Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) in Kabini and Jungle Retreat Wayanad (JRW) in Wayanad are widely considered as two of the best option for wildlife enthusiasts especially from Bangalore, correct? So I decided to stay 3 days in both the places and here is my verdict on who scores where and how...
JLR: Government run
JRW: Privately owned
JLR ; Very good folks, if you need any assistance they are always to ready to help, not proactive, but reactive help. 7/10
JRW: Enthusiastic, eager to please and always available to help in a proactive way. Really made us feel at home and comfortable. Nothing was too much for them - amazing, amazing service. 10/10
JLR: Good location, very serene, we chose the tents and it was under a large tree. If you walk for 5 minutes you get to the bank of Kabini river from there the view is amazing. Rating would be 8/10
JRW: Unbeatable location. I was thinking this category was a no contest because of JLR's location, but we were blown away by JRW's location because you are facing the jungle and their private water-hole at all time, thick dense jungle with animals and as another guest mentioned, if felt as though we were doing a 24 hour safari during our stay there with regular elephant, gaur, deer sightings!! What is more, on the last day at 6:00 am while drinking coffee and contemplating whether or not to call sick the next day, we saw a movement on the far end of the meadows and we saw the Tigress get up and walk in to the bushes. Seeing a Tigress from the room - that is unbeatable!
Accommodation / Room / Facilities:
We chose the tented cottage, and we also chose the safari/boat ride package. The tents were OK, though the heat kinda got to us towards afternoon. We did not feel it was private enough though. Rating would be 7/10
Extremely private with just 6 rooms in total, spent a lot of time in the private balcony and the each of the cottages had a private sun deck as well! Phenomenal views from such a private cosy balcony! We also spent time in the rock pool with waterfall inside the retreat. Was amazing. The rooms were basic but spotlessly clean, you will not complain as it has everything one would need for a wildlife-centric holiday. As far as activities went, we took the package that included a safari - they have a tie up with JLR, so the safari was exactly the same, then we took the jungle awareness trek where we saw and watched a herd of elephants during the trek, we took a night drive and saw gaurs and more elephants and we did the campfire by the riverside with some yummy local chutney and tapioca made by a tribal legend in that area! Amazing experience overall. 9 / 10
Overall value for money:
JLR is good, no question about it, but it is so popular that there is very little privacy and the cost per person is through the roof these days - 9K per person per night!
JRW is surprisingly affordable and even after choosing the best room there, all meals, all activities including JLR safari, it still came to only 5K per night.
In my eyes the hands-down winner was Jungle Retreat Wayanad mainly because of the animal sightings that you could have from your room itself, the location, the amazing staff and also the overall package cost.
Thank you both JLR and JRW for giving us a fantastic experience!
This being our 4th visit we were not hoping on any wildlife encounters. We had always enjoyed the resort and its ambience, the nightlife, food, the short walk, night drives with Manu and the hospitality of the other staffs.
This time it was just the weekend plus another day (the last week of March). Since we had been to most of the famous spots and hangouts we decided to do just the Nagarhole Safari back to back on Saturday and Sunday and laze around on our balcony looking out to the deep forest. We always preferred JC1 because almost 9 out of ten times we ended up being the first ones to catch a glimpse of any wildlife inside the property. Once its was the elephant, then a pack of wild dogs chasing deer, the alarm calls and the sudden rushing of deers from one end to the other, snorting of gaurs, and so many telltale signs.
On day 1 all the guests except us ( scary crows) along with Anil sir, Manu, and Febin had trekked in the night around 8 PM following the alarm calls and visible telltale signs of the resident tigress bordering the property. They had the chance to see the remains of a fresh kill and the growl of the tigress very close by.
And then we set off to the camp fire with all the guests along with Anil sir and Anju maam. It was thrilling while Anil sir shared his dangerous encounters and his love for the wildlife. That spot amidst the banana plantation with the stream on one side is amazing in the day time whereas at night its so scary but nice when you have a crowd.
