Jim Corbett National Park has always been like a second home to me. Since my dad is a wildlife tour operator, my childhood was spent mostly in the dense jungles of Corbett. Our frequent trips to the park made me fall in love with nature, forests, wildlife and spending time in the bush always makes for the most memorable family adventures for us.
Corbett is just an overnight train journey from Delhi, which is my hometown. For wildlife enthusiasts, this makes for the perfect escape from big city life – even if its for a weekend.
With around 103 national parks in India, it is extremely difficult to pick the best one. I have myself visited few renowned national parks in the country like – Kaziranga, Pench, Banghavgarh, Ranthambore.. but Corbett tops my list and many others.
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Reasons to Visit Corbett National Park, India
Okay so I am sure I am somewhat biased towards the jungles of Corbett as it has always been my “go-to” place as a kid. However, I know many would agree that the forestation and photo opportunities found in Corbett would surpass any other. Well based on my own views, here’s my take on why everyone should choose Corbett over other parks –
Lush Green Forestation
With dense forestation of Corbett being a drawback for game watching, many prefer the open desert-like topography of Rathambore for easier sightings. However, the thrill of looking for those yellow and black stripes amidst thick green forests is an experience in itself for me. We track tigers through pug marks and alarm calls of deer and monkeys- that’s as real as it can get! The Royal Bengal tigers are a delight to sight and the more effort that goes into tracking them, better the reward when you actually see one for real.
Variety of Flora and Fauna
With over 165 tigers as per last census, Corbett boasts of highest density of tigers per sq km. Yes, even with these high numbers you might not even see a single tiger during your visit but knowing they are around is definitely a big adrenaline rush. Apart from this main crowd puller, the park also boasts of Leopards, Elephants, Crocodiles, Himalayan Black Bear, Jungle cat, Wild boar, Monkeys and over 40,000 deer of various kinds.
Corbett is a haven for birders with over 600 species to be sighted – this includes both domestic as well as migratory birds. Several organized birding groups flock to Corbett every year in search of new lifers to add to their list.
Excellent Photo Opportunities due to Varied Landscape
Corbett has a vast landscape spanning across 490 sq kilometers. The Ramganga river flows through the park making for stunning photography around river beds, dams and adjoining foliage.
Plus the dense green vegetation make for excellent backdrops with the bright black and yellow stripes of the Bengal tiger in forefront.
Stay Inside the Jungles
Corbett national park offers an option for visitors to stay deep inside the park. My favorite place to stay is the Dhikala forest rest house if you want to be bang in the middle of the action. There have been man eating tiger attacks reported here in the past, due to which, they have an electric fencing around the compound now.
For me, staying inside the jungle is by far the best times I have had in the park. You are right in the middle of the action and chances of sighting are much higher while staying inside, rather than just taking a short safari inside the park on a day trip. You need to book well in advance for a chance to stay in these basic forest rest houses (don’t expect a resort atmosphere). Click here to check the official government website for availability of safaris and accommodation inside Corbett.
Karan’s Corbett Motel
For those who miss out on staying inside the forest, since the rooms are very limited and they go fast, there are umpteen options in Ramnagar, just 30 mins from the main park entrance. From high end resorts to basic guest houses, Ramnagar is very commercial and can cater to any accommodation type or requirement. This is also a preferred place to stay for those who cannot fathom living in the bush as they find it too close for comfort!
From those options, my top choice is Karan’s corbett motel. This is a standard guest house with a homely environment, on the outskirts of the park in the heart of Ramnagar city. Owner of the motel – Karan Bisht, is a childhood friend of mine who has practically lived in the jungles all his life. From a safari driver to a guide and now the owner of this cozy, comfy and cost effective motel, he has come a long way.
I love supporting local businesses and simply because of his exceptional hospitality, I would highly recommend spending a few nights at his humble motel. If you are nice to him, he might even accompany you for one of the safari’s inside the park and that will be your best safari experience ever. He is highly skilled in animal behavior and is undoubtedly the best guide in the entire park – hand’s down.
Enough said, make your bookings via email/ phone here – firstname.lastname@example.org / +91-9837468933. Room tariff starts at just USD 18 per night.
Best Time to Visit Corbett National Park
If you want to enjoy the real jungles, I would suggest opting for Dhikala forest rest house, which is open every year from 15th Nov – 15th June. For avid wildlife lovers and birders, the best time would be end of Feb till April. I personally love going to Corbett in the month of March once the wild elephants are back. Even though temperatures are soaring after February, it is also the time when you can spot most animals as they come out to water holes and river beds to quench their thirst. Just my opinion, though winters are amazing for birding and lovely foggy mornings gazing at the river beds, squinting to see the Brahminy ducks in the Ramganga.
This was just one person’s opinion, so tell me, which is the best wildlife reserve in India as per you?