daily charge and it applies to everyone.”

The charges for tourists (£4) and Indians (50p) vary markedly. It’s by no means extortionate and as long as the money goes back into the park and towards staff wages I don’t have a problem. But I wonder about the government, they try to squeeze money out of foreigners all the time. This fact is also not made apparent when you book your accommodation. Ashok tells me corruption within the government is rife and most people feel they don’t look after the common man.

I coughed up the dough and off we trundled up the path. The lodge I’m staying in reminds me of Fawlty Towers. Too many staff and no one really knows what they are doing but there’s a lot of running around. The noise from the kitchen is comedy, but the food is very nice.

When I was checking in there were lots of questions about where I’m from (you look Indian but you’re western type comments). Wifi is only possible in the lobby. There’s a fish tank which has a plague of mossies hovering over it and last night I was eaten alive checking mail.

The rooms are spotless, which is the main thing, but they could do so much more with this place if they used their imagination. The dining room looks like a school canteen. There is only one other group staying here – an Indian family of five. The toilet flush lasts around four minutes. I timed it. Surely that is not eco-friendly, what a waste of water, I think perhaps it’s broken. I have reverted to using it as little as possible. The shower head produces a trickle of hot water so that compensates for the toilet I suppose and if you move around too much in the bathtub, it starts to act like a plastic trampoline.

After loading my rucksack with water, lenses and batteries for my camera I flew out the door to hit the park. It closes everyday at 1830. I had two hours and four miles to walk and snap. It’s a stunning wetland area and the birds are plentiful. I was the only fool walking. Everyone else was either being ferried around by rickshaw (mainly fat Indians) or cycling. I decided to walk to the temple which is where the main drag finishes (2miles).

What’s lovely about this place is that there are information boards about the different bird species in case you are a novice like me; and there’s information about tree species too which are beautiful. I really got into trees when I did my ecological study in Uganda in 2012. There’s also the possibility of hiring a guide if you want too, but I think reading helps the information stick. Boats are available for hire as well.

Most of the great bird shots were taken on my pro camera, but here are a few landscape shots from the ipad and the python, which I have nicked named Monty given where I am staying.

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Posted in: India