Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anamalais Tiger Reserve – Super 'Tahr-dom'


The elusive Nilgiri Marten

The sighting of a lifetime! I actually saw and managed to get a picture of a Nilgiri Marten. This small is so elusive, even people researching this animal don’t get to see them much, forget getting photos. Truly blessed to be at the right place at the right time.

The plan to visit the Anamalais started with my desperate desire to see the Nilgiri Tahr. Originally, I’d planned to head to Eravikulam (near Munnar) to see them, but Ramki suggested I head to the Anamalais, with easier sightings of the Lion Tailed Macaque (LTM), Nilgiri Langur, Great Hornbill and the Frogmouth as well. So we planned to head to Coimbatore and hit Topslip for the Hornbill and Frogmouth before heading towards the tea estates of Valparai for the others.

But the powers that be at the Tamil Nadu forest department shut down entry into all the state’s forests due to fear of forest fires. Which meant that the only open patch of forest bordered the winding, climbing highway from Pollachi (near Coimbatore) to Valparai, the tea estate town deep in the Nilgiri mountains. And believe it or not, we saw every one of these species (except the Frogmouth) from the main highway.
The Lion Tailed Macaque
Malabar Giant Squirrel
We stayed at the Waterfall tea estate, on the 29th (of a total of 40) hairpin bends on the Valparai road. Even as we were en route there, we saw our first Lion Tailed Macaque and Nilgiri Langurs. After a quick lunch, we headed back out on the road. Our plan was simple, drive up and down the road and look out for the animals in the forest alongside the road. Not that we had another option!

Our guide Ganeshan took us to Valparai town to meet Divya Mudappa, a researcher who’s been doing pioneering work in the Nilgiris for well more than a decade. She recommended that we hit the 5th through 13th bend early the next morning to catch the Tahr, there’s a herd of 11 that usually moves through that area. And with that advice, we headed back to Waterfalls, seeing more LTM and Langur (which proved annoyingly difficult to photograph) and Malabar Giant Squirrel on the way.

Nilgiri Tahr Male
Tahr calf trotting through a vertical rock face

Calves on the road
Just the way I'd always wanted to see one - on the edge of a sheer cliff
The next morning, we drove back and forth through bends 5 to 13 but no Tahr. Then we stopped for a break and joined other tourists at a lookout point to admire the Aaliyar dam and lake below. And there, a few metres from the lookout point sat 3 Nilgiri Tahr. The sighting was so sudden and so close, I really couldn’t react at all! They were then joined by the rest of the herd as all of them made their way down the steep, rocky slopes with astonishing ease. Not once did they lay a false step or slip on the near vertical rock-face, even the calves. An amazing hour we spent with these incredibly beautiful and rare goats.

Marten in action
And on the way back, the highlight of the trip and maybe of the whole three months. I saw a movement in the trees and first thought it was a giant squirrel. But the yellow patch on the neck meant it was a marten and I quickly motioned the driver to stop as we quietly lined up our cameras and got a couple of quick pictures, as he jumped from one tree to another, posed for a second and vanished into the undergrowth. It was only as we drove on did the magnitude of this sighting really sink in!

That afternoon we drive beyond Valparai passing through some interestingly named villages like Rottikadai (literally meaning Roti-shop). Near Puduthottam village, Ganeshan stopped at a patch of forest and whispered ‘LTM’. And there they were, more than a hundred of them, adults and youngsters and a mum with her little one.



After a great half hour or so, we headed further towards the beautiful Nirar Weir and the ever-green forests beyond. As rain clouds gathered, we spent the whole evening enjoying the view, the breeze and the rain.

Tahr nursing on the highway
The next morning, we headed out for Tahr again and followed them down again, we took the winding route and they got the shortcut! At one point, the whole herd was on the road and one mother actually nursed her calf right there. In the middle of a highway!


Tea Estate views
That afternoon, we spent watching birds around the tea estates. At the Anamalai Estate, one of the largest, we went all the way to the edge to get unbelievable views of the forests below, said to be so thick that light doesn’t reach the forest floor at places. I also got a glimpse of the enormous Great Hornbill, though from really far away.
Virgin Forest
Bonnet Macaque
Bee-eater struggling with prey
On the way back, we got saw a green bee-eater trying to swallow an insect that was too big for its mouth. After a few minutes struggle in the open, he flew away, as if embarrassed to display his ‘incompetence’ so publicly. We also saw a red-whiskered bulbul with his snack, oblivious to our presence.

