I have stayed at various resorts in Corbett like Hideaway,Infinity,Ramganga and Riverview and also at Government run guest houses like the ones at Dhikala and Gairal. While you enjoy the resorts like Hideaway and Riverview because of their food, facilities and Ramganga for it's excellent location along the Ramganga river, you still long to stay inside the core area of the Corbett Reserve forest area to get that jungle feeling. You get that satisfaction while staying at Dhikala but the facilities including basic ones like the food,running hot and cold water and service leave you really unsatisfied. Also the bookings are not easy to secure and difficult to book.
So when I was offered a chance to stay inside the jungle with no phone connectivity, luxury tents with attached bathroom toilets I jumped at the idea. For the first night we stayed at Corbett Riverview and enjoyed the hospitality there with nice accommodation in cottages and excellent food to boot. Next day early morning (6AM) we had some hot tea and headed for Durgadevi gate, the hotel having already acquired our full day permits for us. The four wheel drive through the forest was nice though very chilly in January morning. On the way to Jamun, the location of our camps, we saw the barking deer,lots of spotted deer,many bird species and hint of a leopard(not sure). For reaching the camps we had to cross the Ramganga river which can be done on a jeep if the water level is low or an elephant oterwise. We preferred to do it on an elephant and what a ride it was as we could some fishes in the crystal clear water from the elephant back.
On reaching the camps we were awestruck by the awesome view of the forest from a height and the Ramganga River, the surrounding forest too was dense and very green. The camp area was surrounded by a wire fencing which we were told is electric, powered by solar power to prevent the wild animals to stray into the jungle area. Accommodation is in Luxury camps in the jungle spread over a 12 acre area with attached bathrooms and English toilets with running water. It was breakfast time and we were treated to a sumptuous meal and the taste was as good as one we had at Riverview resort. We were given hot water in buckets for our bath (running cold water is available 24 hrs)and after freshning up it was time to go for some fishing along the Ramgagna river. Permits for fishing have to be obtained and the norm is catch-photograph-release. We were joined by some guys from England, who had come all the way just for the jungle experience and Mahaseer fishing. They were staying at the camps for a week.It was a wonderful fishing session and though being our first time we still enjoyed it a lot. We could not catch anything ourselves but our English friends had some nice catch.
In the evening after sunset though it was quiet nippy but the cacophony of jungle sounds and the amazing view of the night sky with infinite stars made it all worth it. Around a bon fire we enjoyed some drinks along with chicken malai tikka and seekh kebabs. The kind of service and food the camp people provided was amazing and difficult to imagine in this difficult terrain. It was also exciting to believe that you are surrounded by a plethora of wild animals including the Tiger itself. We were told that Tiger sightings has been done from the camp itself and we were hoping for the same ourselves.
We were given a solar lantern to help us on our way back to the camp. On reaching the camp we found that the bed had been made with a hot water bottle tucked in to make it warm. We were woken up in the night by some loud animal howls which seem to be coming from very near,probably some pack of jackals.
Next morning we went for a elephant safari in the jungle but the tiger still eluded us though we had a lot of other sightings. Soon it was time to go back to habitation as we boarded the jeep, we were half way through when the driver
stopped the jeep in the mud track and told us to keep silent. We realised how still the jungle was and we could not hear anything except the birds. We saw a pair of spotted deer who were standing absolutely still and in rapt attention. And then we saw what we had been waiting for, the sight of the Tiger itself, strolling carefree, oblivious of our presence and the five pair of eyes that were following it. It was my first Tiger sighting in the wild and it was exciting as well as nerve wrecking. The approximately one minute sighting was something we will remember for long and one that will keep us coming back to Corbett, specially the Hideaway River Lodge.
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