Summer is indeed the best time to visit hill stations to
cool off from the heat of the plains. But if you are willing to dare the heat
for your best wildlife experience, this is the time you should be heading to
our National Parks.
Summer is the time when the forests run dry, forcing the
animals to come out of their hiding and into waterholes. These is the time
when, instead of scouring the forest, all you have to do is hide somewhere near
water and watch a movie unfold in front of you, with many animals coming and
Corbett National Park is one of the best places to go
wildlife watching. Its proximity to Delhi is an added advantage, making it an
easy weekend getaway. Here is all you wanted to know about Corbett National
Overview. Corbett is one of the best-maintained National
Parks in India. Even at a time when rest of the country saw sharp decline in
tiger numbers, Corbett had maintained a healthy population. It also boasts of
highest tiger density anywhere in India(74 tigers at 200 square kilometers. See
http://www.indianexpress.com/story/206758.html), increasing your chances of
sighting. But tigers are not the only attraction of the Park. There are
elephants, wild cats, four types of deer(chital, sambar, barking deer and hog
deer), otters, wild boars, porcupines, Gharials and muggers to see. If that is
not enough, don't just keep looking for animals but go on early morning safaris
on the bank of Ramaganga River and indulge in seeing the immensely beautiful
landscapes at sunrise.
Corbett is an excellent birding destination too. The keen
eyed naturalist will find a great variety of raptors(birds of prey) like
Changeable Hawk Eagle, Fish Eagle, Serpent Eagle, Black Kite to name a few. And
then there are vultures and Griffons, birds at water bodies like White Capped
Redstart, River Lapwing, etc. The list is nearly 400 long, so I must refrain
from carrying on.
Orientation. At less than 300km from Delhi, Corbett is easy
to visit. The Park is in the foothills of Kumaon Himalayas in Uttaranchal on the
Ramnagar-Ranikhet highway. Ramnagar is the road head to Corbett and the town
also hosts the office of Corbett Tiger Reserve(CTR). Dhikala tourist village,
deep inside the forest is the most sought after place for visitors. You are
required to book a stay in Dhikala or one of the guest houses in this section
to be able to visit this region, and day-trippers are not allowed unless you
take the open bus safari organized by CTR. How-ever jeeps for day-trip are
permitted at another section of the forest at Jhirna Gate.
If you plan to stay at Dhikala, you will need to have your
own jeep to be able to reach Dhikala and then go on Safaris. You can hire jeeps
at Ramnagar. Dhikala is located on the bank of Ramaganga River that runs
through the park, which is an added attraction.
Things to do and Places to See.
Tiger sighting is the most sought after activity in Corbett.
The best place to look for them is along Sambar road, which goes along the
Ramaganga from Dhikala Tourist Village. The guides are familiar with the region
and can lead you to places where sightings are likely.
Jeep Safari. If you have booked accommodation in Dhikala,
you can go on Jeep Safaris and wildlife viewing in the forests in the region.
Jeeps are allowed in the forest from sunrise to sunset and the best time to see
wildlife is early morning hours or in the evening before the sun goes down. All
jeeps are required to have a guide, who can be hired at Dhikala.
Elephant Safari. Once again, you have to be staying in
Dhikala region to go on elephant safaris. The safaris are scheduled in morning
and evening, and take you around the riverbed and nearby forests. Elephant
Safari is the best way to spot tigers, as elephants can be good at finding and
flushing out tigers.
Daily Bus Safari to Dhikala. An open mini bus leaves
Ramnagar for a day trip to Dhikala and back everyday, starting at 8am and
ending at 4pm. Though you can't expect an extensive tour of the forest, it is
still worth taking, as it takes you deep into the forest till Dhikala. Arrive
early in Ramnagar's CTR office to ensure your seat.
Bird watching. Several resorts in and around the Park can
arrange bird watching tours. With more than 400 species of birds, and with more
than 40 raptors among them, Corbett is a great place for birding. If you are a
seasoned birdwatcher, you can also do it on your own when you go on Safaris in
Dhikala or any other region. Most of the guides in Dhikala are good at sighting
and identifying birds.
Angling. Fishing is prohibited within the park, but you can
get permits for angling in Kosi and Ramaganga rivers outside the park. Some
resorts can arrange permits and angling tours.
Museum at Dhangadi Gate. Dhangadi Gate on the way to Dhikala
has a museum that displays stuffed animals that were killed by Jim Corbett and
other hunters. Seeing those tiger and spotting bullet marks in them is a worthy
Other attractions. Corbett is close to hill stations
Ranikhet and Nainital. You can plan an itinerary to Corbett that includes these
places. Kaladhungi, the village near the park where Jim Corbett had lived now
houses a museum.
Dhikala Tourist village is the most sought
after accommodation in the park. Book in advance through CTR Office. See
http://www.corbettnationalpark.in/page'contactus.htm for contact details. There
are a few more guesthouses inside the park on the way to Dhikala but they don't
have restaurant facilities and you will have to make your own arrangements for
food. There are resorts littered all along the road from Ramnagar to Dhangadi
gate on the way to Dhikala, which provide mid-range to luxury accommodation.
Note that if you are staying in these places, you will not be able to access
the forest ranges of Dhikala with your own vehicle. Ramnagar has a few budget
hotels if you have a tight budget.