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Old 30th April 2008, 14:49   #1
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Default Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!

When my brother-in-law Nabeel called to ask if Iíd be interested in joining him and 7 yr old Amaar for a three day holiday at Corbett National Park I didnít have to think at all before saying yes. This was something I had been wanting to do for years. I always wanted to experience tall dense forests and Corbett is just that. And to top it all this is tiger country, making it even more exciting.

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We took the afternoon flight to Delhi heading straight for old Delhi station to catch the overnight train to Ramnagar, a quaint little town on the edge of Corbett.

Living in India we are all used to congestion and crowds but for some reason, perhaps school holidays, the platform was packed with people like sardines. While waiting for the train to arrive at the platform we headed forward where the A/c bogies usually arrive. As the train chugged in (diesel engine driven) we realized to our horror that the train splits somewhere in the night and one half heads to Muradabad while the other to Ramnagar. A railway staff casually tells us we have to walk right to the back of the train to get to the only A/c bogey for Ramnagar. Now with something looking like 10000 people packed on the platform with luggage, all waiting to board the train, this seemed like a no win situation. We started to walk back amidst all the commotion, jostling for space to edge forward as anxious passengers hollered at the top of their voice given each other instructions on boarding. Halfway through it was a stampede as the crowd now determined the direction we were to move in. Our concern foremost was my nephew who was too young for this and luckily Nabeel managed to lift him above the crowd. I almost thought we missed the train as miraculously the way seemed to open up for us as we inched forward. What a relief as we entered the cool compartment and settled down. Phew!!

The train is supposed to leave at 10:45 pm but it left almost a hour late. We settled in for the night.

Early morning I was up at 4 thinking I have to make sure the right half of the train gets to Ramnagar ! The attendant tells me we are running an hour late and Ramnagar is still 2 hours away. A swiss couple shared the compartment with us and the husband was up early for smokes and we chatted in the entrance isle enjoying the crisp cool air as we passed villages I hadnít even heard names of.

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Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0004.jpg

A strange haze sits on the Kesar fields, owing to the husk I suppose and it looks like localized fog from a distance

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It was almost 7 am when we pulled into Ramnagar train station. Its an adorable tiny station and apparently this train that comes in in the morning is parked there all day to start back in the night. The station building was quite smart in appearance and the parking lot relatively free of the usual congestion we see elsewhere.

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There were only two Maruti Gypsies waiting in the parking lot, one for us. The Gypsies used here have their top off and both the rear bench seats installed facing forward.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0008.jpg

The ride toward the resort was a revelation as we were welcomed by forests on either side of the road.

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We checked into a lovely, luxurious resort called Tiger Camp run by Nabeelís childhood friend Sumanta Ghosh.

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Lovely ambience, with small cottages strewn around amidst trees with the river Kosi flowing by.

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After a hot shower and breakfast we headed off straight into Corbett to Dhikala which is a camp about 26 kms into the heart of the forest where we were to spend a night.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0039.jpg

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0040.jpg

Apparently Corbett is the only reserve which allows guests to stay inside the forest. I was excited.
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Old 30th April 2008, 15:24   #2
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Waiting for the rest of the snaps, nicely written travelogue.
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Old 30th April 2008, 15:41   #3
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Nice start. Keep it coming.
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Old 30th April 2008, 15:52   #4
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Enjoyed reading this DKG. Those cottages are lovely. Pretty comfy and very well planned and designed.
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Old 30th April 2008, 15:55   #5
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Wow, great start, come on quick, give us the whole story.
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Old 30th April 2008, 15:59   #6
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Great pictures DKG i am waiting for more. I wanna see the tigers
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Old 30th April 2008, 16:05   #7
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As we entered the gate of the reserve we were greeted by the bust of the legendary Jim Corbett in whose honour this park was named.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0044.jpg

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Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0047.jpg

As a child I remember being electrified by the tales of maneating leopards and tigers in the region and how bravely Jim Corbett would tail them on foot and kill them. He was a much loved person around the region as villagers looked upto him to ensure their protection. I felt privileged to enter such a forest with a long history of man animal encounters.

Throughout the journey I stood up on the rear seat holding onto the roll bars. It gave me a commanding view of the road and forest around and the machine seemed to barely intrude in that experience. The cool crisp air and the smells of the forest melted me into a totally relaxed mode as I started to realize how deeply I loved trees.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0049.jpg

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Halfway through our drive we stopped to see Gharials in the river below the viewpoint. They seemed to laze in the water enjoying the sun.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0054.jpg

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Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0061.jpg

As we neared the high bank road which snakes through the forest Nabeel remarked he could see something ahead. He first thought it was a Langoor. It didnít take us very long to realize we were in the presence of the most exotic creation in nature, a full grown Royal Bengal Tiger ambling supremely along the road ahead.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0072.jpg

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That moment will remain etched in memory forever. This was our first sighting of a tiger in the wild and we hadnít even begun the safari. Under 150 foot Sal trees which literally formed an umbrella of shade, to see this most magnificent of creatures leisurely walking along the road with us tailing him from about 100 feet, all silent except for the sounds of the jungle it doesnít get more exotic. As camera shutters clicked relentlessly we realized how deeply beautiful the presence of a tiger in a jungle is. We also realized how fragile this environment was. The responsibility it laid on all of us to ensure this haven is protected for generations to come.

It must have been a full 5 to 10 minutes along the road before this magnificent form in orange and black turned left into the thicket only to disappear in seconds.

