Tour Report- Charms of Corbett, Dec 2016
Encounters with elephants: The charms of Corbett
The mist parted as its soul was warmed by the rising sun. We behold a magical land before our eyes. The sparkling blues of the Ramganga, the majestic blues of the Kumaon ranges, and to top it off, herds of elephants on these mesmerizing backdrops.
Our participants were wood by the sheer beauty of Corbett, and to top it off, a sighting of the elusive and rare Terai tiger was the cherry on the cake.
Ramnagar invited us with its small town lure, into the land of Song, Trumpet and Roar! And all three, we did experience! Each with a charm of its own. All together, the charms of Corbett.
Day 1: 2 safaris: A thrilling ride into the park, and just 15 min to go, and we were greeted by the roar itself. A couple tiger, mating in the area seemed to be calling out in lovey-dovey tones to each other. The riverbed shook, the trees trembled, as the roars reverberated across primeval grounds. We waited with bated breath for a single glimpse, elusive as they were, they refused to give in to our wishes! Yet this roaring start to the tour, was an indication of good times ahead, and we rode on deeper towards Dhikala. A brief stop at High Bank was the highlight of this safari, with sightings of crocodile and the rare gharial from far above.
Dhikala is to be seen to be believed. The unending chaurs i.e. the golden grasslands of tall elephant grass, the bare trees that tower as they seem to defy the far-off mountains. Dhikala is a dream world in itself. Not to mention, it is prime tiger territory and a wonderful home for our trumpeting friends. So six safaris and a comfortable stay in the forest rest house, in the heart of the jungle, being put to sleep by the jungle calls, it was! And one of the best time was time spent on the deck, from which the vast expanses of the Ramganga stretch out and make us privy to many a wildlife melodrama! We were lucky to witness one such drama, where a male tusker temporarily joined a herd, and was checking out the females for a mating proposition. Alas, his plans were discarded, as one by one, each diva turned him down, and he went his own way!
After a sumptuous lunch, it was time to track the forest denizens again. The cold wind biting into our lips, we embarked on the adventurous expedition. Looking for pugmarks, tracing the forest sounds, our guide and driver in tune, we set off! Some amazing birding moments wowed us, and we realized why Corbett was called the Land of the song, first and foremost. We enjoyed a chai break by the river side, as we took a pause to go “paar” or across the river. And some thrill it was- a rickety wooden bride, and our gypsy – a literal joy ride! We soaked in the beauty of the untouched Sal forests, as we continued our search for the striped one!
Day 2: 2 safaris: Waking up to the calls of the golden oriole bird was a treat in itself, and some piping hot chai revved up our spirits! Today was elephant day, for we had booked an elephant safari! Super fun way to enjoy the jungle, and go off the beaten tracks! Our carrier, a female elephant named Sonakali, was a wise old female, willing to join in our excitement! True thrill was unleashed as we crossed the flowing streams of the Ramganga river, our stead steady as a rock! Striding through the golden grasslands, with the leaves adorned with jewel-like dew, sparkling in the rising sun, was a visual treat! A sambar trio seemed amused at our sights, and quickly gave way to us, handsome antlered male in tow! And then, a call from the grasslands further in- signs of a predator. Our mahout cajoled Sonakali to go fast, and lo! We saw the remains of a freshly killed hog deer right below us! Surefire signs of a tiger in a vicinity! Our hopes high, we searched the chaurs like crazy men on a mission! But man proposes and tiger disposes, I learnt, as the tiger refused to come back to its kill, and was probably enjoying its own morning stroll amidst the mist! So we made our way back- A barking deer peered queerly at us, a spotted deer seemed nonchalant and a brown fish owl stared with a bored expression, at our elephant and us. Amusing fun! We then embarked on our usual jeep safari and caught some of the other denizens, a family of monkeys swimming across the Ramganga, being a unique revelation in wildlife transport!
Safari 2 started with a round of the open grasslands, and to our delight, our wild trunked friends greeted us in numbers. We enjoyed the social antics of the Asiatic elephants- two calved engaging in mischievous play, a mother and son displaying affection, a young tusker showing its dominance. Picturesque moments, captured, unique to Corbett. A wild boar seemed to be mildly irritated by the tusker overdose, while a hog deer leapt across our path, as we made our way back after some great bird-spotting and a beautiful sunset!
Day 3: 2 safaris: Day 3, and we were out to make our best shot with our cameras! We scanned the surroundings, for calls and marks. And then we had it. A single frantic call by a sambar, a sambar who was staring in panic at the bushes behind. A game of answering seemed to play out, as what he heard next was a ferocious growl, of such ferocity like never before. Truly irritated he was, the king of the jungle. “Why everyone couldn’t just shut u, the king seemed to say! We waited in pin-drop silence, our nerves on end. And then, slowly but surely he emerged from the thicket, cross the road. Not a glance here or there. Cooly and confidently, the emperor of the terai walked. We held our breaths and cocked our cameras, for spotting the tiger of the Terai was a feat like no others. It was moment to cherish forever. Later on, a silent hush extended, as if in respect to this powerful predator! Our excitement continued at the deck, where we spotted a handsome lone tusker, treading his way thorugh the waters.
Our last and foremost safari greeted us with an elephant encounter- a huge tusker blocking our path, as we followed him. He was going about his daily routine, uprooting the barks, peering curiously at us. He walked our track with a distinct elan- one that said that this path was truly his. We were mere passersby in this wild realm. Stubborn that he was, the mighty male stood his ground, compelling us to turn back and embark on an alternative path, if we were to exit in time!
Corbett was truly charming, and opened up our and our participants eyes to the power of the wild. We humans make many a plan (seeing a tiger, deciding on a way of path etc.) and yet, nature has the wills and ways to overturn it.
Sightings: Male tiger, elephant tusker, elephant herds, Wild boar, Sambar, Hog deer, spotted deer, barking deer, crocodile, gharial
Birds: 40+ species with key highlights of scarlet minivet, bushchat, peafowl, osprey, falcon, tawny fish owl, pallas fish eagle, brown fish owl, golden oriole, red headed vulture, jungle fowl, river lapwing etc,