We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“Chambolic Safari Lodge” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Chambal Safari Lodge

We can't find prices for this accommodation
Our online travel partners don't provide prices for this accommodation, but we can search other options in Agra
Check In mm/dd/yyyy Check Out mm/dd/yyyy
Chambal Safari Lodge
Ranked #3 of 183 Specialty Lodging in Agra
Certificate of Excellence
Bern, Switzerland
Level Contributor
241 reviews
79 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 522 helpful votes
“Chambolic Safari Lodge”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 1, 2013

I have to agree with both Boulbon and KeepSmilingUK. Chambal Safari Lodge isn’t worth a long stay or a special detour.

Located some 70 km southeast of Agra (it took us 2 hours to reach by car) in flat agricultural surroundings on the outskirts of the village of Jarar, the 12-room lodge is comprised of a large Mela Kothi with two guest rooms, a separate wing containing two suites and a number of smaller cottages dotted around the grounds. The lawns, shady, mature trees, hammocks, deck chairs, fire pit, general decor and buildings are tasteful and provide a nice setting in which to relax. A selection of teas, biscuits and water are provided at the Mela Kothi for guests to help themselves to during the day and complement the three meals served daily.

The lodge’s vision is attractive too. Set up as an eco-lodge, it strives to ensure that all its activities are sustainable and involve the local community as much as possible and its large tree nursery is helping reforest the surroundings. What sold it to us however was the wide range of proposed safaris and its relative proximity (40 minutes drive away - I had somehow pictured it beside the river in much wilder surroundings) to the National Chambal Sanctuary, a protected stretch of the Chambal River known for its reptiles, river dolphin and Indian skimmers.

Regardless of whether or not guests opt for one of the safaris, there’s a surprising amount of wildlife on site. The mature trees surrounding the lodge (the only substantial copse for miles) contain fruit bats, numerous birds and civet cats (we also spotted a large blue bull and an Indian hare next to our room as well as a scorpion in it) which can be ticked off on the excellent complementary checklist of local plants and animals provided on arrival. Note to owners: the nature trail around the property could be improved with plant nameplates.

Our dolphin suite was large, airy, relatively cool (air conditioning backed up the ceiling fans), tastefully appointed with old, locally sourced furniture and came with a huge bathroom, with double sinks and a vast shower (though in keeping with the lodge’s eco-credentials, guests were urged to have bucket showers). There wasn’t a TV (or wifi) in sight and a private walled, if a little bleak, garden and the suite’s location away from the main house ensured maximum privacy. Thoughtful solar powered torches and mosquito coils were also provided.

Unfortunately, things degenerated from then on. The owners were away and the lodge was fast emptying. After the other three couples (all from the UK) had departed, we shared the lodge with day visitors (down from Agra presumably) who fell on the lunch buffet like locusts and a large group of Indians who did nothing but complain, which didn’t do much for the ambience. With the owners absent, the lodge felt rudderless and the management left in charge didn’t seem to be. The manager - at least I presume that’s what he was - spent most of the day lounging in one of the hammocks after meals had been cleaned away and standing silently with arms folded while meals were served. We never learnt his name and were never really made to feel welcome by him or anyone else and only a couple of the younger guides were friendly and actually smiled.

Electricity was sporadic and during the end of our three night stay in mid March (when the mid-afternoon temperature was nudging 34°C) it virtually stopped altogether, so that cooling down and recharging batteries proved challenging.

The library was locked.

The food was disappointing and the least varied or generous on our trip. It was also the spiciest and only thing that was constantly good was the pickled jackfruit. Breakfast was uninteresting and unvarying and the packed breakfast we were given for our river safari consisted of a couple of stale sandwiches of cloyingly sweet jam and processed cheese.

Nights were marred by canine concerts from the neighbouring village - even earplugs, closed windows and air conditioning/fans (when they worked) couldn’t drown out the howling which lasted all night, every night.