Our last day and the only thing really left was a picture of the Nilgiri Langur. There are hundreds around but extremely skittish and would duck their heads or disappear every time I raised my camera. Frustrating for a photographer, but great survival instincts for the langur; after all that lens could well be a gun barrel.

Patience my friend, the langur seems to be saying
It was finally on our way back to Pollachi that we finally managed to spot one guy in the open, and willing to pose. He sat and stared at us till we clicked to our hearts’ content, then limbered off to the higher branches. And as a good-bye present, a couple of Nilgiri Tahr, right next to the hairpin bend marker (No. 12), as if to provide us with a reminder.


We’d only seen a fraction of the Anamalais and we’d seen everything we’d set out to see – Tahr, LTM, Langur, Hornbill. The next time, I’d love to go into Topslip and walk around to explore this amazing forest some more. After all, if we have luck even a fraction of this time, who knows what amazing sightings are in store?

What's in this picture?

Anamalais (Valparai) Trip Guide

Getting there
Pollachi is the nearest town for both Valparai (65kms) and Topslip (35 kms). Coimbatire (40 kms from Pollachi) is the nearest rail and air head with excellent connections across the country.


Road Travel
Best to hire your car and driver at Coimbatore. You’ll be better served by a driver who knows the area and understands wildlife, especially if you’re into photography.

We had a Tavera organized through A1 Travels in Coimbatore (owner Mr. Karuppaswamy - +91 98942 33555) with Ramakrishnan (+91 90920 28484) as our driver. I would rate him very high – reliable and enthusiastic, good steady driver, excellent in the hills, and does a fair amount of wildlife spotting himself.

Stay, food and service
There are several options available on the Valparai road, almost all in the tea estate bungalows. We stayed at the lovely Waterfall tea estate (on Hairpin Bend 29), in their ‘Tennis’ bungalow. It’s a lovely 3-bedroom cottage, very well maintained and we were looked after really well and had excellent home-cooked food by the caretaker Mr. Veeran.
To book, you can call the owner, Ms. Rasha Karumbaiah on +91 94433 37022

Safaris and Guides
There are no real safaris, at least not on the Valparai stretch. So all you have to do is to get your car and drive, back and forth on that stretch of road. If the forests are open, you should be able to drive or walk in them. Best to check with the TN Forest Department before getting there, so you can plan your trip.

As guides go, we had probably the best. Ganeshan, a 20+ year veteran of the area (he lives in Erumaiparai – near Topslip) is amazing. He knows the area, the animals and his spotting is near miraculous. He's assisted several research projects over the years, so the experts turn to him as well. You can reach him on + 91 94881 74221.

Other tips
Coimbatore - Annapoorna’s is a must for their amazing breakfast. There are many around, so make sure you ask your driver to take you to the big one.
If you need to freshen up, there are many good hotels around the station who let out their rooms for a short while for a quick wash before you hit the road.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bhadra Tiger Reserve – The Terning Point

River Terns going fishing

The River Tern Lodge - for once a resort truly lived up to its name. This excellent property, run by Jungle Lodges gave us amazing sightings of the beautiful River Tern. We saw them (and the Lesser Pratincole) in their hundreds, flying, fishing and feeding for more than two hours on little islands in the middle of the reservoir. It was so engrossing that we forgot there were other things to see on that boat safari.



River Terns
It was my first trip to Bhadra (set in the Western Ghats, north-west of Bangalore) with my friends Ramki and Swarna and their three super-cool nephews, Tarun, Arya and Aniruddh. Needless to say, the 5 hour drives in and out as well as the three days were completely action packed and a whole load of fun.


Bhadra is a Tiger Reserve set in the Western Ghats north-west of Bangalore and while people do see tigers reasonably often (and even the occasional black panther) it is not Ranthambhore, Bandhavgarh or Tadoba.  So please do not go looking only for tigers, not only are you likely to not see one, you will miss so many other amazing things; like the river terns, pratincoles, ospreys, indian rollers, hornbills or even the Malabar trogon if you’re lucky.

The resort itself can stake a claim to be an attraction in itself; it is set across two small hills with a bridge between them. So, to have a meal we had to climb down our little hill, walk across the bridge and climb up on the other hill – the ‘golghar’ or dining area was right at the top. Three meals a day times two trips up and down certainly helped digest some of that excellent food!

