After exploring the forests of Dhikala and Bijrani, it was time to head to the unexplored forests north west of Dhikala. Yes we are talking about Halduparao. If you see the map, the zone is close to Dhikala and shares same kind of habitat for the tiger. Although the flat lands and the richness of Dhikala cannot be matched by this area, it never the less is a beautiful forest and surely a great place for safari.
This summer the booking of Dhikala zone was hard to come by. So we got couple of nights booked in the Halduparao FRH. This FRH was built in 1892 and is located at a beautiful setting on the banks of Sonanadi. In 3 days we saw only 4 safari vehicle and only one of them was staying for a night in the beautiful FRH. Halduparao is unexplored and deserves a trip.
The highlight of the trip was sighting of a black bear in the fag end of the day. We were returning from the dam and at one Tee section of the road, a huge black ghost like structure was standing. We shouted bear .. bear. Just like it appeared, it vanished in the darkness even before we can lift our camera. The appearance was really like a ghost in the darkness. But never the less, this was our first bear sighting in the wild.
Halduparao is a must visit destination for the bird lovers. The sheer variety and density of birds is mind boggling. The hornbill are a plenty here while green barbet, parakreet and other birds are plentiful.
A Complete Guide to Halduparao Forest Rest House and Sonanadi Zone
Sonanadi literally means the river of gold. Gold panning used to be carried out in the river before the area became a sanctuary. The Palain and the Mandal are the perennial streams of the sanctuary.
The region has FRHs in both the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and the Domunda Tourism Zone of the Corbett Tiger Reserve. Halduparao, the only FRH in the Sonanadi Sanctuary and can be accessed from the Vatanvasa gate. The FRH at Kanda is in Corbett National Park. The FRHs of Morghatti and Pakhro are on the periphery of the Sonanadi Sanctuary and can be approached from Kalagarh and Kotdwar.
Sonanadi zone falls on Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary which is a part of Corbett Tiger Reserve. This is the only zone in Jim Corbett where tourists can walk on foot but richly housed by non-venomous snakes of different kinds. Popular mammals in the region are tiger, leopards and elephants. Tourists can take wildlife safari on jeep around Sonanadi zone observing the wild beings at proximity and enjoying the enchanting beauty of greenery and nature.
How to reach?
The base of Sonanadi Sanctuary – Halduparao FRH is Kotdwar. Please do not travel to Ramnagar.
From Kotdwar, drive towards Lansdowne. At Dugadda take right turn before the bridge over River Khoh. Continue on this road till you reach the gate of the reserve after Dhoutiyal. Delhi to Vatanvasa gate takes 6 1/2 hrs if you leave early morning. The drive from Kotdwar to Vatanvasa is beautiful.
Kotdwar is ~200 kms and takes around 5 hrs from Delhi by road. If taking train, there are two options. The Garhwal Express (14044) leaving in morning and Mussoorie Express (14041) leaving in night. The night train is best option.
The FRH has to be booked online at http://corbettonline.uk.gov.in/. Plan to carry your food ration for a stay here. Ensure you have enough for the snacks and the tea breaks too. The cook at the FRH is great and the food he makes is tasty.
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A typical safari in Halduparao