Our driver’s accommodation was positively primitive and it left me feeling uncomfortable (and a tad colonial) leaving him to his mosquito infested dormitory while we headed for our lush quarters. Apparently the food provided wasn’t better than the accommodation.

Worst of all we were stuck with a guide whose knowledge was patchy and with whom we didn’t get on. Our “naturalist” was anything but. Mistakes were constantly made, explanations were sparse and enthusiasm was lacking. Worse was our guide’s smarminess and the way he treated the other (more menial) members of staff.

Our pre-arranged package included a river safari, a jeep safari, a camel safari to Ater Fort and a visit to the Bateshwar temples. All, with the exception of the river safari which was superb in terms of wildlife sightings (with a true naturalist it would have been unforgettable), were disappointing and badly planned. Our camel safari was shambolic as our guide disregarded our request to walk rather than ride, left the trip till late morning by which time it was too hot to enjoy or take good photos and provided very little information on the Fort. Our visit to Bateshwar consisted of tea (albeit excellent) on a terrace overlooking the river. We learnt nothing about the complex or the temples or indeed the annual pilgrimage that our visit coincided with and didn’t explore any of the buildings, never mind one of the caves.

Tired of ingratiating behaviour, mistakes with identifications, bad planning, lack of explanations and a dearth of knowledge, we decided to cancel our last day’s jeep safari (the low probability of spotting a hyena or blackbuck in the high crops helped swing the decision) and went for an early morning walk around the countryside on our own instead. We were soon dissuaded to venture any further by our encounters with locals, who on the whole didn’t seem very friendly (though it was true they were sometimes caught in compromising positions) and bands of children all clamouring for photos or Rupees which weren’t conducive to birding. In the end we spent most of our time in the lodge’s tree nursery and saw a good number of birds up close, including some stunning green bee-eaters. The “manager” spotted us returning but didn’t ask whether we’d enjoyed our walk or why we’d cancelled our planned safari.

While I feel bad writing a less than glowing review for a lodge whose credentials I admire and whose owners had shown us considerable kindness, I am disappointed both in the service provided and the overall experience. Perhaps things would have been better had they been around but, while I am perfectly willing to put up with a sporadic power supply, finding a scorpion under my case and humdrum food, they, combined with poor daily planning, lack of sleep and an increasing irritation with a guide with whom we were stuck, soon became unbearable. In the end we couldn’t wait to leave and did so early.

Tips:

Opt, if the budget will stretch, for one of the two suites.

If you only do one safari, make sure it is the river safari and insist on going early in the morning not just to maximise sightings, but also for the lovely sunrise over the river.

If you visit Bateshwar take plenty of mosquito repellent and insist on seeing a temple.

In February-March, the mustard crops are high so spotting hyenas and blackbuck is hard. Wait if you can until after the crops have been harvested to maximise sightings.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
11 Thank wucie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

178 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    96
    66
    9
    6
    1
See reviews for
52
76
8
2
Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (35)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New Delhi, India
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 24, 2013

Folks I'd only recommend this place if you're a serious birder.

Accomodation & food is basic and prices too high for whats on offer. Huge cracks in the traditional rural-style doors which let in too much of the weather. Nothing else to do here other than birding & crocs etc and that too only if the weather is on your side.

This all would have still been fine but what really got me is that somehow we didn't feel particularly welcome. All the attention was on visiting foreigners and perhaps resident birders ... Having travelled the world, this was a first for me. And certainly a last as far as chambal lodge is concerned...

Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
Helpful?
5 Thank FromAshish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
25 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 4, 2013 via mobile

This is a small (11 rooms) well managed property. You need these sort of "oases" in the middle of all the hustle n bustle that is india.
Food adequate, rooms tastefully appointed, surrounds maintained well to add to birding experience. Palm civets at night. V good birding guides -Sunil Kumar.
For the birder this is a gem-,the river provided Many lifer opportunities. This has to be the top spot for the "tiger" of Indian birds- the Indian Skimmer.
Good sightings of Ghariyal and Marsh crocs. Dipped on the gangetic dolphin. Flamingoes and sm pratincole was a bonus.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Rusky1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chandigarh, India
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 15, 2013

