Wild and wonderful
JUMBO TALES At the Kabini River Lodge
KABINI RIVER LODGE
NEAR NAGARHOLE NATIONAL PARK
USP: Nature and wildlife paradise
There are some things that can only be experienced. Such as sitting in an open jeep in the thick of the forest watching a pack of wild dogs hunt down a deer just a few feet from you. Or, watching a lone wild tusker suddenly charge towards your vehi
cle before stopping a few feet away and sauntering back to the watering hole. Or, watching a one-tonne gaur grazing in his green fief. Or a huge herd of deer, heads cocked to one side, scrutinising your vehicle with interest. Or simply lying on a hammock a few yards ahead of a cottage that overlooks the river, which — with its rhythmic lapping, soothes and calms your every nerve and sinew — while some home-sparrows cheep in your ear.
The connect with Nature is almost instantaneous — the cacophony of a jungle teeming with life is refreshing — with crickets, bats, langurs, owls, wild fowl, bears, leopards, croaking frogs, deer — all blending with the rustic green and wet earthy smell.
The food (vegetarian and non-vegetarian, South and North Indian) is tasty and satisfying, and served piping hot at the Ghol Ghar dining area. The rooms are practical; so, don’t expect plush luxury. A lizard or two, a bug here or there is part of that connect to Nature, so be prepared. Service is efficient and with a smile.
Kabini River Lodge is one of the many projects of the Jungle Lodges and Resorts (a Government of Karnataka undertaking), and is located on the banks of the Kabini river, nestled in the southern fringes of the Nagarhole National Park with the Bandipur National Park on one side. Just five hours from Bengaluru, it was historically the hunting lodge of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore.
While the experience is said to be enchanting through the year, it is best from February till June (driest season) when it plays host to the largest congregation of Asiatic wild elephants. In addition to promoting eco-tourism, the resort tries to pass on the benefits to the locals here — 100 out of 110 of the staff are from villages within a three km radius — including naturalists (locals trained formally on field by experts in various wildlife species). The resort does not promote mass tourism. The resort has hosted celebrities such as Goldie Hawn, Bill Travers, Waheeda Rahman and the late Protima Bedi.
And then there is 95-year-old Col. John Wakefield, the brand ambassador and founding member of the Kabini Lodges. A treasure trove of stories, he says: “It is heart-warming to see that the little baby elephants I’ve known so long ago have now become the matriarchs of their herds but they still react the same way, probably recognising my scent.”
How to get there
Kabini River Lodge is 220 km (takes about five hours) from Bengaluru via the Mysore-Mananthavadi Road. Signboards are few and far between, and you are likely to get lost if you take a wrong turn from Mysore. The roads are in good shape for the most part except for the last 15 km, which is ridden with potholes
There are 38 rooms (including room, tents and cottages), and they can accommodate 75 visitors at any time. The cottage, room and tented cottages are available at Rs. 5,000, Rs. 4,250 and Rs. 3,500, respectively, for a person a night on a twin-sharing basis. The package includes stay, all meals, jeep safaris in the Nagarhole (Rajiv Gandhi) National Park, coracle/boat ride, elephant ride (subject to availability), forest entry fee, camera fee and tax.
Bookings can be done online at www.junglelodges.com. For details, call 080-25597021, 24, 25 or fax 080-25586163 or email email@example.com
Things to do
Go on a wildlife safari or a Nature trail
Take a coracle and boat ride in the Kabini river
Go bird watching, or cruising
Watch a wildlife film, or go on an elephant ride
Indulge in an Ayurvedic massage at the Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala located on the premises
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