Walking Amongst Tigers
View of the beautiful and pristine Ramganga river.
The Plan: On 25th Mar '22 at 18:55 my phone rings, it's Dr Caesar on the other line. Dr: "Hi Kane, DCP Expeditions has an invite to a beautiful place in Uttarakhand, called Jamoon. It's adjoining Jim Corbett National Park. They want us to visit and explore the place." Me: "Sure doc! Let's plan things out." Within a few days, our travel dates were finalised, flight tickets booked, all arrangements done and the trip was officially on! All that we knew about the place was from the naturalist there, Mayuresh Hendre and the Jamoon website - www.leisurehotels.co.in/jamoon-corbett-national-park Oh boy, that was just the tip of the iceberg :) The Team:
Left to Right: Jamoon camp- Mayuresh Hendre. DCP Expeditions camp- Dr. Caesar Sengupta, Soumabrata Moulick & yours truly.
The Trip: Finally, the day arrived, we did the last con-call to see if we had everything ready for the journey ahead. Camera gear, check. Flashes, check. All accessories, check. Triggers, check. Dr Caesar and I travelled from Mumbai and Som joined us in Delhi at 10:45 PM. We travelled the entire night by car and reached our first pit stop, The Riverview Retreat, Corbett by 4:30 AM. Mayuresh was there to greet us; we checked into a room to freshen up. Dr Caesar hadn't slept a wink throughout the night journey. P.S. The best possible way to get to Corbett from Delhi is by train to the nearest railhead, Ramnagar. Day 01: We sat up chatting and discussing our plan ahead, not realising that by then it was time for us to leave for the next lap of our journey. The safari jeep was waiting, we had a nice cup of tea while our bags and baggage got loaded and started our 2 hours drive through the winding roads of Sal tree forests. Even during the end of April, the weather was quite nippy at 6:30 in the morning.
The drive was beautiful, we passed the Kosi/Koshi river that flows through China, Nepal and India. Along the way, we spotted a Crested Serpent Eagle perched on an open branch, Rufous Sibia, a few Mahseer fishes and a freshwater crocodile basking on the banks of the river.
The drive through winding roads, it beckons you to come back.
The road ahead | Our last stop, Basseri.
At 8:45 AM we reached Basseri/Bassedi, from here we had to trek down to Jamoon, which is near the banks of the river Ramganga. We were met by Raju Ji alongside a few porters and two mules to carry our camera gears, luggage and ration. For the regulars the trek usually takes a little over an hour, we being so physically fit, (read sarcasm) it took us an hour more than the usual time. The summer heat didn't make it easier, but the brave hearts that we are, we trod on in the hopes to see paradise! The forest floor was strewn with a carpet of dried leaves of Sal trees; we saw fresh tiger pug marks on the way and loads of curry leaf plants just growing wild. ALAS! We reached Jamoon at 10:46 AM. The beautiful but simple dining area welcomed us.
Mayuresh leading the way into the resort | The dining area.
The accommodation at Jamoon is self-contained tents, currently, there are 5 twin bed tents with a good spacious attached bathroom. We checked in and after some much-needed shut-eye, we had a scrumptious lunch. The chef, Jagdeep is one creative chef, who surprises you with many wonderful dishes. The closest village where one can go grocery shopping is Shankarpur, about two and half hours from Jamoon.
Pic credit: Mayuresh Hendre
Post lunch we discussed the different areas where we could set up the camera traps, some are easy and a few are quite difficult to get to. Mayuresh knows the place like the back of his hand; we zeroed in on a few spots and set out at 4:30 PM to start setting up our camera traps. We reached the first spot where two nights before Mayuresh's camera captured two porcupines and a small Indian palm civet. As the spot was very promising we set up one camera here and moved on. The next location was downhill near the banks of the Ramganga river, while approaching the spot we saw many tiger pug marks, a few from adults and a few from tiger cubs. Our excitement grew as the potential to get a tiger in the camera trap was very high on this trail. We set up the second camera here, tested the trigger and flash, and then started our trek uphill to reach the third location. By the time we set up our third camera, it was past 7 PM, we checked everything and moved to the bunker which was close to this spot.
