A visit to Jim Corbett National Park had been on my bucket list for a long long time. In India we have a number of beautiful national parks known for sighting different animals specially tigers but what sets Corbett Park apart is that it is one of the rare national parks where one can stay deep inside the forest in the forest rest houses.
So when my sister suggested that I join her family and a friend on a tour of Corbett Park I accepted without a second of hesitation. We were a group of six who got together in Delhi and then embarked on our journey on 8th Dec. 2015.
We boarded Ranikhet Express from Old Delhi railway station at 10 PM and reached Ramnagar, the railway station for Corbett, at five in the morning and then drove down to the resort and park.
A quick breakfast and freshening up and soon we were at Dhangarhi Gate, one of the entry points of Jim Corbett National Park. After the required formalities we entered the forest and began a magical 16 kilometer long drive to the Gairal Forest Rest House. The first encounter was with a wild boar, large and menacing, who stared at us for a few minutes and then disappeared into the thickets. We saw beautiful birds and herds of deer and even fresh pug marks of a tiger. This really excited us no end.
Staying at Gairal Forest Rest House was great . The river Ramganga flowing below and the chirping of the birds was a unique experience. After having our lunch we went on our first safari. Our guides cum drivers Vicky and Mahesh were real experts and guided us to varied species of birds and flocks of deer but sadly no tiger though pug marks were detected at various locations.
By dusk we were back in Gairal. There is no electricity here, but we were given solar lamps. With darkness falling the place really had a mysterious, eerie ambience. We sat in the small cosy dining room along with the other visitors chitchatting through the evening over a simple, but tasty vegetarian dinner, before retiring for the night.
We got up early the next day to be in time for our next safari into the Dhikala Zone. During the beautiful drive we saw spotted deer, hog deer, sambhar and reached Dhikala Forest Rest House for a sumptuous breakfast. We left soon after breakfast, trying to cover as much of the forest as we could in search of the elusive tiger. We had been told that this was the wrong time of the year for tiger sighting but we never lost hope.
After lunch one more safari, this time to a place called The High Bank in the late afternoon. Down a sheer drop was the river where the tiger was expected to come. There was a crowd there already, tourists like me and professional photographers with impressive cameras and lenses. We were not disappointed. After a long wait a majestic looking tiger appeared at the far side of the river, slowly crossed the river and then disappeared into the forest. Even at the distance, its majesty stood out and evoked a collective sigh from the watchers.
But the best was yet to come. The sun was setting when we sat in our gypsies and left for Gairal Forest Rest House, and as we wound our way through the forest trail, the front gypsy stopped. There on the side of the road was a young tiger which had just crossed the road, and then stood just a few feet away staring at us, before turning around and disappearing into the jungle. I for one was so fascinated and stunned that I forgot to take a photograph, but then the sight remains etched far more clearly in my mind than any photograph. A tiger sighting, and that too twice within a span of twenty minutes. We could not have asked for a grander finale.
You can book a boutique resort in Jim Corbett Park by clicking on the on the link below
Have a great stay at Jim Corbett Park. I for one have cherished it.