Corbett National Park


Jungle safari in Dhikala
Jungle safari in Dhikala

Corbett National Park is India's first national park. The park get's its name from the famous hunter turned conservationist - Jim Corbett who spent a large part of his life in the region. The Park is a 5-6 hour drive from Delhi and is known to have the highest population density of tigers in India. According to me, it is one of the most beautiful parks in the country. The Park's location (foothills) is prime as it offers a right of passage for several species of birds in their annual migration from the higher reaches of the Himalayas.

Rufous Woodpecker

Corbett Tiger Reserve is located in the Shivalik foothills of the Himalayas. The Park is demarcated in to several zones that visitors can visit on a day safari and / or night stay. These zones are Dhikala, Jhirna, Bijrani, Dhela, Sonanadi, Gargia, Pakhro and Durgadevi. As a limited number of authorized gypsies (jungle safari jeeps) are permitted each day inside the Park, getting permits is a challenge as they sell out very quickly. Permit bookings are done online and permits normally sell out within a few minutes from when they are available online. Therefore, it is very important to plan a couple of months before you actually plan to visit. Safari Permits once issued are non-refundable and non-transferable under any circumstances. 


Corbett Tiger Reserve is one in a handful of national parks in the country that allows tourists to stay inside the core zones of the forest in government owned and operated forest rest houses. Getting an opportunity to stay in one of these historic (as they were built pre-Independence) forest rest houses is rare as these too get sold out very quickly. However, you can still visit the Park and see it's incredible bio-diversity by doing day safaris and staying in private resorts and hotels that are located in the periphery of the Park. I can arrange for you to stay in luxury hotels and jungle lodges outside the Park too. 

Forest Rest House Dhikala
Dhikala Old Forest Rest House

Keep in mind that staying inside the Park in the forest rest houses is not by any means luxury. It is not everyone's cup of tea as the accommodation is basic, food simple and service is pretty much self-service. Other factors that prevent many from staying inside the forest include power outages, no television or cell phone network, no liquor and consumption of meat and an absolute ban on music and parties. If you'd like to stay in comfort and a place with few restrictions then I can arrange to stay in one of several private resorts that are in the periphery of the Park.  


Out of the five zones in Corbett, Dhikala is the most sought after. It is the biggest zone and the landscape and natural habitat is believed to support the highest density of tigers due to abundance in prey base. It's expansive grasslands support herds of elephants and other herbivores including the Indian hog deer. The Ramganga river flows through the zone and is home to not only the Indian marsh crocodile but also gharials and smooth coated otters. In 2019 an episode of Bear Grylls with Prime Minister Modi on Discovery Channel was filmed in the very same Dhikala zone of Corbett National Park.

Owls of Corbett National Park
Brown Fish Owl

Entry in to the Dhikala zone is from Dhangari gate which is 18km from Ramnagar (closest town with a train station). The zone is open for visitors from November 15 to June 15 and is closed during the monsoon season. Other zones such as Jhirna, Dhela, Bijrani etc. open earlier and close later than does Dhikala. These zones also offer guests to stay inside a forest rest house and have plenty of resorts within driving distance from the gate of the Park.

Maroon Oriole in Corbett National Park
Maroon Oriole

If you are visiting Corbett you should plan to stay for a minimum of three nights, although two nights is doable too if you leave on Friday noon and depart on Sunday noon. Driving time from Delhi is about 5-6 hours depending on traffic and where you resort you're staying in is. Besides jungle safaris you can also visit other places of interest such as Jim Corbett's home now a museum. 

Please note that tiger sightings (if that's your ultimate goal) are not as frequent as they are in Ranthambore or Tadoba. Tigers here are known to be shy and tend to play hide and seek so odds are lesser than they are in other Parks. But if seeing a tiger is not your priority then you will be rewarded with stunning forest landscapes and plenty of lesser known wildlife such as elephants, several species of deer, yellow throated pine martin, leopard and birds. 

Pallas's Fish Eagle with young
Pallas's Fish Eagle with young

If you are a birdwatcher then you're at the right spot - Corbett National Park is known to have over 500 avian species that come and go during various seasons. I alone have spotted 80+ species of birds just over a couple of days. My top five bird species spotted in the Corbett landscape are:
 
1. Great Slaty Woodpecker
2. Common Green Magpie
3. White-rumped Vulture
4. Collared Falconet
5. Tawny Fish Owl


The Corbett landscape is great to visit all year round except may be in the peak of the monsoon season. If you're planning to visit the Park for big cats then I recommend spring and summer (March - June), winter months are ideal for birdwatching, monsoon offers lush green landscapes, flowing rivers but outdoor activities may be closed depending on the rainfall.


If you need assistance in booking safaris lead by reliable and knowledgable guides and hotel reservations in the Corbett landscape, then please email info@travelwith.in or call (+91) 9717148483.

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