Backwaters of the Bhadra Reservoir
The first afternoon we spent on the jeep safari. The drive yielded a lovely tusker and stunning views of the Bhadra reservoir, and we spent a pleasant half hour on its banks watching storks, darters and a pair of Eurasian thicknees.

Osprey taking off
The next morning was the boat safari. The guide took us straight to a little island where we saw the terns. There were so many around, each doing something different that it took me a while to get my camera to focus on one individual. After our hearts’ fill with terns, we moved to another island which was filled with the little Pratincoles, their brown-grey colour providing amazing camouflage amidst the rocks. And as we reluctantly moved away, we saw an osprey sitting on a tree stump in the water. He then proceeded to spread his wings and fly, giving us a super action sequence.


Lesser Pratincole
That afternoon, we had a mini-thunderstorm, accompanied by lots of lightning. We sat in our balcony, watching nature’s drama and taking in the lovely breeze. The rain let up in time for us to go for a safari and it was fresh and cool in the jungle and we encountered a few elephants and gaur, who seemed to be enjoying the weather as well. Add a couple of Malabar Pied Hornbills and a glimpse of the Malabar Trogon and it made for a lovely afternoon.

Skies gearing up for the thunderstorm
A glimpse of another magnificent tusker the next morning brought a superb trip to an end. For me, it was another reminder that while the big boys of the jungle can provide the dramatic spectacle, the little stars are no less endearing! A lesson I was to learn and enjoy several times over in the forests of South India.

Eurasian Thicknee 
Bhadra Trip Guide

Getting there

Bhadra Tiger Reserve is around 300 km North West of Bangalore on the Shimoga/Chikmaglur route. If your driving, your route is Bangalore-Tumkur-Gubbi-Tiptur-Arsikere-Kadur-Birur-Tarikere. You take a turn towards Lakkavalli at Tarikere and the whole journey should take you around 6 hours.

You can also take a train from Bangalore to either Kadur or Tarikere and the hotel can arrange for a pick-up from the station.

Stay

Cottages at the River Tern Lodge

Ramki on the 'Bridge'
At Lakkavalli, Jungle Lodges (www.junglelodges.com) has the excellent River Tern Lodge. Comfortable rooms and great food, as expected from a JLR property. Best to book in advance, since JLR does not accept walk-ins and they’re usually booked out especially in season and on weekends.

If you’re averse to walking or climbing (especially after a meal) ask for rooms in the older section, near the ‘Golghar’ rather than the newer rooms on the hill opposite.

Food and Service
Excellent as always, with the high standards of JLR impeccably maintained. The sambar and rasam are especially recommended, as are the dosas and chow-chow bhath for breakfast.

Safaris
JLR packages have safaris built in, so you don’t have to book anything else. Plan on at least 1 boat safari, preferably in the mornings to enjoy the park from another perspective.

Other tips
On your way, there are several places for a break and some food. Kamath Upachars are very good for breakfast or snacks and there is also the Café Coffee Day near Tumkur if you prefer something non-South Indian.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dachigam – Bonus in Paradise

Kashmir blows you away. And then some. No matter how high your expectations, you still come back awestruck at the sheer beauty of the place and the sheer absurdity of the situation there. The latter is for the political commentators, so I will replace rhetoric with a picture of the stunning Dal lake, taken by my wife Surbhi.


And while the whole trip was a magical, eye-popping visual feast, the jewel in the crown for me was the trip to Dachigam National Park. It’s one of India’s less visited and certainly least touristy wildlife destinations. But at a mere 20 odd kms from Srinagar, it’s a must-see for any serious wildlifer. The main attraction – critically endangered Hangul (Kashmir Stag) found only here.

So, on one of our mornings in Srinagar, I set out early to Dachigam. Our hotel owner had arranged for a car and driver and he in turn had asked for ‘the best’ guide there, at least that’s what he said.But the man who met me at the entry gate was no mere guide. He was Mr. Malik, the head naturalist at Dachigam and a veteran of the park. He’d been persuaded by our driver, Javedbhai to take me for a walk into Dachigam, busy as he was with a bunch of serious trekkers.