View of the watering hole from the bunker. The bunker faces the West, it has beds and benches. It is partially below ground level to enable one to get almost eye-level shots. There is a large watering hole where a lot of birds and mammals come to drink water before retiring for the day, two LED lights light the waterhole and assist the camera in focusing. With our cameras and flashes setup we waited in the bunker; we could hear the tiger roaring in the distance, barking deer calls getting louder and closer which meant the tiger was on the move and our hopes were high that the camera traps would get some shots. Since there was no activity at the watering hole we headed back to the resort at 9:30 PM. Post dinner we retired early, it had been a rather long and strenuous day for us. Day 02: The alarm went off at 5:30 AM, I looked through the netted sheet of the tent and realised that there is a group of spotted deer (Chittal) and one Barking deer just outside our tents. I grabbed the camera and took a few shots. The light was very poor and the deer were already aware of my presence there. They had a quick drink at the birdbath and moved on. By 6:00 AM I was at the birdbath waiting for my feathered friends to show up. I was later joined by Som and Caesar. Since it wasn't peak birding season we saw and photographed a few bird species at the hide. Chestnut-tailed starling, Indian White-eye, White-capped bunting, Spotted and collared doves, Mynas, Himalayan Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Red Whiskered Bulbul, and Jungle Babblers.
Jungle Babbler, Spotted Dove, Himalayan Bulbul, Barking Deer, Spotted Deers After a good breakfast, we noticed two mulberry trees just behind the dining area with ripe mulberries! We plucked about two dozen, they were sweet, yummy and very refreshing.
Risk-taking inspired by 'Man v/s Wild' | Ripe mulberry on the tree | Plucked goodness on my palm
An hour later we marched on with the excitement of what possible species we would have got in the camera traps.
The first camera trap did not yield any, not even a porcupine or a civet let alone a tiger. We reset the trap and moved on to the second location near the banks of the Ramganga river, checked the camera and YES! We got a tigress crossing the path at 5:30 in the morning. Raju ji and Mayuresh said that we were very lucky to get a tiger on the very first night!
Tigress crossing the camera trap Since we were so close to the river Som and I took a dip in the cold, but bearable waters of Ramganga. After a refreshing swim and monkeying around we approached the third camera trap, but like the first one, we got nothing. No movement of any animal on that trail! This is one of the reasons why camera trapping can be so addictive, you can never be sure of what nature drops in your lap. The thing is that you have to keep trying until you get what you have planned. With at least one camera getting something we were happy and returned to the resort for lunch and some rest. Started out again at 3:30 PM to change a camera battery and to make some changes to camera settings. By 5:00 PM we entered the bunker, this proved to be better timing than day one. Many bird species have started to prefer the watering hole to the birdbath near the tents. A Dollar bird made a surprising dive, White Crested Laughingthrush, Woodpeckers, Orange-Headed Thrush, a pair of Rusty-Cheeked Scimitar Babblers came just before sunset. A barking deer approached the watering hole but backed off after noticing some movement in the bunker. Eventually, it did come to the water gave us a few shots and backed off again. Spotted deer did the same. By 9 PM there was no movement at all, only occasional calls of a barking deer and peacock.
Day 03: We were up by 5:30 AM, awaiting some good news from Mayuresh and Raju Ji, they had gone to fetch our cameras as we were to leave by 6:30 for our journey back into civilisation. In the interim, I went and sat in the bird hide and within a minute of me entering the hide, I got a few shots of the Grey-headed woodpecker at the birdbath. A good start to the day! While at the breakfast table we were informed that only one of the three cameras got an image, that of a Masked Palm Civet. There was no movement of tigers or any other animal on our other camera trap trails. With our bags packed we bid adieu to this lovely place that touched our hearts and it has left an everlasting print on our minds. Jamoon is a jewel nestled in the lap of the Ramganga river. The beauty of the place mesmerizes you, it disconnects you from the civilised world and connects you with 'NATURE'.
Team DCP with the hard-working staff of Jamoon We at DCP Expeditions are very grateful and thank Jamoon Corbett and Mayuresh for letting us peek into its splendour and wonderment. It's a place one has to experience first-hand and not experience it reading a blog. :) We will definitely return with a few enthusiastic people who love nature and the rawness it has to offer. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- #dcpexpeditions #jamooncorbett #nikon #canon #olympus #tukabot #camtraption #tigers