Indian safari lodges: The Big Six

Traditional-style huts, elusive big cats and communal jungle platforms

Jawai Leopard Camp, Rajasthan

Flamingos, cranes and nomadic Rabari herdsmen dot the landscape around this new safari camp which opened late last year. Look closely, and you might spy a leopard on the rocks. There's a thriving population of these elusive big cats surrounding the camp – where spots take priority over the traditional tiger stripes that lure most travellers to Rajasthan. Early-morning game drives are on hand to synchronise guests with their nocturnal lifestyles. During the rest of the day, walking safaris with local guides aim to tire visitors out before a trip to the Sujan Spa, followed by a night under the stars in one 10 canvas tents.

Jawai Leopard Camp, Rajasthan (00 91 11 4617 2700; sujanluxury.com). Doubles from INR53,000 (£528), all inclusive.

Baghvan, Madhya Pradesh

This Taj Safari lodge stands within Pench National Park, one of six tiger reserves in the central state of Madhya Pradesh and the setting for Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Each of the camp's 12 bungalows is ornately fitted out with canopied beds, Indian art works and inlaid furniture. Outside, a pool provides space for lazy afternoons, in between morning and evening game drives, which aim to spot tigers, leopards, wild dogs, Indian bison and sambar deer.

Baghvan, Pench, Madhya Pradesh (00 91 7695 232829; tajhotels.com). Doubles from INR87,200 (£869), all inclusive.

Orange County, Karnataka

Orange County Resorts opened its first property in the Western Ghats of Karnataka 20 years ago. In 2007, it opened a second, on the edge of the River Kabini – between Bandipur and Nagarhole national parks. At the newer camp, the 30 traditional-style huts were built to resemble the villages of the local Kadu Kuruba tribe. Private pools add luxury and offer the ideal space for relaxing after a day out spotting muntjak, langurs, tigers and leopards.

Orange County, Kabini, Karnataka (00 91 8228 269 100; orangecounty.in). Doubles from INR27,000 (£269), all inclusive.

Oberoi Vanyavilas, Rajasthan

This jungle sits on the edge of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Set in landscaped gardens, it features 25 spacious tents, draped in rich fabrics, with sleigh baths and four-poster beds. Elsewhere, there's also a pool, shaded by decorative umbrellas, and a restaurant, adorned with frescos. Game drives in Ranthambore are operated by the forest department, so be sure to book safari activities 90 days prior to visiting, via the National Park website.

Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambore Natioal Park, Rajasthan (00 91 7462 22 3999; oberoihotels.com). Doubles start at INR44,500 (£443), room only.

Samode, Madhya Pradesh

Bandhavgarh National Park boasts one of the highest densities of Bengal tiger in the world, along with a breeding leap of leopards. Largely made up of Sal forest, it claims 25 species of mammals, 250 birds and 80 butterflies. Close by, you'll find Samode, with a string of private villas, furnished with atmospheric antiques, outdoor baths and wooden decks. The park authority runs two drives a day, but Samode is also authorised to offer its own private 4x4 excursions.

Samode, Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh (00 91 141 263 2370; samode.com/safarilodge). Doubles from INR55,000 (£548), all inclusive.

Diphlu River Lodge, Assam

In the north-eastern state of Assam, Diphlu River Lodge specialises in seeing the world's largest population of Indian rhinoceros and elephant in their natural habitat. Opened in 2008, it features 12 cottages decked out in warm, red fabrics and The Macha – a communal "jungle platform" – where guests can congregate to scan the riverbank for signs of life. Game-viewing is focused on the Kaziranga National Park, but excursions to the area's tea plantations are also offered.

Diphlu River Lodge, Kaziranga, Assam (00 91 361 266 7871; diphluriverlodge.com). Doubles from INR30,000 (£299), all inclusive.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor