This review is in 3 parts, covering the homestay itself, the safaris and our time supporting two local schools.
The homestay - Sparrow Nest. From the moment that Ramesh picked us up at Ramnagar railway station (having booked our train tickets for us weeks earlier to ensure we had good seats) to the moment he dropped us off for our return to Delhi we could not have been with more thorough, considerate, informative and gentle hosts. At Sparrow Nest we had a very comfortable and clean en suite room, with a western toilet and shower, and all of our delicious meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner every day) were cooked by Ramesh's lovely wife, Asha. The food was delicious, the cookery lessons were fun and informative and it was so interesting when they both showed us, with pride, their kitchen gardens so we understood more about the food we were eating and where their home grown ingredients came from. When not on safari our a/c room was very comfortable but it was also lovely to sit on the roof top terrace and take in the varied sights and sounds of rural life in this Indian village. In addition to all of this Asha and Ramesh also gave us lifts into town to sort out buying local clothes and introducing us to the local food markets - all of which was fascinating and we felt 100% safe at all times. Great bargains were undoubtedly had with Asha negotiating with the stall holders and tailors on our behalf!
Corbett Tiger Reserve - during our stay we went on 3 safaris and a forest trek with Ramesh as our guide. Although we sadly didn't see any tigers (probably because it was the monsoon season and the cover was dense) we saw evidence of them on 3 occasions (2 min old paw prints etc!), herds of elephants, deer, jackals, monkeys, peacocks and so many other birds, wild boars and so much more. Ramesh was so knowledgeable answering our many questions and giving us insights into the habitat. During our forest trek we had a chance to see some beautiful detail of the flora and fauna of the forest expertly explained by Ramesh as well as the opportunity to walk through paddi fields in a very remote village location before getting the bus back to our starting point. Such a fascinating and unique experience.
Schools - as both of us are teachers part of our attraction to stay with Ramesh was to support him in his endeavours to help two local schools which by Western standards, have extremely limited resources. (children sitting on floors in one school, no glass in window, one school didn't have electricity, etc). In both schools we were really privileged to teach children aged from 8yr-15yrs in both English and Maths. Their enthusiasm, excitement, sense of fun and respect together with a strong desire to learn was inspiring and we felt that we learnt so much from our time with them. Whether you are a teacher or not, if you want to become involved in something like this , we couldn't recommend it highly enough. Just do it! This support is entirely driven by Ramesh's sense of duty and desire to give back to the local community.
An amazing experience and we fully intend to come back again to visit Ramesh, Asha and their delightful family.
Let me start by saying that I agree with all of the positive comments about Ramesh as a guide and Sparrows Nest as a homestay. If you reading this then you have probably already read the other reviews about how amazing a guide Ramesh is and how wonderful his home is. Oh yes, lets not forget the delicious healthy food and the wondeful company of his wife, daughter and twin boys. The boys were my guides on the rooftop of Sparows Nest and were very entertaining.
I want to add that Sparrows Nest now has wifi (I was one of the first to use it). So you can now relax knowing you will be virtually connected...
I also want to add that there is unlimited filtered cold water available. Ramesh is environmentally conscious and instead of contributing to the plastic water bottle problem, he has an effective filtering system set up. I drank the water for days and it was great. So was the tea!!
I am a solo female traveller and this was my first trip to India. I had all the typical concerns of travelling to an unknown destination and had read about all the possible scams and problems. I had contacted Ramesh initially just to arrange a safari in Corbett National Park. Within a few days of prompt emailing back and forth he had a complete 27 day journey outlined for me. I did not know every detail and hoped that all would be fine when I got there. Wow was I in for an amazing experience. Every single aspect of the trip was organized and offered a real taste of life in India. I did not experience a single problem the whole time I was there. He arranged a private trip to the hill stations, including Binsar. That was a mesmerizing journey through the foothills of the Himalayas and a facinating homestay in paradise.
Upon return I then joined Ramesh and we went to Dakala Rest House in Corbett. This was all arranged months in advanc by Ramesh. I have read that this is not an easy task to do online from home. I then stayed with his family for a few more days and went on day safaris to the park. My goal of this trip was to photograph a Tiger. I fulfilled my dream on the second safari. Corbett is so beautiful and I was enthralled by the herds of elephants.
I then said goodbye to Ramesh and his family but he was in constant contact with me and the guides and hosts that I had the pleasure of meeting. I want to stress that these are all local people and they get paid up front as soon as I transfered him the money. This is unlike big tourist companies where it may take months for local people to get paid. Also, Ramesh is very active in the local community and helps in many ways. I had the opportunity to see some local projects.
I continued to Agra to see the sites. Ramesh arranged private transfer because he did not feel the particular timing of the train was the best for me. He was always looking out for my safety. I then continued to Ranthambhore National Park where I had the honour of meeting Vipul Jain who invited me to be with his family and took me on extra excursions to local villages and markets. He is well respected in the area and this allowed me get some exceptional photos of people. Both Ramesh and Vipul have won Awards for Wildlife Guide of the Year.