Himalayan Bulbul at the Park entrance
In a 140 sq. km park, with 400 or so Hangul, it wouldn’t be too unreasonable to expect to see some, right? Wrong. When Javed told me he’d seen hangul 3 times in 9 years of visiting Dachigam, my hopes vanished. Then Mr. Malik looked at me with a kind (if slightly pitying) smile, and said ‘It’s only140 sq kms but the altitude goes from 5500-14000 feet! And we need to walk and you have only a couple of hours Anyways, let’s give it a shot.”
Dachigam is all about views like this
We walked on the tar road for a few kilometres, with beautiful forest all around us, with our constant companion being a gushing river, in renewed spirit and vigour thanks to the melting snows. It was absolutely stunning, with the river, the woods and all the sounds of the birds all around us, most of them endemic to this part of the world. I stopped him at many places, sometimes to watch little icicles melt, at others to admire the view and at some other places to just stand and listen to the sound of the river. At one spot he hurried me along saying “We must be careful, I got charged by a Black bear here just yesterday.” And to my disappointment we didn’t!

When winter turns to spring
The tar road soon ended at an army camp and from there, we were on narrow jungle paths, winding and climbing and at places, just as wide as a shoe and a half! The river, now a few hundred feet below, was a constant companion. At one bend, overlooking the river was a beautiful canopy, built as a lookout point for visitors. Mr. Malik told me that this spot was a favourite of Mrs. Indira Gandhi when she would visit Dachigam.

And we walked on, stopping to admire the view at times till we got to an open, grassy hillside. Mr. Malik stopped and said that there might be a chance of seeing hangul here.

And lo! Within a minute he whispered “Hangul” and there they were – two of them, in the distance, coming down the hill in a serious gallop. Two sub adult males he said – their trademark horns hadn’t yet grown to full size. We watched them, beautiful in their long striding gallop till they rounded the hill and vanished. And I found that I was trembling with excitement. It was an incredibly rare sighting and I felt truly blessed to have spent those two minutes watching these amazing deer.




Hangul - not great pics, more like record shots of my amazing (long distance) sighting

And, to my surprise, so was Mr. Malik! He was overcome with emotion! That’s when I realized how amazing this sighting was. To add to that he kept telling me (not that I needed reminding) how lucky I was! We both sat down at the edge of a cliff, next to some beautiful wild lilies, and reflected on an incredible morning.

As we descended, I did get to see my Himalayan Black bears as well, a mother and cub pair. That they were at a rescue centre (about to be released back into the wild) didn’t matter one bit as I watched this beautiful, cuddly (yet seriously fierce) creature from up close. There were also a couple of leopards in the rescue centre, for good measure.

Himalayan Black Bear
As Javed drove me back to Srinagar, that picture of the galloping hanguls kept playing in my head. I kept shaking my head in disbelief and arrived back at the hotel with a silly grin on my face, which lasted through the day. It was almost like Kashmir was giving me everything I could ask for and more. Next time, Kashmir, I’m going to ask for a whole hangul herd (with calves), brown bear, red fox and snow leopard. Not too much, is it???

Dachigam Trip Guide

Getting there
It’s barely 20 kms from Srinagar, the nearest airport. Best to stay in Srinagar and hire a car and drive upto the main gates. Post that it’s pretty much all walking.

Stay
At Srinagar, there are fantastic options, to suit pretty much any budget. We sampled two places on our trip and both were amazing. The hotel Dar-es-Salaam (www.hoteldaressalaam.com - Phone +91-194-2427803)  is a house converted into a hotel and it is awesome. It is set on the banks of the Nagin lake and the lawn slopes into the lake with no walls or fences. The staff is excellent and the food is sensational, be it Kashmiri cuisine or any other. Even simple food like their dal is so amazingly flavoured.

View from the Dar es Salaam Hotel lawns
We also spent a night at the LaLit (www.thelalit.com) It is a palace converted into a hotel, overlooking the Dal Lake. A massive property, it has lovely rooms and great food, plus all the mod cons (gym, indoor pool, spa etc) of a 5-star. But the most remarkable feature is the open space around – massive, beautifully manicured lawns that seem to go on for ever. Definitely worth a night’s stay. Also check the Taj Vivanta (www.tajhotels.com) for another luxury option.

Food
The food at both Dar-es-salaam and The Lalit were excellent, but the place for local Wazwan cuisine has to be Ahdoos (www.ahdooshotel.com Phone 91-194-2472593) in Srinagar town. More than 90 years old, it was the first restaurant in the Kashmir Valley. Outstanding food. Period.

You can also check out Krishna Vaishno dhaba for a vegetarian break from all the meaty wazwan food. Excellent veggie food, superb kheer and very reasonable. Budget for crowds at lunch time and not much parking space around.

