Corbett Trip Report - May 2011 [dial-up warning]

#1 Oct 8th, 2011, 18:23
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#1
Warning: There are a lot of pictures, and may not be great for you if you are on a slow connection or dial-up.
______________________________ ______________________________ ___

A summer to remember..

I was sitting in office and going through the pictures of my last trip to LRK/GRK and sighing, when it happened. A question came up, "Who is going to visit Delhi this month?". As this period is not the most pleasant time to visit Delhi, obviously no one was really willing to volunteer. I innocently volunteered.

You know, I was going to brave the heat wave and horrible traffic and what not of Delhi for the team. Only condition being I would get leave for a week. I was granted that wish. Yippie...

And so it begins..
A plan started forming in my mind. I could squeeze it in a way that I get about 8 days at my disposal. Now that is a decent break, and Corbett was conveniently close to Delhi (what a shocker). Moreover a small group of wildlife lovers was planning to visit Corbett at about the same time so it all added
up nicely for me. What incredible luck!!! I decided to land a day earlier and take it easy this time. As my flight was to land in Delhi in the mid-day, I decided to spend the night in Delhi and leave for Ramnagar in the morning. I got a great deal on Claridges Surajkund and got me a cozy room with all creature
comforts one can ask for. Also the toiletries provided by them is far too good to miss




I decided to skip the night train to Ramnagar and take the more scenic and adventurous route to Ramnagar, by Road. After traveling on this road (Delhi-Ghaziabad-Moradabad-Kashipur-Ramnagar), I have made a mental note to self, in bold, highlighted font : "Never travel on this road in the night".

Dangerous drivers aside, the road is more enjoyable if one start early morning from Delhi. While passing Ganges and less urban settings, one will also enjoy mild traffic and will be able to pass through some lovely woods. Driving time between Delhi and Ramnagar was about 5 hours. I got some fantastic views of Sarus Crane while on the way.

After taking a quick nap and lunch at Wild crest resort, I went for my first drive. Pratap was to be my guide/driver. He and Padam were our guides/drivers for the whole trip. We had decided to drive around the park in the vicinity of Mohan and Kumeria. Pratap really amazed me with his birding abilities while he was driving on that mountain road. Really fun when you are negotiating a sharp hilly turn, a Pitta starts calling and a truck is slowly making its way towards you and the driver is trying to locate the Pitta. Thankfully Pratap and Padam both are excellent at what they do so I knew I was in safe hands. We ended up seeing brown dipper, barking deer, a tusker, bar winged shrike, chestnut headed bee-eaters, golden fronted leafbird etc. Above all it was the promise of what the park has to offer in terms of bird life that made my day.







Next morning I met up with rest of the group as they arrived after a horrible train journey. Aparently it was the wedding season and the train was over crowded. Still what a lively group there was. Even after braving the train journey their faces lit up at the Bijrani gate. Soon both the gypsies were off to the jungle through Bijrani gate. It was then that I realized, I will have to come back here. The tall sal trees, fragrance, vast expanses, streams and the promises held in those mountain roads all made me wonder if I can extend my holidays a little bit more (and this was begining of my holidays).

Bijrani range gave us a very tempting taste of Corbett. One of the highlights we had on the first day was White Rumped Shama. We got one sitting in the canopy close to us and make its melodeous call. There were many tense moments where we heard alarm calls indicating the presence/movement of a predator but
unfortunately we did not see one. In the evening we all ended up going to Kumeria and outskirts of Mohan. We got nuthatches, green magpie and redbilled blue magpie as well as some glances at brown dipper.










We decided to start for Dhikala early the next morning and reached the Dhangarhi gate at about 6:00 am. After finishing the formalities at the gate including buying some souveniors from the shop there, we started our journey to Dhikala. About 1km inside the gate, we slowed down to see some elephants cross the dried stream in the gorge below. A few minutes passed by and out walks a young male tiger and crosses the stream. We were all dumbfounded. As there was a young calf in the group, it looked like the tiger was ambitious and was planning for a heavy meal. We waited for a while and then saw this guy again in deep grass cover.








