The leopard of Jawaï

The leopard of Jawaï

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Rajasthan off the beaten track

6 pm… The sun is declining on the horizon. In the air floats a scent of dust. It is barely ten minutes since we got into the 4×4 and already our guide stops. – “Shhh … We will have to be silent and open our eyes. The leopard has a keen hearing and a strong sense of smell, he must not spot us when going down hills to come and look for food”.  We have been warned Silence on board.

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With the senses awake, we listen to the sounds of this savannah.

Straight ahead, granite rocks break the horizon line. In a decor painted in beige and gray, we are as if suspended in time, in perfect communion with this region of North India called Jawai. Far from the usual Rajasthani tourist circuits. Far from the cities teeming with rickshaws.

We are there, silent, hands on the camera, ready to draw at the slightest hiss.

One goal in mind: to see Bera’s leopard. An animal as rare as it is racy which makes all the richness of this region located between Jodhpur and Udaipur, in the heart of the Rajasthan desert.

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We are lost in our thoughts, when suddenly our guide beckons us.

There, on the left, a leopard is slowly approaching. No one moves, everyone holds their breath.

The moment is so fragile, so intense, that we even forget to take pictures! With no velvet, the animal walks between the grass yellowed by the sun. He barely takes a look at us. He was only a few yards away when he jumped to the right and fled behind the rocks. End of the meeting. It only lasted a few minutes but it seems like forever. We even have a hard time realizing what just happened and it takes a little while to catch our breath and resume the conversations.

Always on the lookout, the guide observes the place with binoculars. Close to the 4×4, Lake Jawai Bandh, the largest water reservoir in western Rajasthan, offers colonies of flamingos and Antigone cranes.

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We stay a few moments longer to look at this landscape with African colors. 

The night by settling in exacerbated the perfumes and in the air floats the scent of dry herbs. On the horizon, the Aravalli mountains are no more than a memory, swallowed up by darkness. In the distance, lights begin to shine. These are the lamps of the tents where we will spend the night. Luxury tents all in canvas, leather and steel set up in the middle of nowhere and signed Sujan Luxury Camps. An exceptional Relais & Châteaux in light colors, decorated in a colonial spirit enhanced with designer touches and brightened up with trunks and chandeliers.

Our favorite ? The terrace with private infinity pool where the gaze is lost on the immensity of a 100% natural setting. As in a story of Karen Blixen version “Out of India”.

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