The dapper Nazir Malik 
Safaris in Dachigam
There are no ‘jeep’ safaris so walking is the only real option. And there are many different walking choices – short walks (like the one I did) or proper multi-day treks. Mr. Nazir Malik (+91 9419732201 malik.nazir@gmail.com) is the head naturalist and is superb, not just with the sightings but is a terrific person as well.

Travel
We had an awesome driver take us around Kashmir. So, to take you to dachigam I would recommend Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed ( +91 9906723598) Not only is he a very good driver, he’s a wonderful person as well. Always careful with the 2 kids in the car and he called to check on us after we reached Delhi.
I’d taken Javed Ahmed Khan (+91 9906591912) since Mukhtar was busy with the family, and he’s very good as well, and is far more into Dachigam.

Other tips
For sighting Hangul, Sept/Oct is a good time when they’re in their rutting season and easier to spot, as are Black bears around that time.
Leopard and Red Fox are easier (relatively) to track in the snow covered ground in winter
It was freezing when I went in April, so some basic warm clothing might be a good idea even in summer

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Corbett - A familiar stranger


The Dhikala grasslands with the Ramganga in the background

‘Meeting an old friend for the very first time’ – that’s what Corbett felt like - never seen before but read and ‘experienced’ many times over through the stories of the legendary Jim Corbett – so names like Mohan and Kaladhungi rolled off the tongue with surprising familiarity.  And it’s hard to describe the sense of anticipation and excitement as we got there. After all, we were in Corbett’s world. Finally!

All brought crashing down to earth on our first safari. Someone had messed up with the entry permits. The hotel guys tried to cover up and send us to another ‘route - Sitavadi’ – it was  really a temple that was the attraction here a beautiful, ancient Sita temple, but with the cacophony of the 'pilgrims'  we didn't even see spotted deer! Not the Corbett we were promised.  And the mess continued that afternoon as we waited two hours at the Forest Office for our permits to stay at the Forest Camp in Dhikala. And so, by the time we got to Dhikala, it was almost time over for the evening safari.

But our supremely enthu driver/guide Wasim took us for a ride around the grasslands, probably the best place to see tigers in Corbett. Almost immediately, we saw gypsies bunched together and looking for something in the tall grass. Our tiger antennae were up at once! But the tiger wasn’t in a hurry to come out and most of the gypsies gave up and went back. But we waited.

Tigress at Dhikala
And suddenly, a few minutes later, a tigress walked out of the grass and crossed the road right in front of us. She was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous! She then went back in and started  calling her cub. And a few hundred feet in front of us, we saw her almost fully-grown male cub cross over into the grass as well. Mother and cub re-united, and a happy reunion it seemed to be from the sounds. We couldn’t see them anymore but were thrilled to finally break our tiger duck.

Input and output at the same time!
The next morning we headed back to the grasslands, and saw a huge elephant just by the roadside. And then again, there was a lot of excitement as a tiger was moving in the thick grass next to the road. And at one spot, he crossed. And what a crossing it was! He came up to the road, completely invisible and in one split second, he leapt across and vanished into the dense undergrowth. In that instant, you could see his grace, power, beauty and feel the magnetic pull of this amazing animal. That leap was so mesmerizing, I can vizualise it every single day. Of all my tiger sightings, I count this fleeting vision amongst my finest. And no, I don’t have any pictures; I didn’t even have the time to lift my camera.

Then we waited for him to emerge.  Wasim estimated where he would come back on to the road and we waited there, near a legendary sal tree called Moti Sal. We sat there for maybe a couple of hours, with no sign of him, amusing ourselves with the antics of a rhesus macaque family nearby. One of them leapt into a neighbouring jeep and grabbed a bag and would have made off with it, but for an attentive driver who made him drop the bag!


Then we heard an alarm call from the undergrowth. And in an instant, the monkeys’ playfulness vanished and they all got on to trees and started looking out. And when they started calling as well, we knew the tiger was close by. And as if on cue, the tiger walked out on to the road, in front of us, crossed leisurely without even giving us a look and headed towards a large herd of chital. But he seemed in no mood to hunt, as he brazenly walked in the grass, unmindful of the hundreds of alarm calls from petrified chital all around him. And just like that, he vanished.

Elephant family with the tusker horsing around 
The little fella, with the dad keeping a close watch


Curious little calf wants to check us out

The mum quickly comes between us and the calf warning us to stay away
Then we spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon with a large herd of elephants. There must have been around 40-50 of them, in all shapes and sizes; large tuskers, sub-adults, mums with little babies. All feeding in quiet solitude, except for the sub-adults who kept jousting with one another. Until one of them tried to mess with a tusker, and was quickly put in his place by the big boy.

We could scarcely believe our luck at Dhikala – 2 tigers and huge elephant herds. And with that, we headed out to try our luck at Jhirna and Bijrani, two other ranges of Corbett.  On the way out, we drive alongside the beautiful Ramganga river and also crossed the rocky beds of several ‘monsoon rivers’ – meaning they’re not perennial but only fill up during the rains.
 Grey Bushchat
Khaleej Pheasant
Jhirna was beautiful as we got there early in the morning, with a herd of elephants on the roadside even before we entered the gate. Ignoring us completely, they went about their feeding, meticulously peeling off bark from trees before completely knocking them over. Inside the park, we saw some beautiful khaleej pheasants and heard the whistling call of the beautiful Indian Pitta. And stopped over at the lovely Jihrna forest guest house for chai and brekkies.

Chestnut headed bee-eater
Our last safari was in the Bijrani range. And as soon as we got to the Forest Complex there, we were told that there was a mating pair of tigers nearby and also one more family in the area. We searched and waited, but no tigers. To make up for that we saw a big bunch of beautiful chestnut headed bee-eaters, right on the road. We spent a happy afternoon with these little stunners and left for the hotel very content indeed.

Overall, It was a very special trip, and the most satisfying part was to actually be able to see a tiger at the home of the legendary Jim Corbett. It almost felt like we were being blessed by him and in some small, insignificant way, being allowed to share his world.

Getting there
Corbett is accessed via Ramnagar (10 kms away), the nearest town and rail-head and also where most of the private hotels are based. There are great train connections both ways to Delhi, with a really good overnight train (the Corbett Park Link)

The drive from Delhi is a manageable 250 kms approx., around 5-6 hours with stops for food and stuff.

Stay
You’ll need a base in Ramnagar, outside the park and it is possible to do safaris into Jhirna and Bjrani, but you just have to stay in the Forest Guest Houses inside the forest to really experience Corbett.

Rooms at the Dhikala Camp
Dhikala is the biggest, most famous and also the most ‘touristy’ of them all. It’s fenced-off complex adjoining the Ramganga, with comfortable rooms and two canteens. There are many others, Bijrani and Jhirna included, most without 24/7 electricity and other such conveniences. But the best experiences (and sightings) staying at these for a few days is a must. On the next Corbett visit, my plan is to spend a week at least across a few of these Rest Houses.

Hotels at Ramnagar and around Corbett are a dime a dozen with something for every type of traveller. If you have the time, spend a few days at the highly recommended Camp Forktail Creek (www.campforktailcreek.com) They also have packages which build in stays at the Forest Rest Houses.



We had our stay arranged at a place called Manu Maharani (yes, that’s what it’s called) The name didn’t inspire much confidence, but it was booked by a very old friend, so we arrived, albeit a little hesitantly. It turned out to be a really nice, large property with very comfortable cottages, big lawns, a pool and very good food. Especially good for families with kids, who’re looking for a ‘resort’ (www.manumaharani.travel). What’s in a name after all?

Food and Service
Manu Maharani is a proper resort with all the trimmings, has a very good food and very helpful staff. There are lots of other things to do, especially for kids. The pool and play area should keep them occupied between safaris or when you’re taking a break from the forest.

Safaris
Your hotel should be able to book your safaris and stay in Dhikala, but you can do it yourself at www.corbettsafari.com. Or you can get it done through Mr. Piyush Joshi (+919456322356) like we did. It’s advisable to book in advance, since Corbett is always flooded with tourists and you don’t want to end up with last minute issues with your permits.

There are no guides really required in Corbett, so your driver makes a massive difference. We had an expert in Wasim, who had worked on research projects in Corbett for the Wildlife Institute of India. You can reach him on +91 9837575506.

Other tips
Budget for a trip to the Corbett museum at Haldwani, especially if you’re a fan of his writings.
If you are staying at Dhikala or any of the other Rest Houses, pack a smaller bag and leave your baggage at your Ramnagar Hotel, since your transport vehicle is also your safari vehicle.