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Corbetts Tiger reserve. (Woman left in jungle.)
Jim Corbetts Tiger Reserve and National Park (India)
Member Name: GillMN
Jim Corbetts Tiger Reserve and National Park (India)
Date: 01/09/08, updated on 01/09/08 (126 review reads)
Advantages: Paradise for the creatures it protects and it's visitors.
Disadvantages: None worth talking about.
As part of a tour around Northern India and Nepal my husband and I were fortunate to visit Corbetts National Park.
It is a huge game reserve situated in what was Uttar Pradesh but now renamed Uttaranchal.
We stayed in a lodge type hotel just outside of the small town of Ramnagar. Ramnagar is the closest Railway station to the reserve and a very interesting place to visit on it's own.
Corbetts is named for Jim Corbett who was a big game hunter but saw the light and decided that the animals were better preserved on the hoof or paw, rather than preserved by taxidermists.
The park is situated on the river Ramganga and covers about 1,300 square kilometers. It is home to over 600 species of birds and about 50 kinds of mammals. You can either explore by jeep safari or go by elephant. I did both, I will never forget the experience.
Kuoni was the Agency we travelled with, it was our Silver Wedding trip and we decided to splash out on a once in a lifetime journey. We would normally never have been able to afford it but were helped out by Anniversary gifts from friends and family.
Kuoni are expensive but couldn't be faulted at the way we were looked after, pampered even, every step of the way.
We arrived at the lodge after a long and very bumpy bus ride and were shown into our beautiful bungalow accomadation. My husband was experiencing side effects from the malaria medication he was on so went to sleep in the huge bed almost immediately.
I went outside to explore the grounds, there was a small swimming pool next to the outdoor dining area and to my delight there were wild deer drinking from it. I watched spellbound.
The hotel had an elephant called Hathi, (suprise, suprise as Hathi is the local name for elephant!) she was very funny, if she liked you she would amble up and drape her trunk across your shoulders and hug you, I got so many hugs the bearers started to call me Hathi Mammy. (It was a compliment. Honestly!)
Hathi was supposed to be available to give the guests rides at 11 o'clock every morning but......and it was a very big 'but', if she didn't feel like getting out of the river where her mahout bathed her every morning at 10 o'clock, she didn't get out!
She would throw rocks to splash whoever was trying to persuade her and nothing would shift her if she didn't feel like it. She was not daft!
After a leisurely and large breakfast we were all taken into the park. It was about half an hour by jeep to the Safari station. This is where the jeeps and their drivers and the elephants and their mahouts lived. Plus their families.
Each jeep took six passengers plus a park warden. And a driver of course! We were shown the most incredible sights and a lot of effort was made to track down some tigers for us to see. At no time were we left unattended in the jungle. (Just once was that rule broken and I'll get to that in a minute.)
We saw deer, antelope, toucan, monkeys, foliage that was unending. That first day we were immersed in such beauty we didn't want it to end. We were taken to a local Deitie's shrine built high on an outcrop in the middle of the river. From the top we could see most of the park laid out in it's green extravagance. It was absolutely fabulous and nobody wanted it to end. We were finally taken back to our Lodge Hotel tired and sated.
The next day saw Hathi banging on our front door at 7a.m much to the Mahout's embarassment. She wanted a hug.
After breakfast and a lot of teasing from the waiters we set off back to the safari village. This time I was going on Elephant safari. It was supposed to be a better way to see the tigers as the jeeps were too audible sometimes to track them down. Sitting on an elephant saddle is not for the fainthearted. It's a long way down, it hurts your bum, and the elephant rolls like a stricken tugboat. It was worth it!
The Mahout controls the elephant with a goad which is a heavy metal spike and a hook. I say 'control', it would be more accurate to say 'gets it to cooperate if it feels like'. The mahouts absolutely understand and love their beasts and did most of the directing vocally either talking or singing to the elephants.
We spent a long day looking for tigers. Again we saw hundreds of animals and even some tiger dung. Sadly the tigers had gone to ground.
It turned out that everyone in the jeeps had seen tigers twice!
This is the bit where the rule about being left on your own got broken. Albeit accidentally.
When we got back to the village and dismounted from the elephants they were taken away to be fed and bathed and we were left with a guide to wait for the jeeps to take us back. The first jeep was full so I asked our guide if I could go help feed the elephants. He said yes, he would come and get me when the second jeep came in. He forgot.
I wandered back to the clearing and it was deserted except for some children playing. To cut a long story short I had been abandoned in the jungle. A young man wandered up and asked if I wanted chai. I said yes please and asked him to phone the lodge and tell them to come back for me. "Yes Mam" he said and took me into his hut to make Chai.
I waited, and waited, I went out and played with the children, a bit later found him and asked him to phone again. "Yes Mam".
It went dark.
I went and found him again. I asked him how long he thought the jeep would be. He smiled and said "Yes Mam" I said, "You haven't understood a word I've said to you have you?" He said "Yes Mam."
I decided panicking was a waste of time, I could always sleep in one of the elephant huts, the worst that would happen would be that I was farted to death by them.
I found out later, that every time that telephone lines were put up, the local wild elephants took a dislike to them and tore them down. There was no phone for about thirty miles.
Eventually someone on the mother ship realised I was missing and apparently all Hell broke loose. (My husband had just assumed I was visiting other folk until I didn't turn up for dinner!)
About three hours later I was picked up from the elephant sheds. They guessed that is where I would be (I wonder how?)
Everybody was in tears when I got back in, I wondered a bit about that until someone explained that the director had put a film on to entertain the guests whilst the staff were looking for me. Unfortunately in his state of agitation he had picked "The history of Man Eating Tigers of Uttar Pradesh! That hadn't helped folks much.
If you ever are lucky enough to be in this area of India, visit Corbetts, you might not have the same experiences I did, but you will never regret time spent in reclaimed paradise.
Summary: You will leave a part of your heart there.
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