The road to Dhikala was a pleasure. Deep hilly forest terrain with a river bank and some streams. As we reached the camp, we realized that we will not be roughing it. The rooms were quite comfortable and the canteen had some serious calories on menu. The camp is on the river bank so it is generally scenic, however due to last years rains and flooding, the chaurs (grass fields) around Dhikala are covered under the sand/debris. What used to be an excellent elephant habitat is now a river full of sand. So we did not see hundreds of elephants congregating in chaurs, but we saw plenty of these gentle giants. We got the way blocked by tuskers, we got bullied by them, we got charged by two elephants while our retreat path was blocked by another vehicle. Elephants kept us entertained all the time.










One afternoon we came across a calf on the river bank. It's mother/Aunty left it once they noticed our gypsy. The calf did not go with them which was strange. Generally the herd is very protective of each other and they do not abandon each other. On further investigation we realized that the calf was seriously injured in its forelegs and probablly can not move anymore. On our return to Dhikala, Pratap & Padam informed the park authorities. A team was sent to check up on the calf. It was in need of medical attention, hence it was bought to Khinnanauli and was transferred to nearest vet the next day.








During one of the evenings, the other group went around and saw a tiger on Kamarpatta road. As they stopped after spotting it, the tiger charged. It is rumored that the tiger got scared when some of the group members became vocal (read screamed in terror as any sane human will when a tiger charges). Rama got a nice parting shot of the Tiger. When our jeep visited that road the other day, there was a blood curling scream and we realized that we just witnessed the end of a tusker fight. The winning bull was in musth and blocked our way for a while to let us know who is the boss.





During one of the evening Safari, we came across another Tiger on Sambhar Road. It was a male from a mating pair and was resting under the bushes (as told by the guides). We heard that he is known as Bhola around these parts. We did many rounds of Sambhar road during our stay, however my favorite road somehow was Kamarpatta. Nights in Dhikala were comfortable as it was plenty cool if left the windows open for cross ventilation. Mosquito were a bother but Odomos cream

worked for the first time.





Last two night of our stay were at Gairal FRH. The thing about Gairal was that there was a promise of isolation from the world. That was not to be. The dorms at Gairal at the time of our stay were taken up by two different groups whose sole purpose there was to drink themselves to death. oh and this was not drinking behind closed doors, but out there in full public view. The ranger there was another dodgy fellow who extorted 500/- bribe from one of our group members when a storm in the night broke the mirror in their room. Apart from the above mentioned drawbacks, it was a lovely location. A nightjar landed meters away from us. I slept there listening to alarm calls of predator movement. I would love to go back there again, but will think twice before recommending it to any family.







We spent 2 afternoons sitting in Machans. It was quite an experience. It can get a little warm in the noon, but nothing compared to the peace one can enjoy there (in my case a nap). I would highly recommend sitting in Machan to anyone visiting Corbett (if you can be quite for a few hours). On our last day we came across a fun incident. A male elephant took fancy to captive female elephants (used for elephant safari). It was funny to see the tourists laden elephant running away and the male in pursuit. True love does not know boundaries I suppose.








Highlight of the trip was the surprisingly rich bird life of Corbett. I am by no means a birder, but even I ended up learning a thing or two about birds. Thanks to the excellent support and understanding shown by the group, specially Sachin. I think I will be back there very soon, as I was told that winter birding in Corbett is a treat. For me following are the lessons learned from this trip









Things to take:
1. Headlamp with LED lights
2. Lightweight trekking clothing. This will reduce the weight of your overall luggage.
3. Biscuits/Khakhra/Thepla/Munchies of your choice. Thanks to Rama and Ashutosh, we had enough munchies going around.
4. Odomos.
5. Something to read. You might want to enjoy your afternoons if you are the types who can not sleep in the noon.
6. Binoculors. 8x42 would be good form what I saw.

