Getting geared up for my second trip to Corbett next weekend. My first trip was in 2008 when I had availed a KMVN package from Delhi. This time it will be a drive in trip. Last time we had stayed at the Dhikala FRH complex. This time we be staying at the Gairal Forest Rest House. Gairal FRH is also supposed to be a self sufficient complex. On my return, my blog will have review of both Dhikala and Gairal complexs.
Wiser from the experiences of last visit, we knew that our second visit will be a drive in one. A drive in trip requires acomodation in any of the FRH which has to be booked directly with Corbett authorities. The net result is that we will be getting full 2 days inside the park and no missing safari trip because of shortages of safari vehicle. You can actually drive around in the park if you have your own vehicle. Of course you have to be familiar with the park. The entry permits are issued for 2 nights which means you have to report back on 3rd day. When we took the KMVN package, we effectively got only 1 full day inside the park as travelling by road from Delhi we could arrive at Ramnagar only by noon and Dhikala by afternoon. Thus day 1 was wasted in reaching Dhikala, day 2 was spent inside and day 3 we had to leave by 10 am. This time we will be leaving Delhi a day prior to our reservation date. After collecting the gate passes for next day, we plan to retire in a private resort that dots the highway from Ramnagar to Dhanagiri gate. As there are 77 resorts in the area and we are a group of 4 families, we can expect a good bargain for a night stay. We can enter the park early next morning. By driving own cars we will not be wasting time in hiring a jeep.
Booking accommodation directly is a painful and laborious process, but worth it. However, if you want to experience the real Corbett, then you have to manage your stay in one of the FRHs deep inside forest. Dhikala is 31 KM and Gairal 18 KM inside from the Dhanagiri gate. These are solar powered complexes with electric fencing for your protection. All packages offered by private tour operators are for resorts outside the park. You are allowed to enter the core zone through the Dhanagiri gate only if have confirmed accommodation in a FRH. If you stay in private resort then your chances of visiting this core zone is almost nil and have to satisfy yourself by visiting smaller tourism zones like Birjani and Zirna. We faxed our accommodation request for Feb 2010 in the last week of December 2009. You need to plan at least a month ahead, better if you can send the request 2 months ahead. We had given many dates like all combination of Fri + Sat, Sat + Sun and Sun + Mon to ensure that we can use the weekend and manage the 4 day trip with 2 days leave. This followed several phone calls to ascertain that the fax has been received. We were informed that the our request no was 120 in queue for February. The accommodation was confirmed in the last week January. On confirmation we had to make a DD in SBI (only bank they accept) for payment which was Rs.1250/- per room per night and then send the DD by Speed Post. We followed up to ascertain that DD has been received which confirms the booking. Room rates have gone up considerably. The rates given in their website are quite outdated. It probably has been revised twice. I will be able to put up complete information on return. But as of now, tentative room rent is Rs.1250 + Rs.250 (Housekeeping charges) = Rs.1500/= per night. Even then it is cheaper than private run packages which quotes a per person rate of about 3000.
If you want to book FRH accommodation, then send a fax addressed to the Director, Corbett Tiger Reserve, Ramnagar – 244715. Fax no. is 05947 – 251012. Booking office telefax is 05947 – 251376 for following up activities. The fax should have your address, contact no and tentative dates. It has to be a range of dates rather than being just two dates.