The Nat Geo moments
Visiting India’s oldest national park was an exhilarating experience. I and a group of friends took the Shatabdi from Delhi to Haldwani and then a...
Visiting India’s oldest national park was an exhilarating experience. I and a group of friends took the Shatabdi from Delhi to Haldwani and then a 90-minute car ride to our resort - Tiger Camp at Dhikuli in Ramnagar.
The resort is nestled between the Corbett Tiger Reserve on one side and the Kosi River on the other. We made our own bookings, and were glad we chose this place to stay. It has comfortable rooms, amazing food and service that will make you come back again. For those looking for a jungle stay with modern amenities, Tiger Camp is the place. I had read so many stories of the maneaters who once roamed the jungles of Ramnagar forest that spotting a tiger became the single most important goal of visiting the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
But make sure you book a tiger safari in advance (well before you reach Corbett) as permits are hard to get. We had ours. and set out into the Reserve at the crack of dawn. It is still cold enough (in March) in these parts, and we needed our jackets to keep ourselves warm. The nice folks at the resort also provided us with blankets in the open Gypsy that took us into the Bijrani range forest.
Our first animal sighting was the spotted deer. We clicked excitedly with our cameras only to be told by our guide to calm down. The spotted deer were everywhere. And he was right. As we drove further into the forest, these deer were the most commonly spotted animals. Apart from deer, we also saw langurs, sambar and lots of peacocks. However, there was no trace of the tiger.
Our guide (the exceptionally knowledgeable Hem Bahuguna) asked the driver to stop as we crossed a dry river bed. He showed us tiger pug marks.
The tiger was around but we didn’t know where! Hemji told us, it was a tigress named Sharmili that had been recently sighted around here. As we drove around the dirt tracks of Corbett, Hemji suddenly signaled us to remain silent. He had spotted Sharmili! And there she was walking ahead of our jeep. Majestic! We slowly followed her. She ambled on and then stopped and turned around, as if to tell us not to follow her. She wandered off into the jungle and we thought we’d never see her again. But we were wrong (and supremely lucky to be so).
An hour later, we saw Sharmili again, this time crouching in the thicket, eyeing a mob of spotted deer. She charged and quickly brought one down! This was our ‘National Geographic’ moment I must say. We never thought we would see a tiger making a kill. I must say we were extremely lucky to have sighted a tiger twice on the same day.
Some tips for those wanting to make a trip to Corbett:
(a) book safaris early (b) hire a good guide (c) be patient in the park (d) the park is closed during monsoons.