Established in 1936, Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India, named after the wildlife conservationist and author chiefly responsible for creating the tiger reserve within. Nestled between the ancient Shivalik Hills and the mighty Himalayan foothills in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, the park spans 1,300 square kilometres, mostly sal forest and grassland, divided by the fast-flowing Ramganga River and reservoir. More than 30 mammal species call Corbett National Park home, including sloth bear, wild elephant, and tiger. Plenty of rare bird and reptile species (otters, little green bee-eaters and fish-eating crocodiles, just to name a few) make this area a thrill for bird watchers and safari-goers.
Safaris, including exhilarating elephant safaris, are daytime affairs, but for those wishing to sleep in the forest, a stay in an old forest rest house is a unique experience. Cycle tours are also a popular way to explore the forests. Nearby, Chotti Haldwani consists of land purchased by Jim and Maggie Corbett and developed into a model Bhabhar village housing 40 families. The villagers themselves manage the ‘Jim Corbett Heritage Trail’, and it provides a great insight into Kumaoni life and custom.
For wildlife, the best time to visit is March to May, with birding being particularly good in February. Try and miss weekends if possible as the park becomes slightly busier with travellers from Delhi looking for a weekend break.