Safari in Jim Corbett National Park is mandatory if you are a Wildlife lover. There are many parks which are good for birds, for Tigers, and landscapes. But Jim Corbett is one park which is good with all these. With more than 200 Tigers in the park, this is one park which has the highest Tiger density. And birders have busy outings ticking the birds they have seen out of the possible 550 species in the park.
But what separates this park from the rest in the country is the possibility of staying inside the park in the basic rest houses. Most of these rest houses are over 100 years old, and ideally located to enjoy the serenity of the place. If you are wanting comfort, and luxury then you need to be staying in the private resorts outside the park, but you will have to sacrifice doing safaris in the happening zone of Dhikala.
Talking of landscapes in Corbett, the foothills of Himalayas add a dimension that no other park does in India. The flowing Ramganga river, and it’s reservoir is one action place for the prey and predators of land and air. When starting one’s safari, one either goes towards the grasslands or towards the river. And from both the sides you see a spectacular sunrise. If next to the river, you will have an opportunity of catching the rising mist from the river in the winter months. Or if towards the grasslands the Shivalik hills offer a perfect backdrop to the painting you can click here.
Every month has it’s own charm inside Corbett, but winter months to me are very special. Being a terai forest and on foothills of Himalayas it is chilled out, but that is what makes it special. For someone who enjoys photography this is the right time to be doing Safaris in Jim Corbett National Park. I started my sojourn clicking landscapes. And this is something one can never have enough of while in Corbett. There is always right light for landscapes from all angles. Front lit, side lit, or back lit, all angles are perfect in this park. I would say that this is one park where amateurs can hone their skills in photography, and serious amateurs can turn professionals.
It was perhaps for the first time that i was sighting Tigers in every safari here. Tigers of Jim Corbett National Park are relatively shy compared to the Tigers of other parks. Reason is simple, the terrain. The thick undergrowth, undulating terrain, and the cover of the sal trees is a perfect habitat for the Tigers who camouflage very well here. Hence, despite the sightings i was not able to get good photos. But my biggest joy on these safaris was that i was tracking the Tigers and pointing them to my guide and the driver. Irshad has been driving in Corbett for many years now, and he is a very hard working man. The terrain here is not easy to drive unlike the central Indian parks but he works hard and his hard work paid ample dividends.
The fact that the safari timings are practically covering full day except for an hour or two of break during lunch time. From about 6.30am till about 11am, then again from 1pm till about 5.30pm increases possibilities of enjoying the flora and fauna of this park. The golden light is so perfect that you don’t really bother of changing the camera settings too often, and you know that the images will not be burnt out.
Grasslands of Corbett are perfect for seeing the birds perched n the tall grass at a good level to shoot. I once got so engrossed in clicking the long tail shrike that we did not know that just 50 metres ahead there was a grand sighting happening of a Tigress with a cub walking the dry river bed. Irshad and Vijay (my guide) kept reminding me that had we not been shooting the bird we would have sighted the Tigress with her cub. I was somehow not perturbed by it at all.
Yes, we missed the Tigress, and then tried real hard to track her again the rest of the day. We were successful in reaching the spot where we knew was something but not so clear. The monkeys were giving regular alarm calls from a certain grassland across the river. We reached the spot. For sure there was something in, most likely the Tiger but not certain. We waited in the area for a couple of hours. The sun began to go down.
We all started to see our watches every few minutes, as we knew that time on hand was limited. And we will have to leave the spot to get back to the Dhikala Camp before a certain time. The sun was now reflecting in the river. With every passing minute, our heart beat was increasing, and we were hoping that the Tiger would emerge from the grasslands.
With a heavy heart we started back. En route we stopped once again on seeing the Stork Billed Kingfisher.
We wasted no time in going to the same spot of the evening before to find out if there was any more action in the area. None whatsoever. We went around the area looking for pugmarks, none to be found. Came back to the spot where the alarm calls of monkeys was reverberating last evening. Suddenly the first monkey called, then the second, and then non stop for good 15 minutes the monkeys kept calling. The intensity was much more than last evening. One thing sure was that monkeys meant business this time. It was confirmed that the Tiger was inside the grassland. 3 more vehicles arrived hearing the cacophony of monkeys.
And then began the wait, will it be again like the last evening, only alarm calls and no sighting? Or will we get lucky in seeing the Tiger today? Irshad stood up, listened with his hands next to his ears, he turned, and in excitement gesticulated that he could hear something walking. He signaled me to be ready. I fired a couple of blank shutters to see the light and check my camera settings. And then emerged the Tigress out of the grassland and into the water.
It was a matter of time before the young cub would make an appearance, and so he did royally.
He moved towards his mother, surveyed the water for a while, and came back out. Most likely he did not enjoy the chilled water of the river. He sat outside the water, and waited for his mother to come out. She is one Tigress who feels very hot even in winter months. Paarwali was just not relenting to the calls of the cub from the banks to come out. The cub stepped back in the water.
They both give some amazing poses to us
Then finally mother succumbed to the wish of the young one and stepped out of the waters.
Finally when they were out and gone did we decide to move on. A deep satisfaction of a perfect climax to my Safaris in Jim Corbett National Park.