First, there is only one official Corbett website: www.corbettnationalpark.in. I suggest to you to visit this official Corbett website and study it. Not just yet though. Finish reading this article first.
There are other websites like www.corbettnationalpark.com and www.corbettnationalpark-india.com, which just happen to look like the official website, but actually are just travel agents, who I am sure will make your booking, but then charge you mercilessly for that service.
On the official link, look at the links to Permits and Reservations for Corbett, Transportation, Tariffs and so on. You will also find the contact info which has a phone number that connects you to the Corbett admin centre. If you do call, someone there will tell you to go back to the webpage to make your booking, or fax your request, and pay for it in full, by sending them money. They will also require Proofs of ID, and other info like your Passport Number, Date of Birth, age, nationality, Address, Gender, etc.
There is a limit to the number of permits issued each day for each zone, so plan in advance as far as possible. When working out the costs don’t forget to add together everything applicable to your stay. Additional costs include vehicle charges, road tax, house keeping, and other factors, as well as entry permits, and room costs.
When you succeed in making that booking, you will need a jeep. Now, this surprised me, but you need to do this privately. Corbett doesn’t do jeep safaris. So, begin to make enquiries about private jeep safaris, but remember to make sure these are for the same dates as your permits etc. You may wish to take your own vehicle, but I personally wouldn’t suggest that.
You will need a guide too. These can be booked through the park when booking your permits How good will they be? Good question! You’ll find out soon enough when you arrive at Corbett.
Getting to Jim Corbett National Park
Getting to Corbett by Road
Driving from Delhi to Corbett takes approximately 6 hours, if you depart Delhi early enough. The roads are not so good for a fair way, and are prone to traffic jams.
Getting to Corbett by Rail and Back
Two trains leave Old Delhi each day for Ramnagar:
- The early train #15035, which departs at 16.00, and arrived at 20.35, and
- A later overnight train #15013, which departs at 22.40, and arrives the next morning at 04.55. For the overnight train book 3A class
Two trains also leave Ramnagar for Old Delhi each day:
- Train #25036, which departs at 09.50 and arrives at 15.25
- Train #25014, which departs at 21.45 and arrives at 04.00 (Class 3A again)
The station codes are (Old Delhi) DLI (Ramnagar) RMR, and use upper case.
If returning to Delhi and then on to Agra, to visit the Taj Mahal, you will need to change from DLI to NDLS (New Delhi) – AGC (Agra Cantt)
To book train tickets visit IRCTC Website. IRCTC is a little more involved for your first visit to its site, as you need to create an account, but for every visit afterwards it becomes very simple to use. When paying for your bookings, I recommend using either the Citi or Axis payment gateways. Make sure your card is registered with Visa, or Mastercard, secure.
Editor’s Note: Some suggeted reading for those looking to book their India Train tickets from abroad include Setting up your IRCTC accounts for buying railway tickets from abroad, and Booking Indian Rail Tickets from Abroad
Getting from Ramnagar station to your accommodation or park gates
You may be fortunate enough to get a taxi, at 5.00 in the morning, but that’s doubtful. It is better to book in advance. This is another expense to consider as well.
Accommodations for Corbett
Accommodations Inside Corbett
The parks imaginary boundaries are those Forest Rest Houses (FRH’s) mentioned on the official park website. These are basic rooms, but most have private showers and toilets. The rooms are powered by generator electricity, which goes off at 9pm except at the Dhikala Forest lodge. They are not cheap, but are very popular. Try to book as far in advance as is possible to avod disappointment. All food served in the FRh’s is Vegetarian only
NOTE: Between Dec 23rd – Jan 3rd these accommodations will be virtually impossible to book unless you are very lucky.
Accomodations Outside Corbett
Those same imaginary boundaries is the buffer zone. The most popular being Dhikuli Gargia. Here there are some quality resorts and hotels. There are also some more budget priced rooms to be found in this area. Many rooms can be found here that are far superior in quality to FRH’s, but that cost less. Others are very expensive, and are a waste of money if, like me, you leave for safaris early am and return late pm.
Corbetts Hideaway resort is about as good as it gets, though the Infinity resort costs more. Again its your choice, but there is plenty to choose from. Make sure you understand that when booking that costs include meals.
Staying inside the park, gives you an earlier start to the day, and gives you an advantage over day visitors to spot predators. Staying outside, gives more comfort, and a greater choice of meals. That said, the food at the FRH’s is damned good.
I would recommend staying inside for at least a couple of nights in each of Dhikala and Bijrani zones.
Elephant safaris from the FRH’s are booked on a first come first served basis, and it is down to the discretion of the bloke in charge at the FRH. When you check-in, you book the elephant safari, so if you check-in later than others, you will miss out.
Elephant safaris are very popular because they are a great experience! There are 4 elephants available at Dhikala for safaris. Each elephant carries 4 persons, and there are two safaris each day: one at dawn and the other later in the afternoon.
Given the fact that there are many more rooms at Dhikala in the various FRH’s, the number of people asking for elephant safaris are much greater than can be accomodated. At Bijrani zone there is one large elephant, and one small elephant for safaris
Mondays are rest days for elephants, so no safari on elephants on Mondays.
Getting to Corbett from your Resort/Hotel/Lodgings
Getting to to the park gates for your safaris is another problem you need to overcome before leaving home. Make sure that your private jeep and safari booking includes this pick up and drop off as part of the package. It is quite a hike to the Dhikala gate, and Amdanda gate (Bijrani). And if you have to make your own way to the Jhirna entry gate, its a lot further
It is easy to book your safaris through your resort, but again, you will be paying a lot more for this service. In fact you will pay more for your resort aswell. Call this last bit SPAM if you like but it is meant as a personal recommendation.