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Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0098.jpg

I donít know why but I felt a deep sense of satisfaction, like when you have come home after a long trip. I was happy to be in this forest and we thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the journey to Dhikala.
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Old 30th April 2008, 16:05   #8
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Amazing begining and looks quite exciting as the story unfolds. Even i loved the cottages. Look really luxurious and also liked the open bar ( reminds me of Goa)

Keep it coming, can't wait to see the Tigers
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Old 30th April 2008, 16:15   #9
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Spectacular. Iwished for better pics though. Anyhow i would love to do something like this
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Old 30th April 2008, 16:19   #10
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Awesome. Thats very lucky of you to spot a tiger and that too even before the actual safari started. Glad you enjoyed the experience.
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Old 30th April 2008, 16:25   #11
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Oh gorgeous! And an excellent narration too. It's super to see travelogues like this. Just wait till Jenny sees this one!
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Old 30th April 2008, 16:45   #12
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Dhikala is a forest camp run by the government. Very basic, but comfortable.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0116.jpg

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0115.jpg

After lunch and a short snooze we were up at 3:30 pm getting ready for our next adventure, an elephant ride. I donít know why but despite its size the one thing that seems to strike me most when I am in the company of an elephant is its intelligence. Something tells me this is an animal that has a highly evolved intellect and a strong social system quite similar to human families in many ways. I believe itís the aunts that tend to the young more as the mother or matriarch has to manage the well being of the entire herd. As is typical of me around animals I had my fill chatting with the elephant before our ride, much to my nephew Amaarís amusement.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0121.jpg

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Nothing surpasses the experience of a forest from an elephant back. Thereís something so supremely beautiful about the way this graceful beast ambles along silently in a forest. It also gives you a false sense of security as you sit on top. By the way you are piece of cake for both leopard and tiger should they decide to knock you off from that height. Thank heavens for us not being on their food chain!!

We made our way down to the river, all of us marveling how these tons of muscle can remain so surefooted. No wonder the elephant was the preferred ride of the royals. Golcondaís steps were a breeze for any pachyderm!

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The scene was spectacular as the sun was setting casting a golden hue across the grasslands. The river waters shimmered in the sunlight as we ambled along the banks ahead toward a spot the Mahout claimed was frequented by tigers. On our way we notices Cheetal, Barking Deer and a Hog. There was a domesticated elephant relaxing by the river as he apparently was not well. Further we came up to a wild Bull Elephant or Tuskar who was busy spewing dust over his body to discourage pests. He seemed to notice us as he started to move toward us. Apparently, more than tigers its elephant herds that one needs to watch out for more as they tend to be very aggressive should they have young around. Often they charge and as they can outrun a human its best to maintain your distance from a wild elephant and allow him/her all the room to manuevre. Males in musth are something you apparently should clearly avoid going near. Ofcourse a tigress with cubs is just as deadly.

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As we didnít notice any tigers near the river bank we re-entered the forest to explore further. The thicket was almost as high as the elephant and it was a wild experience as we wove through. Noticed two huge owls, Brown headed owls, must have been atleast 2 feet high!

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0145.jpg

As we were about to venture out onto the river bed we saw a Sambar in the water ahead and he let out a loud bark. The call announcing the presence of a tiger.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0165.jpg

Our excitement grew as we ambled out of the forest onto the river bed only to see the Sambarís tail high up in the air letting out shrill barks.

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Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0171.jpg

As we turned right in the direction the Sambar was looking we see the supremely beautiful sight of a magnificent tiger gliding down from the river bank and settle into the water for a cooling dip. What a sight!!

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0177.jpg

In that late afternoon glow the tiger almost seemed to be on fire as his coat glowed in the setting sunís light. In the background of the cool blue waters his orange seemed electrifying beautiful. We were mesmerized, hypnotized. Further behind the tiger upstream we saw another Sambar all tense and watchful of the emperor. Two alert Sambar one in the foreground and one upstream, the tiger in between in the water and a bull elephant to our left busy spewing dust, the moment seemed magical. A warm feeling of deep satisfaction seemed to inundate my being as I realized how beautiful it was to be alive, enjoying this most spectacular forest. My heart filled with joy as we ambled along the river in what seemed like an eternity.

The noise of the elephant walking through water disturbed the tiger as it, without a fuss, got up and disappeared into the thicket.

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0179.jpg

Spectacular Corbett - 3 Tigers in 24 hours!!!-img_0180.jpg
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Old 30th April 2008, 16:51   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddy42 View Post
Spectacular. Iwished for better pics though. Anyhow i would love to do something like this
Two things I realised on this trip. For wildlife photography you seriously need a minimum of 300mm preferably 400mm telephoto/zoom. Secondly there's usually so little time for those magnificent moments to pass that you really need to know your camera well to get great pictures. I have a Canon 400D and have barely familiarised myself with it. Moreover most pictures were taken while moving so clarity is an issue. All the same I hope they convey the essence of the experience and motivate you all to go out and explore this magnificent country.
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Old 30th April 2008, 17:00   #14
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you are one lucky chap DKG as i know people who have spend 2 days searching for a glimpse of the Tiger.

and pics are fine too(dont worry about that) though the expert photographers like Tanveer can make most of such oppurtunities.

keep posting more
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Old 30th April 2008, 17:04   #15
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Fantastic Deepak! In all my visits to Corbett Park, I've never managed to see a a Tiger!! And I live only 100kms. away from the park!

Looking forward to the rest of the pics!

P.S. The mahout you were riding on the Elephant with was the same one we had on our last trip! And yes taking pictures while on the move on Elephant back is also quite difficult due to the resultant handshake due to Elephant's swaying movement.

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