Nainital and Pangot


Kumaon Division, Uttarakhand
Kumaon Division, Uttarakhand

Nainital & Pangot 



Trip Highlights:
  • Stay in a cottage where Jim Corbett once lived
  • Stay in a lodge in a Bird Conservation Reserve cut off from mainstream tourism
  • Curated walks include Nainital's lesser known Colonial heritage & nature trails to see Rhododendron bloom (February - April only)
  • Personal attention: Group tours are for minimum 8 and maximum 12 people


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. 

Terrace farming Nainital
Enroute Nainital




















Itinerary (can be customized to your requirements): 

Day 1 
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 our heritage homestay which was once where Jim Corbett lived for some time. Post lunch, go on a nature trail to get an aerial view of Nainital. As a boarding school kid growing up in Nainital, the trail was strictly (caning on the backside strict) out of bounds for us but we still did manage to sneak our way there, especially when we craved freshly made bun-oms (a greasy onion and chilly omelette sandwiched in between a bun).

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

Day 2
After breakfast, visit Gurney House (provided the current residents are not there when you visit). Gurney House is where Corbett lived for most of his time during the last few years before India's independence. This part of Nainital still retains it's former British past as there are several other bungalows, some are still in two acre property sizes 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 with a local bird specialist and naturalist who is very much in demand by bird nerds who come from all over the world to see the region's celebrities - the Koklass and Cheer Pheasant. The Reserve is home to hundreds of species of birds as it falls in the annual migration route of some 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 (10,000+ feet). Besides the two pheasants mentioned above, 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, easily scared Barking Deer, the sleepy Himalayan Black Bear and the Leopard, the king of Pangot, 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 over Pangot. Dinner and bonfire (weather dependent).

Rhododendron Flowers Uttarakhand
Rhododendron Flowers

Day 4
Early morning guided nature walk with your birding specialist. If you are visiting the Reserve during Spring (Feb - April), you may see the beautiful red flowers of the Rhododendron tree fire up entire mountainsides in Pangot and beyond. You can also visit a couple of historic Forest Rest Houses that were built during the British rule. Most of the rest houses command an excellent view but remain very minimal in service and comfort. If you so desire, breakfast can be packed for you so you can eat enroute. Depending on the group's fitness and enthusiasm you can walk anywhere from two to 25 KMs. 

Sunset from Pangot
Sunset from Pangot

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

Price
Pricing depends on number of people, length of stay and customization in the itinerary. Contact kunal@totravelwith.com or +91 9717148483. On occasion, I will lead a group tour to the above, however, you can absolutely do them on your own as well. 

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 me and I help to 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 local laws governing national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are to be borne by you.

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