My stay at Jungle Lodges, Bandipur

When we reached the Bandipur Safari Lodge, run by Jungle Lodges, it was only 11 am. We had left Bangalore early in the morning, and even with multiple breakfast and rest stops, we made it to Bandipur sooner than anticipated. The folks at the check in counter were kind enough to give us a room right away, so managed to get some rest before lunchtime. The resort is set in a thickly wooded area, filled with trees and plants, giving us the feel of being close to the forest as soon as we entered.

path

Lunch was a pleasant affair at the gol ghar, with a good choice of south Indian and north Indian food, with vegetarians well catered for. The service everywhere in the resort is excellent, with the staff taking care of guest needs promptly.

After lunch, the manager Mr. Nadaf took me on a quick tour of the property, showing the special rooms, which are slightly larger sized standalone cottages that come with an extra verandah.

cottage

verandah

I was staying in a normal cottage, each of which is named after a different animal found in the forest, and has a wall painting of the same behind the beds. I was staying in the sambar room (none of the rooms are air-conditioned but stay cool with the windows open).

room

The resort is also dotted with hammocks here and there, which make the perfect spot for a quick afternoon siesta before the safari. I made myself comfortable on one of those, with a book in hand, although I did not read much, distracted constantly by the various bird calls.

hammock

My experience at Bandipur Safari Lodge had so far been very good – room, food, service – but then it was time for the main reason I was there. Unlike other luxury weekend getaways, people head to Bandipur not to chill out at the resort but for the wildlife safari. And it is in this that the lodge fell seriously short of my expectations.

From the way guests were allocated to different jeeps, to the attitude of the jeep driver, everything was unfortunately below par. There was no naturalist accompanying our jeep, and the driver was just not interested in stopping anywhere to take in the forest, even for photographs. He was not a keen tracker – in my previous several experiences in our forests, I have only seen drivers who keep their eyes and ears trained for any sign of the tiger, and along with that, also point out other animal and bird species. But none of that here.

We just drove on listlessly, without any purpose or interest in seeing anything. By the end of it, even the guests in the jeep had lost interest in the forest and we were glad to be back at the resort – which is another story, because we reached Bandipur Safari Lodge ten minutes before the safari closing time.

In two safaris, forget tigers, we ended up not spotting even many bird species – a major disappointment. I was invited by the folks at thekarnatakatourism.com to this weekend stay at the Bandipur Safari Lodge and I have given my frank feedback here, because it is imperative for any wildlife resort to have good drivers / guides to make the forest come alive to guests.

Note: Karnataka Tourism is a private website that manages bookings for several nature resorts in the state, most of them from Jungle Lodges. You can visit the website or write to them at book@thekarnatakatourism.com for more information.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I remember when I visited this resort about 3 or 4 years back. The way it is set in the forest really is a unique and refreshing experience. But during my visit, the driver was mildly knowledgeable about the animals and bird species during the jungle safari. We at least saw a few deer !

    1. charukesi says:

      Thanks for dropping by! I have also visited this lodge earlier and my experience was much better – the driver was fairly good and we spotted a tiger in the first few minutes into the forest.

  2. Niranjan says:

    That is an unacceptable service. Drivers and naturalists make all the difference during a wildlife safari.

    1. charukesi says:

      So true – that is the most important aspect of a wildlife resort and it fell short on this count.

  3. I admire your honesty Charu given that this was a trip you were invited on! We stayed at Orange County Resorts on our trip to Kabini last year and the naturalists were fantastic – and I can’t agree with you more – they make all the difference. Apart from spotting animals and telling you about the jungle, they ensure that basic rules are adhered too as well and motivate you to be a responsible traveler in the jungle.

    1. charukesi says:

      Thanks, Chaitali. Sometimes I think it is best to stay silent than give a false positive review – but in this case, the host company said to go ahead and give honest feedback! I also spent last weekend at Orange County and good driver / naturalists made such a huge difference (but no luck with sightings though!)

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