Surrey surgeon braves tigers, snakes and the rules of the road to raise £15k for charities
PUBLISHED: 16:10 02 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:49 20 February 2013
When the tiger walked through his compound, he was too exhausted to care - despite the hysteria of screeching monkeys, jackals and barking deer, scattering in panic
When the tiger walked through his compound, he was too exhausted to care despite the hysteria of screeching monkeys, jackals and barking deer, scattering in panic.
Poisonous lace snakes lurked, mosquitoes feasted and a Gohilwadi mountain goat attacked (see photos below), but Surrey surgeon Mark Whiteley survived.
Now he is back from his challenging 2,000km ride on a 1950s model motorcycle, raising 15,000 for charity.
It was an unforgettable fortnight, says Mark, owner of Guildfords Whiteley Clinic. It combined a wonderful adventure in an extraordinary country with my love of classic motorcycling, and it was also a chance to raise funds for such worthwhile causes as The Rainbow Trust, UNICEF and The Wildlife Conservation Trust.
The route took Whiteley and friend, Graham Smith, down the South West of India from Goa to the Kumarokom Lake in Kerala, through mountains, tea plantations, dusty plains and the tiger reserve.
The roads were dirt tracks mostly and full of holes, and the driving everywhere was absolutely diabolical, says Whiteley. Fellow riders suffered crushed hands andinjured legs. In India, red and green lightsare bothtaken as GO and though technically you drive on the left, its a total free-for-all where drivers blast their horns up to 20 times a kilometre!
But the people were fantastic and, despite the abject poverty (only 20 per cent of all houses have a proper toilet inside or out), they are very resilient and seem happy - and everyone has a mobile!
When the tiger walked through our compound we were too exhausted to notice the racket all the animals made, and it was only in the morning that a ranger told us about the visit. In retrospect, this was rather scary as our huts didnt have doors.
The accommodation was very basic bamboo or driftwood huts with outside loos without a roof, and the staple diet was curry, chai and banana pancakes.
Id certainly consider doing it again, says Mark Whiteley. But I wont miss the driving thats for sure!
- To make a donation and for further information on the trip, visit: http://www.india-2010.co.uk/