Jim Corbett National Park and Tiger Reserve
Day 1 - 22nd December
Started from Haldwani in our Wagon R. Stopped at Ram Nagar. Hired an open Maruti Gypsy and reached the National Park at 1PM. Despite the sun’s rays falling on us en route to Corbett, the wind between the trees was chilly and every woolen layer of warmth made us feel more comfortable. We started off immediately after lunch, to try and spot animals we hadn’t already seen on our way to Dhikala. We spent two hours outside seeing spotted deer, sambhar deer every now and then, and a turtle stationary on a rock inside a shallow portion of the ram ganga river. We didn’t see much else, apart from few common birds of the area.
On returning, we drank some expresso caffeine after which we headed to the amphitheatre where we saw a really old one-hour movie by the Bedi Productions on “Saving the Tiger”. An excellent dinner followed the great documentary on the life of a tigress and it’s cubs. Rs.170 per head, eat all you like.
Day 2 - 23rd December
Started the day with hot coffee served at the doorstep of our hutment. Soon after that, our driver came running to call us after having heard that a few tigers had just been spotted. We were really skeptical as achieving something like that is difficult at this time of the year, specially when there are only 164 tigers in a 500 square kilometre area. We hurried to our Maruti Gypsy and went to the Motasal to see half a dozen other vehicles already present. Three of them were quite far off and as we moved close to them, they asked us to stop halfway. After about fifteen minutes we started moving towards them as they moved ahead. After joining the others present there, we saw movement in an area covered by tall grass. We could then hear, for another half hour, what seemed like a tiger clawing it’s kill while biting the flesh off it’s bones. We could suddenly see motion that was made clear by black stripes on orange skin that merged well with the pale yellow grass that was hiding it partially. The enormous tigress moved quickly on the grass, and crossed the road ahead of us to find a place for rest below the tree-cover on our left. The people occupying the vehicles behind us were thrilled as they had just seen three cubs crossing the path we had just traversed. The tigress had intelligently diverted our attention to make way for it’s cubs. What we had just experienced was a terrific scene, that most cameras couldn’t capture.
Later in the day, we sat on a trained elephant that took us to parts of the dense forest our jeeps could never enter. My glasses flew off my face as the branch of a tree hit me hard during the ride. The elephant and it’s guide didn’t take much time to return it to me; in perfect condition. We could hear but couldn’t see any tigers on that short trip inside the forest. Among the animals and birds we did see were Sambhar deer, spotted deer, wild boar, the kingfisher, monkeys, langurs, jackals and of course - the other trained elephants carrying us indisciplined humans.
In the evening, after the coffee, we saw a short movie “Project Tiger” with Om Puri’s commentary. After sitting through the whole movie the previous day, we felt this one was a little too short. Spent the next few hours playing Scrabble in our hutment before going to bed.
Great trip. Wish I had set the D70’s focus area mode back to dynamic area from closest subject. Photographs could have been spectacular.