The oldest of the national parks of India, the first national park of Asia and the first to come under the Project Tiger, Corbett National Park in Uttaranchal derived its name from none other than the legendary maneater-hunter cum naturalist Jim Corbett. The part of the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, the park with its hilly regions, marshlands, riverine belts, the large lake and rolling grasslands is a perfect setup for the Royal Bengal Tiger as well as a plethora of other animals and birds – attracting huge number of Indian and Foreign tourists to come and cherish wildlife photography like never before.
Wildlife Photography at Jim Corbett National Park is on the list for most of the wildlife photographers. They will not only love the rich biodiversity but also the diverse landscape that makes Jim Corbett National Park such a treat for nature lovers.
While discussing this territory where the animals live in perfect harmony, we would discuss its history, what you can expect here, where you can stay and overall, how to plan a trip accordingly.
History of Jim Corbett National Park: How it came into Being
Formerly a part of the area the royal family of Tehri owned, the forested land of the park was ceded to East India for their aid in evicting the Gurkhas and the Boksas tribe from the region. Under the guidance of the British Officer-in-charge Major Ramsay, the area came under the category of a reserve forest in 1879.
In the early 1900s, a few British naturalists proposed and took initiative to make this area a National Park and in 1936, the reserve area came to be known as Hailey National Park with an area of around 125 sq miles. Sir Jim Corbett looked at it that feeling of trees and hunting of animals were banned. It was renamed as Ramganga National Park and in 1955-56, Corbett National Park came into being.
Through the next couple of years, several new forested lands were included in the national park, namely the Kalagarh Forest division and Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary to make it one of the great tiger reserves in India.
Geography and Location
To protect and conserve the three terrestrial flagship species –Royal Bengal Tiger, Asiatic Elephant, and One-horned Rhinoceros, the Jim Corbett National Park is one of the many national parks of India to have linked with the thirteen protected areas of Nepal. The national park is laden with the moist deciduous forests of the Upper Gangetic Plains and the Himalayan Subtropical Pine forests.
The Ramganga River reservoir gave birth to the Patli Dun valley, a favorite to the Tigers, birds and reptiles and a delight to the wildlife photographers. Apart from the ravines, ridges, streams, valleys, and plateaus, there are Himalayan hard sandstone units, Duns and longitudinal valleys.
Located in between the Lesser Himalayas and the Shiwaliks, the park is situated in the Nainital and Pauri districts of Uttarakhand, India covering an area of around 521 sq km.
Climate – When to Visit
The Jim Corbett National Park weather is temperate and comfortable throughout the year. Winter mornings are foggy and summer mornings are not so sultry.
During the dry seasons, light rainfall can be experienced while during monsoons, there is heavy rain and hence, it is next to impossible to photograph the animals. Jim Corbett National Park temperature ranges from 20 to 300 during winter seasons (October to February) and from 190 to 460 during summer months.
The best time to visit is from March to Mid-June, July to September (Mating season, only Jhirna Zone is open for public) and November to February.
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How to Reach
- By road – Take a rented car or Taxi to reach Ramnagar. There are regular Buses plied by Uttarakhand State Government that connect Delhi (295km), Moradabad, Haldwani and Nainital city.
- Train – Trains like Ranikhet Express, Corbett Link Express, and Kathgodam Express will take you to Ramnagar from the major cities like Delhi (260km), Bareilly and Moradabad. There are also trains connecting the cities –Varanasi, Lucknow (436km), Kanpur, Allahabad, Nainital (62km), Ranikhet, Haridwar, and Dehradun.
- Flight – New Delhi (300km) is the nearest international airport while the closest domestic airport is Phoolbagh, Pantnagar Airport (50km).
Ramnagar, forming the headquarters of Corbett Tiger Reserve is the center of connection from all the important cities of India. It is up to you on how to reach Jim Corbett National Park as per your convenience.
How to Explore
According to Jim Corbett National Park packages, you can opt for the following safari to explore the areas. The cost, timings and season are provided hereby.
