Karnataka has some amazing safari lodges spread across the state and one of the most prominent should be Bandipur safari lodge. Located very close to the jungle it offers accmmodation, 3 meals and 2 safaris included in a one-day package.
No matter which time of the year i opened their home page to check prices it seemed steep to me. We will find out why it makes more sense to go alone for a wildlife enthusiast, than try to drag your unwilling family/friends. Let's first see what all is on offer?
I chose to stay in one of their "Special cottages"(price differences are marginally high compared to other options). The cottage was definitely special with spacious rooms(that can accommodate 3 people) but space is not the first thing in mind when planning a solo trip. I need to know what all can be used to kill time.
To answer that, they have a nice tranquil balcony and a personal hammock - where you can spend at least half of the day contemplating on life or reading or listening to the music of nature and use the hammock in the garden to laze further. So if you enjoy time alone, there is ample space and setting to make it worthwhile.
Atmosphere around the resort
The resort is big enough for short walks. If you are interested in photgraphy and think that you possess big zoom lenses, there are chances that you will find serious competition. You will more often than not, find photography enthusiasts/professionals around and you can definitely connect with them to share stories.
The restaurant is named "Gol ghar" and serves delicious(not extravagant) meals.
The walk around the resort offered comfort to my senses. There are trees and birds all around with some very peaceful spots to sit and relax.
You can start observing variety of birds around this place as it hosts a lot of small birds in the shrubs and trees all around.
I was entitled to take an evening and morning safari in the jeep provided by the Jungle lodges. Contrary to using one jeep per booking(as done in most North Indian forests), here they will pool members from the resort to fill the jeep optimally and comfortably. This way too many vehicles need not go inside the forest and results in affordable rates for a solo traveller.
The two safaris take a big chunk of your awakened state. As soon as you reach the resort in the afternoon, lunch is served followed quickly by evening Safari. You come back from the safari at around 6pm and have around 2-3 hours before dinner. This time is quite if you stay by yourself, else you can find like minded friends to share stories.
Tourists are allowed to enter a small portion of the forest only. Generally the focus of safari is to spot the animal who we fear. So everybody is attentive to deer alarm calls and other clues to find the tiger. Finally we could not spot a tiger, but there are always other actions to witness.
Wildlife sighting is definitely a matter of chance and i have been lucky to have spotted the tiger for the first time in Bandipur. The first animal we saw on the morning safari was the tiger. It was resting after having completed eating as the belly seemed full. She quickly disappeared after a short scent marking.
After the tiger disappeared we waited for at least half an hour for it to emerge again. The forest was misty.
Towards the end of the safari we went through the jungle and spotted more familiar occupants.
The ride back to bangalore is very good as well, with some great spots to watch birds.
Overall i think a good value for steep money, which you can pay to pamper the wildlife admirer inside you. Moreover it is solo friendly compared to other North/Central Indian jungles, where you have to book the entire jeep for yourself. In such situations, a group is better as it distributes the cost of the jeep, while the option used by Jungle lodges is best for solo travelling and hence all Karnataka Jungle lodges can be tried for solo trips.