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Guided by Sunith
About this experience
In the days of the Raj, long before the era of TVs, the forest was the shikari's television. The myriad scenes, the variety of flora and the entire circle of life, was engaging enough. Very often, jungle aficionados set out in no general direction just heading where the wind blew, casually taking in the drama that unfolded in front of them. Kenneth Anderson, the famous hunter and author, had a name for this loitering - Ghooming. What better place to rediscover the lost art of ghooming than the fabled woods of Garhwal?
We'll meet at Kotdwar (Uttarakhand) in the morning. Depending on the time of day, we can have breakfast at Kotdwar and drive through a densely wooded and almost 0-traffic road to reach the northern periphery of Corbett Tiger Reserve. That’s the last road head. A 1hr hike awaits us with gentle to moderate incline and decline through the buffer zone of the reserve to reach our cabin - where we'll be staying. This cabin is located in a beautiful stretch of open in the middle of dense sal forest. The estate is surrounded by the Sal forest on three sides and a perennial Himalayan river (the mandal) on the fourth. An ideal site for ghooming. We'll reach by lunch. The lunch will be fairly simple but for a hungry soul who just conquered the sub Himalayan jungles, steaming hot rice and rotis with seasonal vegetables and eggs in the middle of the woods is a feast. After lunch we'll take a short nap after the long drive and refresh ourselves. Our activities on day 1 will be a bit relaxed. We'll explore the estate on foot and visit a spirit site that is deemed to be the protector deity of the area. The villagers strongly believe that it is this site that protects them from the predators and elephants. The estate also has a fascinating history and lots of remnants from the days of the Raj. You could go and have a dip in the river or take a book from our collection and spend some time on the comfortably setup machaan in the estate (it overlooks the mandal valley) but make sure I accompany you as this is the jungle after all. We'll end the day with a nice camp fire and a beautifully cooked wood fired meal and some fine scotch.
On a holiday like this, having an agenda beats the purpose. However, day 2 is the perfect day to get introduced to ghooming. Pack for an overnight stay in a remote hill top village in a comfortable village home. Post breakfast, we head towards Cham - a village of 40 houses. We should be able to reach there by lunch which would have already been setup in one of the village homes. This will be strictly local cuisine and we will get to taste some of the endemic specialties. Relax for a bit post lunch. Around 4 pm we head out to explore the hills around Cham and head towards Jhurungoo, another village in the vicinity which offers a vantage point to the entire Corbett national park. Return to Cham before sunset. Settle in for some nice homemade snacks and drinks followed by dinner. I have a surprise for you to end the day!
We start on our hike back to the estate. There is a beautiful spot on the way back where we'll camp briefly and cook our breakfast in the middle of the woods. Since it’s a camp breakfast, it'll be pretty basic-some tea, bread/paratha with eggs/jam. We'll take in the rising sun and when ready, start on our hike. We should comfortably reach the estate by 11:30 am. Freshen up and relax. Piping hot, wood fired lunch will be served. After the lunch, you can grab a book, or a board game and comfortably set yourself up on a machaan, on the hammock or in the cabin. If you want to explore the woods, we can start around 3 but we'll have to be back before sunset. Evenings in the jungle are all about sharing experiences and engaging conversations. Day 3 is a perfect setting for some night vision experiences. We spend a few hours in the night (if you are up for it) in silence with my night vision and thermal equipment and hope to catch some activity. Whenever you have had enough, we can retire to the cabin.
Post breakfast, we say our good byes to the estate hosts and hike back on a different route to the road head. This will be a short hike. We drive back to Kotdwar where we'll be parting ways.
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About your host :
I have been an avid wildlife enthusiast since I knew how to travel alone. Although I'm not from Garhwal, I have roamed these parts extensively over the past decade. The Himalayan foothills have always been close to heart, Mr. Jim Corbett and Ruskin Bond ensured that. Unfortunately most of the Corbett area has been slandered by mindless resort building but I have managed to keep hold of my piece of paradise. These parts that we'll explore are rarely visited by tourists and you ll most probably not see a single one during your stay. I want to take you to a place where the romanticism of the jungle remains intact and the simple pleasures are all that matter. The sheer simplicity of life in these parts are straight out of a Ruskin Bond short story. I'd like to share all of this and more with fellow travel enthusiasts. I look forward to hosting you and sharing with you Garhwal as I see it, as it was meant to be.
What to pack :
Terms and conditions :
The maximum group size for this trip is 4 and minimum group size is 1.
Payment of the full amount is required to confirm a spot on the trip. The trip cost is 50% refundable for a cancellation made before 15 days of the commencement of the trip. After which it is fully non refundable.
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