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Trip Report Delhi, Corbett, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Leh

Trip Report Delhi, Corbett, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Leh

Aug 2nd, 2008, 07:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 74
Trip Report Delhi, Corbett, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Leh

We arrived in Delhi on June 12, after a smooth flight on Air France from Miami to Paris, Paris to Delhi. There was a long line to clear immigration at the Delhi Airport but it moved fast. Leaving immigration, we walked the gang plank and saw our driver holding a sign right away. So far, Kumar Taxi service was fantastic. I hadn't paid them a dime and had some reservations whether they would be at the airport as we had agreed on the internet. We had a reservation for the night in Delhi at Shanti Home. Due to the iron gates closed in neighborhoods, our driver Qayum had a difficult time finding the way into the area of our hotel. When we arrived at Shanti Home, we were greeted with a marigold flower lei and welcome drink. The hotel has an atmospheric rooftop restaurant, new bathroom with chrome bathroom fixtures and lots of granite, nice wooden furniture, TV and free internet area. We lined the room up on the internet before we left Miami. Qayum asked us what time we wanted to leave in the morning before he left us.

June 13, we had a masala omlette, home fries, toast, and fruit on the rooftop restaurant. Qayum was right on time at the hotel to pick us up. We stopped at Kumar Taxi's office on Connaught Place before we left Delhi to pay them the agreed upon price. Qayum stopped at a Jain Temple for us to walk around and take a couple of pictures, as well as other interesting places on the drive.

It took us 9 hours, not the 6 we had estimated to get to the Corbett Quality Inn. Qayum stopped at an Indian lunch place that he said would be safe to eat at. We had mixed vegetables, chowmein noodles, dosi masala, and potato roti. The extra three hours gave us a chance to recover from the jetlag. There were many road taxes that were included in the price on the way to Corbett. The Corbett Quality Inn is located by a river inside a teak forest. The property has mango trees everywhere. We stayed in a charming stone air condioned cottage. Many Indian tourists stayed there. I think we were the only Americans staying there. The buffet dinner was served at 9pm due to power outages in the area. Some of the dishes were paneer, jackfruit, spicy papadan, tomato soup, fried rice, noodles, dahl, mutton, chicken, and fruit pudding. We fell asleep to the sound of rain on the roof. Unlike other places in the world, the rain did not come into the room. The heat has not been bad so far. Don't know how or why, but there were no mosqitoes in the area! We arranged a 6am elephant safari ride for tomorrow.

June 14, We got right up at the 5:30am knock on our door and walked outside to see our elephant and his mahoot by a stone cottage. We walked upstair to an open air terrace to mount the elephant. We took a 6am to 8am ride through a teak forest. Saw many large sambar deer, smaller spotted deer, a baby white cobra, and one magnificent tiger. The animals weren't spooked by the elephant walking by them. Most of the pictures I took from the elephant were spectacular. Some pictures were blurry from the jerking on the elephant.

We got back to the hotel about 9am and had an egg white omlette and fruit for breakfast. We took a walk around the grounds of the hotel. In the afternoon we arranged with the hotel for a six hour afternoon safari. Qayum drove us to the park gate at 12 noon, but nobody knew anything about our reservation. We found out we had overpaid the hotel manager about $15, but we had no receipt and didn't see our bus. We asked Qayum to take us back to the hotel to get a receipt or cancel the reservation. There was road work and paving going on so we barely made it back to the hotel before 1pm to cancel the safari for us. We told the assistant manager that we wanted to see the manager and that we'd check out today and wanted the money back for the safari. I told him that I would complain to Best Western. Suddenly the manage appeared and found a jeep drive to race us back to Kikala Park gate. This ride was worth whatever we overpaid him. I told my wife to hold on and enjoy the ride. This driver ignored the traffic jam and road work that was going on. The road workers were yelling at the driver to stop, he simply drove on the grass and where there was no grass he drove on the newly paved road that wasn't dry yet. The road workers mouths' were in a stunned open position. We arrived on time and hopped on a large safari vehicle. We saw many Sambar, spotted, and barking deer, herds of elephants, and large lizards. We stoped by Dikula lodge area. These two Americans were interviewed by several international news reporters who wanted me to say that the Indian government wasn't maintaining the park properly and needed a veternarian. I gave them what they wanted to hear.

We arrived back at the hotel at 6:45pm to a cool, air-conditioned room, and then the power went out for a bit several times. We ate a great buffet dinner of marrow meatballs, mutton curry, aloo potato and cauliflower, roti, papadam, dahl, noodles, Russian broth, and milk pudding, on an open air terrace at the hotel. Amazingly, no mosquitos. We fell asleep to the sound of pouring rain.

To be continued onward to Haridwar.
Dr_Ralph is offline  
Aug 11th, 2008, 03:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 555
Hey There Dr. Ralph, this is great stuff; kudos to you and your companion for handling your safari mess-up with aplomb and enjoying the experience despite the inconvenience(travel to exotic locations requires a lot of patience and ability to improvise!)

I can't wait for part 2 (my husband and I are off to India on September 21) so I am really voraciously reading every related post.
Thyra is offline  
Aug 11th, 2008, 05:31 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 74
June 15, 2008
We checked out of the Quality Inn Corbett for the drive to Haridwar. Due to the monsoon rain during the night, the road was washed out in many spots. After we got out of the jungle area, driving about forty miles an hour, we heard a thump, thump, thump. I immediately knew what the problem was. Qayum was in denial and didn't want to believe that we had a flat in this torrential rain. When we finally stopped the car, I got out with him with my small umbrella which was no match for this monsoon rain that was coming down sideways! We moved the luggage from the trunk into the front seat in order to get at the spare tire. I said to myself that holding the umbrella over Qayum while he changed the tire didn't do anything to keep him dry and would only get me drenched. He looked at me and said go back in the car to stay dry. I didn't object one second. With us in the car, he changed the flat in record time.
Dr_Ralph is offline  
Aug 11th, 2008, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,943
this is the makings of a modern day travel novel....

do you feel bad about being the ugly americans....re: the driver getting you to the safari over newly paved roads, etc???
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 12th, 2008, 03:40 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 74
Hi rhkkmk,

Sorry to burst your bubble. It really wasn't being or feeling like the Ugly Americans. It was actually, the Ugly, Fat, Indian, Corbett Quality Inn Hotel manager who didn't want to lost his hefty commission for booking this safari for us if we cancelled it, due to him not being perfectly honest about the time and price. He told his driver, not our driver to get us to the park entrance in order for him not to lose his commission! The ride was thrilling. We can still see the faces of the road crew as we flew on and off the road past them! Hang on until I get to the Haridwar and Leh part of the story. Probably later this week.
Dr_Ralph is offline  
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