Nainital and Pangot

Kumaon Division, Uttarakhand

This experience is ideal for those of you who like being in the midst of nature, enjoy long walks, bird watching (you don't need to be an expert) and lesser known built heritage. Some of the properties you will be staying in will most likely have no television in the rooms and Internet data / wifi will be sketchy. Not ideal for people who like to party all night long with blaring music or people with mobility issues as some of the places are not handicap accessible. Get a book or two, board games, star gaze and be thankful that you are in nature, breathing fresh air. 

Itinerary (can be customized to your request): 

Day 1 
Drive from Delhi early or take the early morning (06:00) train from Delhi to Kathgodam train station (train tickets in the Shatabdi must be booked at-least 45 days in advance). An hour later and after having driven to an elevation of almost 7,000 feet you will reach Nainital and check in to a heritage homestay which is once where Jim Corbett lived for some time. Post lunch, go on a nature trail to get an aerial view of Nainital. 

Governor's Mansion - Nainital
Governor's Mansion - Nainital

Day 2
After breakfast, visit Gurney House (provided the owners are not in residence when you visit). Gurney House is where Corbett lived for during the last few years before he left for Kenya. This part of Nainital still retains it's former Colonial past as there are several bungalows, some are still big two acre plots complete with tennis courts.

Nainital's Golf Course
Nainital's Golf Course

Visit the Governor's Mansion or Raj Bhawan, a 90 bedroom Scottish gothic style mansion created in 1900. The mansion is still used by the Governor when he / she is in town and adjoins a beautiful nine hole golf course. If time permits, I can even arrange for a private tour of one of Nainital's boarding schools, some more than 150 years old. Kumaoni (local food) lunch in town. No trip to Nainital is complete unless you walk the upper and lower Mall road. Walk the Mall with me and discover the favorite hang out places of boarding school kids. You are free to explore the town, go on a boat ride or grab a drink or pastries at Sakley's Cafe. 

Nainital Lake
Nainital Lake

Day 3
After breakfast, proceed to Pangot (a scenic 30-45 minutes drive from Nainital) - the 2nd leg of our trip. Enroute, stop to take pictures of the kidney shaped Nainital lake and if it's a clear day, you will be blessed to see snow clad upper Himalayan peaks. You will be staying at a wilderness lodge in Pangot, one of handful of villages in the Naina Devi Himalayan Bird Conservation Reserve, away from commercial hustle and surrounded by never ending cedar, rhododendron and pine trees. All meals at the lodge as there are no restaurants in the area.

Post lunch, go bird watching. The Reserve is home to hundreds of species of birds as it falls in the annual migration route of species seeking to get away from the biting cold while other's use it as a nesting ground before they migrate in late spring to the upper ranges of the Himalayas. Besides the Koklas and Cheer Pheasants (which draws many a bird nerd to Pangot), the Reserve is home to several species of thrushes, vultures, barbets, minivets, owls, shrikes, fly catchers, finches and more. 

Yellow Throated Pine Martin Pangot
Yellow Throated Pine Martin Pangot

Mammals include the ravenous Yellow Throated Pine Martin, the nimble Himalyan Goral, the easily scared Barking Deer, the sleepy Himalayan Black Bear and the Leopard, besides others. As a kid I remember seeing the Himalyan Blue Sheep or Bharal but I hear they have migrated to higher altitudes due to loss of habitat. Back to the lodge for tea and coffee and watch the valley transform as the sun sets. Dinner and bonfire (weather dependent).

Rhododendron Flowers Uttarakhand
Rhododendron Flowers

Day 4
Early morning guided nature walk. If you are visiting the Reserve during Spring (Feb - April), you may see the beautiful red flowers of the Rhododendron tree light up entire mountains. You can also visit a couple of historic Forest Rest Houses that were built during the Colonial times. Most of the rest houses command an excellent view but offer minimal in service and luxury. If you so desire, breakfast can be packed for you so you can eat en-route. Depending on the group's fitness and enthusiasm you can walk anywhere from two to 25 KM. 

Sunset from Pangot
Sunset from Pangot

Day 5
Check out post breakfast to catch the train or drive back to Delhi from Kathgodam. 

Depends on number of people, length of stay and customization in the itinerary. Contact or +91 9717148483.

Himalayan Goral
Himalayan Goral

Please Note:
  • There is no guarantee that you will see the above wildlife. The river and / or sanctuary is their habitat and sightings depend on water level in the river, human interference, climatic conditions, weather and other factors, migratory pattern of birds, most of which are beyond your and my control. I will do my best to show you all there is to see. 
  • What to carry during the safari: photo identification, camera, binoculars, warm jacket (in the winter), backpack, sun glasses, cap, vizer, sun block, some cash, and drinking water.
  • Smoking and drinking alcohol is strictly not permitted in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • Please do not throw trash on the floor even if you don't see a trash can. Please ask your guide to help your dispose it off properly.
  • To prevent any disturbance to wildlife, I do not permit the use of any call playback to attract birds, feeding or baiting of wildlife. Despite this, if you do and are caught by the authorities or called out by locals or fellow wildlife enthusiasts, then you are entirely on your own - embarrassment, fines and other penalties as per the prevalent laws governing national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are to be borne by you.