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“Beautiful location, impossible to get to”
Review of Kabini River Lodge

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Kabini River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
69 reviews
53 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Beautiful location, impossible to get to”
Reviewed 26 March 2012

We spent our 4 week honeymoon in India and were excited to get to the parks. We love nature travel and this hotel was recommended by a popular travel guide as one of the few in the area (although upon arrival there are many more). I believe it's run by the state so don't expect hotel quality service, food (was cafeteria style and all veggie) or linens. It's more like a summer camp setting than resort or hotel. We enjoyed the stay even though we didn't see much wildlife but the most terrible part of the stay was actually reaching the hotel. After taking a bus to Mysore and then a 90 km taxi ride the last 12 km took over an hour. The roads to Kabini are like traveling on the surface of the moon. My husband has traveled in Africa and said "the roads in Kenya aren't this bad" There were potholes and trenches a foot deep and in many places we bottomed out. You need a 4 WD and patience. There are very little facilities past the villages and the hotel will NOT help you get transportation. They may refer you to a local taxi but you must insist on a jeep. Even then if you are fragile, pregnant, elderly or have back issues don't attempt to drive or ride on the entrance road (there's only one). We are both in good health and felt ill after the drive. There are many places in India to see wildlife so do your homework.

Room Tip: cabins are nice and spacious
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  • Stayed December 2011, travelled as a couple
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4 Thank Jilly_J_Bean
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Bengaluru, India
Level Contributor
70 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 March 2012

This was our second visit to a JLR ( Jungle Lodges and Resorts ) property; the first one being at Bheemeshawari. When I wrote review of JLR at Bheemeshwari, I was really impressed with the staff courtsey and service there. Well, Kabini is no different.

From the time of our arrival at the reception, to the time we left after 3N/2D stay, they really take good care of you. The energy levels of the staff at reception, at golghar ( serving foods ), during safari rides....is top notch. 7 stars to the wonderful staff at JLR Kabini.

Being from corporate MNC, I was simply amazed by the precision of process that JLR Kabini staff follows in co-ordination of various boat and jeep safaris into the Jungle. They are very punctual to wake you up at 5:45 am with hot tea and coffee for the jungle safaris.

Food at Kabini is better than that at JLR Bheemishwari. I think the choice is more here and the taste is better too. Both non-veg and veg preparations are tasty and look healthy. Very nicely done.

Well, even top A grade students have areas of improvement, and so does JLR Kabini IMO.
I was bit disappointed to see all accommodations at Kabini being non AC. This is a bummer, in other wise an out of the world safari experience. With competition heating up ( with resorts like The Serai and Orange County now in the Kabini area), JLR should seriously upgrade their accommodation or at least give guests a choice of A/C cottages. JLR does have A/C cottages in other properties so having few in their best resort should be an easy management decision.

Now coming to safar.. the best part of this whole experience. The folks who take you for jeep and boat rides really mean business. I like the fact how they will look for jungle signals and their patience levels in making best efforts to let guests show predators in the jungle.. even if that means stopping the jeep for 10 mins of silence in one area. They really know their job well and do it with so much of enthusiasm. Both the boat and jeep safaris are the highlights of this JLR stay.

Lastly, the whole JLR Kabini Property is awesome. They have rockstar gear bikes ( cycles ) for fun ride inside the property; cool British bungalows which are truly heritage; coracle rides in the river... and for all the fun, there is no additional penny charged ( I heard Serai and OCK additional Rs 1000 per person for safari !! ).

If you truly want to enjoy the Jungle experience, Kabini should be on top of your list. I have not yet visited any of other jungles in India like Jim Corbett, Ranthambore or Gir... but I can guarantee that in terms of professionalism, Kabini will be hard to beat.

I will definitely visit this place again ( with binoculars next time which I really missed ).

Room Tip: Try taking Cottages 1,2,3,4,5,6. They are river facing and closest to the GOLGHAR the dinning area.
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  • Stayed March 2012, travelled with family
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5 Thank AsheeshJoshi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ibigawa-cho, Japan
Level Contributor
23 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 March 2012

Before I embark on my thoughts about the Kabini River Lodge,I must highlight the highway connections from Bandipur to Kabini.Not being from Karnataka,I got stumped very often when planning the itinerary for my excursion.I found the maps online very poor,and the distances indicated really bizarre.If you dont live in Karnataka,this can really affect your travel schedule,as well as throw your taxi budget off track!Anyways,there was confusion whether there was a shortcut from Bandipur Safari Lodge to Kabini River Lodge,or whether we would have to go back to Mysore and then go to Kabini.The good news is that there is a short cut,the bad news is that the road is not a smooth tar road all the way,and the distance that the Kabini Lodge booking office in Bangalore indicated(2.5 hours) is rubbish!It took us at least 3 to 4 hours.The last mile to the Lodge is a teeth rattler,and in itself takes half an hour.The government should be ashamed of itself!
The Kabini River Lodge itself is a delightful property that sits on an immense man made lake.Being the property of the Maharajahs,it has a charm and beauty that transcends it being just a Safari Lodge.The lodge has plenty of open jeeps,and offers a variety of accomodation(House,tents,rooms).We asked for Lake Facing rooms.Please be explicitly clear that you want a lake facing room.There are a few rooms that don't face the lake,and neither do the house,or the tents.The booking office brushed aside my query about lake facing,and insisted that all rooms face the lake.Not true.(My other grouse with the Booking Office is that I am still waiting for my receipts!!)
The Lake Facing rooms are not as nicely kitted as the rooms in Bandipur,in fact they are clean,but tacky.I discounted that since we were focussed on the Safaris.There are small sitouts facing the lake,and nice big hammocks to lounge on in the lawns in front of the rooms.The waterfront is quite lovely,and you can also do a coracle ride in the vicinity of the Lodge.The place has a variety of creepy crawlies.The kids will love it!
This is not a place for R & R.It is boisterous,and full of families and children.It's also cut away from civilisation,so there is not much to get away to from there,except a ramshackle village.The meals are superb in variety and delicious.The staff are outstanding,because the Boss,an affable young man who is hands on and dynamic, lives and works on the premises.We were later introduced to Prasanna,who is a superb ranger scout,and heads the team for the safaris.The fact that everyone went on jeeps meant quick movement,and small groups,and therefore a better shot at sightings.
Kabini River Lodge controls the safaris into the reserve,and other lodges have to send their guests to the Kabini River Lodge to start their safaris.Hence,Kabini's own guests get preference for seating and vehicles.There are also boat safaris that run at different times of day which you must check on with the front office.They can be good,especially during summer,when the animals come to the lake for water,and the boats can get really close.Please note that the Jeep trails inside the reserve do go to the lake,but never very close,so binoculars in Kabini are a given.

