Given the break-neck speed of city life, indulging in nature every so often is a necessity more than a want. What better than sitting amidst lush greens and witnessing wildlife in its natural habitat? Even better: To experience this in luxury. Bringing both together, we pick five of the best luxury wildlife resorts in India for the next time you indulge in some wilderness.
Jamtara Wilderness Camp, Madhya Pradesh
Located in the eponymous village, Jamtara is less than two hours away from Pench National Park. Each of the 10 tents in this wilderness camp have their own private grove and a patio that look out onto the forest. Just roll up the front panels to allow nature to get close. Their jeep safaris take you to Pench, where you can spot Bengal Tigers, the Indian leopard, wolves, Blue Kingfisher, Crimson-Breasted Barbet, and many more. Not just home to an eclectic wildlife, the national park also boasts of lush flora, filled with Amaltas, Mahua, White Kulu and Dharoa trees. Once back, ease off with their Indian fare, prepared with locally grown produce, and enjoyed around a bonfire near the ancient Banyan tree.
Top billing: The Star Bed. In these luxury machaans, you can sleep under the stars while a guard waits on you hand and foot.
Suján Jawai, Rajasthan
With the signature Suján stamp, Jawai in Bilaspur district is built around opulence and honours local culture. Its eight spacious luxury tents and one royal suite feature private sit-outs, and are adorned with imposing black and white photographs of leopards, a glimpse of what you’ll come across when you go leopard spotting in the area. While it is one of the regions with the highest density of leopards in the world, Bilaspur is also home to other wild cats, antelope, and over 200 species of birds, including flamingo and pelican. Though you can walk to take in the wilderness, we recommend taking Jawai’s jeep ride for an immersive experience. Indulge in their private dining — in a granite kopje, by the lake, in the bushes, or under the stars — take your pick of feasting not just your palate but also your eyes.
Top billing: The private heated swimming pool in the royal suite, open to the vast wilderness.
Chamba Camp, Ladakh
With the Thiksey monastery on one side and the Stok Kangri mountain on the other, Chamba Camp opens up to spellbinding views as you luxuriate in their tents. An in-house shop for local handicrafts, a library, and activities such as archery and watching polo keep you engaged at the camp. But it is the Hemis National Park, an hour’s drive from Chamba, which will pull you out of your tent’s cosy confines. Rumbak Valley within the national park is famous for snow leopards – though incredibly shy, their high density means chances of sighting one favour you. You’ll also find Asiatic ibex, golden eagles, Tibetan bears and wolves, Eurasian lynxes, bearded vultures, mountain goats, and partridges at Hemis. Interacting with wildlife, albeit from a distance, at such high altitudes and unforgiving environs all make for an exhilarating experience. Pair this with the camp’s farm fresh produce that can be had at the tented restaurant, an outdoor barbecue, the fish pond, or garden.
Top billing: Private dining at the wooden aqua deck (fish pond).
Diphlu River Lodge, Assam
Completing 10 years this year, Diphlu River Lodge spells effortless luxury. Inspired by the architecture of Mishing tribal homes, its 12 cottages sit snugly at the fringe of Kaziranga National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other than the covered dining space, Machan, they have three open dining spaces, the Tea Deck, Hilltop, and River Bank for you to be at leisure in nature’s lap. Hop aboard the jeep safari to Kaziranga — they run one every morning and afternoon — to witness the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceros and the highest density of the Royal Bengal Tiger. The thriving deciduous and semi-evergreen forests also house the Ganges dolphin, barking deer, king cobra, and many more along with over 400 species of birds. As evident, plan to go on more than of their jeep safaris to intimately experience the whole of Kaziranga. When not wildlife watching, get acquainted with the local culture with performances by natives at the hilltop.
Top billing: The quaint Tea Deck, under a tree and a string of lights.
All images: Courtesy brands