Vanghat Lodge is a paradise for nature lovers
Does waking up to nothing but the sounds of birds, the wind in the trees, and the rush of a pristine mountain river appeal to you? If you dream of an unspoiled wild safari holiday in India, consider Corbett National Park and staying at the hidden gem, Vanghat Lodge. It’s one of the stops on the Himalyan Elements tour, and will give you one of the most unique tiger safari tours of India available.
Room to breathe. That’s the first thing I thought when I arrived at Vanghat Lodge near the Jim Corbett National Park buffer zone.
No roads, no power lines, no connectivity. Nothing but pure nature, fresh air, thick forests, a sparkling river, and the seen and unseen presence of birds and wildlife. Room to breathe, space to unwind, and all the wonders of nature to absorb.
Vanghat is a very special place. Located deep in the forests of Uttarakhand, adjacent to the Corbett buffer zone, you have to trek in two kilometres to get to it. Past tiny villages of thatch roof cottages, and across the Ramganga River by makeshift river, the adventure begins even before you arrive.
To cross the Ramganga, you sit on a small wooden raft buoyed up by tires, and people on either side pull you across with an attached rope. It’s ingenious, low-impact, and fun … and it sets the tone for the adventure you will have.
From the rocky river side path, you can’t even see Vanghat Lodge, it is so well immersed into the landscape. Formerly a small village – that’s where the name comes from – owner Sumantha Ghosh kept one of the original stone buildings when he developed the site several years ago. He added four thatched roof cottages, a dining room, and a residence for staff and volunteers, ensuring that all the buildings were spaced apart to allow privacy, and the movements of animals.
Elephants are known to walk through the property, once knocking down the roof of the well, and many other birds and animals can be spotted without venturing off the lodge grounds. By the fire one night, we saw a porcupine ambling along. Not far from the property, we saw tiger pug marks. Other animals that have been seen on or near Vanghat include sambar deer, wild boar, and sloth bears.
I sat on my verandah reading a book of stories by legendary hunter, conservationist, and author Jim Corbett – for whom the park is named – and watched a flock of rose-ringed parakeets play in the trees. The forested hills and valleys around Vanghat, adjacent to the buffer zone of Corbett tiger reserve, are just as rich in wildlife and birds. There are an estimated 600 species of birds in this region of the lower Himalayas, and Vanghat is a popular spot for birders.
Vanghat offers safari tours, but they are not the usual. In fact, Sumantha Ghosh likes to say that he wants to “un-four-by-four” people. In other words, he wants to get people out of jeeps and walking in the forest.
When I was there, we went on a five-hour long walking safari across the river and into the park’s buffer zone. We walked up hillsides, along ridges, through heavily forested areas, and to a cascading waterfall. We stopped for tea, put our feet in the waters of the cold, clear stream. We saw langur monkeys, sambar deer, Himalayan goral, more birds than we could count, and lots of signs of the big cat, the tiger: pug marks, scat, and clumps of hair.
Back at the lodge, we gathered for lunch in the open-air dining hall and feasted on local specialties and an array of chutneys, pickles, and jams made by a local women’s cooperative. Part of Vanghat’s commitment to being eco-friendly and responsible includes supporting the local community, as well as working to preserve the pristine environment.
There are so many ways that Vanghat demonstrates this commitment – from hiring local staff, to heating water with a wood-fired boiler; and from using traditional building methods and natural materials, to helping to end a destructive fishing practice along the Ramganga River.
The result of this holistic approach to conservation, and creating a sustainable eco-lodge, is the beauty, peace, and abundance of nature and wildlife you will experience when you are here.
Interested to visit this amazing place? Contact us today to put together a walking safari holiday t o this beautiful part of India.
Written by Mariellen Ward.
Mariellen Ward is a Canadian travel writer and digital storyteller. Her award-winning blog Breathedreamgo.com is one of the world’s leading travel blogs about India. Mariellen is an advocate of female solo travel and responsible travel. She has been blogging since 2005 and splits her time between Delhi and Toronto. Though Canadian by birth, Mariellen considers India to be her “soul culture” and has spent many years immersing herself in the culture. You can also find Mariellen, as Breathedreamgo, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.