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Ramnagar with Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve Safari

Days 52, 53 & 54

storm 14 °C
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Thursday/Friday & Saturday

Spend Thursday and Friday familiarising ourselves with Ramnagar town, which includes a visit to the railway station. The ever-worsening situation regarding Coronavirus has resulted in flight cancellations. Gulfair have once more cancelled our flight out of Delhi to Larnaca, via Bahrain. Having cancelled our booked flight for Wednesday, offering Thursday, a further email cancelled Thursday and offered Tuesday. So far, it’s still likely to be Tuesday, fingers crossed.

Thursday

Travel plans again thrown into chaos. Our attempts to re-schedule rail tickets between Ramnagar and New Delhi are unsuccessful. The daily service between these two places are fully booked in AC Chair Class and have waiting lists of over twenty on both of the dates we are trying to book. Cattle class is not an option. The ticket reservation staff are not terribly helpful so we return to our hotel and spend an hour or more cancelling our train reservation, fiddling around on the Indian Rail Booking site, and eventually are able to confirm the information given to us earlier. Train travel is definitely out of the question.

Email arrives confirming flight details for Tuesday, but subject to change probably. Next, we go looking for taxi quotes for the journey we need to take on Sunday morning. £60 seems to be the going rate for this 257kms/5 hour ride, both at the taxi rank near the bus station, and through our hotel management team, so we ask our hotel to arrange. Apart from walking around Ramnagar town, it is a quiet day. Weather hot and sunny, but likely to change.

Friday

A forty minute walk brings us to the Jim Corbett Forestry Offices in Ramnagar town. Although we gained an entry permit on-line months ago for a safari trip on Saturday afternoon, we still need to hire a driver and gypsy vehicle to take us, and a ranger guide, which are mandatory. This is arranged and will cost £30 in addition to our pre-paid permit. Very much looking forward to our safari and hope it will be memorable.

We are taking breakfast and evening meals at our hotel, mostly in our spacious bedroom. Mainly because we are the only guests (again) and it is a bit weird sitting in a large dining room on our own. With all the hyperbole about Corona virus there is a distinct lack of Western tourists generally, in fact we haven’t seen any in Ramnagar, and consequently, getting used to the constant stares we receive from the locals. It does feels to us that we are in a bubble of self isolation, minus the threat of illness. Incidentally, there are currently no recorded cases of the virus in Utteranchand.

The afternoon undergoes a change in weather and we have thunderstorms, leaving us isolated in our comfortable room, again watching cheesy Hollywood films and dinner in front of the T.V. It is starting to feel like a wind down as we approach the end of our eight week trip.

Saturday

Up early, it has finally stopped raining. We are keeping our fingers crossed for this afternoon’s Safari. Conditions are not ideal for spotting animals in a National Park, but we don’t exactly have a Plan B.

As we leave for Delhi fairly early tomorrow, we settle our hotel bill at lunchtime and thank the young manager Surendra for his hospitality and compliment him on the comfort we have enjoyed, and the hospitality shown by all of his staff.

Pleased with our praise, he then insists on showing us around the two hotel extensions, currently under construction, which will turn this 8 Bedroom Party/Wedding venue into a 180 Bedroom luxury Hotel and banqueting venue, with fantastic landscaping and a large swimming pool in the 6 acres of gardens, completion due last quarter of 2020.

It is very impressive and we are certain it will fill a gap in the market here once it opens in October. And it will have a bar!

Meanwhile, our Gypsy and Driver, Shamshad, arrive on time, but our worst fears on the weather front are realised. The sky is overcast and there is a distant rumble of thunder and sheets of lightning. Paula’s favourite weather (not). Luckily we have our waterproof clothing, purchased in Almora a week ago, which is just as well because the Gypsy pull-over canvas roof is for midgets and we would have found it impossible to see anything, and risk damaged necks while scanning the Park for wildlife. We choose fresh air and very cold rain, but dressed as we are, remain relatively warm and dry in our waterproof jackets and trousers.

We park at the gates, pick up our guide for INR 700 (£7.50) and a pair of binoculars for Inr 200 (£2). We are the first first into the Reserve when the gates open, and off we go at speed. Sitting in the raised rear seat we are feeling like royalty as we bump along the trails into the Bijrani Zone of Jim Corbett National Park. This Park was created in 1939 by a British chap, called Jim Corbett, of course, who was born here in Utteranchand. It boasts all species of wildlife, but what visitors really like to spot are TIGERS!

In view of the weather conditions we don’t hold out high expectations, but the three and a half hour ride offers thrilling driving and spectacular views of the area. In total we saw: three species of Deer, Mountjack/Barking deer, Spotted deer and Sambar deer. Also a Hoopa, Peacocks, Bee eater birds a myriad of others we could not identify. We also saw Grey Langurs, Rhesus monkeys and a Jackal that runs across the path in front of us.

Sadly, we didn’t see one of the reputed 17 Tigers in the tourist section of Jungle but we were very close. Our guide noticed that some of the Sambar deer were agitated and we heard a Mountjack barking a warning. A Tiger was on the prowl nearby,for sure. Two of the guides glimpsed it in the distance but it went to ground, and although exciting at the time, we tourists never gained a sighting.

There are many elephants in the reserve both semi tame and wild, but although we saw fresh signs of their droppings, again it was a no show. We conclude that these animals dislike the weather as much as we do and were keeping dry deeper in the Park.

Apparently, so our Guide tells us, there are around 50,000 deer in the Park and over 200 tigers residing in the 1,318sq kms along with 600 elephants.

Our Ranger Guide, Brem, has excellent spoken English and his knowledge and experience makes for an enthralling afternoon. We feel lucky to have randomly chosen both an excellent Guide and Driver.

6pm and we are delivered back to our hotel, just before dusk, having thoroughly enjoyed our adventure. Made our dinner reservation and retired for the evening, reflecting on the day.

Waiting at gate to Bijrani Zone

Waiting at gate to Bijrani Zone

Bijrani Gate

Bijrani Gate

Leo with binoculars

Leo with binoculars

Leo ready for animal-spotting

Leo ready for animal-spotting

Tiger claws marking territory, Jim Corbett NP

Tiger claws marking territory, Jim Corbett NP

Gypsy, our transport in Bijrani Zone

Gypsy, our transport in Bijrani Zone

Banyan Tree with termite mound in foreground

Banyan Tree with termite mound in foreground

Samba Buck watching us

Samba Buck watching us

Vista with Deer herd grazing

Vista with Deer herd grazing

Young Spotted Deer on our track

Young Spotted Deer on our track

Spot Leo Animal-Spotting

Spot Leo Animal-Spotting

Deer hiding in undergrowth

Deer hiding in undergrowth

Spotted Deer

Spotted Deer

Bijrani Forest floor with resting Samba Deer

Bijrani Forest floor with resting Samba Deer

Spotted deer

Spotted deer

Grey Langur Monkeys

Grey Langur Monkeys

Spotted Deer

Spotted Deer

Last night at our hotel

Last night at our hotel

Posted by KellyDevlins 20:26 Archived in India

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