In conversation with Mickey Sidhu,
Founder, The Himalayan Outback
After spending 15 years in the U.S. working in the IT industry in California’s Silicon Valley, Mickey Sidhu decided to return home to India. The natural draw of the outdoors led Mickey to start The Himalayan Outback with Misty Dhillon in 2004. While Misty focused on his passion of fishing, Mickey focused on ensuring that every member of The Himalayan Outback team understood that “quality” could not be compromised. This combination has led The Himalayan Outback to be named as one of the ten fly-fishing destinations in the world, with a worldwide reputation for quality and integrity.
This philosophy has also helped establish The Himalayan Outback’s trekking and wildlife trips as among the best in the industry.
In this feature interview Mickey tells us what we can expect during a stay at his wild country lodge, The Himalayan Outback, located on the Ramganga River at the Mohan Range, (Corbett National Park) Uttarakhand.
Here’s our first question – could you give us an overview of The Himalayan Outback?
The Himalayan Outback operates under two separate divisions. The first is our Ramganga Lodge, which is a perfect getaway for nature lovers, to get away from smoggy cities and recover from lockdown blues.
This lodge is so well hidden from the outside world, that the only sounds you will hear are those of the river flowing, the birds chirping, the crickets, and the alarm calls of wildlife. We have 6 beautiful river-facing cottages overlooking the dense buffer zone of the Jim Corbett National Park. The crystal clear Ramganga River flowing below and a panoramic view of the jungle across, makes it truly heaven on earth.
The second part of The Himalayan Outback is the division that handles expeditions - these range from Mahseer fishing, trekking and bird-watching, to wildlife trips. Our primary focus, initially, was Mahseer fishing - the Mahseer is considered as a tiger amongst freshwater fish because of the fight it puts up.
Here’s a Rudyard Kipling quotation on the Mahseer: “There he stood, the Mahseer of the Poonch, beside whom the tarpon is a herring, and he who catches him can say he is a fisherman.”
The Himalayan Outback over the years has established itself as a top quality outfitter in the international fishing community with a network of agents that market our trips to anglers worldwide. Since Mahseer fishing has a relatively short window (about 5 months in the year) we took the same approach and started our trekking, bird-watching and wildlife trip activities for our guests.
How different and unique is the outdoor experience at The Himalayan Outback?
The Himalayan Outback focuses on “active escapes and safaris” and creates bespoke experiences in order to ensure that every guest goes home with memories that they will cherish for a lifetime.
We have over 17 years of experience and have been featured in over a dozen documentaries. At our lodge we offer a range of activities including short treks, village walks, bird-watching, fishing, fly-fishing lessons, picnics on the riverside and wildlife safaris.
Deer, wild boar, mountain goats and an array of birds can be seen from the lodge. Many guests have had the good fortune of seeing the majestic tiger, the elusive leopard and the mighty tusker from our lodge.
On the excursion front, we limit our expeditions to 4-10 guests (the group size varies depending on the type of excursion). The small group size allows us to provide our guests an unparalled level of experience and enables close interaction with our staff. We believe that the host of each trip must have the knowledge of the area and the personality to interact with our guests - this I believe enhances the overall experience. All our trips are escorted and guided by some of the best and most knowledgeable hosts in their area of expertise.
Could you tell us something about the menu options for guests?
Our team of 3 chefs will pamper you with an amazing variety of delicious cuisines in the wilderness. Besides the standard Indian fare, our guests will have a choice of Italian, Chinese and Continental cuisines – making a stay with us also a gastronomic delight. Our cakes, muffins and a variety of desserts will ensure that your cravings for sweets are well catered to.
Helping us ensure all of this are the people we work with – a truly amazing team of professionals. This clearly comes to the fore in the quality of service that each guest experiences during a stay with us. Many of our staff have been with us for well over 10 years. They are fully trained to follow all protocols and will make every effort to ensure that your stay with us is safe, memorable and comfortable.
What else can guests expect at The Himalayan Outback?
We have recently started marketing our lodge to birding and wildlife enthusiasts. It is ideal for those who want to enjoy nature as it was meant to be. At The Himalayan Outback we believe that each one of us must play our part as the guardian of the environment. Hence we practice "100% catch & release" and the use of “barbless hooks” on every fishing trip. Our staff is trained to ensure that they leave the area litter free during/after every picnic, trek or expedition.
We have a seasonal fishing camp at Pancheshwar - at the confluence of the Saryu and Mahakali Rivers. In 2018, we were recognized as one of the top 10 fly-fishing destinations in the world.
We also arrange trekking expeditions which are customized, depending on the interests and physical condition of the guests.
The safety and comfort of our guests is paramount - the majority of our staff is trained and certified in Wilderness First Aid & Adult/Child CPR.
The Himalayan Outback invites you to come and enjoy “An Adventure of a Lifetime”. Come and experience a leisurely and stress-free stay in the lap of nature at our picturesque lodge - a perfect place for families and friends to bond!
All images used are courtesy of Mickey Sidhu / The Himalayan Outback
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