Destination : Dhela, Uttarakhand.
Distance traveled : 640km
Duration : 2 nights 3 days
Budget : INR 38000 for 2 inclusive of accommodation, food, alcohol, safari, petrol etc
It was another evening of Amazon prime video, Netflix and our culinary misadventures when my wife mentioned our last impromptu road trip. That was in the early days of our dating and was a series of unfortunate events over couple of days. Getting our car blocked in the hills, visits to the police station, a Tyre sidewall burst and a non functioning jack in the middle of the highway. After having another laugh over that horror show, we decided it was time for another road trip.
How did we decide upon Corbett? We had only 2 days for the trip and we are based in Delhi NCR. So it was the hills or the desert. We both hadn't been to Corbett national park and we adore animals. Once the location was decided we had to find our accommodation. Cue 2 days of research. We didn't want to scrimp on that aspect since we would be spending 15 hours in the car in 2 days so at least had to be well rested wherever we decided to stay. Jim's Jungle Retreat near Jhirna gate was well recommended online and we soon found a package that worked for us. The team at JJR was constantly in touch with us to set our 2 day itinerary with multiple activities which got us very excited.
Day-1. We left our home on the dot at 6am as we wanted to get there by noon. We had packed some snacks and breakfast for the road so that we could take advantage of the clear morning roads. However, that plan went awry as it just kept raining throughout the trip leading to traffic delays. The heavy fog around Noida didn't help either. But, we ploughed through. The road and our cucumber sandwiches and Chai. The drive became real pleasant after Hapur and as we got closer to the uttarakhand border. Few twists on the road, single lanes. Music on loud, Chai sipping every now and then and good conversation. 7 hours later, we see the board for JJR.
After a quick checkin and discussion with the lead resident naturalist, we got to our lodge. Stunningly designed cottage that have you a great vantage over the sprawling property. Post a light lunch and some R&R we were ready for a walk around the JJR property with a naturalist. We learnt a lot about the wildlife and fauna over the next couple of hours walking around the 15 acre property. The property was built on denuded agricultural land on the corbett buffer zone so the management had spent 20 years restoring the land to its former forest glory. No lawns or wastage of water, solar power everywhere. Only organic food is served and that too on a farm to table concept. We walked around the nursery from which our lunch was prepped. Listening to the sound of the buffer forest, we were very pleased with ourselves.
We had tea at their Cafe and were back at the lodge to rest. A nice bottle of Bordeaux along with the sound of rain falling on the earth does wonders to forget about the polluted NCR. The dinner that night was beyond fantastic. Heavy emphasis on local flavor profiles but executed to perfection. Perfect end to a long but fulfilling day.