Nothing captures the imagination of a traveller more than a safari; quietly exploring the jungle, binoculars in hand, as you search for a rare sighting of a beautiful beast. Of course, the most elusive animal to sight in India has to be the Bengal Tiger, and one of the best chances you have of seeing this incredible animal is at Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. While tiger sighting is one of the biggest draw-cards of this national park in India, there is so much more to explore here, so make sure you take your time.
One of the biggest draw-cards of Corbett, the Bengal Tiger| Photo Credit: Sumeet Moghe/ Wikimedia
Located at the foot of the Himalayas and surrounded by a breathtaking and diverse landscape of rivers, mountains and forests, Corbett National Park has a wide variety of flora and fauna.
You can’t miss catching a glimpse of the imposing Asiatic Elephant, but search deep into the jungle and you will also find sloth bears, macaques, otters, deer, jackals, crocodiles and if you are really lucky, a leopard high in the trees. An ornithologist’s dream, there are over 600 species of birds in this wildlife reserve.
Corbett National Park also has a rich history that is worth exploring while you are here. It is the oldest National Park in Asia and India’s first tiger reserve. Established by the naturalist Jim Corbett, you can find out more about his experiences in the region at the museum that was once his house in Kaladhungi, which is about 28 kilometres from the national park on the road to Nainital.
Enter the Jungle
There are quite a few options for you to see the park, and it is well worth trying a few different things so that you can experience all that the park has to offer, and of course increase your chances of seeing more animals. Before you get started, why not see the Visitor Centre and Museum at Dhangari Gate, so that you can learn more about the history of the park and its environment, this will give you some context and prepare you for what you are about to see. You can explore the library at Dhikala or watch wildlife films in the evening, to learn more about the animals of the area.
Hiring a Nature Guide is a great idea as they are specially trained in spotting wildlife, and know the region intimately; you will be amazed how a large tiger can camouflage its golden coat amidst the verdant jungle. A jeep safari is a must-do; it is well worth your time to wake up at dawn to spot animals as they rise before the heat of the day sets in. You can arrange a safari through your resort or when you arrive at the park.
One of the most thrilling experiences for kids and adults alike is an elephant ride in the jungle. During the ride, you can enjoy great views of the landscape and the possibility of seeing so much more wildlife and possibly even getting close to a Bengal Tiger. You don’t want to miss this experience, so be sure to book it in advance, and remember that Monday is a rest day for the hard-working elephants. For a different view, there are several watchtowers at Dhikala, Phulai and Jhirna where you can see the wildlife.
How to Reach Corbett National Park: The headquarters for the tiger reserve is located in the town of Ramnagar, which is well connected through North India. If you are coming by road, Ramnagar is about 240 kilometres from Delhi, or 160 kilometres from Bareilly and is also easy to reach from nearby Nainital.
Buses travel regularly from Delhi, Moradabad and Haldwani to Ramnagar, with the trip all the way from Delhi taking about 6 hours. If you are bringing your own car, just remember that you cannot use your own vehicle in the park and will need to hire a jeep to take you in.
It is also quite comfortable to reach Corbett National Park by train, with a direct line from New Delhi that will take between 4 and 6 hours, depending on the train.
Where to Stay? The Monals Nest Resort and Aahana the Corbett Wilderness (eco friendly resort) are a few hotels in Corbett.
No matter what you do at Corbett National Park, don’t forget to take your camera because there will be something to click at every turn! If you are planning to go over the busy Christmas and New Year period, it is worthwhile to book your Corbett holiday well in advance.