I’ve said it a million times and I’ll keep saying it – there is nothing like being on a safari. I’ve been lucky enough to experience the wild in Africa as well as in our own back yard in Central and North India and every single time, it is just as special as the last one. My recent jungle adventure was in Madhya Pradesh which is starting to become one of my favourite states in India. About a 4 hour drive from Bhopal airport and I found myself in Satpura at a very pretty place called the Forsyth Lodge. I’ve written several posts on my experiences in different jungles and resorts but this one is to specifically highlight why I personally think you should stay at this beautiful environmentally friendly lodge and explore Satpura which is gorgeous like all jungles but yet unlike any other and for some reason doesn’t get as much love as the others in the state.
The Lodge – Forsyth is a lodge that has been built by a naturalist with a keen focus on conservation along with tourism. Only 4 of their 44 acres of land has been developed and the rest has been left in its natural state. This boutique lodge has a very understate luxury vibe and comes alive with the people that work there. You know you’re really in the wild when you’re instructed to keep a torch and whistle on you at all times in case you chance upon an animal specially at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Each room is spacious and comfortable and has a small patio. Meals are all served in the main dining area and they have a community dining system where guests and the naturalists are encouraged to dine together. The food is another highlight here. They can cater to any personal preferences but it’s best to stick to the daily menu as there is always something new.
Cut off from the outside, no cell service – It’s an advantage or a disadvantage depending on whichever way you look at it but the only service provider that works in the area is BSNL so for the most part of your trip you are left with no signal or sketchy connectivity at best. Which is actually such a boon because you can enjoy your surroundings without the distraction of work calls or social media.
Animals on the property – The aim of this lodge is to give you a holistic jungle experience without disrupting the environment or the animals around. This means that there is no actual fence or barbed wires and animals can roam about freely. While there are plenty of instances where deer come to your balcony or at night you will hear monkeys shrieking because a leopard is prowling about. You don’t see any in the day for various reasons but if you’re lucky you might spot a sloth bear having his fill early morning from the Mahua tree planted in their main courtyard.
Close access to the river and park. Plenty of water activity – In terms of accessibility the lodge is conveniently located as it is a minimal distance from the river which is what you need to cross to get to the main core zone of the Satpura National Park. It is also within the main buffer zone of the park which acts as another location for game drives. Other hotels and lodges are located slightly further in about 15 kms away which can get tiring specially early morning in the cold or mid morning post a drive in the blistering son. The real treat here is that along with a regular jeep safari you can also opt for a canoe safari where you’re taken with an expert local guide and can enjoy the jungle from the river. It’s done either early morning or in the evening and both are fantastic to watch either the sun rise or set and you’ll be witness to some of the many varieties of birds in the park.
Take a walk on the wild side – Every park in India will only allow you to do a jeep safari and by law you are prohibited to step inside the core zone of any national park. Only the naturalists and guides are allowed to step out of the vehicle unless it is at a designated breakfast stop. In Satpura, the same rules apply but they do make an exception for a special walking safari. You are escorted by your naturalist and or local guide and you can actually walk on foot through certain trails in the Forrest. For the most part you end up seeing birds and insects but many folks have been lucky enough to spot animals at a safe distance. I was told a group once saw a pack of wild dogs attack a leopard while walking and that’s a rare treat!
Hot bed for leopards and sloth bears – Tigers rule our Indian jungles and everyone is crazy about spotting a tiger. While Satpura has tigers and you might spot one ( it really is a game of luck ) the real treasures here are the sloth bear and leopard. One would call them the official mascots of the jungle and they really are a glorious sight! If you’re lucky you might even spot some on the Frosyth property as they’re known to make an appearance at night.
For an actual wildlife enthusiast it is a delight – Forsythe Lodge makes for a great escape for anyone who’s looking to unwind and enjoy nature but for an actual wildlife enthusiast it is magical. Not just because the park is beautiful and the property makes you feel as close to the wild as possible, but because of the amazing people that make the entire experience. All the naturalists here are highly trained and their enthusiasm and love for the wild enriches your experience without them even knowing it. The team is friendly and hospitable and a wealth of knowledge with everything to do with the wild and are a delight to talk to.
Excellent for birding – Most people are animal crazy but there is a special breed that really appreciate birds and for them, Satpura is a dream. There are numerous common and rare birds, over 300 species that your naturalist will help you spot and if you do decide to take a canoe safari then you’re in for a real treat because you get to witness them up close. Most people don’t know that Satpura is home to the Skimmer bird which isn’t easily found and was once considered endangered but since it’s found a new home in Satpura there seems to be hope of its survival.
The Junior Rangers Program – One of the most attractive activity that the Forsyth Lodge offers is their Junior Rangers Program where if you’re travelling with children you can enlist them and have them learn from the naturalists all about the wild. It’s informative, educative and most importantly encourages children to respect nature and helps build an interest in jungle life.
For more updates on my food and travel adventures, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat : thetinytaster
Disclaimer : This post was done in association with Forsyth Lodge but as always, thoughts, ideas, opinions and expressions are all mine 🙂