It was the rainy season when we arrived in India, but we decided to go on a two-day trek through the jungle anyway.
The ground was squishy, leeches the size of slugs were clinging to our legs and there were tree roots sticking out everywhere. At one point I slipped over on my arse and ripped my trousers so that my entire bum was hanging out.
After five hours of trekking, we reached the river that we were supposed to cross to get to the house we were staying in, but the guide said it was too deep from all the rain (it was waist height) and told us to turn back and go a different way. So we walked back for about an hour, then gave up as the route was too overgrown. The guide then suggested we head back to the river and try to cross it anyway.
It was starting to get dark at this point, and I was slightly worried as we had been told there were tigers, elephants and all sorts of animals roaming around in the jungle. The guide rushed off ahead until eventually we couldn’t see him anymore, let alone the ground as it was now pitch black and our torch was almost out of batteries. We managed to follow the path and eventually found him by the river again. At this point he announced that we would be sleeping here instead, and pointed to a muddy patch on the floor. He said that he could build us a “hut.” I imagined an elaborate structure with flushing toilet, but when he asked us if we knew how to build a shelter we realised, we might as well have come on our own and saved the 40 quid we had paid him.
Anyway, he built a one-sided shelter out of big palm leaves and sticks and sat down. We started asking questions about the things we were worried about, such as could there be any scorpions around, as we had seen one earlier (to which he said, “hmm yes, didn’t think about that”), or if there were many tigers (“yes, 39 in this park”); or if anyone nearby had been eaten by one (“yes, a woman and her son, the husband just mauled”); or what could you do if attacked by one (“not much, just hope your death is quick”); or if the candle light we had going would attract any animals (“yes, it could attract snakes, such as the spitting cobra, which spits vemon into your eyes”).
The guide seemed pretty happy with the state of affairs and went to sleep. There was no chance in hell of us sleeping now, and there were ants about the size of 50p pieces in our leafy “beds.” I sat armed and ready with my pen knife and listened out for any noises. At 5am we heard a weird grunting/growling noise coming from the bushes so I woke the guide up. He started making odd animal noises and then we heard the same noise again as if the thing was replying. He blew the candle out and told us to be quiet.
By now I had just about messed myself with fear. We huddled together in the dark while he made loud coughing noises to try and scare the thing away. After a while he said it was gone and that it sounded like a tiger or a black panther, as it made no noise when it was moving around.
After the longest night in history it finally got light at 7am. We crossed the river with our bags held above our heads, trekked for another few hours then got a boat home and slept until the following afternoon.
It’s safe to say I’ve had enough of treks and jungles for the time being, and in the next place we stayed I fully appreciated sleeping in a room made out of concrete.