I deviated from my goMowgli tour a little bit and took some extra time to check out the popular Sloth Bear Resort in the Daraji Sloth Bear Sanctuary as it’s one of the best things to do in Hampi. The Jungle Lodges are Government run and are dotted all over Karnataka. I’ve also done a safari and glamped at the Kabini River Jungle Lodge. Technically you could say it’s in Hampi, but it’s really on the other side, opposite of Hospet.
Update: As of 2018, goMowgli is no longer in operation, which is who I went on this tour with. However, you can still visit these places on your own!
Sloth Bear Resort, Hampi
Luckily, the way goMowgli works is “hop on hop off” so I just took some free time for myself to rest up before starting our tour back up in Hampi.
This resort has Sloth Bears, which I guess by the name of it comes as no surprise! They are massive like a grizzly, but use their big noses to eat wild fruit, termites, and honey. Hampi is ideal for them because of all the rocks to hide and crevices to hunt in.
Hampi is one of my favorite places on earth, so being in a luxurious cabin with my windows and balcony door wide open to the views of Hampi’s boulders and hills brought me peace and started relieving some of the stress I was having with balancing work and travel.
The manager of the resort, Mr. Asif, came to meet me and bring me back to the resort. Most hotels in India are very good about helping you with transport! He made a proper sign for me on a big wooden stick saying just a note on paper wasn’t good enough. Very sweet!
The Cabins of Sloth Bear Resort
The walk to the room seemed long until I realized at Cabin 3 I was actually quite close. The property makes a loop and of the 20 cottages, mine was very close to reception. When I saw my cabin I figured there must be separate rooms inside for guests, and was shocked to see I got the whole thing! It was massive.
Cabins come with two single beds with soft matresses, a day bed, a big balcony for bird watching, coffee and tea station (love that they had re-usable water bottles filled with filter water, something Alex in Wanderland would appreciate), and a little dining area with a big window looking out onto the famous boulders of Hampi.
The rooms have hot water, A/C and fan, big fluffy towels, and that lavender soap I came to love at Kabini Lodge. The only thing missing was a phone to call reception, as it’s quite a walk to go ask a question.
Bird & Sloth Bear watching
There are many tours you can take during your stay and I’d recommend people stay at least 3 nights so it’s not too rushed. With only one day I knew I wouldn’t get to do it all, but luckily I’ve been to Hampi before and didn’t need to do any temple or heritage tours on offer, or the traditional coracle boat rides. They do offer a bike tour which I would have totally done had their been more time.
Our first tour was a bird watching tour. We went to a little hut to hide and watch the birds in the bird-bath. Who knew I could be a bird-nerd? I actually never thought I’d find them interesting, but I knew I was getting nerdy while choosing to sit on my balcony with binoculars and a bird book rather than lie in bed and watch Parks and Recreation.
A few I recognized were the 3 types of Kingfisher, Quails, and Warblers. Because it was rainy both bird and bear watching would be hard. They were in hiding.
the Indian owl, the biggest owl there is!Around 3 PM they start the next bird watching and sloth bear guided trip. I was actually really interested in learning about the birds. One they called a crocodile toothpick because it picks food out of croc’s teeth. Another, the Seven Sisters, are always in a group of 7 and make lots of noise like “7 sisters trapped in a room together would”.
There was the laughing bird because it goes “hoo hoo hoo” with the beat of a human laugh. We saw the rare Indian Owl, which is the biggest owl, parakeets, Indian Robins, wagtails, and about 20 other types- out of the 250 species there!
During the tour I asked educated questions and made intelligent remarks like, “that bird over there looks like a turtle” and “Do birds like rain?” To which my guides pretended they couldn’t speak English. Anyways, on to the bears. ;)
Sloth Bears are extremely violent and according to my guide in BR Hills they are known for more human attacks than leopards or tigers.
Because the bears are in the rocks, you can’t take a traditional safari by jeep up close to them. They take us up to a watchtower space were we can look across. The beers are not wild and roaming; it is an actual sanctuary (and the first bear sanctuary in Asia).
The bears are at a distance but with binoculars you can see them perfectly. In the next couple years, they will have roads throughout with open jeep safari but it’s not easy with so many rock formations.
We saw four bears while there. We climbed some rocks to the side to stay away from the small crowd of noisy people in the watchtower. My guides were SO good. The bears are six feet tall standing, females are over 100 kg and males are close to 200 kg.
The area of forest here is a shrubbery forest, so nothing will grow taller than a person. There are 6 kinds of forest in India.
I’ve mentioned this before, but “jungle” is actually the Hindi word for “forest”. In Jungle book, Sher Khan, Baloo and more are just the Hindi names for what they are. Sher=tiger. Baloo=bear.
To end the safari, we had tea and coffee and at 7 they started a documentary; we got to choose either Hampi or Wildlife. Having seen a lot of wildlife, I went for Hampi to prep for my big outing there the next day. Very informative although perhaps a bit boring and outdated.
Food at Sloth Bear Resort
I was lucky to come on a Sunday and everyone else was checking out after a weekend getaway from Bangalore. I kind of had the place to myself so the chef asked if I’d rather have Western food than Indian. Of course I said yes, I’ve even so much rice & curry in Karnataka I kind of smell like curry all the time.
Food was buffet style. Breakfast I stick to my eggs, toast, and coffee because I’m boring. Lunch was some of the BEST Indian food I’ve had during my stay in Karnataka. Why has no one ever served me egg masala!? That was to die for. All of it was tasty and just the perfect amount of spice. At lunch I was informed I’d be getting fried chicken for dinner… so obviously, my mouth was watering from that moment until I actually got some! (But then I took a really crappy photo of it, sorry)
- Address: Near Kannada University, PK Halli Road, Kamlapur, Hospet Taluk, Bellary Dist, Karnataka. This resort is 380 km from Bangalore. If you come by plane, it’s 50 km from the airport, and it’s 25 km from Hospet rail station.
- Best to come when it’s not raining as Sloth Bears are what’s on offer here. To book e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call +91 80 4055 4055. Check out all the Jungle Lodges in Karnataka on their website http://www.junglelodges.com.
- There is no WiFi here and I had no cell internet connection although had calling service. If you’re interested in sunbathing, the balconies here are private enough to get in a bikini and catch some sneaky sun.
- You can fit 3 people in a room comfortably. Room rates for one person are from 4,000 but can be higher at peak season for the 20 similar cabins to mine. There are two more amazing ones which are bigger and start at 6,000 rs.
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