It was tough to get up so early in the morning especially in cold winter season. But, somehow we managed, thanks to the alarm which we had set up on our mobiles. Plus, there was more excitement about seeing the wildlife which got us going.
Our agent had told us to be there at the gate by 6am sharp so as to begin the registration process. We had a tough time battling the cold and riding our way to the destination early in the morning. By the time we parked our bikes, we were already half frozen. Just in front of the park gate, a tea seller was making a brisk business selling tea to all the people gathered around there. He was enjoying his monopoly at this time of the morning. Somehow, we too needed tea to crank up our almost dead engines. Along with tea, we had some bread buns as somehow we felt hungry even at this early hour.
After sometime, we met our agent face to face and he introduced to our driver to be. We paid the remaining amount to him and bid him goodbye for setting the things up for our safari. We then sat in the car and went inside the gate. All our I.D’s were checked then, just to be sure that we are the real ones who had registered. (The registration was done by our agent. We had sent him all the necessary documents via WhatsApp)
If you too wanna book the safari by an agent (trust me, its cheap), I am providing the number below.
Pradeep Singh Safari Corbett: 90124 22218
After the forest guard checked all our I.D’s were were let in and we were the first one to officially start the safari. It was fucking cold and we knew we had to bear with that if we wanted to see the wildlife.
Our Safari guide was sitting at the co-passenger seat while we all 4 were at the back. We all were almost standing, so that we could get a complete 360 deg view of the forest. We were only carrying our DSLR’s in a hope that if we could spot the cat then we can take some lifetime photos!
Our guide was telling the history about the forest as well as some interesting stories about his encounter with the giant cats and some other happenings he faced in the past. We struggled and tried to keep pace with his podcast while maintaining our balance on the jeep which was swaying side to side owing to the roads and also the forced icy air blast which was hitting us from all sides.
It felt as though we were completely alone in the jungle. We could hear the stillness and the silence of the forest. The mist could be seen floating at the ground level. After driving for almost half n hour we reached our main entrance to the forest. It was a large open area with fencing all around to protect the few houses present there. Our driver went inside in one the buildings to take the permit while we waited and took time to catch our breadth and freshen ourselves. I had to pee and had held for quite a long time and finally was relieved after I came outside the washroom. This was the last washroom in the entire forest area and our guide and driver has strictly told us that they will not allow to get down out of the car for any damn reasons the moment they enter the forest area. It was strictly prohibited by the forest officials. At any cost, we were not supposed to get down of our car no matter what happened.
Our driver returned with the pass and then we entered the forest from a large gate. The time was around 7:15am. We continued along a narrow path which seemed like what was a single road. The guide told us that there were high speed motion cameras installed at the trunk of some selected trees which captured any movement which happened in front of them. They would record a photo and send it back to the the forest office. This was done to track the count of the wildlife in the forest and for gathering some other useful data.
At some stretches, our guide stopped the car to show some foot marks of the cat which seemed like fresh. He literally knew in which direction we should go in order to supposedly spot the cat. The sun was rising smoothly and we could see little by little from the gaps in the trees.
Just as we were moving ahead on our path, we heard some strange noise. It was of a small deer making a typical sound repeatedly. It looked like it had been hunted by someone. We all stopped at our places switching the jeep engines off. We all maintained pin drop silence. We surely knew that this act of attacking the deer might be of a Tiger. The sound was intense, indicating that we were not far away from the scene. We were at such an angle that we could not see the scene directly due to heavy vegetation but, we could make out from where the noise was coming. We all stood still for quite some time, but in that time, neither we could see the Tiger nor the Deer. We suspected that the noise of our jeep might have startled the Tiger and he might have fled the scene leaving the Deer to die slowly there.
After some time, we gave up and moved ahead on our route hoping to find another one. We drove for around 45 mins or so but were unable to find the cat. Meanwhile, on the way, we could spot Sambar, Fox, numerous birds and deer but, were not lucky with the Tigers. We went till we hit the dead end but nothing could be seen. Then, we turned back and followed the same route till we reached the base camp.
We were really disheartened as we could not spot the tiger, for which we had come this far. We, even had chosen the morning time slot specifically so that we could be able to spot them easily, as probability of sighting them early morning is high. But, anyways, there was nothing in our hands which we could do. But, we made it a point that we enjoyed the scenery and the nature around. The fresh morning experienced at the Corbett park was enough for us and was really an lifetime experience.