Kabini has thrown a much larger part of the reserve open to the public.It is beautiful and dense jungle,and there are the usual animals that one sees-deer,boar,gaur etc.We saw vultures,elephants and crocodiles on the lakefront.But,it is the lure of Leopards that draws people here.The presence of tall trees means Leopards could be anywhere,and I really felt that the whole jeep was participating as lookout scouts,encouraged by Prasanna!

We didnt see the Leopard on the first safari,and the second one seemed to be heading in the same direction,when Prasanna received a call on his mobile(they dont allow wireless in Badipur or Kabini) that there were prey calls in a part of the reserve.We had driven through thick fog all morning,simply enjoying the beauty of the jungle.We rushed to that area,and we could hear the calls of prey,but no luck with the sighting.The park hours were coming to a close,and we were turning around the jeep,when we suddenly saw something long and tall move in the tall grass.We went closer,and it was a handsome young male Leopard.Having made his kill,he was licking his chops,and sunbathing,Being full bellied,he was not in a hurry to bolt,otherwise Leopards tend to be rather shy.Then,he stood up,and majestically walked right in front the of the Jeep to the other side,sprayed a tree,scratched it ,and left.We were speechless!!!!

The Kabini safaris were very pleasant and enjoyable,cat sightings or not,and I found them value for money.Any monetary contribution that goes towards a Conservation project and the rangers and drivers,as is the case with Bandipur Safari Lodge and Kabini River Lodge,is always welcome!!
I really wish the authorities would do something about the highway that runs through the middle of the reserve open to the public.The animals end up as roadkill-it's ludicrous!!

Room Tip: Choose Bush Betta or Orange County ,if you want better lodgings.Remember,safaris will still be from...
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  • Stayed January 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
6 Thank wanderernyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hyderabad, India
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 March 2012

We chose to stay at this JLR property because our previous experiences at a JLR property in Dandeli were memorable.

We drove from Hyderabad to Kabini River Lodge and, the final 13 km of the journey notwithstanding, the roads were good and had adequate signage for KRL. We were on a tight budget and chose to stay in a tented cottage for 1 night. Our expectations weren't very high and so we were pleasantly surprised by the size, facilities, and cleanliness of the room. The bathroom and dressing areas were infested with black ants but thankfully, there was no sign of them in the bedroom! The cottage had just one pedestal fan and though it cooled the room adequately, I guess it will be inadequate when summer is at it's peak.

The property has a nice view of the river and has plenty of space to walk about and enjoy the beauty of nature. We were given a printed program card upon our arrival at KRL and were impressed by how well schedules were adhered to -- noteworthy in our country! The food was nice but nothing to write home about. The communal dining areas were a nice place to share safari stories and make new acquaintances. The jeep and boat safaris were well organized and our drivers and naturalists were friendly and informative. Being served coffee/tea and biscuits on our return from our jeep safari in the evening was a nice touch since dinner was scheduled to be served a whole 2 hours later.

The highlight of our trip was spotting a tiger while on the Jeep Safari, though, as other reviews indicate, this is a rare occurrence and is no reflection on KRL.

---------------
Be warned:

1. The last 13km to KRL will test your vehicle and your driving skills

2. The Jeep Safaris are physically demanding because of the lack of surfaced roads on safari routes; if you have back/neck problems, or don't like being tossed up and down, don't go on one!

Room Tip: Do not choose a tented cottage between March and June!
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank AdarshVarghese
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Aarhus, Denmark
Level Contributor
20 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 March 2012

Stayed in one the riverside cottages at the end of january. Very comfortable, clean and peaceful setting except when the monkeys decided to play catch along the roof. The food was Indian and good and varied, breakfasts were excellent - all being enjoyed in the open air to the sounds of the wild life! The nature guides were well trained, friendly and knowledgable and did their utmost to find the elusive big animals - we saw leopards twice, and all the usual elephants, monkeys, boar, wild dogs etc. + masses of birds. The only minus was the somewhat tiring drive on a VERY rough potholed road to and from the Lodge to the Park - they must do something about that!!! We did the river cruise in the evening sunset - excellent gives another view of the wildlife after driving around the forest in jeeps!

Room Tip: The riverside cottages are by far the best!
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  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Scanscot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kabini River Lodge

Property: Kabini River Lodge
Address: Nagarhole National Park 571114, India
Region: India > Karnataka > Coorg > Nagarhole National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 6 Speciality Lodging in Nagarhole National Park
Price range (per night): ₹ 4,100 - ₹ 6,350
Number of rooms: 38
Also Known As:
Kabini River Hotel Nagarhole
Kabini River Lodge Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka

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