I often visit India on business, but my wife had never had the opportunity to go, and I wanted to show her one of the highlights, the Taj Mahal. But she also loves animals and birds, and when I realised the Chambal Safari Lodge was just close by, we then had the recipe for a wonderful trip to this part of the world.
Chambal Safari lodge is something of a hidden gem. It is way off the routine tourist trail, but still accessible from Delhi and Agra. We managed to travel from Delhi, take a lengthy tour of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, but still arrive at Chambal in time for a drink around the campfire. To set expectations, the lodge is not a 5-star resort hotel, with all mod cons. However, it is beautifully thought through. Most of the guests stay in cottages dotted around the estate, through which abundant wildlife ambles or flies. Meals are provided around the main house, and the food is fresh and tasty. Electricity is a bit intermittent, but the hotel is all geared up for this with solar lanterns. You have to pick your moment for packing and unpacking, though, and one tip is to bring a torch.
The nature trips are the highlight of this place. As far as we could see, every party has an assigned naturalist, and the levels of enthusiasm and knowledge are high. As many others have noted, the river safari is superb, with sightings of many species of birds, crocodiles and alligators. However, even going around the local fields with 'our' naturalist, we spotted so many different species and got photos we will treasure for a long time.
Service is excellent, and without the over-attentiveness that often irritates in India. The naturalists and other staff are keen to help you see and make the best of your visit, and we had a great time looking though our photos with them, identifying what was what.
The lodge is not cheap, but we thought it was very good value for money, given the sights and experiences available to visitors. Part of the income goes towards conservation, and a lot of it is spent on local goods and services, supporting the rural economy.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A family run eco-lodge nestling in 35 acres of reclaimed land. An oasis of peace, tranquility, and gracious hospitality. An opportunity to explore the Chambal Valley. River Safari for Gharials, Marsh crocodiles, Gangetic river dolphins, and Indian skimmers. Jeep safaris for Black-buck & Sarus cranes. Camel safari to Fort Ater, and excursions to the medieval temple complex at Bateshwar - site of the second largest animal fair in India (Sonepur in Bihar being the largest). Nature walks and village walks. ... more less
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