It is not on tiger safaris that I got to know this wildlife heaven better. I visited Corbet Tiger Reserve many years back and the destination surprised me no end. But I got to know the tiger heaven better on my birding trips in last few years.
The keystone species are tiger, leopard, wild elephant and among the reptiles it is the endangered Gharial and Mugger. The latter two are easily sighted at crocodile pond but the foremost two are bit difficult to sight. I have sighted tigers on many occasions but the leopard none. Only leopard sighting I had was on way up to Sat Tal in Naini Tal District.
Though tourism still has a free hand in this park with private vehicles creating the greatest nuisance. Nevertheless wildlife has increased in this National Park with a large number of tigers inhabiting the wonderful reserve. Of late the big cats are seen more and more than earlier. Another great attraction is the wild elephant whose numbers increase with the onset of summers. Hundred of pachyderms gather around the the Kalagarh Dam and Dhikala Chaur the most coveted for accommodations, wildlife watching and birding.
Other mammals seen here are leopard, spotted deer, barking deer, Goral, sambar deer, sloth bear, rhesus macaque, Hanuman Langur, hog deer, yellow throated martins, otters, Himalayan Black Bear, jungle cat, leopard cat and fishing cat.
Birders know that for them this is a paradise with more than five hundred bird species inhabiting the reserve. In Northern India this is the most coveted destination for bird watching besides Bharatpur and Sattal. The attractions are many: Great Hornbill, Great Slatyheaded Woodpecker, Siberian ruby throat, wall creeper, Ibisbill, red breasted parakeet, plum headed parakeet, Alexandrine Parakeet, Himalyan Bubul, White cheeked bulbul, Streak throated woodpecker, grey faced woodpecker, greater and lesser racket tailed drongo, white bellied drongo, white rumped shama. commom magpie and Himalayan Flameback
At Corbett I have seen both Scarlet and Long Tailed Minivets besides Rosy Minivets and small minivet. Paradise flycatchers can be seen with onset of summer. The list can go on and on.
The park is one of the most picturesque thanks to the enchanting river Ramganga that flows through the finest forests within the reserve. The white sandstone on the banks and crystal clear blue waters are a mesmerizing spectacle to experience. The forest are most enchanting with exciting safaris to thrill you down to the bones. There are long trails of forests around the buffer zones but not intact. Places like Choti Haldwani and near by places where Jim Corbett used to hunt man eaters are bustling townships with very little natural land left. Only at Corbett National Park do you experience true wilderness.
Best way to reach Corbett is via Ramnager which is about 11 km from the Dhangari Gate. In order to visit the Dhikala Zone one should be staying at accommodations or Rest House within the zone. Sarapduli and Dhikala are the preferred accommodations in terms of what they have to offer. Other entrances are the Aam Danda Gate, Durga Devi Gate and Kalagarh Gate (Jhirna).