Jim Corbett National park is the first national park in India. Made in 1936 as Hailey National Park named after Sir Malcolm Hailey, the Governor of United Provinces, it was then renamed as Ramganga National Park. Finally renamed after the legendary hunter turned conservationist, photographer, and author Jim Corbett in 1955 as a tribute to him after his demise. There are many reasons why this park should be in your itinerary. But I am just listing the top 5 reasons to visit Corbett National Park.
Stay inside Jim Corbett National Park
Jim Corbett is one of the few parks in India which permits staying overnight in the Forest Rest Houses inside the national park. These Forest Rest Houses, popularly known as FRHs were built over 100 years back during the British Raj times. The officers and the staff stayed here during their work in the forest. Situated deep in the heart of the forest, the location of these FRHs is simply exquisite. The air here is crisp and laden with all the sweet scents that are to be smelt in an Indian Jungle. During the morning, it goes to the head like Champagne.
Advantages of staying at the forest rest house
Most of these Corbett Forest Rest Houses are near the rivers so you get to see a lot of wildlife, elephants, tigers, deer, etc come to the river. Even if you do not get to see wild animals in the water, you will hear a lot of alarm calls of prey animals when they see predators in ambush. It is common to hear alarm calls throughout the day, but a lot after sunset. The feeling of hearing alarm calls in the dark is quite an experience. At times you may get lucky and hear the roar of a tiger from your room. Trust me, there is no sound more terrifying in the jungle than a roar of an unseen tiger in the dark.
These are basic rest houses, and clean. Only vegetarian food is served here. Alcohol and smoking are not permitted here. The overall experience of staying in these FRHs is far superior to staying in any luxury resort outside the national park. You may like to read more about one of the popular FRHs named Dhikala in my other blog right here. There are several Rest Houses in different zones of Jim Corbett national park which has these Forest Rest Houses. Some of the forest rest houses that can be booked online are; Dhikala, Gairal, Sarpdulli, Bijrani, Malani, Jhirna, and Sultan.
High Tiger Density
More than 266 Tigers utilize the park as per the National Tiger Census of 2018, and about 231 tigers reside inside Jim Corbett National Park. Tiger density is significantly related to prey abundance, tiger prey encounters, and also dung density. High tiger density is also measured keeping in mind the tiger signs, i.e. pug marks, scat, rake mark, scrape mark, drag marks of the kill, etc. So, your chances of Tiger Sightings during the Tiger safaris in Jim Corbett are high.
But still, Jim Corbett National Park is not known for its tiger sightings compared to some other parks like Bandhavgarh, Tadoba, Ranthambhore, and Kanha. The main reason behind this is the thickly wooded sal forest, and also the grasslands. There are occasions when a tiger could be just two meters from your vehicle but not visible. The undergrowth in the woodlands is pretty thick. And if the Tiger is in the grassland, then again you cannot see it until he is out of the grassland, or you can see the tail or the ears of the tiger move. But still, the tiger sightings in Corbett have significantly improved over the last 5 years.
Jim Corbett National Park is a Birders haven
India is home to close to 1300 species of birds, out of which almost 550 species can be found in and around Jim Corbett National Park. The reason for this diversity in bird species is simply the variety of habitats that exists here. From woodlands to grasslands, to river beds to Himalayan foothill vegetation. Some of the birds checklists of Jim Corbett National Park are, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Ibisbill, Collared Falconet, Spot Bellied Eagle Owl, Tawny Fish Owl, Great Hornbill, Greater Painted Snipe, Bonelli’s Eagle, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Bearded Vulture, Red Whiskered Bulbul, White-Tailed Nuthatch, Long Tailed Broadbill and many more.
Should you be keen to get initiated into birding, then Corbett is definitely a high-priority region, to begin with. Just carry a binocular, a good bird book (Birds of Indian Subcontinent by Richard Grimmett, Carol, and Tim Inskipp, or A Field Guide to the Birds of Indian Sub-continent by Krys Kazmierczak), and a lot of patience and silence.
Range of activities around Jim Corbett National Parks
Apart from regular Tiger Safaris, there are a host of other activities that you can do around Jim Corbett National Park.
1. Angling has recently restarted in the Jim Corbett area.
2. Follow the trail of Jim Corbett. Visit his house in Nainital, Arundale, and also in Kaladhungi, where he spent a lot of his time. There is a good museum in Kaladhungi which is home to some of his personal items. Kaladhungi is located about 45 minutes from Corbett and is on the edge of Choti Haldwani village formed by Jim Corbett. A family to whom he donated his rifle also lives in the village. You can see the spot where he stood with one of the biggest tigers he shot, Bachelor of Powalgarh. Today there is a local handicraft center running in this museum. You can also trek either uphill or downhill (we recommend downhill) on the track which was used by Jim Corbett when he shot the Maneater of Mohan.
3. Walk along the river bed of Kosi to do birding, and in summers at times you might encounter tigers resting in shade close to the river in ambush for prey animals who would come to quench their thirst. We recommend walking with an expert naturalist in the area.
Jim Corbett National park is about a 5-6 hour drive from New Delhi. We recommend you start at sunrise to get to the Dhangarhi gate of Corbett National Park. You change to the open 4X4 safari vehicle with your baggage, and then it is a 2-hour safari drive to Dhikala Forest Rest House.
Ramnagar is the closest town which is connected by train from New Delhi. It is a 4-hour train journey.
Closest Airport is Pantnagar Airport, just 80kms from Corbett, but it has only 3 flights a week from New Delhi. The other airport is Jolly Grant at Dehradun, which is a 5-hour drive, and also New Delhi which is the same distance.
Should you wish to know more about Jim Corbett Safari please let us know.
Sharad Kumar Vats
Born and brought up in New Delhi, it was Sharad’s childhood passion to play cricket for India. While on a holiday in 1990, he saw his first tiger. Little did he know that this one sighting would immerse him into a realm where forests and tigers were all that mattered.
Sharad’s experiences as a wildlife photographer have inspired him to observe the tiger’s behavior for over 30 years and motivated him on his own journey as an entrepreneur. He started Nature Safari India Pvt Ltd, with a focus on “Conservation through Tourism.” to align himself to the mission of saving the regal species and repopulating them in India’s forests. In 2006, he set up one of India’s premier jungle lodges in Kanha National Park.
Sharad believes that there are many lessons to be learned from a tiger that can be applied successfully to leadership—both in business and in life. Here’s a new book by Sharad Vats on management and leadership skills to learn from a Tiger.