Between Corbett and Ranthambhore I went on 12 individual safari rides, 6 of which involved tiger sightings and 3 of which provided great photo opportunities. If your express purpose is to see a tiger, my advice is to give yourself enough time to do so. It is not guaranteed. Once I saw the vastness of the area and appreciated that these are solitary creatures I was amazed to see anything! Do not go for a couple of days and expect to be successful.
I then jumped on my first train. I was nervous. It turned out that there was nothing to worry about. My driver ensured that a coolie helped me with my luggage and another driver was waiting for me in Jaipur. Again, this had all been arranged behind the scenes by Ramesh. He never missed a beat. I was unwell one morning in Jaipur and he heard from the guide so phoned me to be sure I was alright. I always had contact phone numbers. A side note is that if you have an E-Visa and ask at customs they will direct you to a little booth in Delhi airport and they will give you a local sim card. I had read about this before I went. I had to ask the customs officer, he did not automatically direct me how to get it.
The final leg of the journey was to Delhi and I had a great time at Anikas Nest, a fantastic homestay in a nice area of Delhi. I will review this separately.
So, all in all, I came home with amazing memories and photos and a love for India that would not have been possible without the guidance, care and expertice of Ramesh. Thank you so much to you, your family and all your colleagues.
Carolyn from Canada
I had heard and read about Mr Ramesh Suyal on a number of forums on the web and knew that he was one of the best guides we could get for our Corbett safari. So, as soon as I finalised my plans, first thing I did was ring Mr Ramesh and book his services . I must say that we were indeed lucky to have him as our guide and we had a great first safari in Corbett. Mr Ramesh was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about showing us the diverse flora and fauna of the park.
As for the homestay, we really could not have asked for more. We are a family who always prefer to stay in homestays because we love to experience the local flavours and culture up close. So we have stayed in many homestays all over the country and hence have a fair knowledge and experience of homestays.
Mr Ramesh's homestay was as good as they come. Beautiful clean air conditioned rooms with sparkling bathrooms. The mattresses were really nice ones and better than most homestays I have stayed in. The sheets and blankets etc were all squeaky clean. Full points for the rooms.
What really stood out was the top quality service and food. Mrs Ramesh is an amazing cook and my parents still cant stop discussing about the food she served us. In their words, it was the best food that they have had outside home till date. Thats a big compliment coming from them, as they generally tend to avoid eating outside. It really was fingerlicking good.
Another thing about the food. Its all homegrown coming straight from their kitchen garden. So, its completely organic, pure and ofcourse delicious.
As for the service, Mr Ramesh and his family are bunch of really nice folks who go all out to make your experience as comfortable and memorable as possible. We would remember their service and smiling faces for a long time to come.
I have no doubts in my mind that whenever we visit Corbett again, it would be Mr Ramesh's homestay that we would head to.
I have went through reviews for safari and i found the mobile number of Ramesh suyal. We travelled as 3 families and I wanted to book a safari with Ramesh as i see in reviews that he is one of the best guide in corbett. When i called him to ask about the safari he recommended his homestay named SPARROW NEST for 2 nights stay. I immediately book this home stay as he promised that he will guide for the two safaris that we planned to book in Bijrani and Jhirna. Also we have chosen All meal package for 2 nights stay.
Once we reached his homestay, we were provided 3 rooms(all air conditioned). The rooms are clean and we had a common dining for all the 3 rooms. This is a small house not much place to wander here and there, especially when u have kids u'll feel tat. We have one more room where his family stays. There is no television for the visitors and once u r done with the safari, u 've to eat ur meal and take rest. Our kids felt bored and we have asked to switch on the TV in Ramesh room for kids. This property has a terrace where u can sit and relax in the night time.
We had good meal except it is restricted. we have restricted menu dal, rice, chicken gravy and chapati and i think this is how homestay works. But what matter is when we asked for extra rice, they said there is no more rice that can be provided. Same happened when we asked some side dish for dal rice/chicken gravy rice. We felt the food were not served with smiling faces and we are in a situation whether to ask anything to him or to his wife. that too his wife when we asked for a glass of milk the reaction she gave. ufff. We have paid a good amount of money for the meals and we felt like that if we are asking those things for free.
Otherwise the stay and safari is good(though Ramesh came only for one safari). As we cancelled the 2nd night stay due to personal reasons, no additional charge was provided as he is getting the call continuously for the homestay.
To summarize this homestay is for those who check-in by noon, enjoy evening and morning safaris and vacate. Not recommended for relaxed stay, nature lovers and not definitely for good eaters
We had a wonderful time with Ramesh, Asha and their kids! Such friendly people! The rooms are very quiet, clean and comfortable. And the food was the best we had in India, just perfect for us Westerners who cannot deal with very spicy meals but still very tasty! And the tours with Ramesh in the national park were superb. Our favourite accomodation India!