After a lengthy flight to Delhi and transfer to an internal flight on to Udaipur, we finally got to see Sophie and check she was ok. The Lake Palace hotel was sumptuous and gave us a chance to rest. A walk into town gave us a culture shock as we began to understand what India was about. Ruairidh found the beggars and local fascination with a small blond child quite intimidating at first.
A ride on a Tut-Tut gave us our first experience of Indian drivers. All of is on the rally were invited to a cocktail party given by the Maharana. Ruairidh got to meet him and was given a signed book on Rolls Royces.
We were waved off by the Maharana and stopped by the local TV crew on our way from the start line. They seemed to think that Ruairidh was to be driving Sophie and we didn’t want to disilusion them, but baulked when they asked for a shot of him driving.
From Udaipur, we set off towards Jodhpur, our first stop on a 4000 mile journey. A mistake on the road book sent us 12 km on the wrong direction down an unmade and bumpy track. Sophie suffered when she hit a big boulder and we had to do some emergency repairs. We arrived at our hotel very late in the evening to find a huge and sumptuous wedding in progress.
The countryside changed to a desert environment as we headed north. Next stop was the town of Bikaner and an evening meal was laid on for us in the desert.
A long haul the next day took us to Amritsar, a bustling Indian city crammed with people, rickshaws, animals and people.
Still heading north we headed now into the mountains and climbed through beautiful scenery to the town of Dharamsala.
Heading south east took us to the hill town of Shimla, an old British built colonial retreat. A chance there on a rest day to get problems with the cars fixed - and catch up with laundry and a massage.
Our next stop, after winding interminably through dodgy mountain roads was Rishikesh, high in the hills. The Ananda Spa hotel where we were all staying had a ‘no children’ policy, so we stayed in a superbly restored house in the hotel grounds.
Onward now to the Corbett National Park and a rest day. This gave us the opportunity for a jeep safari drive in the morning through the protected animal reserve. In the afternoon we all went on an elephant ride looking for tigers, but saw none. Ruairidh got some swimming in and we left refreshed.
Tstill climbing inexorably, we reached our next mountain top stop at Binsar. This was an old colonial house built by an Englidh businessman in the nineteenth century and then bought by Pandhu Neru before falling into disrepair. It has undergone some restoration and lodges have been built in the grounds. The electrical supply was erratic, but the sunset and early morning views were magnificent.
A very long day saw us crossing the border into Nepal and a very different countryside - much less populated and cleaner. We concluded the day in the dark with a 13 km drive down an awful unmade road and across a dry riverbed.