Villagers come to collect wood in Corbett Tiger Reserve, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India

Meeting The Tribals In Corbett National Park

Probably one of India’s most famous national parks, Jim Corbett National Park, is home to many species of flora and fauna. All of us might not spot the magnificent big cat, but the forest offers many more exciting experiences.
Picture courtesy: Google
This was one of my most thrilling journeys. I had been invited to review the huge Ford Endeavour. And it was going to be my first drive in a SUV. It seemed appropriate to choose something wild to test it out on. I had chosen Jim Corbett National Park. The lure, of course, was the magnificent black and yellow striped tiger. But the pleasure lay in the verdant landscape.

Hit the road, the Ford way
One foot on the accelerator and the beast roared and lunged forward. It took sometime to understand the power of the Ford. This was my first drive in a SUV and the excitement had built up. It just flew over the bad patches and suddenly we were up in the winding hills leading us to Jim Corbett. The air changed, became cooler. The crisp fragrance of sal trees made us stop for a cup of tea at a roadside stall. The mountain air had begun to make us feel at peace.

Meeting the Chuneres
Leaving our car and luggage at the resort, we packed in an open Gypsy to meet the small families of Chunere tribe. Every winter, they come from the upper regions of Himalayas to the lower regions to make wooden containers to store ghee, curd, milk. We watched their ingenious way of making them in the river, the wheel cut the wood using the water flow. The ancient ways are being lost, they lamented, as not many wanted to live this life. The sale of the containers got them a bare minimum amount to survive the winters. Even as we talked, the sun began its downward journey and it was time for the world to go to rest. Peacocks meowed and hid amongst the dense trees, running from the human machines.

Jungle book live
The next day began early, as our guide waited in an open Gypsy to take us to the national park. We wore mute colour clothes so as to not scare the animals away. Suddenly in the middle of the conversation, the Gypsy came to a silent halt. A herd of deer was crossing the road. We waited as the wary herd hurried to the banks of the river. No construction is allowed near the riverbank; dead wood can be sold but no one is allowed to cut trees, informed our driver and guide. He had sighted the tiger many times. The tiger stays near the water as it likes to keep cool, he added.

On the way up, we sighted langoors scampering through the branches. And just before the entrance, we had to register our names and the car. Then we were officially in the jungle. Gnarled, knotted, angry trees marked our route. They had been living their since eons and we were disturbing the silence. We hoped to see a snake slithering by, but no such luck.

A bark came to our ears — the barking deer, our driver said. But it didn’t show us its face. As we neared the riverbed, lapwings kept hopping by, busy with their tasks and not interested in us. A grey-headed eagle circled above with its mate. The children were somewhere close by, according to our guide and the parents were keeping track. Little green bee-eaters had been following us for long now. Suddenly we were going over the river pebbles to the other side. Crocodiles live here was the refraining phrase.

And then the car stopped. Tiger pugmarks and deer hair, the magnificent one had crossed this area. But we didn’t meet him.

A breakfast picnic and we were back on the rough track, way out of the jungle. Along the way, we saw colourful butterflies, blue magpies, yellow-throated woodpeckers and more langoors. We stopped a little distance away, watching a pair of yellow martens scamper up and down a trunk. And then we were on the road to the resort.

Pictures compiled from Google

Next time you must do the elephant safari and you will see the tiger, our guide consoled. Don’t know about that, but we watched a jackal saunter across the road and a wild boar eye us with hostility before we began the drive back to Delhi in our powerful black beast.

Getting there, stay
Delhi is accessible from all countries. A drive is the best way to reach Jim Corbett National Park. There are many resorts and hotels to stay in. Good food is available. Gypsies and elephants are available for safaris. Best time to go is between October to March.

19 thoughts on “Meeting The Tribals In Corbett National Park

  1. Whenever I visit a country I try to visit a national park. As you said, there’s something so surreal and authentic about experiencing a country’s natural beauty. I think it’s great that you were able to embark on your own personal tour of the park in your SUV. I definitely prefer traveling at a slow pace so sometimes large guided tours go a little too quickly for us snap happy photographers! I hope you do get to see a tiger next time!


  2. I can imagine the drive in Ford Endevour would have been awesome, I love driving SUVs myself. I remember doing a similar safari in an open Gypsy in Ranthambhor National Park, though I wasn’t very lucky in terms of the animals we saw. We tried to see tigers but couldn’t, I was so upset. Nevertheless, I’d love to experience another safari someday; never been to Corbett but maybe that could be the next one?


  3. This sounds like a fantastic national park to visit. I’ve yet to visit India, but would love to do something like this if I ever do get to visit. That’s very interesting you also managed to meet the Chunere tribe; I’ve not heard of them before, I’ll look them up!


  4. Wow this sounds like an amazing trip even if you didn’t get to see the tiger. I would love to go through the jungle and it’s very cool that you got to see a jackal and wild boar, among many others. It sounds like you definitely need an SUV to go in this type of off road situation, which I can understand as driving in the mountains is tough and requires lots of horsepower!


  5. I haven’t been to the country yet. But I would like to visit one day. My kids would love to visit the national park definitely. And, our family like to have a ride in off-road car so would be our choice as well.


  6. What an experience! I also find it so much more interesting to travel at a slow pace and away from larger groups. I usually don’t take a tour and organise my own self-guided adventure, but sometimes there is a need for a guide, mostly for security reasons and professional explanations. I don’t think I would ever guess what a deer barking is!! This National Park seems to be great fun, I’ll add it to my Indian Bucket List. Hope you’ll get to see tigers one day.


  7. Love this concise guide! I enjoy visiting national parks when I’m travelling and am definitely adding this one to the list. Pity you didn’t get to see the tigers. Found it interesting on having to wear muted colours too; seemed kind of obvious but never crossed my mind. 🙂


  8. This is so adventurous. This is the first time i am hearing about jim corbett National park and it definitely a place which excites me.I really love guided tours as we get to know more information from locals. Thanks for sharing this useful inforamtion


  9. Corbett National Park was on my list when I visited India back in 2017 but I didn’t have enough time to visit, unfortunately. It sounds like one hell of an adventure and like my kind of place. It’s definitely one of the first places I would visit if I ever come back to India


  10. What a beautiful experience it is to witness nature being a part of it! I live in Delhi, but I must agree I haven’t been to Jim Corbett yet. After reading your post, I so want to go there and experience these live scenes from Jungle Book in person. It’s great to know they don’t allow to cut trees and let the place be as natural as it can be. You were lucky to meet the Chunere tribe. It’s quite fascinating to see how they use the ancient ways to cut wood and make containers out of it.


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