The Ugly Reality of Jim Corbett National Park That No One Will Tell You About


I recently visited Corbett for a family reunion. It was a plan that was made in quite a bit of hurry. After only a week of planning and coordinating, my big fat family was all together for an epic weekend. Since Corbett Tiger Reserve is the biggest of its kind in India, we all were eagerly looking forward to taking a safari in the jungles. Young nephews and cousins in the group who had lived all their lives in concrete jungles — in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, were excited to witness lands full of forest cover, birds and different types of animal species. Little did we know that we were in for quite a scam.

Shock Number 1:

Photo of The Ugly Reality of Jim Corbett National Park That No One Will Tell You About 1/4 by Saumiabee

Most of us had visited Ranthambore, Gir and Sariska wildlife sanctuaries before, so we simply assumed that we could buy tickets for a safari when we reached our resort. However, to visit Corbett Wildlife reserve, you need to make a booking 25-30 days prior to your visit! This came as quite a surprise since our experience in other such parks was otherwise. Apparently, this clause is clearly stated on their website. So for all of you living in Delhi and other cities close to Corbett, don’t expect to visit the park if you haven’t planned your trip at least a month before. More importantly, carefully go through the website.

Shock Number 2:

Photo of The Ugly Reality of Jim Corbett National Park That No One Will Tell You About 2/4 by Saumiabee
Photo of The Ugly Reality of Jim Corbett National Park That No One Will Tell You About 3/4 by Saumiabee
Photo of The Ugly Reality of Jim Corbett National Park That No One Will Tell You About 4/4 by Saumiabee

After the first disappointment, we were told that apart from the four zones — Dhikala, Bijrani, Jhirna, Dhikala, Dhela and Durgadevi that require prior booking, there was another zone called Sitabani where we could book tickets on-the-spot. All of us were relieved at the news and were ready at 5 in the morning, well-clad in multiple layers of woollens, all set to begin an adventurous day. Upon reaching the park’s entrance, we realised that there were ten more jeeps waiting to enter — clearly, Sitabani is as popularly visited as other zones of the park. Coming to our jeeps, they cost us a whopping Rs. 10,000 (which I later came to know was Rs. 400 more than the cost that is given on the website). Speaking to other visitors, I was flabbergasted to learn that everyone was charged differently; some as low as Rs. 3500, others as high as Rs. 6000.

Shock Number 3:

As we entered the reserve, the same drivers who had earlier told us that Sitabani was as rich in flora and fauna as the other zones, suddenly changed their entire stance. We were told point blank that there was no way we would see a deer, elephant or a tiger unless it was crossing the road. In fact, it turned out that this zone had no elephants, and only 5 tigers.

The Safari at Sitabani is a Scam:

In spite of this, I was still enthusiastic about exploring the forest on the jeep. However, let me tell you that the jeep did not take a detour into the forest even once. Our driver kept driving on a proper road that had dense jungles on both its sides. There were no other paths, no scope of off-roading or going deeper into the jungle! It was strange to realise that we couldn’t even hear birds chirping even though it was early in the morning! All we saw were thick jungles, three wild hens, and that was it. Neither did we see any wildlife nor did we experience being inside a jungle. We had been taken for a ride! It was even more disappointing to see that right at the exit of of the zone, there were huge tea and snacks shops. The shop was surrounded by at least thirty people and was the source of a lot of noise, which felt extremely irresponsible and insensitive— it is safe to say that no animal would come at least within 2km radius of the chaotic exit.

What I Learnt From This Terrible Experience:

After being cheated in more ways than one, I realised that I shouldn’t have visited the park without researching about it online. If you are ever heading to Corbett, make sure you read their website carefully and take a decision accordingly. It is best to be equipped with all information before the locals and drivers feed you with fancy lies. In my opinion, it is useless to visit Sitabani during November- February because the forest is so dense, you cannot look through the foliage and peep into its heart. You will unnecessarily be disturbing whatever few animals reside within the jungle with the noise of your jeeps. You can probably take a chance in April - May when the foliage is scanty.

Now that I have warned you, I hope you have a wonderful experience whenever you visit!

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15 Comment(s)
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I have also visited Jim Corbett and I have also written a blog which you all can find in my account; I had a very nice experience of visiting the place. Those who are adventure lovers, wildlife photographers or photographers, nature lovers should visit this place otherwise it will be a miss. I also spotted birds, Deer, Black Buck, peacock, peahen, etc; as it was a visual treat for me. The people who made a scam and cheated you, must be punished and suspended from that place.
Wed 04 10 19, 09:56 · Reply (1) · Report
It's so nice to know that you had a positive experience! I am going to visit Corbett once more and take a chance! :)
Mon 04 15 19, 14:29 · Report
Recently I visited Jim Corbett to attend friend marriage and went for safari but all was full so I also went Sitabani zone (I already know that Sitabani is not a part of Corbett and there was very less chance of animals). I spotted different types of birds, Red Fox, Sambal Deer, Spotted Deer, peacock etc..It's all about luck because Jungle zone has no wall to stop animals and some people spotted the Tigers and elephants too in Sitabani.
Sun 04 07 19, 09:52 · Reply (1) · Report
I agree with you -- it's all about luck, no doubt. My problem was not that I didn't spot a Tiger, I felt like I was mislead. Now that I am more informed, I will try and visit Corbett again.
Mon 04 15 19, 14:31 · Report
Sitabani has a lot of flora and fauna. I visited there in 2015 and witnessed deers and elephants. It's all about the luck and timing and further Jungle will not act as per your interest. Wild animals are not so money minded though. By the way you should do prior planning before going there.
Sun 04 07 19, 07:59 · Reply (1) · Report
I totally agree with you. This blog was specifically targeted towards travellers like me who make impromptu plans and head to places without much research.
Mon 04 15 19, 14:34 · Report
Already visited Jim Corbett, ya it need lot of research & advance planning , visit Dhikala gate ... it’s very beautiful where the jungle ends , worth visit , I have seen many animals plus location is awesome , if possible stay inside Dhikala in guest house , however getting guest house in Dhikala is tough. Totally worth to visit just need proper planning.
Sun 04 07 19, 00:43 · Reply · Report
i went last year , didnt see tiger but spotted other animals including Elephant :) here is video:
Sat 04 06 19, 22:53 · Reply · Report
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