When we talk about a Jungle Safari , it naturally brings thrill and excitement in our minds, so when we decided to go for Jungle safari in the renowned Jim Corbett National Park, excitement was palpable. Since we had a voucher from Jim’s Jungle Retreat we decided to avail it (and I regretted it later). After some bargain with them to accommodate one more adult and upgrade to a family cottage we booked the hotel. So everything was well at its place reservation till Kathgodam done, hotel booked, ID sent to hotel staff and safari booked for next morning of our arrival.
Our train to Kathgodam left at 11 pm from Dehradun and reached Kathgodam at 7 in the morning, it was raining when we reached there. We were welcomed by cluster of taxi drivers who wanted us to book their respective taxis. This is obvious as Kathgodam is the gateway to tourist spots like Nainital, Ranikhet and Jim Corbett. After some bargain we booked a taxi for INR 1200 till Jim Corbett, it was still raining heavily.
We had a smooth drive through Kathgodam and Haldwani. After some time at a place called Kaladhungi near Haldwani a stream was flooded due to incessant rain , which halted the traffic. We were stranded there for about one hour till the water subsided. After that we crossed few more streams, due to heavy rains water from the nearby mountains was flowing downwards creating temporary streams.
After driving few more kilometers we reached Ramnagar Chowk were our driver stopped to ask the way further from the locals. From locals we came to know that river Kosi which passes through Jim Corbett was overflowing, our driver didn’t want to go further as he said that their dropping point was Ramnagar only and most of the hotels were located nearby. I made him talk to the hotel staff who convinced him on going further for some extra bucks. On Google map I could see that our destination was still 12 km away.
Just about 6 km away from Ramnagar Chowk we were again stranded as river Kosi was overflowing. A bridge over the river was under construction and people were cribbing on the failure of authorities to be able to take care of convenience of tourists and villager, as overflowing of river was a frequent occurrence in every rainy season. After again stopping there for about an hour I asked for help from the hotel, they told that they would send a Jipsy but we had to cross the bridge (which was under construction) and come to other side.
With the help of the persons who came from hotel , we crossed the bridge with our luggage and my two year old , it was an adventure in itself! From the bridge I could see that the river was flooded. It would have taken us few more hours if we had waited for the river to subside. The journey was smooth and wonderful after that. We passed through the narrow road with forest on both sides and I wondered if we could encounter some wild animals here only. Our driver told that sometime they do cross your path. There were few more streams on the way.
We reached Dhela Village were our hotel was situated. The location of the hotel was remote, passing through muddy paths inside the jungle. We were welcomed by humble staff. We were asked to fill some forms and sign NOC (obvious for any safari or adventure sports). Mr Rakesh, naturalist at the hotel told us about the property and showed us our cottage.
The entire hotel was based on the theme of jungle. Vegetation was deliberately grown to be in sync with the forest vegetation. The cottages were located between trees like a forest home. Our cottage was quite good but there was no water in the washrooms and the telephone lines were not working. One thing to note here is once you reach the jungle are you stop getting signals on your phone. Since all of us had prepaid phones they stopped working as soon as we enter the resort. Unable to call for help we had to go to the restaurant without taking bath.
We were surprised to know that the people at restaurant were not aware of our arrival , but they were spontaneous to make a good meal for us in sort time. Soon Mr Rakesh came to us and told us that he was doubtful about the safari next morning as it has been raining incessantly and gates of the forest has been closed. He sorted the problems that we were facing in the cottage he told us that we would know about the status of our safari in the morning. In the evening he took us for property walk in which he took us around the property, showed us the trails, machans, cottages, lounges, nursery, spa center etc, which was quite good. After that they also showed us a documentary of Bedi brothers on Jim Corbett, which was interesting.
We were expecting to hear sounds of wild animals at night (as it is claimed on the hotel website and also the resort is just next to the forest), but no such thing happened, may be due to excessive rain. The night went quietly.
In the morning when no information came from the hotel we went to the reception to enquire. Phone lines were still not working , the morning was bright but to our dismay and surprise we were told that the safari will not happen because due to rain the paths in the jungle has broken and it would take few days to mend them. We were disappointed because we came to Jim Corbett for Safari only. We went to our room and started exercising options.
We decided to check out from the hotel and visit Nainital instead , we informed the same to the hotel staff but they gave us some petty options instead like a visit chota Haldwani or Corbett landscape , which could obviously not compensate the thrill of safari. They also told us that if we want to check out we have to pay the entire amount (even for the next day when we were not staying in the hotel). We did our arguments but they were not ready to listen. So we decided to stay back and check out the next day instead.
It rained the entire day and we had nowhere to go so we had to stay in the hotel only (Ah….disappointment). In the evening we told our naturalist to take us for a walk at least. So he arranged a village walk for us. We explored the Dhela village with a staff. The walk around the village was quite good. After walk again a documentary was shown to us. The arrangement for documentary this time was around the pool which was quite good, by that time few other travellers had also arrived in the hotel.
Another night went quietly with no traces or sound of wild animals. The next morning the first thing we did was check out from the hotel. We asked the hotel staff to arrange a taxi for us till Ramnagar, they did but they charged 1000 Rs for that after some argument they came down to 600 Rs. We checked out though our train was late in the evening but we thought it better to wait at the station to avoid any unexpected hurdles. River Kosi had subsided on our way back.
So we went to Jim Corbett for a safari and came back without a safari…..disappointed.
Please get good information about the weather condition of the area you are planning to travel, though we did but the weather changed suddenly
Have a clear conversation with the hotel staff about the refund on cancellation of safari or any other arrangements (due to any reason)
Do not just go by the feedback about a particular hotel on travel website, read some negative comments too and do your own research.