I once met a family on a trip to Satpura Tiger Reserve who had told me with great pride that that was their third safari trip that year. Although I enjoy safaris myself, I wondered how anyone could love it that much that it would motivate them to take three safari holidays a year. But I slowly feel myself going down the same path. Oddly enough, for me, the appeal lies not so much in spotting an elusive wild cat, as being among all that greenery, in complete silence, just listening to the sounds of the forest.
We decided to go on safari to Nagarhole National Park, Kabini for our summer holiday. There are quite a few options for accommodation at Kabini – from the ultra luxurious Orange County, to the more budget-friendly Red Earth. We ultimately zeroed in on Kaav Safari Lodge once we read that it has just 4 rooms and 2 luxury tents. I really gravitated towards the idea of staying at a place which felt intimate and offered a bit of solitude.
Kabini is about a four hour drive from Bangalore, so we rented a car and drove it down to Kaav. What I loved about Kaav is that it isn’t a big white monstrosity sticking out like a sore thumb amongst its verdant surroundings. It blends seamlessly into the landscape, making you feel like you are truly living in the lap of nature. The property is full of trees, and they are all labeled with their botanical and common names, for the horticulture enthusiasts. Their swimming pool is under a massive banyan tree, to give you the most peaceful swim you have ever had.
Since I have had a recent fascination for glamping, we decided to book the luxury tent to get a little taste. The room was cozy – wooden flooring with a canvas tent roof, all done up in earth tones to go with the setting. It rained one night, and let me assure you, there is no better feeling in the world than snuggling under the covers, reading a book, while listening to the rain beating down on the canvas roof. The room also came with a gorgeous open bath tub, and a separate toilet and shower area. It also had a balcony for you to sit out and day dream while staring at the mango tree right outside.
The room rates at Kaav are inclusive of all three meals, and an evening snack. The food is tasty, wholesome, home-style Indian food. Their dosas are perhaps the best I have ever had! The whole staff, including the chef and waiters, is very warm and helpful. Although the safari is not included in the price, the manager will make the necessary arrangements upon request. He also has a fancy telescope, and is happy to show you the wonders of the night sky for those with a passion for star-gazing.
All this is not to say that Kaav doesn’t have its faults. There are too many insects in their dining area, which is alfresco. It makes eating dinner there a little bothersome. We loved that our room did not have a TV (they do have wifi), but it would have been nice if they had a few board games in the common area for people to pass the time in the evenings. The outdoor seating in the balcony of our room was dirty, and was desperately in need of some reupholstering.
But despite the few downsides, our stay at Kaav felt like staying at the home of an old friend. The limited number of rooms meant that there were only 6 other guests, and led to some great conversations with our fellow guests. The service felt very personal, and the food was delicious and comforting. All in all, we left Kaav completely relaxed, and feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
[Room rate: INR 13,500 per night inclusive of three meals]