Road trip in the hills – Uttarakhand in 7 days

Road trip in the hills
In the last week of May, I went on a road trip, a week of family time among the mountains in Uttarakhand. Although the tour didn’t go as planned, it still ended up as a relaxing one. The temperature wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be, but at least it wasn’t boiling up there. It rained sometimes, and those occasional rains helped in keeping the heat bearable.

And here is how the days unfurled themselves.

Day 1 –

The plane arrived at Delhi airport on time and we de-boarded. It’s 10 AM, the Innova (and the driver) was waiting, and the trip begins. The destination’s Nainital.

For the next two hours, we still were in Delhi, getting past the NCR – National Capital Region. You may think the area is vast, but it was mostly due to the traffic. But not to worry, we would be in Nainital in the next few hours (by 7 pm, according to Maps). After travelling for about 4 hours, we stopped for lunch.

There was still no sign of hills or a drop in temperature. All I could see was the jungle, the concrete jungle and dust. A hot sunny day it was. The journey continued. After about two hours, we were finally in the greens. It was early evening and getting dark by then. So, nothing exciting happened on our first day.

After driving through the curves, we were near our destination by 8. Although we couldn’t see the scene at that time, the moon looked amazing, and I turned my window glass down to get some air… the smell of fresh air. And the first glimpse of Nainital lights came after a few minutes.

After moving through the traffic, we were in our rooms for the night.

Day 2 –

We went out after having our breakfast. The first stop was the Himalayan ViewPoint – a location few kilometres ahead of Nainital. We spent some time there photographing the mountain ranges and then on our way back to Nainital. There was another Snow View Point, Lover’s Point and also a Suicide Point on the way, which we skipped altogether.

There was nothing much for the day and we, instead, asked the driver to drive us to Ranikhet. At about 11:30, we were on our way up… to Ranikhet. The idea was to enjoy the scenes and do nothing – we were on a road trip, after all.

We reached the town in two hours, but there were no tourist spots that sound interesting. So, we drove back to Nainital. We were back at the hotel by 4 pm. While others went for a stroll on the crowded Mall Road below, I stayed back to read few more pages from the novel. The novel, which I started reading almost half a year ago. 😛

Naini Lake
The view of Naini Lake from the room

Oh, did I forget to mention the Naini Lake? It was right outside the window, across the Mall Road. I was more interested in the view than boating, so I didn’t step down in the water. I sat beside the window, reading and enjoying the rains. Yep, it was raining… heavy downpour.

Well, we had our dinner on time and the day ended!

Day 3 –

We are going to Corbett today, excited for the safari, unaware of the shock that was coming. We left after breakfast. On the way, we paid a visit to the Cave Gardens, in Nainital itself. It’s a place where you can see artificial caves of various wild animals like lion, fox and bear among others.

A plate of carrots
A plate of carrots at the waterfall
A fruit stall
The fruit stall at Sarita Taal

Our next stop was Sarita Taal, a small lake, sort-of water reservoir. Nothing special there, just a quick break, photographs and fruits! A person was selling plums and berries, we bought some and went off. There was a waterfall nearby, where we stopped again, before continuing towards Corbett.

At 1, we were in our hotel at Ramnagar. Although we told the booking agent to get us rooms in one of the government rest houses within the wildlife reserve, he got us a private hotel. The reason to opt for a rest house is that they are closer to the wildlife abode. The agent didn’t book any safari and told us that you could book Corbett Safari by paying at the hotel itself.

So, we approached the reception, and they said they don’t book safaris in the reserved area, only the forest offices do it. Corbett Safari booked through hotels take you only to the Sitabani area nearby, but not inside the Jim Corbett National Park. So, we had no choice except booking it through the national park office in Ramnagar.

We took the address and went there, but the office was closed and the bookings already full. 😱

Now, we had nothing to do for the two days we were in Ramnagar. We went back to the hotel and booked the Corbett Landscape Safari, Sitabani for the next morning. Something is better than nothing, isn’t it?

Well, that was all the adventure for the third day.