Having visited this property regularly for over a decade now, I can happily anoint it my most preferred destination to escape metro madness. The place has character, the service is great, the staff warm and the food delicious. Will recommend for devotees of the off-beat.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank CuttingLoose_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gurugram (Gurgaon), India
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 13, 2013

this is a find! truely!

an oasis admist the bustling rural cacophony of UP. as an Indian i would be usually be sceptical of a 'rural getaway'..but this place was amazing! the food was delicious, always on time. a little too healthy for me but great for holidays..not oily and served with lotsa love.

the staff was always there with a smile. weather it be a torch, mosquito repellant or simply to show a wild cat lurking in the trees..they were always there to help us out!

the Safari into the river itself was one of the most beautiful safaris ever! the guide was very knowledgable and accommodating. and the 'players' were more than willing to come out of the river and play to our tunes! we saw the best of what was offered. My 14 year old son was ecstatic and elated with his 'finds' in the camera! and this comes from a family which has travelled to many safaris around the world!

i wish the best for the Chambal Safari team. shine away RP Singh and your promise to the Eco system..we should be back :)

Partho Sengupta
Head of Creative
Times Of India
New Delhi

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank parthojulia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dakar, Senegal
Level Contributor
19 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 11, 2013

We stayed here in October 2012. 100% of the costs for the rooms were asked in advance to accept our booking; a first in India. Normally, when you check into a hotel in India, you sign in and give your passport and visa details. This was not done here. Very unusual. The rooms were OK but full of mosquitoes, with no nets. The owners try to make out it is an eco hotel, but the reality is it is no different to any other hotel. The food was very bad and the service was poor. The trip on the river Chambal was good but very expensive. You can get a much better and MUCH cheaper boat run by the governmental agency under the bridge which crosses the Chambal on the road between Agra & Gwalior just outside Dholpur. The one good thing was the Bird Watching Guide, who was really knowledgable, but was freelance and not a direct employee of the hotel.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank John R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oxford, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 10, 2013

We loved our stay at Chambal Safari Lodge. It was everything our large modern hotel in Agra was not! It had character, was clean, quiet, and the food was great. We may not have been able to communicate with all the staff on account of their being employed from the local village but we had friendly, personal service. Gaj, our Naturalist Guide spoke excellent English, was charming and very knowledgeable and our trip down the river to view birds and wildlife were a highlight of our holiday to India - as were our trip to the temples at Bateshwar, visiting Naga sadhus in their caves and walking round the village. All unique experiences.
If, for you, going on holiday is largely about the hotel experience then Chambal Safari Lodge is not for you. But, if you want to stay somewhere offering a genuine experience - beyond the cities and famous monuments - which reflects its environment then you'll be as thrilled as we were with this.

Room Tip: Try to stay in one of the two large new cottages.
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Diana F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hotels you might also like...
Travelers also viewed these Agra hotels
36.8 mi away
Courtyard Agra
Courtyard Agra
#3 of 146 in Agra
4.5 of 5 bubbles 1,137 reviews
36.6 mi away
Orient Taj
Orient Taj
#73 of 146 in Agra
3.5 of 5 bubbles 1,450 reviews
37.1 mi away
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Agra
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices
37.8 mi away
ITC Mughal, Agra
ITC Mughal, Agra
#11 of 146 in Agra
4.0 of 5 bubbles 3,670 reviews
36.9 mi away
Trident, Agra
Trident, Agra
#2 of 146 in Agra
4.5 of 5 bubbles 2,587 reviews
37.2 mi away
Four Points by Sheraton Agra
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices

Been to Chambal Safari Lodge? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Chambal Safari Lodge

Property: Chambal Safari Lodge
Address: Mela Kothi Road, Agra 283104, India
Location: India > Uttar Pradesh > Agra
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 183 Specialty Lodging in Agra
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2 star — Chambal Safari Lodge 2*
Number of rooms: 13
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 

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing