Looking for the best homestays for wildlife safaris in Kanha, Mudumalai and Bandhavgarh National Parks? This checklist has you covered.
The sound of lions wakes you up, and as you sip your tea, you take in the forest view, occasionally spotting a deer or two nearby. When was the last time this happened?
Perhaps this is a sign to plan your next vacation to one of India’s many safaris. And while you’re at it, why not consider camping at a homestay in the vicinity of some of India’s best national parks?
2 Wildlife Conservationists Turned a Barren Land in Tadoba Into the Perfect Vacation Spot
When Avantika Chandra and Hans Dalal found themselves looking at an empty piece of land in 2014, they knew it held promise. Today, the Spotted Owlet Homestay in Tadoba, Maharashtra, is helping many wildlife enthusiasts live their eco-friendly life on vacation.Read more >
A keystone of tourism in modern times, homestays are gaining popularity in recent times for the unparalleled local experience they provide. You can enhance your safari experience with the sustainable facades and nature trails of these homestays. What’s more, there is always a feast of local delicacies awaiting you after you get back from your hike into the wilderness.
Here we narrow down on homestays you can camp in for a true safari experience:
1. The Spotted Owlet Homestay
The draw of the place isn’t limited to its proximity to the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve — the largest tiger reserve in Maharashtra.
Relaxation comes easy at this cosy nest, created by duo Avantika Chandra and Hans Dalal in 2014 to enable wildlife enthusiasts from across the country to live the eco-friendly dream.
A stone throw’s away from the reserve means a host of hares, mongooses, snakes, scorpions, and lizards will be frequent visitors here. At the safari, you’ll have an opportunity to expand your wildlife quotient with tigers, Indian leopards, striped hyenas, barking deer, and snakes.
2. Kothi Mela
The locals of Chambal hail the homestay — spearheaded by Anu Dillon Singh and her husband Ram Pratap Singh — as transformational for the region. And this is true.
Intent on restoring the glory of Chambal and making it a tourist spot, the couple converted their 200-acre orchard into a boutique safari lodge to create an allure for guests.
In close quarters lies the National Chambal Sanctuary which is said to be a breeding ground for gharials, fish-eating crocodiles, and more than 320 species of migratory birds. In addition to this, the sanctuary also plays home to ruddy shelducks, Ferruginous duck, and the northern pintail.
3. Surwahi Social Ecoestate
At entrepreneur Ankit Rastogi’s passion project in Kanha, you can get the full experience of living in a mud home, dining on a feast of local delicacies, and taking a hike to the national park.
The project took Ankit and his team seven years to design. It was born out of the intent to amp up tourism in the area. “It got me thinking that if I could create an eco-tourism experience here, it would lead to the desired outcome,” Ankit tells The Better India.
Today, the eco-friendly stay on the fringes of the Kanha National Park stands as a beacon of sustainability. Along with this, Ankit has ensured the project also sees biodiversity in the area. This includes the planting of sal, a tree that was once unfit for growing here.
At the National Park, wildlife enthusiasts can expect a glimpse of the Barasingha or swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii), the Indian wild dog, and the most famed Indian Tiger.
4. Jungle Hut
As Vikram — son of Tamil Nadu-based couple Joe and Hermie Mathias — who currently oversees operations, shares, “My parents bought this land in 1981. I’m not sure if they aimed to construct something sustainable, but they were trying to make maximum use of available resources at the time to save energy and cost.”
The main draw of the homestay is that it is in the buffer zone of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The place is home to a wealth of wildlife including the Bengal tiger, leopard, Asian elephants, Indian gaur, and more. The gorgeous views and delectable menu are a bonus.
Bird lovers meanwhile have a paradise to look forward to — white-throated kingfishers, Indian scimitar babblers and a variety of woodpeckers. It is said that the reserve’s ‘elephant grass’ is responsible for the thriving flora and fauna.
5. Bongheri Homestay
Arguably one of the most fauna-rich places in the world, the Sunderbans now boast one more reason to come visit. In the heart of the Delta’s mangrove area lies the Bongheri Homestay managed by Neelanjan Chakravarty.
Along with ensuring the property is sustainable in all respects, Chakravarty also provides a livelihood to the local women by employing them at the homestay. The intersection of tidal waterways and mudflats in the area provides an excellent environment for tiger species, estuarine crocodiles and the Indian python.
6. Aaranya Resort
Farmer Dhanji Bhai Patel’s dream of creating an eco-friendly haven for travellers was realised with Aaranya Resort. The sustainable resort in Bhojde village of Gir is set on three acres of land. The rest of the nine acres are used for farming.
What’s fascinating is that not a single tree was cut to construct the seven cottages that are part of the resort. The place has a rustic feel with wooden frames and clay tiles lending their aesthetic.
But the icing on the cake is the Gir Forest in the area which boasts a rich biodiversity — 32 species of mammals, 300 species of birds and 26 species of reptiles. These include chital, wild boar, langur, jackal and civets.
7. The Ranger’s Lodge
During your stay here, be assured that couple Imran and Kahkashan’s hospitality will make it worthwhile. While Imran treats you to takes of the Corbett Reserve and his own experiences here, Kahkashan will let her food do the magic.
You can spend your mornings exploring the Corbett Tiger Reserve, which aside from being India’s first national park was also the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.
The reserve comprises numerous zones each boasting a special feature. For instance, the Dhikala Zone is popular for sightings of wild elephants and leopards while Durga Devi Zone is for bird enthusiasts.
8. King’s Lodge
What started as a small camp at Panna is now a full-fledged startup called ‘Pugdundee Safaris’ based in Haryana. Duo Manav Khanduja and Shyamendra Singhare were looking to build a sustainable safari venture where wildlife tourism could thrive.
One of their many safari properties is the King’s Lodge near Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh National Park. The Park was once the hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa.
Known for its Royal Bengal Tigers, the park‘s density of tiger population is the highest known in India as well as in the world. It is also believed that all the white tigers across the globe trace their roots to Bandhavgarh.
Edited by Pranita Bhat