“After my packaged tour on the Palace on Wheels, I made a side trip of four days to the Corbett Tiger Sanctuary (above). Depending on your preferences or point of view, it could be considered a tour worth taking.
“The upsides were:
1) The cost for accommodation was reasonable, about US$120 per night per couple, inclusive of most meals.
2) Charges for guides and vehicles were relatively low. US$100 for vehicle, driver and guide for a four-hour session within the reserve, before gratuities. Each additional person up to a maximum of four was charged US$5.
3) The service was excellent.
“In Mr. Neelankar I had a first-class guide who was acknowledged to be the bird expert among his cohort. The park is run by the government, and they follow a roster system, so the guides are supposed to take turns as tourists arrive to book trips. But since I found him so knowledgeable after the second day, it was arranged, for suitable consideration, that he guided my party during the rest of my stay there.
“The downsides were:
1) Though Corbett is only 185 km from New Delhi, I did not realise that the journey normally took five hours – the same as the flight time from Singapore. On my outward journey, traffic was heavy, so we required over six hours.
2) On the way back, there was a major accident on the usual access road, leading to its closure. Our driver took an unfamiliar route. We did not get back to New Delhi till after dark, after more than eight hours on very rough back roads.
3) Cross-country vehicle rides within the park itself can be really rough. The weather can change from 10 degrees Celcius in the mornings and evenings to 30 degrees plus when the sun is up.
4) Though I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there, it may not be to everyone’s taste. There is not much else to do except look for animals, look for animals and look for more animals. Since that is a nature reserve, not a zoo, the animals follow their own schedules and do not turn up when you want them to.
“Also, some of them turn up unannounced and come to look for you.”
Lee Chiu San
21st January 2013
Top image by YC Wee, bottom image by Lee Chiu San.