Jeep safari –
Bijrani, Jhirna, Durga Devi, Dhela and around, open all year, in morning from 6 am to 9 am in summer and 7 am to 10 am in winter, in evening from 3 pm to 6 pm in summer and 2 pm to 5 pm in winter, for Indian – INR 3600-4000, for Foreigner – INR 7000-10000
Canter safari –
Dhikala Zone, 15th November to 15th June, Summer (5 am to 11 am and 12.30 pm to 6 pm) and in Winter (6 am to 11 am and 11.30 am to 5 pm), for Indian –INR 1500 and for Foreigner –INR 2500
Elephant safari –
Dhikala, Birjani and around, 15th November to 15th June for wildlife zones, Summer (6 am to 8 am and 3.30 am to 5.30 pm) and Winter (7 am to 9 am and 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm), for Indian – INR 3500 and for Foreigner – INR 4500
Wildlife Photography at Jim Corbett National Park
Being one of the most coveted national parks for wildlife photography, Jim Corbett National Park is rich in over 586 species of native and migratory birds, 33 reptile species, seven amphibian species, seven fish species, 36 dragonfly species and of course, 488 species of flora.
- Mammals – Wildlife photography at Jim Corbett national park is like a dream with the Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Asiatic Elephant, Sambar, Barking Deer, Cheetah, Buffalo, Bison, Hog Deer, Wild Boar, Rhesus Macaque, Langur, Himalayan Black Bears, Sloth Bears, Indian Grey Mongoose, Yellow-throated Martens, Otters, Himalayan Gorals, Nilgai, Indian Pangolin, Hedgehog, Flying Fox, Musk Shrew, Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat, Fishing Cat, Golden Jackal and many more.
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- Reptiles – Gharial, Mugger Crocodile, King Cobra, Python, Krait, Russell’s Viper, Turtle, Monitor Lizard etc
- Fishes – Goonch, Catfish, Golden Mahaseer as well as Rohu and Indian Trout
- Birds – Being one of the rich Tiger Reserves in India, it is also a bird photography site with water birds including 15 species of ducks and waterside birds like White Wagtails, Large Pied Wagtails, Citrine Wagtails, Forest Wagtails, Cattle Egret, Oriental Darter, Black Necked Stork, Greater and Lesser Cormorants, Common Snipe, Black-headed Gull, White-capped Water Redstart, Black Redstart, Greylag Geese etc., Night Birds like Buffy Fish Owl, Jungle Nightjar, Great Stone Plover and Scoops Owls, Air Birds like Crested Tree Swifts, Indian Alpine Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows, Wire-tailed Swallows and Indian Cliff Swallows.
Various Birds of Prey are also there such as Crested Serpent Eagle, Himalayan Griffon, Steppe Eagle, Himalayan Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, Black-Winged Eagle, Booted Hawk Eagle, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon etc. Apart from these, there are Woodland Birds like Blossom-headed Parakeet, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red Junglefowl, White-breasted Kalij Pheasant, Black Partridge, Peafowl, Rufous Turtle Dove, Emerald Dove, Blue Rock Pigeon, Red-wattled Lapwing, Pied Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Indian Roller and many species of Hornbills, barbets, bee-eaters, drongos, thrushes, finches, robins, warblers, babblers, bulbuls and so on.
Zones to Cover
There are marked zones to cover for wildlife photography at Jim Corbett national park. The marked buffer zones and core area of Jim Corbett National Park can be explored for extensive sightings and wildlife photography of the elusive tigers as well as other animals and birds.
Bijrani Safari Zone –
Entry through Amdanda Gate. Pure Sal laden uplands, Mixed Deciduous Forests in the valley, three major grasslands along with criss-crossed jungle roads. Perfect for wildlife photography and capturing herbivores and predators, especially the tiger on your camera.
Jhirna Safari Zone –
Entry through Jhirna Gate. Dense woodlands and grasslands along with the “Grove of the forest”. Excellent opportunity for bird photography in Jim Corbett with Great Hornbills. Sightings of Sloth Bear, Wild Asiatic Elephant as well as the ‘big cats’.
