“Expect the unexpected”, this phrase made absolute sense when I experienced game drives in the forests of Madhya Pradesh with Taj Safaris. I spotted tigers thrice on my safaris in two of the most noted national parks (Bandhavgarh & Kanha National Park) in central India recently. Following the alert calls in the jungle, watching the footprints on the muddy road, chasing tigers, hearing the roaring sound, and getting to see those intimidating eyes up close from a few inches away, was undoubtedly the highlight of my game drive in Kanha National Park on a rainy day.
It was not only a fascinating experience to take back home, but it was quite unique for me as I caught sight of tigers for the very first time in my life, after having visited more than five national parks across India. Being a nature admirer, I was never a wildlife enthusiast, who visits the forest in search of wild creatures. I generally soak in the alluring beauty of Indian forests, enjoying the rustling of the dry leaves, the enchanting chorus of birds, lush thick green forest, and the winding roads. But something changed drastically after I experienced wilderness with Taj Safaris. The exceptionally knowledgeable naturalists of Taj Safaris made me fall in love with the wildlife like never before. It suddenly instilled the urge to know more about the territory and the life of wild animals in the forest.Other than this, there are bundle of reasons that make Taj Safaris as India’s most desired option when it comes to experiencing wildlife.
Experienced and Exceptional Naturalists
The very first reason which makes any safaris fascinating enough is the naturalists. They are the first ones, who take you deep into the forest to introduce you to the wilderness up close. They are exceptionally knowledgeable, well trained and well-educated bunch of people, who are passionate about their work. Their dedication towards wildlife, participation in the spreading of awareness about the forest and a sense of hospitality are simply incredible. They are the most dynamic personalities, who introduce you to the fauna and flora of the forest, make you aware of the different alarm calls and answering your endless questions. One of the best parts about Taj Safaris is that the naturalists give a brief presentation about the park, its territories, and the wildlife before your first safari so that you are aware of the forest you are entering. A big shout out to Karun from the Mahua Kothi Lodge in Bandhavgarh and Vipul, Parth, Yazu, and Nara from Banjaar Tola in Kanha for giving me one unforgettable wildlife experience.
Luxurious Stay in the Jungle
When it comes to luxury, The Taj Safaris can spoil you forever. Whether it is the mud houses in Bandhavgarh or Eco tents of Banjaar Tola in Kanha, the unbeatable luxury, world-class hospitality, modern amenities, and uncompromising services make them the best in the business. I loved the rustic feel of the mud cottages in Bandhavgarh.
Whether it was the courtyard of the cottage with comfortable shaded seating arrangement, the Tulsi plant in the middle, giving it a traditional home look, the mouth-watering food that was served during my stay or the warmth in the behavior of the staff, I enjoyed everything there.
The location of Banjaar Tola Tents is simply breathtaking. Located on the bank of the Banjaar River, just across the river is the core zone of the Kanha National Park, giving a sense of belongingness to the wildness straight from your super luxurious tents.The most aesthetically designed, contemporary styled and modern tents are luxurious beyond imagination.
The large glass door, opening to the floating veranda overlooking the river was my favorite corner of the property.The look and feel of the property are inspired by the lodges and tents in South Africa. Even the decors of the property flaunt the same.
Eco-Friendly Lodges & Tents
One of the commendable features about Taj Safaris lodges and tents is that they are eco-friendly. Being close to the national parks, Taj Safaris believe in maintaining the ecosystem by reducing the carbon footprints in their surroundings. If I talk about the Mahua Kothi in Bandhavgarh, it felt good to see how they have constructed mud cottages amidst the forest, encouraging guests to switch off the lights when they are out, keeping the environment eco-friendly in the best possible way.
Banjaar Tola is also another excellent example of Eco tents where they have minimalistic use of concrete, open verandahs are set on raised structures, allowing natural growth under the buildings, reducing electricity usage by the energy saving lights, gas-based water heating, solar-heated swimming pool, and solar-powered outdoor lights. There are many such initiatives taken by Taj Safaris to make the environment Eco-friendly around the lodges and cottages.
The standard of Taj Hospitality is sky high. The warm greetings at the arrival, customized meals, welcome notes, surprise gifts and providing a unique safari experience, every little effort is exceptional and incredible at the same time. I loved the way they make your stay comfortable and memorable in their properties. The friendly and efficient staff also contributes immensely to maintain their high scaled hospitality. I can’t forget the dinner under the stars by the pool side at Mahua Kothi.
Likewise, the breakfast arrangements in the middle of the forest or the surprise evening tea arrangement on a hillock, not only make you want to come back again but also make your experience an unforgettable one.
Another unique feature of Taj Safaris is their personalized services to the guests. You are asked your preferences beforehand to make it easier to plan your stay. From the food choices, private dinner set up, personal butler, room amenities to your timings for each activity, everything is planned according to your wish. They deliver every desire of yours discreetly, but efficiently. Whether it is the head chef consulting you for the meal options, ever smiling staff providing everything you want, or the energetic and enigmatic naturalists always ready to provide additional information or anything for that matter, Taj Safaris go extra miles to create lifelong memories for their guests.
Give their guests local experiences
Providing local experience to their guests is a part of their services.Whether it is getting you to sample the local delicacies or taking you to a local village tour, introducing you to the rural lifestyle, their tradition, and rustic lifestyle, Taj Safaris does it all for their guests. I had a great time exploring the surrounding village and spending a considerable time with the villagers in Bandhavgarh.
Being a city dweller, I hardly get time to get close to the tribal community in my daily life. So getting an opportunity to understand the social fabric of a particular community or just seeing their way of life, gives me a feeling of rural India. Taj Safaris also arrange lunch in the village to get you accustomed to the daily life of those villagers. There are many such initiatives taken by them to give you a better perspective about the rural life in India.
Promote Responsible Tourism
Taj Safaris has been contributing immensely to promote responsible tourism in the surrounding villages of their lodges and tents. There are many initiatives taken by them to improve the lifestyle of economically underprivileged villages. Their engagement in creating awareness in its neighboring community is commendable. Providing income opportunities to employ locals in their lodges or tents, giving them training and leveling up to the Taj hospitality standard, making them aware of the wildlife by showing them documentaries, distributing vegetable seeds to the villagers and even teaching them farming techniques are some of the great initiatives undertaken by them.
Training is another aspect of their responsible tourism program where the executive chefs of the lodges in central India give training to the local women to develop skills in kitchen gardening and also teach hygienic cooking which helps them to enhance their culinary skills.The lodges are also involved in development programs for the villagers, by not just providing them with sewing machines and computers, but also imparting training to make them self-sustainable and develop a sense of confidence to uplift their lifestyle. I was delighted to know that the Barjaar Tola lodge in Kanha take underprivileged kids and differently abled people to the park each season to give them the wildlife experience. Apart from that, there are initiatives like Conservation Lesson Programme, LPG Gas Connections Programme, and much more.
I was invited by Taj Safaris on a Press Trip. All the thoughts, ideas and opinions are mine.
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