At around 9am we came back to the open ground from where we had entered into the main forest area. Here again, we halted for break before proceeding ahead towards the entry gate situated at the main road.
The time was around 9:15 am when we bid adieu to our driver and parted our ways. We thanked him and the guide for trying their best to locate the Cat.
Immediately, we entered into a hotel where we had parked our bikes initially. We were literally dying with hunger after suffering with the harsh cold morning. We ordered hot ‘Aloo Paranthas’ along with omelette and finished it off with a hot cup of tea!
The time was around 10am and we now decided to move towards our hotel. We had to pack our belongings as we were going to check out from the hotel and move on towards our next destination. The number of people were going to reduce from 4 to 3 now. Bimal ji would be ending his trip and starting his return journey. He was heading towards Haridwar where he would be dropping off his rented bike and catching a train back to Ahmedabad.
Our next destination for the remaining 3 of us was Naukuchiatal, where we had done our bookings already. It was a Club Mahindra resort which was booked by Ganesh using Mahindra Employee portal.
By the time we checked out from the hotel, the time was around 11:30 am. We bid goodbye and wished bimal ji for his safe return home. We moved on then. We were going to take the Kaladhungi road towards Haldwani and then towards Naukuchuital. Earlier, we were planning to go via Nainital but then decided to skip since we had a complete day reserved for exploring the place tomorrow.
The roads were comfortable and we were driving without any hassle. However, they were narrow. At around 1 pm we reached the city of Haldwani comfortably where we had a small break before moving on.
Haldwani is situated at the base of the mountains and is usually referred to as “Gateway to Heaven”. It is completely different city as compared to it other counterparts in the state. It is full of people and liveliness. For a moment, I thought it was my home city Pune only. The traffic was much more than it should be, it seemed to me.
From here, it was all mountains. We were excited as we were again hitting the mountains. We slowly slowly started to gain altitude and the scenery just changed in front of us in a brink of a sec. The chaos was left behind and we were now into the lap of Himalayas back again.
After a good amount of twists and turns we had to divert from the road towards Nainital to road towards Bhimtal. After reaching Bhimtal, we had to scourge through narrow roads in order to get to our resort.
We reached around 3 pm and were greeted by the resort manager. He quickly showed us the room which we had booked. We removed all the luggage and transferred it to the room. It was really a luxurious suite with good view of the outside lake. The resort was just few feet away from the lake. It had wooden flooring and it looked almost like a well furnished expensive condos. It had almost everything which you can think of.
We freshened ourselves and decided to have a stroll around the resort premises. As such, there was nothing around and we even couldn’t reach to the lake from the resort back side as it was not developed. Instead, we decided to take our bikes and circumnavigate around the lake. We didn’t have any specific intention in mind, we just wanted to see and explore the things around our resort.
We went around the lake, had some food (maggie + tea) since we had not done our lunch and then decided to move on. We clicked some pictures around the lake before we decided to go high on the mountains in order to get a good view (I was thinking of taking some night shots). This part of the area being little off from the main road, we could not see much people traffic here. It did not enjoy the popularity as compared to Nainital. The lake could not be accessed by bike on all the sides and we could cover only around 60% of the circumference.
I was carrying my DSLR as well as tripod. We reached the top of the mountain (to be precise, halfway) and stopped. This mountain was adjacent to the resort. It was almost evening and the daylight was fading fast. We just decided to stand there and let the world flow by itself. Coldplay songs got us moving. Slowly and steadily it was complete dark and the stars arrived to greet us.
There was hardly any moving traffic up the mountains. So light pollution due to headlights was less. The night was perfect. The cold was not that intense and at the background we were playing coldplay music in soft. I felt like on top of the world, like the whole world just dissolved behind me. The stars were there to witness the incident. I got completely lost, staring at at the Haldwani city in the far which was shimmering in golden hues.
I made a small timelapse of the stars for around an hour before we decided to head down towards our resort. It was late and the cold started to grip us. On the way, we had dinner at one of the hotels before going down.
Back at the resort, there was nothing more we could do and just collapsed on our beds.
Tomorrow, we had planned to visit the famous Nainital lake and the things around it.