Corbett National Park – A Complete Travel Guide

Royal Bengal Tiger at Corbett National Park photo

Located in the foothills of mighty Himalayas, Corbett National Park is spread across three districts of Uttarakhand – Nainital, Almora and Pauri Garhwal.

Sprawling core area of 520 sq km, the park is a treasure trove of hills, grasslands and water bodies. It also extends over a buffer area of 798 sq km.

Prior to the British rule in India, the forest area of Corbett was maintained as a private property of the kings and local rulers.

Later during the early 19th century, the Britishers got ownership of the forest land. In 1858, concentrated efforts were initiated to save the forest region by Major General Ramsay, a British Army Officer.

The British Forest Department took control of the forest land and prohibited farming and domestic animal movements in the protected area.

It was declared a reserve forest in 1879. Years later in 1936, with the efforts of Governor Sir Malcolm Hailey the reserve forest area became the first national park of India named Hailey National Park.

The boundaries of the national park were demarcated in consultation with avid wildlife conservationist Jim Corbett.

In 1955-56, Hailey National Park was renamed as Jim Corbett National Park in honour of Jim Corbett. This was the first national park to come under project tiger.

Scroll down to find out all you should know to plan your trip to this enchanting wildlife destination.

A Quick Glance Through

Wildlife in The Park

Sambar deer female

More than 400 species of plants can be found in the park. Some of the most prominent trees include Sal (Shorea robusta), Sissoo and Khair (Senegalia catechu).

Corbett National Park is home to a wide variety of wild animals and migratory birds. Bengal tigers are the main attraction of the park but they are not easily sighted due to the dense nature of the forest.

Some of the commonly spotted animals in the park are sambar deer, wild boar, barking deer, jungle cat and chital (spotted deer).

This forest also serves as an important habitat for elephants. Check this post to know, which are the best places for sighting elephants in the wild – elephants in India.

Many types of reptiles such as crocodiles and gharials can be spotted basking in the sun on the river banks.

You may also like: Tigers in India – 12 Best Places To Sight Them

Tourists Zones

Elephants

The Park is bisected by the Ramganga river and Koshi river along with many of their tributaries. Ramganga river creates a large reservoir called Kalagarh Dam which is situated within the park.

The core area of Corbett National Park has been divided into six different zones for tourists.

1. Bijrani Zone

This is a very popular tourist hub because of its prolific natural beauty. Entry to the Bijrani zone is through Amdanda gate, located almost 1 km away from Ramnagar city.

This area is preferred for day-visits and is known for its excellent wildlife tracking by jeep safari.

2. Dhikala Zone

Dhikala is known to be the largest zone in Corbett National Park and is famous for its rich wildlife and excellent scenic beauty.

Entry to this zone is through Dhangari gate which is around 18 km away from Ramnagar city.

To enjoy jeep safari in this zone, you need to stay in one of the four Forest Rest Houses (FRHs) within the park, namely Dhikala FRH, Gairal FRH, Sarpduli FRH, Sultan FRH.

Dhikala is open for tourists from 15th November to 15th June and remains closed during monsoon season. This is the perfect place to spot crocodiles and gharials relaxing on the banks of the Ramganga river.

If you couldn’t manage to book your stay in any of the Forest Rest Houses, try booking a canter ride for a day visit in Dhikala.

3. Jhirna Zone

Jhirna is another important tourist zone of Corbett National Park. It is open for tourists round the year.

Entry to Jhirna zone is through Dhela gate which is located at a distance of 16 km from Ramnagar city.

4. Dhela Zone

Dhela is a newly developed eco-tourism zone, created in November 2014. This zone attracts large numbers of tourists because of the abundant flora and presence of varied species of birds. It is open for tourists throughout the year.

5. Durga Devi Zone

Highly recommended zone for those who are fond of bird watching. The entry gate is located almost 36 km away from Ramnagar.

You can also spot the legendary freshwater fish Mahseer and Golden Mahseer in the water streams passing through the forest.

6. Sonanadi Zone

Sonanadi range is located in Sonanadi wildlife sanctuary and you can reach there through Vatanvasa gate. This zone boasts of the presence of more than 500 distinct species of birds.

Sitabani Zone

Sitabani forest is a buffer zone which means it isn’t considered a part of the core area of the park. Legend has it that Sita, wife of Lord Rama spent some part of her exile in Sitabani.

Splendid natural beauty of this zone draws many tourists and entry is not restricted like the core zones.

There is no limit on the number of vehicles entering this area. Sitabani zone is considered a birdwatchers paradise.

Indian Grey Hornbill

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Corbett is between mid-November to mid-June. The park remains closed during monsoon from mid-June to mid-November.

ZoneOpen during
Dhikala15 th  Nov – 15 th  June
Bijrani15 th  Oct – 30 th  June
JhirnaThroughout the year
DhelaThroughout the year
Durga Devi15 th  Oct – 30 th  June
Sonanadi15 th  Oct – 15 th  June

Where To Stay

There are many budget and mid-range private hotels and resorts in Ramnagar.

If you want to wake up with the sounds of nature, book your stay in one of the Forest Rest Houses located right in the heart of the jungle.

Forest Rest houses offer serene and picturesque surroundings for a relaxing vacation but most of them provide only basic amenities.

Few of the rest houses don’t have a canteen facility but food can be cooked on demand. Dhikala Forest Rest House is the most sought after by the tourists. Here is the list of all the rest houses.

ZoneForest Rest House (FRH)Facilities
DhikalaDhikala FRH, Gairal FRH, Sarpduli FRH, Sultan FRHOther than Sarpduli FRH, all have canteen facility
BijraniBijrani FRH, Mailani FRHCanteen facility provided
JhirnaJhirna FRHCanteen facility not provided but food can be cooked on demand
DhelaDhela FRHCanteen facility not provided but food can be cooked on demand
SonanadiHalduparao FRH, Rathuwadhab FRH, Mundiyapani FRHCanteen facility not provided but food can be cooked on demand

How to Book

You can book the rest houses online through Corbett National Park official website. Permit is required to visit all the core zones of the park.

You will need to book safari permits in advance for each visit. There is no option available to book the permits offline. It can be done online only through their website.

Permit allows your entry to the park but safari jeeps need to be booked separately. You can book it through your hotel or resort.

How To Reach Corbett National Park

The nearest domestic airport is located in Pantnagar. There are direct flights available from Delhi and Dehradun, operated by Alliance Air. It is almost 2 hours drive from Pantnagar airport to Corbett.

The closest international airport is in Delhi, roughly at a distance of 245 km from the park.

It takes almost 5-6 hours by road to reach Corbett from Delhi. You can catch a train also from Delhi to Ramnagar if you don’t prefer a long road journey.

The park lies at a distance of about 12 km from Ramnagar railway station. From there, you can hire private taxis or catch a local bus to reach Corbett.

Nearby Places To Visit

Almost 2 hours drive away from Corbett lies the famous hill station of Uttarakhand. Yes, I am talking about Nainital.

If you have a few more days to spare, don’t miss visiting all the famous tourist places in Nainital – Naini lake, Eco cave garden, Naina peak and other popular attractions.

Over To You Now…

Have you been to Corbett National Park? What kind of wildlife did you sight there? Tell us in the comment section below.

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