Places to see:
1. Its all about the park. Do spend as much time as possible in the park.
2. Grija temple
3. Stream beds around Mohan have excellent birding potential.
4. Don't get caught up in the excitement of Sambhar Road. There are extremely interesting places to see in the park.
5. Outskirts of Corbett have really good habitat and winter birding there will be fun

Not to miss:
1. Pandit Dhaba. Their parathas and maggie offerings are the life force that one will appreciate after coming from a safari.
2. If there in mango season, guess what.. gorge on Mangos.

Wildlife Sightings:
1. Tiger sightings in Corbett is not going to be as easy or frequent as Bandavgarh/Ranthambhore etc. Due to heavy forest cover, the cat sightings that I had or heard of were quite far off. There are lucky ones who had tigers walking on the open road, but those chances are not that common. One jeep in our group came upon a tiger not a few feet far but the sighting lasted only for seconds.
2. Now that we have settled the tiger sightings, all other sightings are great. The amazing birdlife of Corbett is something one has to see.
3. I found the elephants were in general more aggresive than in down south, but that can be just me.
4. While we were there some forest dept. guys saw a leopard cat with kitten. So after all is said and done, Corbett can still throw a surprise at you.

Getting there:
1. Get to Delhi in the evening. Take an overnight train to Ramnagar. You will reach Ramnagar early in the morning, just in time for your safari in Bijrani.
2. Alternatively and my prefrence is to overnight in Delhi and start for Ramnagar early in the morning by road. 4 hours of driving through country side is fun as well as you can rest assured that no one is stealing you camera gear while you are sleeping. It may not be logical for most, but I like this option.

Also that restaurant at Claridges Surajkund called "Dhaba" has a truck in the restaurant and the food was lovely.

For Stay:
1. For my first night in Ramnagar, I stayed at wildcrest. It was a decent accommodation, however I found it to be slightly overpriced for what it was. May be I am spoilt by other lodges like Jungle Lodges in Kabini and Ranthambhore Bagh in Ranthambhore.
2. I also saw a hotel called The Den around Mohan that looked promising, but then it's just an impression that I got from exterior. They had tree houses man!!!

For Safari:
We were with Tigermoon safaris in Ramnagar. They arranged for all logistics and their execution was flawless. I could not have been happier with their services. The whole trip was arranged by Toehold (toehold.in), who are now my favorite travel management company.

______________________________ ______________________________ _____

If you had the patience to read till now, I would really love to hear from you.

Cheers,
Kartik
Last edited by kartikp; Oct 10th, 2011 at 16:39..
#2 Oct 8th, 2011, 19:48
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  • tripsammy is offline
#2
Excellent report, glad you had such a good trip....you are clearly another Corbett convert! Really makes me desperate to go back!
Excellent photos,love the hornbill in flight, what lens were you using?
#3 Oct 8th, 2011, 19:57
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#3
Hey Tripsammy,

I am sure a convert (if that is the right word for it).. hooked, addicted yes I am. I think I have another official trip coming very soon for Delhi

I was using 500mm f/4, 100-400mm and Nokia X6 camera for quite a few shots.

Cheers,
Kartik
#4 Oct 8th, 2011, 20:11
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  • shahronakm is offline
#4
Amazingly clear & sharp pictures with just the right amount of description / information. By the way I have heard that toehold also rent equipments like prime lens, any idea on the topic ?

Going through you trip report did remind me of our (me & wife) trip to Corbett in April 2011 (Inspired by tripsammy's Corbett trip report). Yet to write a report or upload any pics (A bit lazy on my part, infact very lazy) of the trip.

Ronak.
#5 Oct 8th, 2011, 20:20
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#5
Ronak,

I had rented a 500mm form toehold along with my own 100-400 for this trip. Till this year I was trying different telephotos to see which one fits the bill for me. I tried a 600mm in Kabini, 400mm f/2.8 in LRK/GRK and 500mm f/4 in Corbett. I finally got me a 500mm f/4 and could not be happier.

