Wilderness Getaways from Delhi

Trekking in Himalaya

Here are a few of my favorite destinations for weekend getaways for those of you living in or are visiting Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). 

These getaways are family friendly, for nature and wildlife lovers, mostly pet friendly, great for amateurs or professional photographers, expats and repats, solo and group travelers looking to explore places not too far away from Delhi.

Nainital District, Uttarakhand

best sunrises in himalayas
Not your average sunrise

If you love the mountains then Nainital is the closest 'hill station' for people living in Delhi. The roads are in good condition or you can even take one of the three comfortable trains (5-7 hours) to this town of lakes in the Himalayas. Get off at Kathgodam train station and hire a taxi from outside the station to take you to Nainital and beyond.

Misty Naintal Lake
Mist on Nainital Lake

I'm not a big fan of visiting Nainital in the summer because there are traffic jams and way too many tourists and that just defeats the purpose of a quiet weekend getaway. Instead, I like to go in the monsoons (July onwards) when it's misty and raining or November and December or March and April. Winter gets less traffic, is quiet, warm sunny days, clear blue skies and hence amazing views of the upper Himalayas and crisp cold but clear nights. 

Naini Lake
Nainital Lake

If this is your first trip to Nainital, you could do some of the touristy activities first. These include a leisure walk or a rickshaw ride up and down the Mall Road, hike or go on a horse up to Tiffin Top for breathtaking aerial views of the Naini Lake, visit Jim Corbett's home (Gurney House), take a tour of the 120 year old Scottish Gothic architecture inspired Governor's Mansion or go for a boat ride on the Lake. If you have done these in the past, then I would suggest you go on short trips around Nainital which there are several of. Please ask for other destinations if you've already been to the ones below.

Sattal Lake 

Birdwatching near Sattal Lake
Birdwatching, Sattal Lake

Sattal Lake is very quiet compared to Nainital and is in complete wilderness thanks to it being a protected forest
. Think of Sattal as what Nainital would have been when it was initially discovered in the 19th century by the British. Sattal is a haven for bird-watchers and if you're a birder like me, read this - Birding in Sattal. Ideal for families with young children, get them to enjoy being in nature at a young age. 

Pangot & Naina Devi Bird Conservation Reserve

Birds of Pangot
Scarlet Minivet

Surrounded by  pine, rhododendron and cedar forests and a great place for people seeking solitude, birdwatching and a digital detox, Pangot is just an hour drive from Nainital. Keep your eyes focused on the road towards Pangot as you might spot local wildlife such as the barking deer, yellow throated pine martin, pheasants, Himalayan goral (mountain goat) and if you're lucky even a leopard. 

Beautiful stone architecture in Pangot
Locally sourced eco lodge in Pangot

There are multiple options to stay in this area too. Great place to take your kids especially if you think they're getting too addicted too fast to all things digital.

Jim Corbett National Park

Birds of Corbett
Great Indian Hornbill, Jim Corbett National Park

About six hours from Delhi, you can do morning or afternoon jungle safaris in Corbett National Park or if you don't mind simplicity then highly recommend you to stay inside the National Park in one of the Forest Rest Houses. Read more about my favorite part of the Park - Dhikala here.

Some parts of the Park are closed (including Dhikala) from July to October (monsoon season) so please check with me for the latest on park opening dates. If you've never been on a jungle safari before, read my post on How to do a Safari Right!

A tigress during the Jungle Safari
A tigress during the Jungle Safari

Beyond Taj Mahal - Agra

If you're planning to visit Agra (during the winter season - October to March) for the big marble of love, then plan to stay an extra night or two. I guarantee you won't regret it. There is more to Agra than just the historical bit. Within an hour drive from the city you are surrounded by raw nature and wildlife. Agra and wildlife?? No, I'm not joking!

Chambal River Safari near Agra
Chambal River Safari near Agra

If you like nature and wildlife, I highly recommend a river safari (on a motor boat) on the Chambal River - one of India's last remaining 'alive' river eco-systems. You can spot gharial crocodiles, marsh crocodiles, giant soft shell turtles, several migratory birds and more. Absolutely safe being around these massive reptiles. For details read Chambal River Safari

Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur

Sarus Cranes in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur
Sarus Cranes in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur

Another great option and my favourite if you're traveling as a family is the famous Keoladeo National Park. Back in the day, this area was the hunting ground of the former Maharaja of Bharatpur. Great to be here in the Winter, pack a picnic basket and enjoy the winter sun in one of the designated areas inside the Park. 

Birds of Keoladeo National Park
Lesser whistling ducks

To explore the National Park, you can walk, rent a bi-cycle or be more comfortable in a rickshaw or a golf cart. If you're a birdwatcher like me, you've come to the right place. I can be your naturalist if you're keen to visit the Park.

Ramathra Fort, Karauli District

Ramathra Fort
Ramathra Fort

A seven hour drive from Delhi brings you to one of Rajasthan's hidden gems - Ramathra Fort.  Read more about this 17th century luxury fort hotel here and what makes it worth the drive from Delhi. 

Sariska National Park

Under four hour drive from Delhi brings you to Delhi NCR's closest national park - Sariska. Although not so popular as it's sister - Ranthambore, Sariska is back in action with a growing tiger population and if you've seen enough tigers then I highly recommend the area for it's remarkable built heritage - ancient temples, forts. If you're in Sariska on a moon-less night, I can also arrange a pretty decent star gazing experience for you as this is one of the least light-polluted places in the entire region. Read more about Sariska here.

Chambal River Safari - Kota 

Chambal River Safari, Kota
Chambal River Safari, Kota

If its a long weekend, then you can also visit the Kota (3.5 hours from Jaipur) which is more than just an educational hub. The landscape, fauna and flora are very different than what you get to see at the Chambal River near Agra. You can also do the famous Ranthambore National Park (also 3.5 hours from Jaipur) if you are keen to see the tiger.

Please email info@travelwith.in if you have any questions or would like to visit any of the above destinations.