Dhikala Zone –
Entry through Dhangadi Gate. Most diverse and most sought-after zone for wildlife photography in Jim Corbett along the reservoir of Ramganga River. Photograph Ghorals, Antelopes, Hog Deer as well as the Gharial, Maggar Crocodiles and Mahaseer in the river.
Durga Devi Zone –
Entry through Durga Devi Gate. Perfect spot for bird photographers with birds like Maroon Oriole, Little Forktail, Crested Serpent Eagle, Great Headed Fishing Eagle and so on. Tigers, Leopards, and Asiatic Elephants can be sighted by the Ramganga River.
Sonanadi Zone –
Entry through Vatanvasa gate. Another paradise for bird photography in Jim Corbett with over 550 bird species. Tiger, Leopard, Sambhar, Cheetal are abundant here.
Dhela Zone –
Entry through Dhela Gate. Consists of mix topography including dense woodlands of Sal, Rohini, Bahera etc as well as large grasslands and water bodies. Apart from being rich in birds, you can photograph Royal Bengal Tiger, Asiatic Elephant, Wild Bear, Leopard, Nilgai, and reptiles.
Sitabani Buffer Zone –
Entry through Teda Village. The Buffer area for Tigers offers dense forest, streams and old temples. Rich in Herbivore animals like Sambar, Deer, Nilgai, Elephants as well as predators like Tigers and Leopards. Around 600 bird species are found here including the migratory species.
Uttarakhand tourism also offers other places to explore such as the Kalagarh Dam, Corbett Falls, Sunrise Point, Sitabani Forest Reserve and Garjiya Devi Temple for bird and wildlife photography as well as for landscape and nature photography.
Where to Stay
There are a number of Jim Corbett National Park hotels and forest lodges available in and around the park complex.
The jungle lodges are as follows-
Dhikala Zone –With luxurious amenities, the forest lodges in Dhikala zone are the best option for accessing the safaris. You need to make the online reservation beforehand to arrange your stay.
The following are your options-
- Dhikala Forest Lodge
- Sarapduli Rest House
- Sultan Rest House
- Gairal Rest House
- Khinnanauli Rest House
- Bijarani Zone –Malani Rest House
- Jhirna Zone –Jhirna Rest House
Some of the Jim Corbett National Park resorts are – Corbett Leela Vilas, Infinity Resort, Golden Tusk, Corbett River View Retreat, Corbett Aroma Park, Camp Riverwild Resort, Ashoka’s Tiger Trail, Corbett Riverside Resort, 3 Palms Wild Exotica Corbett and so on.
All you need to do is to check out the amenities and make an online reservation.
Entry Fee and Tariffs
While Jim Corbet National Park booking, you need to check out the entry fee and the latest tariffs regulated by the park.
Entry fee for Indian citizens is INR 200 while that of the Foreigners is INR 1000.
According to Uttarakhand tourism, the charge for the heavy vehicles is INR 1500 while that of the light vehicles is INR 500. There is no charge for the non-commercial camera; however, you have to pay INR 500 for any commercial-use camera. The tariffs for the Safari rides are mentioned earlier.
Being the oldest of the National Parks in Asia, the Corbett National Park is greatly popular for the hunter-turned-naturalist Jim Corbett who put in his best effort to make this place a safe abode for the elusive Royal Bengal Tigers.
While the wildlife photography enthusiasts feel the urge to explore this natural paradise for its wide animals in a close encounter, there are lots of birds as well as reptiles and insects too that will thoroughly enchant you.
The extensive wildlife zones are unique in their own way, providing diverse natural beauty and an array of wildlife.
While we would love to hear more from the seasoned and veteran wildlife photographers, we would definitely wish that the newbies find this helpful. Plan your tour, explore the areas and let us know how you liked it.
We would also love to know if we missed anything – write about it in the comment section below.