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July 20, 2024

World Tourism Day: 10 resorts and lodges for a luxe stay in the wild

Ismat Tahseen
Picture this. You wake up to the sounds of birds in a tent in set with a backdrop of the lush jungle, then head outside to an open breakfast area with a view of elephants close by, and plan your day over croquettes and clotted cream as you get set to venture into the wild. It makes for the perfect wilderness holiday people love and for good reason, as little compares to the fun and thrill that a jungle adventure brings. Designed with curated activities like river rafting, archery, star gazing, guided jungle rides and spa rejuvenation, these holidays are a hit with everyone from big-cat lovers to those who love an untamed, rustic yet opulent time.
With safari season swinging into the calendar (the best months being October to February), it’s getting folks to get their safari outfits, pack the travel totes and head out into the wild…


Wildlife enthusiasts look for adventure interspersed with a luxe stay on their safari holidays. (Photo-courtesy: Rajat Aganpal and Simran Gupta)
Here’s looking at luxury resorts, furnished tents and other stylish stays across India that offer the best safari experiences:

The Oberoi Vanyavilas Wildlife Resort, Ranthambhore


Phot courtesy: The Oberoi Vanyavilas Wildlife Resort Ranthambhore


Photo courtesy: The Oberoi Vanyavilas Wildlife Resort Ranthambhore
Adjacent to Ranthambhore National Park is ‘India’s best wildlife stays’ as well as the 2nd best resort in Asia for the third year in succession, The Oberoi Vanyavilas. This is literally like a beautiful painting come to life, with 25 elegant private tents reminiscent of royalty are set amidst lemon and mango trees and 20 acres of gardens, making it the ultimate romantic destination for adventurers.
Each tent with hues and décor inspired by the jungle, features a beautiful bedroom, private outdoor sitting area as well as an outside deck for sunbathing. The Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve is home to the Indian tiger, deer, leopard, and crocodiles and the resort offers early morning private jungle safaris. After that rugged experience, you enjoy an al fresco breakfast beside the mango orchard and lily pond and also participate in cooking classes and yoga sessions, go on river safaris and visit the ​​Ranthambhore School of Art and more.
Mahua Kothi, A Taj Safari – Bandhavgarh National Park

Photo courtesy: Mahua Kothi – Taj Safari, Bandhavgarh National Park
Savour your safari break in 45 acres of a private forest at the spectacular resort Mahua Kothi, named after the prized Mahua tree is rustic luxury at its best. The jungle safari resort in Bandhavgarh National Park has 12 kutiyas or standalone luxury cottages built in the local style of architecture, blending into the forest on the periphery of the national park. The guest area overlooks a large grassland where monkeys and birds are a regular feature. A bean-shaped pool screened by a bamboo thicket and shaded by Mahua trees is perfect for cooling off at midday. The guest areas are housed in a large brick building with deep verandas overlooking a grassland ringed by a forest patch. Refinement is also in full display at the dining hall with a large fireplace to keep guests warm during chilly winter evenings. You can go on a jeep safari or just pick fresh vegetables and fruit from the lodge’s private organic gardens for your salad. The select treatments offered by professional in-house masseurs makes for the perfect indulgence to top off your safari break.

Banjaar Tola, A Taj Safari – Kanha National Park


Photo courtesy: Banjaar Tola, A Taj Safari – Kanha National Park
The luxury safari lodge situated along the banks of the Banjaar River overlooking the heart of Kanha National Park, is an apt place to spot tigers. The lodge has 18 huts, divided into two intimate camps of nine tents. Each elegant camp boasts its own pool with a spacious outdoor as well as indoor lounge options and interactive dining areas.
Photo courtesy: Banjaar Tola, A Taj Safari – Kanha National Park
Handcrafted furniture, bastar bell metal work, Gond artwork and intricate stone carvings showcase the rich cultural heritage of the local Bastar tribals. The highlight is the jungle safari resort in Kanha National Park, nestled amid 90 acres of private Sal forest interspersed with grasslands and a seasonal lake. Indulge in the cuisine at the camp that celebrates tribal flavours or try your hand in the interactive culinary sessions.
Pashan Garh, A Taj Safari – Panna National Park


Photo courtesy: Pashan Garh, A Taj Safari – Panna National Park


Photo courtesy: Pashan Garh, A Taj Safari – Panna National Park
Pashan Garh or ‘stone fortress’ is a cluster of 12 stone cottages huddled atop a small hill, with a sweeping view of dense foliage. Set in 200 acres of private wilderness; this luxury jungle safari resort in Panna National Park draws inspiration from the dry-packed stone houses of the Panna region. The large and airy guest areas boast open courtyards and a stone deck overlooking the expanse of the forest down a gentle slope. A lookout tower offers a perfect perch for bird watching by day and stargazing after sundown. A rectangular pool under shady trees invites guests for a refreshing dip. Vintage table lamps, rich textiles and an array of other treasures bring softness and warmth to the chunky stone interiors of the common areas.

