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Visiting the Park

Corbett is open from November 15 through June 15, much of it closed when the monsoon causes rivers to flood their banks. Sightings are best between March and June. Access to the park is via the town of Ramnagar, where the Park Office (opposite the Ramnagar bus stand; tel. 97-1925-1997; www.jimcorbettnationalpark.com; Dec-May daily 8:15am-noon and 1-4pm, June-Nov daily 10am-noon and 1-5pm) processes and issues the required permits, and handles all park-managed accommodations as well as jeep safaris. There are direct trains from Delhi to Ramnagar; driving takes 6 to 8 hours (about 300km/186 miles).

Corbett is divided into four mutually exclusive tourist zones, and you can visit only one zone at a time. If you do not have your own vehicle, hire one in Ramnagar or at Dhangari Gate for around Rs 700 to Rs 900 (jeep and fuel). It's best to undertake jeep safaris early in the morning; each zone has a separate fee: for half-day excursions entry/vehicle/guide fee for Bijrani and Dhikala is Rs 200/100/250, Jhirna is Rs 100/75/250, and Durga Devi is Rs 100/75/250; full-day fees are double throughout. You also have the option to go for a 6-hour safari in the government-run 18-seater minibus (Rs 1,200). The park is open daily 7am to 5pm in winter, and 6am to 6pm when the days are longer. You are not permitted to enter the park less than 30 minutes before the sun descends, and nighttime driving within Corbett is not allowed. Don't make the mistake of arriving in Ramnagar too late in the day; you will have to fill out forms, pay for permits and accommodations, and still get to the gate 30 minutes before sunset. Corbett is extremely popular and likely to be fully booked, so don't arrive unprepared.

Perhaps the most visually attractive area of the park is Jhirna, which is the only section that does not close during the monsoon season (June 15-Nov 15). Try to visit Ramganga Reservoir, where endangered gharial crocodiles bask on the banks and a sign warning against swimming proclaims that SURVIVORS WILL BE PROSECUTED. Surrounded by vast elephant grassland savannas, Dhikala has the greatest selection of accommodations, and substitutes solitude for access to facilities like restaurants and even film screenings. Dhikala is reached via Dhangarhi Gate (16km/10 miles north of Ramnagar), and is only accessible to visitors with accommodations reserved inside this zone; entry to Dhikala costs Rs 450 per person for 3 nights, plus Rs 150 for a car or Jeep and Rs 250 for the guide (4 hr.).

Tip: If you want to plan a flexible itinerary, you'll need your own vehicle from Delhi or you can hire a vehicle (preferably a jeep) with driver once you arrive; otherwise all accommodations will arrange pickups from Ramnagar Station. If you don't plan on staying in the park, it's far easier (particularly if you're staying at one of the resorts reviewed) to have your hotel management make all your safari arrangements; the bureaucracy and form-filling that go along with acquiring the necessary permits can be exasperating.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.