Staying in the wilderness with the thought of the most charismatic feline species roaming in the close vicinity is what Dhikala is to offer. With all the basic amenities one needs in a forest the Dhikala accommodation is by the best. There are 3 categories: The new FRH with annexe (old FRH is taken by Govt. of Uttarakhand), the cabins and the hutments; prices are the same; try and get anything that overlooks the Ramganga reservoir. From the room only one can spot flocks of birds / storks / cranes; crocs and alligators basking in the sun on the sand bars. It’s enchanting to see herds of cheetals, few wild boars roaming and grazing just outside the electic fence which surrounds the Dhikala settlement.The beds and linen are comfortable and clean; bathroom is spacious and has running hotwater. We carried mosquito net with us which turned out to be unnecessary because all the doors and windows are covered by netlon. Though as an additional safely we applied mosquito repellant.
This place is strictly vegetarian but include egg. As for the fooding there are 2 options. The restaurant offers buffet breakfast (INR 200 per person), buffet lunch and dinner (INR 250 each meal). Another staff canteen is there which serves tea (20/-) coffee (40/-), Maggie (50/-), egg-toast (70/-) round the clock. At breakfast they offer paranthas or puri –bhaji (70/-). Lunch and dinner menu is fixed at 150/- for which one has to order early.
There are hordes of monkeys which are smart enough to open the backpacks and take out snacks and drinks. Be very careful with small children who fall prey on the notorious monkeys.
Spotting a tiger is a sheer luck by chance, however staying in jungle accommodation that Dhikala offers is an experience by itself. And we were among the luckiest visitors and spotted a full grown male crossing the Thandi sadak on our 4th and final safari. The entire credit goes to the veteran driver who was a guide as well with a jungle experience of 38 years. Though his vehicle is not the best of the lot, however I’d strongly recommend Mohammad Nabi to be the driver for any visitor.
Two suggestions for the wildlife lovers:
1. Stay inside the national park in any of the zones because it saves you 1.5 to 2 hrs of travel through the jungle and back at sunrise and sundown. This 2 hrs are the most promising times for spotting the tiger.
2. Opt for the gypsy, avoid the canter; because the gypsy will take you deep inside the forest which is not possible for the canter.
3. You can directly book the accommodation through the official website which opens 45 days before at 8:00 IST. No separate permit is required if accommodation is confirmed for that zone only. You can pick the vehicle from the forest office at Ramnagar which will bring you back to Ramnagar. The vehicle cost (INR 5500/-) includes 4 safaris.
We’ll be back to Corbett at a later time, this time to the Bijrani range.