Day 4 –

Water Stream
One of the streams we crossed

It’s the safari day today. We had the morning 5 am slot booked for the Landscape Safari, and our safari driver-cum-guide came on time. And we were off to Sitabani area, few kilometres away. In the next three hours in the forest, we didn’t see anything except some deers and a few birds. Tigers? You can’t expect them here; they are in the national park area.

It was, however, fun to drive through the wilds and over small streams of water. Ahhh, there also was a beautiful lake there, a small one and a temple (dedicated to Sita). We were back to the hotel by 9:30 for breakfast, and then, there was nothing else to do for the entire day. Yup, the day was at leisure. 😁

So, while I was wasting away the time, I received a call from one of the staffs at the national park office. Oh, I forgot! One of the staffs we met yesterday, told us he would give us a call if any booking for the morning safari gets cancelled. We checked with him in the night, but there was no cancellation.

Lake in Corbett Sitabani
The lake in the Corbett Sitabani area

But he called in the afternoon, next day (today), to tell there is a slot available for the safari which will leave within an hour. We got ourselves prepared, and he picked us from our hotel for the Dhela zone safari. There are five zones for jeep safari within the Jim Corbett National Park – Dhikala, Bijrani, Durga Devi, Jhirna and Dhela.

Dhikala zone is the best, largest and the farthest (from Ramnagar). And in the peak seasons, booking is full 3-4 weeks before. Anyways we were, finally, going for the Corbett Jeep Safari. But, alas, we couldn’t spot any tiger. They are in sight usually during the morning safari, but the lucky ones can see them in evenings too.

But, in the end, all we could see were deers, jackals, some species of birds and one of the watchtowers. Oh, also the sunset! Two hours in the wild and we were back home by 7… hotel. Although I couldn’t see a tiger (or a group of tigers), there will be no regrets at least, that we couldn’t go for the safari. Thanks to Mohd. Islam, the staff there. 🙂

The sunset at Corbett
The sunset at Corbett National Park

Day 5 –

After spending two nights in Corbett… OK, Ramnagar, we left for Mussoorie – our last stop in Uttarakhand. The sky was clear (and so was the road), and we sped past the forests. In the next few hours, we were crossing Haridwar, moving slowly through the traffic.

And we were in Dehradun by 4, where we stopped for tea and to meet Abhishek. He is my best friend and one of the oldest (20 years… and counting). 😉

Tired me
OK… I am tired

An hour of chit-chat and we moved towards our destination, one hour to go. And it was getting dark. We, however, reached Mussoorie on time, but then, heavy traffic happened (the perks of being there on the weekend). Accompanied by heavy rains and narrow mountainous roads, another hour passed before we reached our hotel.

What next? Dinner and sleep. It was going to be a busy day tomorrow. 😉

Day 6 –

The day starts with breakfast and then a long wait. Someone parked their car behind ours, and there was no one in there. After waiting for about an hour, we, finally, were on our way to Mussoorie sightseeing. The first in the list was Kempty Falls – a small but crowded waterfall.

There were shops by the sides and restaurants (a lot of them), and a large number of tourists. Nothing spectacular in there and we went to Company Bagh. Company Bagh (or Garden) is a place lined with flowers and shrubs. There is an artificial waterfall, and you will love it if you want to sit somewhere doing nothing except looking at people.

Like the Kempty Falls, this park too was buzzing with people of all ages. Oh, there also was a show going on, some 12D show and the park also has a museum – a wax museum with poorly designed statues. The only thing which I liked there was the cool shikanji (lime juice) being sold in one of the many stalls at the gate. 😋

We were hungry, so we went down the hill for lunch, away from the city to a less crowded area. And we were back for the lake – the Mussoorie Lake. And the road was so good that it took about two hours to cover those five kilometres. We stayed at that small lake for few minutes and asked the driver to take us back to the hotel.

We skipped the Lal Tibba viewpoint as the road was narrow up there and includes a bit of hiking. Not for me! The day was over, and we were back to the hotel by 5.

Day 7 –

Everyone’s leaving Uttarakhand today. Although the vacation didn’t go as exciting as it seemed, it did end up as a road trip… a nice one. With plenty of time in hand, we left for Dehradun after breakfast. And when you have time (lots of it), heavy traffic balances it.

Nopes, we didn’t miss our flight back home.

See you soon! 😉

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