It was more than two months ago that Poonam chanced upon a offer from Youth Hostel Association of India’s (YHAI) site about a 3 nights 4 day trip to Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.
We had been to a YHAI trip to Dalhousie early this year and we had enjoyed it. So another trip from YHAI was too tempting. The Dalhousie Winter trip was supposed to be the easy one and we were looking for a tougher one in snow and mountains. Somewhere which took us more in the Himalayas.
But then Jim Corbett National Park, wildlife, jungle and maybe a chance to see the tiger was more inviting. The last time we went to Dalhousie we had kept little time for anything except the trek. The trek itself was too tiring to plan anything else.
But the Jungle trip was not a trek. It was living in good accommodation and travelling mostly in car. We decided to atleast explore the possibility and check if atleast we can take a short trip.
And what started was researching and endless planning. It was not only discussion between us but also coordinating with the program coordinator, Raj Singh in Ramnagar. Phone calls were made, plans were discussed and debated and then debated and discussed again. The dates were decided and people were invited.
What started as just an option was slowly turning out to be concrete plan. What started with the initial team of three was swelling to a dozen members.
It was just like
Main akela hi chalaa tha jaanib-e-manzil magar
Log saath aate gaye… karavaan banta gaya
After the people were fixed, it was the turn of fixing the dates. YHAI programs are scheduled months in advance and offer little flexibility in terms of dates and managing the dates of 12 people was turning out quite a task. Unfortunately some friends could not make it but the count still remained at 12.
By the time we actually went, one had dropped to make a final tally of 11.
Once the people and time finalized, it was actually time for the real planning. We did not want it to be just a trip to Jim Corbett but wanted to see and experience as much as possible. The date we selected was between 19 September to 28 September. Sandwiched between 2 weekends and 2 public holidays, the time suited us just fine.
It was quite a task booking everybody’s tickets. This is the time I could understand the plight of a tour operator, managing different people and their choices. The emphasis was to keep the cost low and the best option needed to be searched.
Even after so much planning and looking at options, a large part of the trip was unplanned giving a space for lots of flexibility.
The flexibility gave us an advantage as well kept the trip unpredictable!