At this point we were in the Periyar National Reserve staying in another wonderful little hotel in Kumli. The highlight of this part of the trip had to be our elephant interaction. It must be said the kids are getting a bit blase about elephants. This was their 4th or 5th elephant ride, and yes we have washed elephants before but..........never before taken a shower with an elephant!! The force at which the elephant ejects the water from its trunk is a bit like the pressure from a fire hose, so I was glad to be on my side of the camera.
Having left the hills for the forests we soon discovered the following formula - warm + lots of wet + forests = LEECHES. And we learnt a lot about leeches - none particularly pleasant. They are pesky little things, like worms with suckers on both ends. By propelling themselves from sucker to sucker, they seem to be able to get everywhere and anywhere to find a piece of skin onto which to sing their fangs and suck and suck. They are pretty small skinny things until they have had their fill of the red stuff where upon they swell up to look like fat slugs.
Protection against these blood thirst critters is a pair a very sexy gaiters and walking shoes. We took our trek into the forest and the only live bodies we saw were, you got it, thousands of leeches. Brushing them off our shoes and gaiters, applying salt to our clothes - apparently that is an effective deterrent, dominated our trek. One sneaky little critter got up Wills' gaiter and we just managed to knock it off before it was fully attached to his flesh.
On return to base, we thought we were safe and had avoided any blood loss, until we saw a big, fat leech on the floor, oozing new, deep red blood. After a bit of detective work, we found it had dropped off Simons leg. Its precise drinking spot located on Simon's thigh. I do have a picture of said leech trailing blood .....but I think that would be too gory to post!!
The safari was well organized, 5.30am start, bumping around in a jeep as the dawn came and the country began to wake up. After great sightings of elephants and guar, we stopped for breakfast and after a lot of trial and error and a huge amount of patience - probably cost me at least one cup of chai, I got this picture:
These Sunbirds are incredibly flighty and spend only a couple of seconds on each flower. So I was very happy that I caught one in the act!!