I was having a stroll just outside my room after dinner, when the caretaker at the property came to clear the utensils from the room. We started having a chat, and then he all of a sudden started focusing on a sound piercing the calmness of the night, coming from some distance, down the hill. He said, it is a ‘call’ for a leopard, and it is probably looking for a hunt. Being a wildlife enthusiast myself, I could easily get it. It wasn’t coming from somewhere very close, but it still sent a chill down my spine.
It was the thrill of living right inside an uncharted territory. What also thrilled me that I was daily arriving quite late on my bike, alone to the property in pitched dark through this jungle on a rough, rocky mountain path.
That’s Sitalakhet for you. It doesn’t have too many options for stay, for that matter it doesn’t get too many tourists as well. But it is definitely one of the finest offbeat destinations around and has few very amazing places to stay. One of them is The Wilderness Camp, where I chose to stay the last time. I had been to Sitalakhet—or Sitlakhet or Shitalakhet or Shitlakhet, however you spell it—for many times now and stayed at various places.
Sitalakhet isn’t very big, located right at the end of the road on the base of the mountain which has Syahi Devi temple on the top. I have written about the natural beauty of Shitalakhet as well as about legend of Syahi Devi earlier.
Shitalakhet is all about Syahi Devi temple and the Syahi Devi Estate spread all over the sprawling mountain which has temple on the top. It is astonishing to even imagine that large part of this mountain is still a private property. The Wilderness Camp lies inside this private property.
I had been to this particular place some years back when it was not a stay option. Then it was just a base for trekking and adventure activities in the region. Later it got converted into a camping plus resort stay by the name of ‘The Wilderness Camp’. It still is a good base for trekking and adventure activities. But I was quite impressed with my stay there.
Travelling and staying in times of COVID isn’t an easy affair these days, needs a lot of effort from all quarters.
If I do remember well, The Wilderness Camp is one among just three properties inside the Syahi Devi estate. KMVN guesthouse is right at the bottom, outside the estate. Besides The Wilderness Camp, two others are Ananta Rasa by Aamod and Youreka Pinewood Cliff. Interestingly all three are quite different from each other. Aamod is a luxury resort, while Youreka is a pure camping site.
The Wilderness Camp is a small property with just two cottages with two double-bed rooms in each. Spacious rooms, neat and quite comfortable.
But it is not the size of the property, it is the experience that matters here. The walls on the two sides of my room were almost all glass (there are curtains of course), and with just few yards of lawn and then jungle outside, you always felt like being inside nature, even when I was inside room. Rooms don’t have TVs and for better, because you don’t need one here. It will be shame if you come here and watch TV lying inside the room.
Smaller properties have their own benefits, you feel quite homely and informal. Staff gets more caring and service is more personalised. You can ask for whatever you need and food you want to eat. For me, it was more so as there weren’t too many guests at that time. I enjoyed a lot of local cuisines just cooked for me!
The number of rooms at the property might be less (as of now, since they plan to add more rooms to their inventory) but the space isn’t. There is lot of open space for various activities as well as enough ground to place many tents. And, that all with thick abundance of nature around.
I could have spent all my mornings just be listening to real tweets and chirps, with various types of birds at play around. You might be quite aware that this region of Kumaon is birder’s delight. You have lot of things to do here and you can equally enjoy doing nothing here at all.
Beauty of Shitlakhet can be enjoyed in all weathers, and not many people might be knowing this but with good snowfall in late winters, this place turns into a fairy land.
With no tourist rush, Shitlakhet is calm and relaxing. It was for the first time that I stayed for so many nights at one place in Uttarakhand in my numerous visits in last two decades. This one was worth every moment. Looking forward to next one soon!
Have you been to Shitlakhet in Uttarakhand? Where did you stay and how was the experience? Do share with us in the comments section below!
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