My plan at Corbett was to stay at Dhikala, which is deep inside the reserve for a few days, and roam around in the forest as much as possible. But staying in Dhikala was an expensive option and I wanted to make sure it was worth the money. So on the first day, I decided to take a day-trip to Dhikala conducted by the forest department – a 100km journey stretching for 7 hours.
Landscape of Corbett
I was early at the CTR(Corbett Tiger Reserve) office at Ramnagar. My initial assumption that – all I need is to buy a ticket and hop on to the safari van turned out to be wrong. The bureaucracy you have to go through to get a safari ticket is just amazing. You need to fill in an application, and they take their own sweet time to process it and then put you on the van. I think it took more than 30 minutes before I was finally allotted a seat, and another 30 minutes before we started moving! Most of the passengers for the day-trip were picked up from the resorts on the way. oddly, the safari had no guides or naturalists accompanying the tourists, but a guard with a loaded ancient gun escorting us through the journey! I got to sit with the driver and the guard in the spacious front seat and had the best view in the whole vehicle.
We first travel on the national highway to Nainital – a road that goes right next to Kosi River for most of the distance. By the time we arrived at Dhangadi Gate where we enter the reserve, it was already 10am. Dhangadi has a small exhibition complex where they have a display of stuffed animals. A placard in front of each animal has an interesting story, telling how the specimen met its end. One of them was a tiger killed by an elephant. There were a couple of man-eater leopards and tigers that were shot dead. I saw the bullet mark on one of the leopards. And a tiger was killed in territorial wars with another one of its own kind. It is intriguing to look at those huge tigers from so close, even when they are dead!
Corbett’s forest is beautiful. Tall Sal trees with little undergrowth are frequently partitioned by numerous streams flowing in the forest. Almost three quarters of the park’s has Sal trees and the vegetation is moist deciduous. Animals were in plenty and the herbivores were seen often. We did not see many birds through the day, but Corbett is a great place to see raptors(birds of prey).
Wild boars on the bank of Ramaganga
An hour into the forest, we stopped at high banks to have a look at Gharials. High banks, as the name says is high viewpoint looking into the river. You can always see Gharials lazing here in the sun. Gharials or Magar as it is locally called, are crocodiles with long jaws and are the only one of their kind that eat fish. There were two of them when we were there, both lying still and lazy as they always are.
Egrets on Ramaganga
As we moved deeper into the forest, trees gave way to a huge grassland. Dhikala tourist complex is situated in one corner of this grassland, overlooking the forest to the east, grassland on west and Ramaganga flowing besides the complex to the north. It is an incredibly beautiful place and when I saw that first, I knew I wanted to spend as much time here as I can. We stopped at Dhikala for an hour for lunch before we continued our wildlife hunt.
A Pallas Fish Eagle
Dhikala and the surrounding grasslands is where all the action is – you spot many tigers in this region. Elephants roam in plenty and so do many other animals. We saw several types of deer, including barking deer, hog deer, chitals and sambars. We also saw wild boars, some jungle cat that we could not identify, a fishing eagle and a few more birds. Even more than the fauna, I fell in love with Corbett’s beautiful landscape and decided to return to Dhikala on the next day.
It was 4.30pm by the time we finished our safari and returned to Ramnagar. I was happy to have arrived at Corbett and spent remaining part of the day negotiating for a jeep that I needed to hire for my rest of the stay in Corbett.
More on Corbett National Park at paintedstork.com
* Images from Corbett
* Arriving at Corbett
* First day at Corbett: safari day trip to Dhikala
* Corbett: In the nature – A struggle between fear and love
* The desperate tourist’s tiger hunt
* Photo Essay: Landscapes of Corbett
* My Days in Corbett
* Encounter with Pachyderms
* Information about Corbett National Park
* Moving on from Corbett