Here I bring some good news for the wildlife lovers from Jim Corbett National Park. The popular forest has a new zone now. There is a separate entrance and it is called Phato zone. The best part about it that this new route of safari enables to see yet another beautiful part of the gorgeous jungle out there. The landscape of Phato region is picturesque. It is quite different from the other regions of Corbett. Also, it is home to good number of tigers, elephants, deers, etc. As per the videos shown by my guide, I could see that though this gate has opened very recently, some of the sightings have already been the talk of the town. And it goes unsaid that many new experiences are awaiting us all. Phato Zone was inaugurated by our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi on 30 December 2021 and the safari gate became operational from 2nd January 2022. I was in Corbett region in the second week of February and had the opportunity to explore the Terai Western region of the Phato zone. Huge anthills, dense foliage, mixed landscape, unique biodiversity, varied wildlife are the USP of this region. Though I did not get lucky with a sighting a of a tiger but I thoroughly enjoyed being in the jungle, listening to the sounds of the birds and animals, spotting some deers and wild boars. Not to forget, the pink water hole was also one of the highlights of my safari in this new region. Do check it out.
Phato zone has already become popular because travellers are eager to travel and return to the jungle. This will help to accomodate the rush of tourists during the peak season of safari. This entry gate is far from Ramnagar and thus we can look at it a as new road to wildlife. Even the ride to the phato gate is quite thrilling and adventurous.
My experience of Safari in Phato Region
This time I chose to stay at Tattwaa Corbett Spa & Resort in Ramnagar. On the second day, we had an early morning safari planned for us. I am a wildlife lover and never miss an opportunity to return to the jungle. I enjoy safaris because thats our chance to interact and learn about a complete different ecosystem. And in all these years, I have come to realize that sightings are unimportant, the whole experience of being in the jungle is magical. After a long travel hiastus, I was excited to be back in my elements. And what could be better than exploring a completely new route of my favorite jungle through Phato gate.
Just like other zones, Phato zone has been allowing morning and afternoon safaris. I went for the morning one. 40 jeeps are allowed at each time. Young people from local and nearby villages have been trained to take up the role of guides. My guide’s name was Manish Barakoti.
We all love to sight tigers, elephants, leopards, but my safari fun never revolves around sighting these big animals. I enjoy my proximity to the forest. The flora and fauna and the way jungle looks in every season is something that we should all experience. Trust me, there is lots more to the forests than just the big cats. Corbett is blessed with birds and butterflies. Ask your guide to educate you around birds too. The experience of seeing monkeys, deer, jungle fowl, peacocks, wild boars in the jungle is different than seeing them randomly in cities on some occasions. Always remember, jungle is not a zoo. We are there to indulge in its beauty. Everything that we get to see is bonus and we must rejoice in the beauty of it.
Also Read – Asian Elephant in Corbett
The Pink water hole in Phato zone is gorgeous!
There are 11-12 water holes (water reservoirs) in the Phato region. Some are natural and some are man-made. These water spots are very important part of the jungle beacuse animals visit these often to satiate their need for water. Thus, these water holes are also the place where it becomes easy to spot the big animals in their natural habitat. I have had the best sightings around waterholes. I saw the leopard and her cub in Kabini near the waterhole.
Phato zone has a very interesting water hole, which looks like a small pink lake. The mosses and algae have turned the upper layer absolutely pink. It looked gorgeous and unbelievable. I may have not believed it had I not seen it with my naked eyes. Look for yourself in the picture below. Studies are on to find out that why the upper layer has turned pink only for this water hole and not any other.
Also Read – Leopard sighting in Kabini
Phato Zone has first Treehouse of Jim Corbett National Park
Phato zone has a lovely tree house in the forest rest house area. This area facilitates night stay in this zone. As per the information shared by my guide, it was built during the British period. Staying inside the forest is a unique expereince. It is fun to sleep and wake up to the sounds of the forests. Also, staying inside the forest area enhances the chances of seeing wild animals. This is also an opportunity to ditch the comforts of hotels and resorts and indulge in nature without any disturbance.
The three hours safari passed in a jiffy because it never feels enough. Every call of the monkey or the deer gives the hope of spotting the big cat. Every passing jeep gives a chance to exchange notes, if they saw anything. Overall, its always fun to be in that moment. Do share your expereinces of safari rides.
When you are in a jungle, guides and the driver of your gypsy are your two best friends. They know best and one must listen to them. In the Phato zone, my guide was Mr. Manish Barakoti. He is a young guy, from the neighboring village who has recently been trained to take up this job. I had requested him to send some pictures of the latest sightings and he often does that. Here is the latest one of the tiger sighting. (20th March, 2022)
Things to know about the newly-opened Phato Zone
- It is one of the densest forest area.
- It is the most latest zone of Jim Corbett National Park.
- Apart from the newly opened Phato zone, there are Bijrani, Jhirna, Dhikala, Durgadevi, Dhela, Garjiya, Sonanadi and Pakhro zones of the park.
- A forest of 2516.70 hectares makes Phato zone.
- The distance to Phato from Ramnagar is 22 kms
- You can book your stay inside.
- It has a tree house as well, the first in Jim Corbett National Park.
- There are many tigers and other animals in this zone. The sightings have already begun.
- The main advantage of starting safari in the Terai Western Forest Division is creation of employment opportunities for local people.