If you're planning to visit Corbett National Park, and you haven't been on safari before, you need to be prepared.
Corbett is gigantic - it's some 1000 square kilometres with a population of only around 215 tigers. The forest is extremely dense, and we saw fewer animals than I was expecting. In fact one morning, we only saw 5 deer and a single monkey. This is largely due to the lack of open meadows and fields in places that are accessible for tourists - I’m sure they’re around, I’m just not sure where! There are birds by the thousands, migratory birds, huge flocks flying to and fro - a big change from what we’re used to seeing, which is just a bird in hand (or two in the bush hehe).
Zones to go into are the Birjani Zone, Dhikala, Durgadevi, Jhirna and maybe Sitavani. I would avoid the Dhela zone, it is basically the road that takes you into Jhirna. It was pretty, but we finished the whole thing in under an hour. I’d wait a few years before going back to this zone it's just been developed and borders a village called Dhela (which is why it’s named that). It’ll be a while before animals move into this area, and with the road cutting through it any chance you have of seeing something is GONE because jeeps are roaring up and down every five minutes from 6.30 to 8.30 am.
You can opt to stay inside the jungle in a few zones, in fact in the Dhikala zone, the only way to see any animals is to stay inside for a night, so you're first into the forest in the morning.
I carried my safari books with me - both to identify birds as well as the beasts and managed to tick off quite a few birds, and one new mammal - the Golden Jackal. It's fun going through books at the end of the day, reading up on what we've just seen and reminding ourselves what to look for the next day.
I was really happy with the number of birds we saw, even though I'm not crazy about birds. You kind of have to be excited about birds if you're only seeing one or two herbivores every half hour!
I’m desperately searching for a book that will give us information about birds, their habits and habitats, as well as a more comprehensive book on mammals. Suggestions anyone?