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Guided by Sunith
About this experience
The British saw the Indian jungles as a great economic resource for its timber. Logging was one of the big earners for the government. To monitor these activities they built a network of lodges spread across the Terai arc from Uttarakhand to Nepal. I have handpicked some of the least visited quaint forest lodges from amongst the former Sahib's pitstops to give you a slice from the days gone by. Even today, these rest houses are perhaps the second best way to explore the Indian jungles, second only to camping in the wild.
You will be received by me or one of my associates at Kotdwar. From Kotdwar, we'll head on a scenic drive into the Garhwal side of the Corbett National Park via the Vatanvasa gate. This range, known as Halduparao is the inundation area in the monsoons. The river Ramganga swells over into this range and submerges most of it during monsoons. By November, the water recedes back and the ground blossoms with fresh sprouts of grass which is essential for the long summer that starts in march.
This area is a haven for birders and one almost always gets to see the Great Hornbill flying like a chopper above. This is a hardcore elephant country and is a mix of both grasslands and dense sal forests. The most interesting parts of driving around in Halduparao are the ravines which the river forms every monsoon. We'll be staying at the Halduparao Forest Rest House (FRH). Garam chai in the evening surrounded by jungle calls is the highlight of this day.
We'll start the day with an early morning safari and then head towards the mountainous part of the park - Kanda. One might be familiar with the famous story of the Kanda Man-eater by Jim Corbett. We'll be reaching Kanda FRH by lunch. This place forms the highest point in the park and if you manage to climb the watchtower located at the edge of the campus, you can see the Kalagarh Dam and the reservoir over the green canopy of the forest. In the evenings, a nice hot cup of tea and some sandwiches watching the orange hue of the reservoir caused by the setting sun is an unparalleled experience.
Post lunch, we'll head out for a safari into the famous dhikala grasslands. Dhikala grasslands are a result of the Kalagarh Dam which flooded the area and killed the forest. We'll do a full day safari in Dhikala. We might spot a tiger but our focus on this trip would be to understand the diverse landscape and the fauna of the area. The Kanda side of the grassland is rarely explored by tourists and hence the animals on this side are very shy and weary of human presence. Hence attention must be paid to the jungle calls and the subtle undertones of the jungle life. We'll retire to a sumptuous dinner and an early lights out.
The Kanda FRH is where Jim Corbett addressed the people of Kanda in the kanda man-eater story. Apart from him, there have been several esteemed guests that have used this rest house. The guest log book will unravel several stories of the same. Day 3 is meant for casual hikes. Given the permission we'll hike to the neighbouring Pand village and interact with the last 3 households left here. This village has borne the brunt of a sad phenomenon in the Garhwal hills - 'Palayan'. Villagers are increasingly getting attracted to the city life and are abandoning their forest homes.
The entire Garhwal foothills are replete with abandoned villages. Pand will soon join this list and we could interact with the last few people left here and understand their perspective. We return by lunch. In the evening we head out for a safari again as the grasslands present incredible photography opportunities. Post safari, we return to the FRH and indulge ourselves in some star gazing. Kanda- owing to its height - has clear skies on most nights and is a great opportunity to stare and get lost amongst the stars.
If you are up for an early morning, we could head for the watchtower and wait in silence watching over the river bank for the animals to visit the river and study their behaviour. We could be the fly on the wall. Post a late breakfast in the watch tower, we'll begin our journey back towards Kotdwar and then onto your destination.
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About your host :
I have been an avid wildlifer 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 :
Full refund- Upto 3 weeks from date of journey
50% refund- Upto 1 week from date of journey.
No refund- If less than a week.
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