Driving From Agra to Ranthambhore

After the come down of excitement from seeing the Taj Mahal, I was completely happy and not expecting anything else from the trip and just going with the flow. We got on the bus for the 7 hour journey from Agra to Ranthambhore which I was not looking forward to as I had already finished the book I brought with me. I still travel with actual books because I love that you can just leave them anywhere with a little note and pass it on. The downside, books are heavy and I am limited in the amount I can carry.

A few minutes into the ride our tour guide tells us to always double check that our luggage makes it onto the bus because his was lost. We continue driving for a few minutes and he gets a call that his luggage has been found and someone would bring it to him. We pull over on the side of the road at a local morning market and we are able to get out and explore. Finally we were able to interact with some locals and see what India is really like instead of sitting in the comfort of our bus or hotel as part of a huge tour group.


The market is like a wholesale fruit and veggie market. The street vendors come here in the morning to buy what they need and then sell it at a small profit to everyone else.

The women of the household usually stay home and take care of the house including all the shopping. The vendors will go door to door and sell their produce and the women will yell what they need from their balcony or a window and then negotiate from there. Negotiating is a way of life and 100% expected! When the negotiation is complete, they will ask where their green chilis are? Apparently, those are expected to be thrown in for free! Once all is settled, the groceries are brought up and the vendors move on.

Back on the road again and our next stop was at Abhaneri, known as The ‘Eastern Gateway to Rajasthan’. Founded in 1733 AD, it was once an impregnable well-fortified city, carved out of the region formerly known as Mewat.

We walked around the amazing Chand Baori (Stepwell). Built back in the 10th century, the incredible well of Chand Baori was a practical solution to the water problem in the area. The arid climate forced the locals to dig deep for a dependable water source, one that would last throughout an entire year. The Chand Baori is 30m deep, has 13 floors and 3,500 steps. So many people would gather here to collect water, that any message that needed to be spread would be announced here. It was the perfect news forum!

Goats all over the road. Goats everywhere! I have never seen goats with long ears like this and I just thought they were the cutest things ever (aside from my little squirrels).

We arrived at our hotel and realized that our tour group was taking over the entire thing! The hotel had a dinner buffet ready to go when we arrived with absolutely amazing food! The call time to be ready for the morning was 5:30am so even though we spent most of the day on the bus, it was time for bed! I think it’s amazing how you can be exhausted from sitting on a bus, but I was.

Advertisements

Cafayate for the day

Sometimes it is about the journey more than the destination. This is absolutely true for the trip to Cafayate from Salta. The drive is about 3-4 hours and takes you through an amazing section of the Andes. After the experience my parents had with our tour to Salinas Grandes, they opted to hire a driver just for the day. This isn’t exactly the budget backpacker way but an amazing way to stop and see exactly what you want to see and have a more personal experience.

IMG_3479
The Andes is the second youngest mountain range in the world after the Himalayas. It is the longest mountain range in the world and has a peak of 22,000 feet. This means that even though it’s summer, there is snow that can be seen in some spots.

Our driver stopped at some natural formations that have formed in the mountain including this amphitheater pictured below. There were musicians playing music and vendors selling their trinkets. It was an absolute natural wonder.

IMG_3471

IMG_3473

IMG_3478
The pictures do not do justice to show just how beautiful the landscape was. Endless mountain ranges with peaks and valleys everywhere. As we were driving we saw goats, llamas, horses, cows, pigs and parrots. It was a wildlife extravaganza.

IMG_3481

IMG_3480

IMG_3469

IMG_3489
The main reason for the drive was to check out the little town of Cafayate and do a little wine tasting. We went to Piattelli and had a delicious lunch with breathtaking views and a fantastic bottle of Torrontes. Torrontes is a varietal of white wine from this region and is incredibly refreshing.

IMG_3492

IMG_3487

IMG_3490

IMG_3486

IMG_3483
Our wonderful tour guide then took us to a great wine store to buy some wine and then a little off the path bodega to try some Malbec and goat cheese. We ended up buying the cheese along with llama sausage from a local vendor, fresh baked bread from another local vendor and some olive oil from yet another local vendor. These were all gems that only a private tour can provide and really made the experience very special.

IMG_3493

IMG_3494