Introduction to Corbett National Park
Corbett National Park is among the top national parks in India. Established in 1936 by legendary tiger hunter Jim Corbett, it's the oldest national park in India and also one of the largest. The park is located along the Ramganga River, at the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand.
Neighboring Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary was later added to the park to form Corbett Tiger Reserve. It's divided into six separate eco-tourism zones, each with its own entrance. These are Bijrani, Dhikala, Lohachaur/Durga Devi, Sonanadi, Jhirna, and Dhela (formed in the buffer area in 2014). The Jhirna and Dhela zones remain open throughout the year, subject to weather conditions. The other zones close during the monsoon season, from June 16. Dhikala reopens from November 15 each year, while the others reopen from October 15.
The chances of seeing a tiger at Corbett aren't as high as some national parks in India but there are plenty of other animals.
These photos of Corbett National Park show its natural beauty and how to experience it.
Corbett National Park Jeep Safaris
Corbett National Park can be explored by jeep safari twice per day, early in the morning and in the late afternoon. Bijrani and Dhikala are the two most popular zones for safaris, although Dhikala is the largest and most prominent.
Up until mid 2018, elephant safaris through the park were also possible. However, this ceased following an Uttarakhand High Court ban on the commercial use of elephants (including for joyrides and jungle safaris) in the state. The park's elephants are now only used for patrolling.
Accommodations Inside Corbett National Park
For the best wildlife viewing, stay deep inside the core area of the park in the Dhikala Tourist Complex, at the century-old forest rest house built in the 1890s. The complex also has a restaurant and newer types of accommodations, including cabins and dormitories. It's very popular and does get crowded though.
There are other more isolated heritage forest rest houses in the Dhikala Zone towards the periphery of the park -- at Gairal, Sarapduli, and Sultan. Sultan, in a sal forest, is the furthest away. Gairal sits next to the river and is ideal for bird watchers. Sarapduli is downstream of Gairal. Gairal is the only place that has a restaurant. There other two locations have kitchens and you'll need to bring food for the caretakers to prepare.
Forest rest houses are located in other zones of the park too. You should book your accommodations according to the zone of your safari. Bookings can be made online here. Foreigners can expect to pay roughly double the rate of Indians.
Sunrise at Corbett National Park
Early mornings are quite spectacular at Corbett National Park, with the sun glinting through the foliage.
Elephants at Corbett National Park
There are hundreds of wild elephants in Corbett National Park and it's quite common to see them. They particularly like the grassland, called chaur. Dhikala chaur is the park's largest grassland and a popular place to see large herds elephants during April and May. This is after the river has receded and the grass has ripened.
Spotted Deer at Corbett National Park
Spotted Deer (also known as chittal) are the most commonly sighted animal at Corbett National Park.
Monkeys at Corbett National Park
Monkey sightings are pretty much guaranteed at Corbett National Park. These monkeys are langurs.