Any short holiday for my son and I means a trip to some wilderness area. I avoid the concrete jungles not only because I find nothing interesting in cities but also find driving very taxing on my nerves and so when an opportunity to drive to Bengaluru came up I was at a loss. For someone who can't think beyond some forest I was absolutely not looking forward to the trip.
Of all the wildlife destinations in Karnataka, I, hold Bandipur Tiger Reserve in high esteem and the Bandipur Safari Lodge of Jungle Lodges & Resorts is my top destination. I suddenly remembered that JLR had a property near Bengaluru and I decided it was better to stay at a nature camp rather than in the city. We booked into Bannerghatta Nature Camp for a night since I wasn't sure what to expect. After all, this was a place that had captive animals rather than real wildlife.
We reached around 12.30 in the afternoon and we were first left with a feeling the we were about to regret the decision. The approach itself was from the rear,through a village, and the explanation given was that the gates of the biological park closes at 5.00 Pm. Then there were a bunch of school kids playing cricket and volley ball in front of the dining area, which itself was nothing like the Gol Ghar in other JLR properties.
Once we got to the tent, things were looking bright. The executive tent, that we were allotted was new and they looked nothing like a tent! It had a wooden door with ground glass panels. The sleeping area was large and comfy though the extra bed was space occupying. However, that bed became our storage area for photography gear and other luggage. The bathroom is huge and with very neat. It seemed that this tent should have been in Kabini River Lodge and not here! They also have couple of loghuts, a wooden chalet and dormitories.
Food was good, thought it won't measure up to the Bandipur or Kabini standards. There is nothing to complain about though execpt that during lunch hour it is a melee due to the day trippers. Dinner time is pleasant as, only overnight guests are there. Like in other JLR properties they screen a wildlife movie before dinner. They also had a campfire going while they served hot soup to the guests enjoying the warmth.
They take you on a bus trip into the biological park which was something we were not really enjoying after all the jeep safaris into real jungles. Here the lions, tigers and bears looked well fed and lazy! If you are someone not keen on going into a real forest this is a good option. Close encounters with the big carnivores and other animals is rare in wild life sanctuaries and national parks. Here you see them up close. The only problem is that this trip is combined with the trip to the zoo and butterfly park so the time is not really sufficient unless you stay for more than one day.
There is also a nature walk through the herbivore area of the park. If you are a birding enthusiast, this is something you should not miss. You will also run into some herbivores on the walk. We said hello to a black buck fawn, some sambar deer and nilgai or blue bull.
On the whole a pleasant experience and a nice place to introduce children to wildlife. It is a comprehensive package that comes at a fraction of the cost of Bandipur or Kabini. It is ideal for families with children who don't mind absence of the luxuries of a city hotel. The staff are also very friendly and helpful.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Bannerghatta Nature Camp is a surprise. Just on the outskirts of a bustling city like Bangalore with its flyovers and late nights and chaotic traffic lies 25,000 acres of carefully preserved jungle. For children and the child in you, it's an amazing storybook destination brought to life. Bannerghatta has been used as a rehabilitation facility for tigers and lions rescued from circuses. The biggest of its kind, this facility has opened opportunities for India's first Lion and Tiger Safari. With enclosures that recreate their natural habitat, seeing a giant cat up close, with just the safety of the jeep separating you and the beast, resonates to a very deep part of you. ... more less
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