Corbett National Park

We left Haridwar this morning to travel the 200km to Ramnagar in the usual 40 degree heat. Unfortunately there were no air conditioned busses available and we couldn’t use the “fearing for our lives” excuse and hiring a taxi. The thing is once the bus gets going the wind is slightly cooling, the only irritating thing is that we are actually getting used to a 200km long trip taking over 5 hours!

When we arrived at Ramnagar we had a short taxi trip and walked straight into luxury! We paid the same as you would for the cheapest hotel in Brisbane and had arrived at a wonderful resort. It consisted of a group of separate houses set in an amazing garden next to a river. We felt we had transported ourselves to another world.

We couldn’t believe how nice it was and headed straight to the pool for a cooling swim. We spent the rest of the first afternoon lounging by the pool reading our books and watching the Indians trying to swim. Certainly not a national pastime.

The reason we were here was to go on safari and we had managed to navigate the overly complicated and useless booking system and had arranged two trips with a local guide who was highly recommended. We were very excited at the prospect of potentially seeing a tiger but had asked not to race around a park desperately searching for one rather we would prefer to relax and observe everything the park had to offer.

Luckily our requests were heard and we were picked up by Sanjay our driver/guide and another spotter and headed off into the Corbett Tiger Reserve. We hadn’t been in the park long when we came across our first group of elephants. They are a wonderfully majestic animal and we were able to spend some quality time sat in the jeep watching them casually eating their way through the forest. While we were content our guides had more planned for us and took us out of the dense forested area towards the open plains.

Here in the distance we saw a larger herd of elephants with a “Tusker” or male elephant. He was much larger than the females but certainly not part of the family group and we sat once again watching while he wandered off and then returned to the group of females and young. I don’t know how long we sat watching but it was a breathtakingly beautiful scene.  

In the centre of the plain was a raised viewing platform and we drove over to take our turn in viewing the whole area. The group in front was just getting ready to depart in their jeep when one of the men casually dropped his empty water bottle onto the floor. I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes! Simultaneously Sarah and I jumped up and screamed “pick that up!” He was obviously shocked and while the driver of his jeep ran around to pick up the bottle he made such excuses as to the fact he hadn’t been told not to litter. What a complete idiot. Still I can kind of see his point, why indeed have one small part of India not covered in rubbish? He probably felt strange driving about all day without seeing rubbish strewn everywhere. 

Anyway, while they all looked at us in disbelief as to why we cared we scooted up the platform to gaze out over the plains and enjoy watching 3 jackals making their way furtively from one side to the other. I think I could spend some serious time sitting and watching wildlife.

Our guides then took us back into the forest all the time stopping to point out various types of birds or animal and it was pretty clear that with all these spotted deer and various other prey around any tiger we saw was going to be well fed. Alas though we had no luck with the tiger spotting and returned to the plains where we were able to relax and enjoy the sun going down while watching elephants crossing the road in front of us and then grazing in the grasslands.

At one point though our relaxing day got a little bit too exciting when a mother elephant started crossing the road a little too close to the car for her (and our comfort). Her body language changed in an instant and our driver started to try to slam the jeep into reverse. Now the Indians are quite rightly renown for their terrible driving ability and at this point we were both a little concerned when we stalled! Luckily the elephant decided not to charge and retreated back into the forest with her baby.

I feel I have to mention that safari in India is different to safari elsewhere…obviously. I have already mentioned the littering and while it’s not nearly as bad as elsewhere in the country you still see water bottles and crisp packets dotted about the place. Also the noise factor. Indians don’t seem to do anything quietly and while we were content to sit and quietly wait for an animal the Indian vehicles would pull up right next to us with a screech of brakes and shout over asking what we were waiting for/looking at. Nothing anymore.

The concept of waiting patiently for an animal to appear unharmed by one’s presence is also lost. They would drive the vehicles right up next to the animal and you could almost see them wonder as to why the animal had fled back into the forest.

Still we were lucky with our guides and even though a few times we were part of the noisiest tiger stalking operation known to man we also spent most of our time away from the crowds. One of the many highlights for me was when we were sitting in the middle of the forest having just heard a tiger’s roar with my eyes closed listening for more sounds. While we didn’t hear the tiger again we enjoyed all the wonderful sounds of the birds of the jungle. Truly it was a fantastic day and once we got home we were very excited and looking forward to more fun tomorrow! T

Relaxing in our fabulous resort.

The female elephants on the plains minding the young ones.

While the locals weren’t impressed by the monkeys we still found them fascinating to watch.

After waiting for a little while we were rewarded by his family crossing the road right in front of us.

With big daddy bringing up the rear.

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