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Corbett National Park: An Insider's Guide To Offbeat Trails

by Nimisha Tewari 22 May 2024

Corbett National Park, known for its vast expanse of diverse habitats, stands as one of India's top wildlife destinations. While the park is renowned for its tiger safaris and well-trodden trails, there are undiscovered paths that offer a more personal and distinctive experience of this natural paradise. Here’s an insider’s guide to exploring Corbett’s offbeat trails:

1. Durga Devi Zone

  • Overview: Located in the northeastern part of the park, the Durga Devi Zone is known for its rugged terrain and picturesque landscapes. It is less crowded compared to other zones, making it perfect for those seeking solitude.
  • Flora and Fauna: The area is rich in birdlife, making it a haven for bird watchers. Species like the Great Hornbill, Crested Serpent Eagle, and various woodpeckers can be spotted here. The dense forests and hilly terrain also support leopards, elephants and black bears.

  • Trail Highlights: Explore the dense forests along the Ramganga River, enjoy the serene beauty of the Mandal River, and visit the Lohachaur area known for its scenic views and wildlife sightings.

2. Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Overview: Nestled between Corbett and Rajaji Tiger Reserves, the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary offers a unique mix of flora and fauna. It’s one of the less explored areas, providing a raw and untouched wilderness experience.
  • Flora and Fauna: The sanctuary is home to over 550 species of birds, making it a bird-watcher's paradise. It also hosts a healthy population of elephants, tigers and various deer species.

  • Trail Highlights: The trails along the Sonanadi River offer stunning views and opportunities to spot wildlife. The Palain and Mandal rivers' convergence points are particularly rich in biodiversity.

3. Sitabani Buffer Zone

  • Overview: Unlike the core areas of Corbett, Sitabani is open to private vehicles and is less regulated, allowing for a more flexible exploration. This area holds historical and mythological significance, adding a cultural dimension to your visit.
  • Flora and Fauna: Sitabani is known for its rich birdlife and is a good spot for sighting elephants, leopards, and deer. The diverse flora includes Sal, Rohini and Sheesham trees.

  • Trail Highlights: Visit the Sitabani Temple, believed to be the site where Sita from the epic Ramayana spent some time. The trails here offer a mix of forested areas, open grasslands and riverine habitats.

    4. Bijrani Zone (Beyond the Usual Routes)

    • Overview: While the Bijrani Zone is popular, venturing beyond the usual routes can reveal quieter, more secluded areas of this rich habitat.
    • Flora and Fauna: This zone is known for its diverse wildlife, including tigers, elephants and a variety of bird species. The mixed forests and grasslands create an ideal environment for wildlife sightings.

    • Trail Highlights: Explore deeper into the forest trails towards Malani, a less-visited area that offers a tranquil environment and a higher chance of encountering wildlife without the crowds.

    5. Jhirna Zone (Exploring the Peripheries)

    • Overview: Jhirna is one of the few zones that remain open throughout the year. While the central areas are frequently visited, the peripheries offer quieter trails with rich wildlife.

    • Flora and Fauna: The area is known for sightings of sloth bears, wild boars and various bird species. The varied terrain includes dense forests, open grasslands and riverbeds.

    • Trail Highlights: Venture towards the southern and western boundaries of Jhirna to explore less trafficked trails. The seasonal river beds and forest clearings are excellent for wildlife spotting and photography.

    Tips for Exploring Offbeat Trails

    • Guided Tours: Hire experienced guides or naturalists who know the offbeat trails and can enhance your experience with their knowledge of the local flora and fauna.
    • Timing: Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for wildlife sightings. Plan your trips accordingly to maximize your chances of encountering wildlife.
    • Stay Silent and Patient: Offbeat trails require patience. Move quietly, avoid sudden movements and be prepared to wait to see wildlife in their natural habitat.
    • Carry Essentials: Bring along water, snacks, a first aid kit and appropriate clothing. Binoculars and cameras with good zoom lenses are essential for bird watching and photography.
    • Respect Nature: Follow the principles of Leave No Trace. Do not litter, disturb wildlife or damage vegetation. Respect the natural habitat and local regulations.


    Exploring the offbeat trails of Corbett National Park offers a unique and enriching experience for nature enthusiasts. These less well-known trails offer a closer connection to the park's diverse wildlife and breathtaking scenery, away from the crowded popular areas. Whether you're a wildlife photographer, a bird watcher or simply a lover of nature, Corbett's offbeat trails promise an adventure that is both thrilling and serene. Plan your visit with respect for nature and an open heart, and you’ll be rewarded with unforgettable memories of the wild.

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