I cannot begin to tell you how stoked I was to do a JUNGLE SAFARI! Prior to, I feel like it was almost a sin to be a travel writer in India and not have been on one single safari looking for India’s tigers and leopards. I was invited to do a jungle safari with Kabini River Jungle Lodge while I was on my goMowgli tour in Karnataka.
Because it’s a hop on hop off tour, the company dropped me off in the jungle with all the tigers and wild elephants just as I’d planned.
I was late, as always, so the second I got there I was swooped up by a big ass jeep to go touring around the forrest. I was literally smiling so big my face hurt the next day. Everything the tour guide said I was ooo’ing and aah’ing over.
The Safari at Kabini River
The moment we got into the Nagarhole National Park I spotted a wild elephant! We saw all kinds of animals and I’m not surprised as one, the Western Ghats have some of the most diverse wildlife in the world and two, it was voted top 5 wildlife resorts in the WORLD by Tatler’s.
Obviously, you want to know what animals you’ll see. While you can see tigers and leopards (and they did the night before I arrived) I didn’t see any. Bummed a bit, but know that they are elusive and it’s just a matter of luck. If you want to see tigers the best place is at a Ranthambore safari.
What I did see were: guars, sambars, spotted deer, wild elephant, serpent eagles, mongoose, kingfisher, boars, and lots of monkeys and other important birds that I’m sure your bird-lovers would go bonkers over.
notice the birds on top?
Sambar, the biggest dear in India
Guar and baby guar
We saw a tiger print and a leopard print and heard the panicked warning called from the “barking deer” (if I understood my guide correctly) and tried to track them but had no luck. We went out again in the morning which was when I saw the guar which were huge!
leopard print and mongoose
I never knew that new antlers were fuzzy!
I was surprised how the animals hung out together: boars and deer roaming around while birds sat on the deer and mongoose popped up for a picture pose. In the gazebo by the lake were information boards explaining how the forestry department works to keep these animals safe. One thing’s for sure: the more spotted deer, the more there’s food for tigers, and the easier the population can rise. They talked about the problems with human population growth in India and the leopards getting into the villages- so the scared village people may kill that animal to save themselves.. it’s a problem that I don’t think anyone has the answers to.
who could fight in such a pretty place? ;)
The Rooms at Kabini River Jungle Lodge
The lodges were former hunting lodges of the Maharaja so they were pretty darn fancy. The resort has a fully stocked bar, ayurvedic treatments, WiFi near the office, delicious buffets with seriously the BEST veg soup I’ve had in India. It was like crack and I just kept going back for more. Sorry for eating all your soup, Jungle Lodge. I also loved the butter chicken, cabbage, and carrots.
some kind of fried chickpea patty & surprisingly spicy baked beans
Dinner is served at 830 and there is a wildlife movie before at 730. In the main lodge are some books you can borrow and ….. a stuffed TIGER that’s 9.5 feet long. It was killed in a territory fight by another tiger (which must have been massive) so they kept it at the lodge.
The room was pretty massive and just absolutely perfect. It was a nice touch of luxury while in the middle of the jungle which is kind of the perfect thing for a “hippie in heels”. Kind of couldn’t get over having four pillows because this literally NEVER happens in India and actually loved the heavy soft towel I took a photo. No one uses dryers in India so usually towels are crispy from drying in the sun- these were soft as could be!
There are cottages, rooms, and tents at varied prices. I loved that they do wake up calls for the morning safari so you don’t over sleep. The animals are only out at dawn and dusk so you have to wake up pretty early and start the tour by 615 am. You can opt to do the tour by boat if you want to as well. But even while sitting at the lodge, you’re bound to see wildlife. The spotted deer love being around people because that’s where they are safe so you’ll see them by the dozens.
The full grounds are really big so it’s best to show up in the afternoon not at night so that you can get a grasp of the layout. I got a little lost finding the dinner space at night and started worrying a lost leopard was going to come steal me away before I could get my fried papads.
Practical information for your stay
Location: Kabini | about 90 km from Mysore, 90 km from Madikeri, and 225 km from Bangalore. You’ll see on the tour where a lake joins the national parks with 2 others, and can look across at Wayanad, Kerala.
Price: starts at 8,200 to 11,200 for foreigners per person and 4,950 t0 7,950 for Indians. Food and safari included. 50% off for children.
Other information: Best to go at dry season so the animals are out looking for water. It was accessible for people with disabilities and ramps were at all areas of the camp. Mosquitos were abundant and a headlamp would have been helpful. As a solo female traveler I felt very safe here.
I was on this tour as part of my goMowgli tour and with an invitation from Jungle Lodges. As always, opinions are my own.
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