Sujan Leopard Camp, Jawai


Photo courtesy: Sujan Jawai/Instagram@thesujanlife
This opulent property just three hours away from Jaipur must be on your travel list, for Sujan Jawai offers luxury glamping ensconced in a beautiful environment, bringing you close to nature in Rajasthan. It’s home to a big leopard population (said to be the largest in India).
The Royal Tented Suite comes with its own 24-hour butler, ranger, private pool, jeep and private drives. and a bedroom family suite area designed with an industrial touch that pays homage in style to Rabari herdsmen with touches of red in the décor. It offers a backdrop of dramatic rock formations of Jawai. Spend the holiday watching leopards roam free, go on a picnic in the wild, take an outdoor yoga session or just have dinner under a starry sky.

Evolve Back, Kabini

Photo courtesy: Luxe accommodation at Evolve Back, Kabini. Instagram-evolvebackkabini
Photo courtesy-Instagram-evolvebackkabini
Photo courtesy-Instagram-evolvebackkabini
Amid the beautiful tapestry of the Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks lies Kabini, regarded as one of the foremost wildlife destinations in India. The Evolve Back Kabini is inspired in design by the Hadis or tribal villages. Luxury takes on a rustic note here as you stay in a choice of huts with large verandas from the 1,200 sq ft Safari Hut to the opulent 2,400 sq ft Pool Huts with spacious sit-outs and a large living and dining area and the 3100 sq ft Pool Reserve with large areas, a private courtyard with a heated pool and a unique Star Bed to enjoy the cosmic glow of a clear Kabini night sky. During the stay, you can go for a dip in the infinity pool, enjoy the temperature-controlled private pools and marble bathtubs, relax at the Ayurveda spa and tuck into three restaurants or just indulge in a boat dining experience. There’s an abundance of wildlife to spot on your vehicle safari as Kabini borders both Bandipur and Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka and owing to its waterside location, it’s also a birder’s paradise.

The Postcard Gir Wildlife Sanctuary


Photo courtesy: The Postcard Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
How about an immersive jungle experience where you’re likely to witness lions in their habitat on your safari, be surrounded by migratory birds and chill in the resort’s privacy and quiet save for the roar of the lions and sounds of migrating birds? That’s part of the getaway at The Postcard Gir. Spread across 16 acres of mango orchards making for a green escape, this place offers a comfortable and modernist refuge. is the perfect mix of wilderness and comfort. There’s a lot on the cards here. Three safaris a day, curated meals, a pool and cultural programmes like the Siddhi Dhamal performance by the Siddhi community (who are of African descent), make this an adventurous, fun retreat.

Aramness, Gir


(Photo courtesy: @aramness)
Aramness Gir is set to reopen doors on October 1, 2023. Beautifully located on the fringe of the Gir forest (the abode of the majestic Asiatic lions), this stylish lodge is the place to relax in post your safari adventures in Sasan Gir National Park, Gujarat. The design of the property places a focus on conservation with 18 elegantly-appointed kothis, each constructed double-storey with natural elements inside the luxe interiors. The kothis also have an upper deck veranda each along with a private pool. As you wake up to soothing sounds of nature in the scenic space, you can begin the day by indulging in various wellness activities, from meditative yoga sessions to luxurious spa treatments. Specially-crafted food menus present delectable, local, and international farm-to-fork dishes so choose to dine under the stars, opt for barbeques around the fire bowl or just enjoy a cozy meal in the Haveli. Make sure you also go for surprise picnics in the forest and take in the sunsets at Aramness; it’s sure to make for a lasting memory.
Pugdundee Safaris’ Pench Tree Lodge, Pench


Photo courtesy: Pugdundee Safaris
Photo courtesy: Pugdundee Safaris
Here’s a destination that beckons the au courant, adventurous and eco sensitive traveller! Go beyond the usual and stay at a tree house! Hot on the list is Pugdundee Safaris’ Pench Tree Lodge, a pretty luxury resort with rustic charm, set in 40 acres of wilderness in Pench. The well-appointed sal wood tree houses are equipped with a private sit-out deck and large bay window where you would love to lounge by. One of the popular gates in Pench Tiger Reserve, Karamajhiri, is just 20 minutes from the property, and where when you’re not partaking in the jungle experience, there’s a lot to choose from with an infinity pool, walks to the picturesque village nearby, night trails and cycling. Also enjoy a ‘Farm Dinner Meal’, under the star-studded night sky, set in a village-like set up next to the sprawling organic garden.
The Ultimate Travelling Camp’s Chamba Camp, Thiksey


Photo courtesy: TUTC/Instagram@tutcindia
Go glamping with an unrestrained view of nature and the Stok Kangri and Ladakh mountain ranges all around you as you settle into The Ultimate Travelling Camp’s (TUTC) Chamba Camp, Thiksey. The uber luxe stay offers tents, including Presidential Suite Tents, with luxurious interiors and colonial era inspired furniture, air-conditioning and heating as per your requirement. You get to savour experiences like watching a traditional Ladakhi dance performance, being at an early morning prayer ceremony with the monks of Thiksey Gompa, and take up activities like river rafting, archery, birdwatching and polo.
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Ismat Tahseen


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