We also got to see the pics of the resident tigress with its 3 cubs from the cameras hosted at vantage points close to the property in the morning of Day 2. The same one that had made the kill the previous night.
Stories and stories of tiger encounters, kills, growls and glimpses on the way to Thirunelli and at Nagarhole but all those good things were reserved only for the other guests. With this mindset we set out to the Nagarhole safari on day 2.
We did the JLR safari in the open Jeep that takes you deep inside the forest and the guides try their best to give you some exciting moments. As we 3 (Me, my husband and my 13 year old son) sat inside the Jeep after the sumptuous lunch at Jungle retreat we were expecting a long jolly ride for the next two hours with fresh air blowing on our face and catching long distance glimpses of the domesticated wildlife like spotted deers, sambar deer, eagles, gaurs, and elephants. This was our 4th safari too as it was a ritual to do a safari whenever we were at Jungle retreat. This time we didnt carry our DSLR nor our binoculars as were tired of doing all those.
The ride started at 3:30 PM and by 4:30 our love for the wildlife was already satiated with a herd of elephants having a mud bath at close quarters, a monitor lizard running for its life from the wheels our jeep, eagles and vultures, and of course the omnipresent deers.
We were crossing the second waterhole inside the forest when we 3 started discussing about dinner in the back seat of the Jeep. The folks in front of us were adjusting their DSLR on its tripod and positioning it. We 3 immediately looked at each other and silently laughed at their ignorance. It was then that the guide did something unusual. He drove the jeep off the track and parked it close on the shores of the waterhole. He silently pointed to a patch of something in orange at the other end of the waterhole. Immediately the folks in the jeep were passing binoculars and adjusting the DSLR. It was the moment! My son silently said Tiger. I stood up and stared at that orange patch at the other end. It started moving. I immediately borrowed the binocular and adjusted to see the full face of the tiger flapping its ears and its full body immersed under water. It was chilling. We were stunned for more than a moment, still not able to comprehend at what we were seeing. For the next one hour we were watching the tiger bathe, flap its ears and swim in the waterhole. Then it came out in full view soaked in water and walked into the bushes. The pictures in the DSLR showed bruises and blood marks on its faces. May be it just had a territory fight with another tiger said the guide.
Thanks to the crew at Jungle retreat for giving us an out of the world experience every time. Until next time!
This was our 10th visit to our 2nd home and as always it was exciting and enjoyable. One day we had gone for a walk into the forest in the evening led by Anil (owner) and Manu (naturalist/manager) in an attempt to track the resident tigress Snow white as there were lots of alarm calls from the deer grazing in the farm. We were very lucky to have felt her presence very close. This was an experience which will remain with us forever. Another morning, when we were having tea, we could hear frantic alarm calls of rhesus macaque (monkey) from our cottage roof and immediately a pack of 4 wild dogs entered the farm. We were all in awe to have spotted the resident wild dogs whom we had missed on our very first visit here. We also saw Gaurs, Boars, Elephants, Mangoose and various birds in the farm. What to say! From the cottage itself you can have your Jungle Safari
Cottage, hospitality and food were awesome. Kids summer vacation started with a BANG!!
We arrived at the jungle retreat and were greeted by the amazing hosts Manu and Febin. We then went to the watchtower where you can see all types of animals. This thoroughly enjoyed the kids. The food was amazing. They had less spicy options for the kids and the curries were great! They took us on a wildlife walk to see a malabar squirrel, we went on night walks and we had a campfire. On one of the days, we were lucky to see a whole herd of elephants with children! Would highly recommend to anyone who loves wildlife and nature!
"Expect the unexpected " is what i would say about this place. You get a chance to stay right in the forest in th lap of mother nature.
No words can express the experience.
I got a chance to observe wild life so closely, even a full day safari would not have given me an experience like what i got by spending an afternoon in the watchtower
The stay is very comfortable and the staff is very friendly and helpful too
Highly highly recommended-A must visit for wildlife lovers