(8 nights 9 days)
This trip is a complete visual delight. This is highly recommended for those of you who love the Himalayas and can look at them endlessly.
- Day 1: Kathgodam- Naugaon- 3.5 hrs Reach Kathgodam either early morning or around mid-day. Drive to retreat for the night. You will have to walk from road head to retreat for about 10 minutes. Check-in and settle in. Rest of the day at leisure. Relax or walk as you wish.
- Day 2: Naugaon Another full day in the estate to do as you please. You could also drive to Binsar for the day. The drive to Binsar will take 2 hrs one way.
- Day 3: Nauhgaon - Jhaltola - 4-5 hrs After breakfast, leave for Jhaltola, another destination not on a regular tourists map. Reach Jhaltola later afternoon and settle into your room. Rest of the day at leisure to discover, read, indulge in photography else, the retreat has an activity center with games, a small library and an amphitheater. Evening around a bonfire. Night stay at Jhaltola.
Jhaltola estate’s Himalayan views stretch from Nanda Ghunti through Trishul, Mrigthugni, Maiktoli, Nanda Devi, Nand East, Panwali Dwar, Nanda Kot, Nanda Khat, Nanda Bhanar, Lapsa Dhura, Raj Rambha, Panchachuli, and some Nepal Himalayan peaks. It is located amidst about 1000 acres of mixed forests. Last year, more than 150 species of birds were identified and photographed here. At 1700 to 2600 meters ASL, Jhaltola is a perfect habitat for birds.
- Day 4: Jhaltola A half day hike to Lamkeshwar. This is a 3 km uphill hike to the temple. It offers fabulous 360 degrees view. Return to retreat in time for lunch. Rest after lunch, else you could try your hand at Rock craft (rappelling, rock climbing, tyrolean traverse and Burma bridge). Evening around a bonfire. You could try star gazing. Night stay in retreat.
- Day 5: Jhaltola A half a day trip to Patal bhuvaneshwar (27 kms). Patal bhuvaneshwar is an important Shiva shrine. Rest of the afternoon at leisure. You could also go for bird watching in the afternoon if you wish. Evening around a bonfire. Retire to your rooms after dinner.
- Day 6: Jhaltola - Sonapani - 3 hrs Reach Kathgodam by train. Drive to Sonapani. We walk the last 1 kilometer to the retreat while the staff brings our bags to the retreat. After a hot cup of tea/ coffee, check into your rooms and freshen up. Full day at leisure at the retreat. Evening around a bonfire. Night stay in retreat.
Sonapani is a tiny Hamlet close to Mukteshwar. It has an interesting history. There used to be an old natural spring perceived to have medicinal properties and hence the village was named, Sonapani. Some British officers happened to drink water from here and took to it immediately. Thereafter, water from the spring was supplied to the officers of nearest army garrison on ponies and horses. One of these officers was the decorated Captain Kushal Singh Burathoki. On his retirement, he was given a piece of land of his choice. He chose this land and named it Sonapani Estate. He built a stone structure here and spent his days farming and hunting. Today, the stone structure serves as office and staff quarters of the retreat you would be staying in. The retreat itself is flanked by Pine, Oak and Rhododendrons forest. And of course not to miss is the fantastic view of the Himalayan peaks. There are also orchards of apricot, apple, plum and peach.
- Day 7: Sonapani Breakfast at leisure after which we drive to Mukteshwar. Mukteshwar is a quaint little town. We start our hike back to Sonapani from here. This is a lovely hike through pine forest. Sonapani is also a good area for bird watching. Enjoy a packed lunch in the forest. Back to the retreat early evening. Enjoy the evening around a bonfire. Night stay in retreat.
- Day 8: Sonapani - Bhimtal - 2-3 hrs Leave for Bhimtal after breakfast. Reach the lodge and settle-in. Rest of the day at leisure/ explore the surroundings. Night stay at a lodge.
- Day 9: Bhimtal - Drop off at Kathgodam railway station - 2 hrs Drop to Kathgodam railway station to take overnight Ranikhet express to Delhi or the afternoon train back to Delhi.