Established in 1936 as Hailey National Park, Jim Corbett National Park is one of India's oldest and most prestigious National Parks. It was one of the first national parks to come under the Project Tiger initiative and is now part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve, a Project Tiger Reserve. The park got its name from Jim Corbett, the famous naturalist and photographer in 1957.
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, this park stretches over 520 square kilometres consisting of uneven hills, grasslands, shallow marshes, riparian belts and a large lake.
The park attracts a large number of tourists and wildlife enthusiasts, all flocking to get a glimpse of the striped beast. The park shelters a number of endangered tiger species, a variety of other wild animals, a rich birdlife and a wealthy spread of flora. This makes the national park perfect for safaris. Corbett jungle safari offers excellent sightseeing of nature and wildlife.
Corbett Jungle Safari
Jim Corbett National Park offers thrilling nature watches and wildlife viewing within the jungles of its buffer zones. Safaris are done in an open four-wheeler Jeep, a large open-roof canter and on elephant back. While on your safari, you might even be lucky to catch sight of the Royal Bengal tigers.
Corbett Jungle Safari: Jeep Safari
Jeep safaris are the most popular amongst all other safari options. Jeeps are smaller and more compact than canters, hence allowing you to go deeper into the wilderness and explore the corners of the jungles where you could spot a lurking tiger. Being an open vehicle, jeep safaris promises an enthralling sightseeing tour around the park. Jeep Safari can be done in tourism zones like Bijrani, Jhirna, Durgadevi, Dhela and Sitabani.
Corbett Jungle Safari: Canter Safari
Canter Safari is an exciting way to explore the deep wilderness and explore zones that are abundantly inhabited by wildlife. It is also the safest way to enjoy wildlife safari. It is only operated by Corbett forest officials, twice in a day and the canter seats about 16-18 people, making it perfect for a group trip.
Corbett Jungle Safari: Elephant Safari
Elephant safari is one of the most sought after Corbett safari bookings. Imagine sitting on the back of a giant mammal and riding on it through dense jungles and having close encounters with other animals. This is what elephants safari offers and it doubles the fun and excitement of a jungle safari. It also enables you to visit those areas of the park that are inaccessible to jeeps and canters. These safaris are led by trained and expert mahouts; hence, it is completely safe.
Buffer zones in Corbett National Park
The park has five buffer zones, each home to varied species of flora and fauna, and tourists can come to enjoy nature and observe the wildlife in their habitats. The five tourist zones are Bijrani, Jhirna, Durgadevi, Dhikala and Sitabani. The forest department has also opened a new sixth tourism zone named Dhela.
Bijrani zone is the perfect zone for nature and wildlife lovers. It has open grasslands and you'll be able to spot elephants, tigers, deers, chital deers, monkeys and a plethora of birds. The entry gate of the zone is the Amdanda Gate and is located only 1km from the Ramnagar city.
Jhirna zone is abundant with natural beauty. It is also the zone where you're most likely to encounter bears. The Jhirna Gate is the entry point to this zone and it is located about 16 km from Ramnagar city.
Durga Devi Zone
Durga Devi Zone is a sanctuary for a significant number of bird species. It is truly a paradise for bird watchers. Durga Devi Gate is the entry point and it is located about 36 km from Ramnagar city.
Dhikala Zone is the largest of all the buffer zones in Corbett. It gets the most visitors and it is known for presenting the best sight of exotic wildlife species. Dhangadi Gate is the entry point and it is located about 18 km from Ramnagar city.
Sitabani Zone does not come under the Corbett Tiger Reserve area. It is characterised by exceptional scenic beauty and serene ambience and hence allures a significant number of tourists.
Dhela Zone was included within the tiger reserve zone in 2014, so it is a relatively new tourism zone. A large number of tourists are attracted to this zone due to its opulence of flora and fauna. It is located around 13km from Ramnagar city.
What you’ll see
The Jim Corbett National Park shelters an abundance of wildlife species and on your Corbett jungle safari, you’ll spot animals like Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, deer, chital, endemic crocodiles, reptiles like cobras and rare species like otters. The avifauna of the park is also spectacular. You'll find a large number of grey-headed eagles, black-chinned yuhina, maroon oriole, white-crested laughingthrush, vultures and doves, among others.
Where to stay
There is a great deal of accommodation available in and around Jim Corbett National Park. You can relax with your family and friends in the serenity of nature. These include luxury hotels furnished with high-end equipment and resorts to forest lodges, budget guest houses, cottages and camps.
When to go
The best time to visit Jim Corbett National Park is during the summer season (within the months of March and June) and the winter season (within the months of October and February)
During the winter season, the whole region has a feeling of freshness and coolness left behind by the monsoon showers. The weather is a delight, with day temperatures ranging from 10-degrees Celsius to 20-degrees Celsius and dropping as low as 5-degrees Celsius during the night.
The park is beautiful and captivating, and you'll spot an array of unseen animals and birds. This is also the season to spot the maximum number of Royal Bengal tigers, as they roam around the park and bask in the sun. All zones of the park are open during this season and you can enjoy safari rides and activities like rafting, guided treks and nature walks.
During the summer season, the temperature can rise up to 40-degrees Celsius, but the lush vegetation in the park ensures a pleasant and fresh atmosphere. All zones are also open during this season, but it's the perfect season to go visit the mammals near water bodies and watch how they cool themselves off. You can go for jeep safaris through the jungles to see all the other animals and enjoy activities like river rafting or guided nature walks.
During the monsoon season, the rainfall is heavy, the temperature drops and fluctuates between 25 - 35-degrees Celsius and humidity increases. The atmosphere of the park; however, is magical. The jungles are lush and painted in every hue of green with climbers and creepers snaking the forest floor. The monsoon is the mating season for most birds and mammals so you'll be sure to hear the cacophony of mating calls of exotic birds and animals.
It's the perfect visiting time for adventure enthusiast who likes to travel during the offseason. when the tourist count is low. Only the Jhirna and Sitabani Zones in the park are open during the monsoon. Monsoon also sees a risk of landslides and soil erosion, and a large number of insects.
How to get there
Jim Corbett is one of the most prestigious national parks of India. Being a popular tourist destination, it gets a large influx of people every year. The Government has thus ensured that the area is well connected by means of most transportation. Airways, roadways and railways are all favoured options by tourists when visiting the Jim Corbett National Park.
By air: Corbett National Park does not have an airport of its own. The closest airport is at Pantnagar, about 80 km away and it is a domestic airport. The closest international airport is at Delhi, about 280 km away from Jim Corbett National Park. If you're travelling from the northern parts of India, you can alternatively also land at Dehradun Airport, which is around 165 km away. Once at the airport, you can easily avail taxis or hire a car to reach Corbett National Park.
By train: The city of Ramnagar is the closest to Corbett National Park. It is well-connected by a strong network of roads and rails with major cities within India like Delhi, Lucknow, Nainital, Moradabad, Bareilly and Dehradun. There are regular trains from these cities to Ramnagar. The park is located about 15 km away from Ramnagar railway station and will only take you around half an hour to get there.
By road: There are regular bus and taxi services that connect major Indian cities to Corbett National Park. The approximate distance between India's capital, Dehli and the park is about 295 km and will take about six hours to cover.