I have rented lenses and camera from Toehold in past and will do so in future without hesitating. They generally rent the lenses in B'lore but for regular clients and known people they do make exceptions and deliver lenses anywhere. It worked for me very well as they have a lot of canon super teles. In Nikon they have 200-400 I believe. You can have a look here : http://toehold.in/rentals.php

Cheers,
Kartik
#6 Oct 8th, 2011, 20:33
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#6
@Kartik, thanks a lot for your reply. I did check out the link given by you. Hope they had the same service in Mumbai. So for your Corbett trip did they deliver it to you in Corbett ?

Congrats on your 500 mm f/4 & looking forward to see more of your stunning pictures in near future.

Ronak.
#7 Oct 8th, 2011, 20:38
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#7
Hi Ronak,

Yes, they delivered the lens in Corbett. In fact the whole tour was arranged by them so that made delivering the lens easier. Still I think they would have sent the lens across somehow even if the tour was not organized by them

I hope to use my own 500 now soon in near future. Hopefully for Himalayan beauties..

Cheers,
Kartik
#8 Oct 9th, 2011, 22:46
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#8
JUST AWESOME

beautiful travelogues Kartikey. LRK/GRK, Ranthambore, Corbett...your travelogues are really special.

I have a question. You have mentioned machaans. You sat there for hours during your safari hours, or you can get there in between safari hours (when safari is not allowed, in noon time) and spend afternoon there?
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” - Paul Theroux
Last edited by wind_chariot; Oct 9th, 2011 at 22:46.. Reason: spelling
#9 Oct 10th, 2011, 00:29
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#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by kartikp View Post I hope to use my own 500 now soon in near future. Hopefully for Himalayan beauties..

Cheers,
Kartik
Waiting to see your pictures from your new lens. I am sure the result will be as superb as your other pictures. By the way where are you headed next ?

Ronak.
#10 Oct 10th, 2011, 13:50
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@wind_chariot:
I am glad that I could share these memories with everyone. To answer you question we sat in Machaans in between the safaris. We would finish the Safari about 30 minutes earlier than usual, pick up packed lunch, and off to Machaan we went. It was not very difficult though despite the hot weather. Most difficult part was getting some of the visitors to be quiet .

@Ronak:
I have no clue where I would go though I do know when I "want" to go . Want is today, right now but I think practically it will be somewhere in Nov-Dec. I think I might go for Pangot/Sattal/Corbett or Kaziranga/Manas. A lot will depend on the timing the trip, getting 4-5 days off (that makes a decent 9 days trip) and who I can con into travelling with me .

If I get a chance to travel to B'lore before that then I will squeeze in a few days at Kabini as well.

{I really hope my boss is not reading it.}

Cheers,
Kartik
#11 Oct 11th, 2011, 01:44
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  • tripsammy is offline
#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by kartikp View Post
@Ronak:
I have no clue where I would go though I do know when I "want" to go . Want is today, right now but I think practically it will be somewhere in Nov-Dec. I think I might go for Pangot/Sattal/Corbett or Kaziranga/Manas. A lot will depend on the timing the trip, getting 4-5 days off (that makes a decent 9 days trip) and who I can con into travelling with me .

If I get a chance to travel to B'lore before that then I will squeeze in a few days at Kabini as well.

{I really hope my boss is not reading it.}

Cheers,
Kartik
Really so envious that you can combine these trips with work! I just wish there was a way of us visiting more than once a year, mind you we are a bit further away! We reallyenjoyed Nargarhole, the elephant sightings were brilliant, can't beat Corbett for tigers though!
#12 Oct 11th, 2011, 12:31
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#12
@tripsammy:

I understand the jealousy completely. I am really really jealous of my friends who are in India. They can take trips to these places on any given Sunday but they don't!!

I might be visiting London soon though, hopefully I will get a chance to shoot some black grouse.

Cheers,
Kartik

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