We are living in Delhi since 2008 and for the last 6 years we could not make it to the Corbett. Finally during December 2013 we got booking for the Dhikala Guesthouse for 2 nights and we booked the camp online here http://corbettonline.uk.gov.in/. So finally now we are going to Corbett.
1st February 2014: We woke up early at 4 A.M. when it’s still very dark outside. It was chilly and cold winds blowing in the balcony. We were already packed up by last evening. So got freshen up and moved to the garage within half hour. We started the journey at 5 AM from home in Dwarka. After reaching NH-8 near Mahipalpur / IGI T3 we filled out car tank.
Crossing Delhi was smooth and we reached Ghaziabad within 1 hour and then zoomed across the plains at approximately 100 kph. We reached Gajrula food stop at 7:30 AM and had breakfast at Macdonald’s. There is not fog during the morning today.
Again the journey was smooth till Moradabad. We took left turn and went through the city and after almost 20 minutes realized that we have taken a wrong turn. We asked people around and the suggested a route to meet the main road to Ramnagar. After doing a bumpy ride we reached a place where we cross Ramganga River. But wait, there is not bridge but a wooden makeshift arrangement on the water and to reach that we drove over the river bed. This definitely is an adventurous start to the journey.
After doing some rounds in the back alleys of Uttar Pradesh we reached Ramnagar at 11: 30 AM. We crossed the busy market and picked up some snacks and fruits. After Ramnagar things changed and we are inside the forest and road trip was smooth and amazing. We reached Dhangari Gate At 12 Noon.
After reaching the gate we discovered that the Dhikala permit check and safari vehicle booking has to be done at Ramnagar. We do not want to go back to Ramnagar again. We asked the Officer In Charge to do the checks and we arranged a safari vehicle over phone. The Gypsy arrived in 30 minutes and after doing the required paper work we are not ready to move into the wild. WE parked our car at the gate.
Technically the safari started from the point we left Dhangari Gate. After about couple of miles inside the Park, we had our first water crossing due to a new bridge under construction. We saw few deer’s moving around the stones.
Sultan is the first Forest Rest House appeared soon. This rest house is named after the Sultan Sot, the seasonal stream running near it. This area is one of the densest Sal forests we saw in the whole Zone.
After driving through the dense forest of Sultan we reached a high point along the bank of the river Ram Ganga and we saw few Garial basing in the winter sun. WE took a detour from the main road and reached a point made for viewing the water giants from top. This point known as Garial Point is very good for spotting the Himalayan Crocodile. There is a Forest Rest House here and it’s aptly named Garial. It lies on the banks of the Ramganga near the place where it first enters the Park. Ramganga here is green in color and rushes gently moves over the white rocks in the river bed. The banks are abound with herds of deer.
We move deeper and deeper and then crossed another guesthouse Sarapduli and Khinnanauli. The latter is one of the most recently built forest rest houses of Corbett and is the priciest one in the range. Its strategic location provides an easy getaway to various parts of the Park.
Finally we reached Dhikala. The entry cannot be better. WE were moving through dense forest of Sal with sun rays hitting the ground at some sections. The rays looked surreal and overall we were enjoying the jungle ride. Suddenly the road widens and at the end of the road we can see the forest end and give way to grassland. The setting looked awesome. It felt more like driving in a natural tunnel of Sal and at the end we can spot the Forest Rest House. The setting in the midst of the grassland with few trees here and there reminds of the Kenyan Safari. The grassland looked so familiar and inviting.
Dhikala is the most famous destination in Corbett. The Forest Rest House is one the banks of the Patli Dun Dam and gives an awesome view of the valley and the Kanda Ridge on the opposite side.
The check-in moved very swiftly and we decided to have a quick Maggi and head for the safari in the zone. We climbed the gypsy again and started the evening safari at 4 PM.
We headed towards the edge of the water at the grassland and saw countless deer’s (more than hundreds). Not bad and our excitement start increasing. During this time of the year the water is high in the dam and the grasses are tall. Spotting wildlife is quite tricky. We moved towards Mota Sal, a place named after an old dead Sal tree. Here the grassland ends forest starts. We encountered innumerable bird species. After waiting patiently for the Royal Bengal Tiger for about an hour till dusk, we decided to head back to the Lodge.
The dinner starts at 7 PM and after having a sumptuous dinner we went to sleep because tomorrow we leave early at 6:45 AM for the morning Safari.
2nd February 2014: We started early today. The morning was little foggy and the cold wind was biting us like anything. But soon we acclimatized and felt warm as soon the sun was up. We headed for the Mota Sal again and waited patiently. Alas luck was not with us. We saw deer’s and deer’s and lots of birds. Not bad at all. But where is the King of the Jungle.
We returned to the lodge at 10 AM and had our breakfast. Then we headed towards a watchtower for some quite moments in the jungle. From top of the tower the views of the grasslands is simply breathtaking. Small clouds touched the curves of the Range as it moves towards the dam. We can hear call of the eagle and spotted it close it us and clicked some nice shots. During this part of the day the wildlife rests and we can see deer’s sitting and sleeping below us
At 12 Noon we headed back to the lodge. We finished our hot lunch by 1:15 PM and again we are ready to hit the safari. We started at 1:30 PM and this time we moved towards the Khinnanauli. Soon we spotted the Red Jungle Fowl crossing the road. WE clicked some pretty nice shots and went ahead. The guide spotted owls at a faraway tree and was surprised by his awesome finding. It’s really difficult to spot the bird camouflaged in the nature. We encountered wild elephants and wild boar. At 2 PM we spotted a movement almost 2 kms away from us across the river bed, which looked like a movement of tiger. But it happened and disappeared soon behind the bushes. We believe we saw a tiger.
We continued our safari and again returned to Mota Sal. There are calls of the wild which indicate the presence of the tiger in the area. We patiently waited for 3 hours and the calls became better and better. Our hope increased and silence was eerie. Even hand movements produced sound of jacket rubbing in the body seemed like noise. But alas no luck, we failed to spot the tiger. The point that the undergrowth is very dense and tall at this point of the year is also making spotting difficult. We returned to the lodge and ended the long safari day.
3rd February 2014: We started early again. Things looked different this morning. There was no fog and the views are very clear. We encountered a herd of wild elephants just behind the lodge. After capturign some neat shots we moved ahead. We explored the grasslands and encountered will boar, deers and many birds.
Today we have to checkout and return. So we decided to head back to the lodge at 9:30 for breakfast and check-out. Just near the lodge we found some monkeys shouting and running on the ground. We saw the monkeys are chasing a group of jackal. The jackal was a nice spotting for us. We did not miss the chance to capture the moments.
After breakfast we checked out of the lodge. The process was smooth and the stay inspired us for a repeat visit again to the wild. We packed our luggage in the back and again continued our safari.
With no luck, we failed to meet the King and this being a motivation for the future visit we reached Dhangari Gate at 1:30 PM. We were feeling sad that we have to leave the wild and return to the chaotic world we live in.
Soon we are moving in the road towards Delhi and the signs of civilization all around were annoying. When we saw the resorts lined up along the road, we felt more annoyed. We believe that the world inside Dhikala is vastly different from the resorts outside. With so much human habitat around, this area does not give a feel of the wild. We thank the Supreme Court for preventing and saving the core area of the tiger reserves in the country.
After driving long distances we reached home at 10:30 PM.