The Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Short breaks for guests based in India

Immerse yourself in the unspoilt countryside of the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, a beautiful mountain nature reserve clad in forests of oak, pine and rhododendron. Enjoy some of the most unspoilt landscapes of India, overlooked by the great Himalayan peaks of Nanda Devi, Trisul and Panchachuli. Binsar lies at the heart of the Kumaon hills at an altitude of 1,500 to 2,500 m, about 20 km from the district capital of Almora.

This is a wonderful place to discover wildlife. The Binsar Sanctuary is home to deer, wild boar, porcupine, pine martens, langur monkeys and several breeding pairs of leopard, while birds include various species of woodpecker, eagles and vultures.

A Special Sanctuary

Risal villageWith your own guide, spend your days walking the magnificent footpaths through terraced fields and wooded hillsides, enjoy picnics with views of the high mountain peaks and encounter a wealth of wildlife. Relax and spend time absorbing the local life and natural beauty in this amazing place and meet welcoming people, keen to share their way of life. You may  also wish to visit the vast and impressive Shiva complex of temples at Jageshwar just outside of the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary.

A Warm Welcome

Ladies in Binsar

Each village of Binsar will give you its own special welcome, adhering to the traditional Hindi saying Athithi devo bharwa ('A guest is a God in my house'). The six villages - Kathdhara, Gonap, Satri, Risal, Dalar and Matkanya - are isolated: none is connected to a road and there is no electricity, allowing you to switch off, relax and enjoy the tranquility and simple life in this beautiful wildlife sanctuary. Enjoy warm hospitality as your hosts introduce you to local traditions and treat you to delicious, fresh home-cooked food, grown locally. 

Trekking with your own guide

Walking in Binsar

Walking in the Binsar Sanctuary is flexible and your experienced guide will tailor the trekking routes to suit your needs, whether you are travelling with children or keen to explore. Choose whether to stretch your legs and take in the ridges and high points of the Sanctuary or to take the winding footpaths at a gentler pace as you trek from village to village, with your luggage carried by porters.

Our guides are all local people, with deep affection for their environment and culture and a respect for the wildlife that surrounds them. They are keen to show guests around and to share experiences and laughter. Your guide will discuss your itinerary around the villages, the treks you wish to make and what you are interested in seeing.  A typical day might involve 3 to 5 hours of walking, along simple forest paths which are mostly even with gentle slopes, and some steeper gradients in parts.

The villages of the Binsar Wildlife Sanctury

With Village Ways you stay in very special village guesthouses - 'village homestays' -  owned and managed by the village committee and benefitting the wider community. Connect with your hosts in a special way and enjoy life at the heart of a village.

In Binsar, the guesthouses are simple and comfortable, built in traditional style by local craftsmen using traditional materials.

Risal bedroomEach guest house has three twin guest bedrooms, a combined dining and sitting room and a terrace to make the most of the views. Each house has one separate, shared modern toilet and shower room. A traditional Bokhari stove keeps the living room cosy in winter, while solar power ensures hot water for showers and power for light through the year. Water to wash in comes from the village’s own source and drinking water is boiled and filtered. All of these resources are limited and we would ask you to use them modestly.

Khali Estate

Your stay in Binsar commences at Khali Estate, a small family-run hotel steeped in history and an integral part of Village Ways, while through the forested slopes are scattered the villages and farms of Binsar. Your room is in one of the picturesque stone rondavel cabins set amongst the pine trees, clustered around the British Raj style house that was built by General Sir Henry Ramsay. You can truly relax at Khali - it is peaceful (no TV), with good vegetarian food, attentive service and plenty of short walks. In winter there is a warming log fire in the sitting room.

Dalar (1835m)

Surrounded by pine forest and affording beautiful views of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Kamet and Trishul peaks from the upper parts of the village, Dalar is divided into two hamlets: Valli ("This Side") Dalar and Palli ("That Side") Dalar. It is a relatively thriving village with a school and temple.  The guesthouse, Minivet House, looks out over the valley, with views of high Himalayan peaks in the distance. 

Risal (1650m)

The secluded village is set on the slopes above a deep valley and is surrounded by beautiful mixed forest of oak, pine and rhododendron. Its little paths afford glimpses of wooded hills and green pastures. The villagers produce vegetables and other crops but many have been damaged by wildlife from the adjacent Sanctuary. The Forest department have since established a fence to protect the crops. Bulbul House is neatly located on a terrace near the main village.

Satri (1584m)

Satri village is remote and secluded, located on a high ridge surrounded by a glorious mountain landscapes, with uninterrupted views to the peaks. The village houses form a beautiful series of dwellings, although some are empty. Just four families now live in Satri. In 2003 the villagers believed that they would have to abandon their village, to let their homes and fields be overtaken by the forest. The arrival of Village Ways was, for them, "the big dream come true" - a dream that has helped Satri to sustain its remaining families. You'll be given a very special welcome here in Pipit House.

Kathdhara (1900m)

Myna House guesthouse nestles amidst terraced fields in the lower part of Kathdara. Enjoy the rhythms of traditional rural life in the foothills in this vibrant farming community. The beautiful village boasts extensive terraced fields, orchards and well maintained farms, with views over hills and a wide valley, and glimpses of the awe-inspiring Panchachulli range beyond. The villagers are keen to show guests their farms and rural traditions. They have also created a small farming museum.

Gonap (1900m)

The farmhouses of Gonap are set on a hillside among terraced fields and vegetable gardens, with wonderful open views backed by richly forested slopes. Its people joined the Village Ways project with great enthusiasm, led by Prem Singh, starting with the building of a retaining wall for the Barbet House guesthouse site – to become known as "The great wall of Gonap"!

Matkanya (1584m)

This village lies above and beyond the Jageshwar temple complex, just outside the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, with around 150 housholds. There are wonderful views of the Himalayan ridge on clear days. The Drongo House guesthouse in Matkanya is an original village house that was renovated and converted into a guesthouse in 2012 in partnership with UpaSAC, (Uttarakhand Parvatiya Aajeevika Sanverdhan Company), part of an internationally-funded project to improve livelihoods of poor, remote communities in Uttarakhand. 

 

 

Travelling to Binsar

Khali Estate

Your Village Ways holiday includes return road transfer from Kathgodam train station to Khali Estate and the villages. From Kathgodam a scenic road journey takes you through the Himalayan foothills, via the hill town of Almora, to Khali Estate in the Binsar Sanctuary. All meals are provided at Khali and in the Binsar villages; meals during your journey are at your own expense.

We can also make arrangements for you train travel from Delhi or elsewhere in India if you wish.

Tailor-made holidays

Our holidays are tailored to your exact requirements, allowing you to make the most of your time in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. A typical stay in Binsar might include 2 nights at Khali Estate and 4 nights in the villages, to provide a good balance between activity and relaxation. Below we outline a suggested itinerary, that can be customised to suit you. Why not add extra days in the villages, or add on a visit to Corbett Tiger Reserve? Our specialised team are happy to talk you through the options.

Suggested Itinerary

 

DAY 1 – Morning: Welcome at Kathgodam Station, road transfer (4 hrs) Kathgodam to Khali Estate, lunch, relax and dinner. Half day in Khali Estate, walk to the sunset point and then return for your evening tea on the terrace facing the valley view. Evening: listen to the history of this historical place followed by dinner. Overnight stay at Khali Estate, double room garden bungalow.

DAY 2 – Briefing for your trip by your guides and then start your gentle walk in the Binsar wildlife Sanctuary through forests of oak, pine and rhododenron. Reach the village. Lunch and rest followed by village walk. Overnight in village guesthouse.

DAY 3 -  Nature walk and picnic lunch. Return to village for rest then local village walk, discover farming activities and local traditions. Second night in village guesthouse.

DAY 4 - Follow the hillside trail to a second village, while your guide points out the local flora and fauna. Lunch at second village and afternoon to relax. Overnight village guesthouse.

DAY 5 - Trek to the third village with your guide, stopping in a picturesque spot for a picnic lunch and enjoy the views. Overnight village guesthouse.

DAY 6 - Follow the forest trails back to Khali Estate, or return by road if you wish. Final night to relax at Khali Estate.

Contact our bookings team

We put together carefully-selected, customised itineraries that allow our guests to make the most of their time in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. A typical stay in Binsar might include 2 nights at Khali Estate and 4 nights in the villages, to provide a good balance between activity and relaxation. All of our holidays for guests based in India are priced in INR and can be tailored to your exact requirements - please contact us to create your ideal trip.

 

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Call us on:
+ 91 9920882409 or +91 9869005642

Email us at:
info@villageways.com

Booking enquiries: 01223 750049