Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jungle Lodges and Resorts: Review

Jungle Lodges and Resorts is a Govt-run eco-tourism enterprise, having its facilities at several hills and riversides across Karnataka. JLR has facilities at Kabini, Bandipur, Galibore, K Gudi (BR Hills), Bheemeshwari, Dubare, Doddamakali, Kali river (North Canara)

We happened to explore 2 of their facilities in July and this post lists some positive and negative aspects of facilities and services offered by Jungle Lodges and Resorts
River-kaveri-bheemeshwariRavi-blownup
Above: River Kaveri, as seen from a watch tower near Bheemeshwari
Good things about Jungle Lodges and Resorts:
  • All JLR facilities are located in scenic and calm locations of Karnataka, away from human habitat, far inside forests. In most of the destinations, there’s no alternative option to stay had there been no JLR (Most of the facilities are inside reserve forests, where private operators are just not allowed to set up hotels/resorts)
  • Staff are courteous, well trained and uniformed. Most of them are from forest department and are well experienced. I’m told most of the resorts are run with skeleton staff during weekdays. Rest of the staff arrive on Thursday evening and return on Monday (to the nearby city where their home is). Adventurous activities are outsourced
  • Much different experience compared to typical hotels or other resorts
  • Part of your payment goes towards conservation of forest, well being of forest animals and tribal people.
  • Day Visit Package is an ideal option if you’re not planning to stay overnight. At 1000 Rs per person, Day visit package is also affordable if you feel overnight stay is expensive.Day visit covers most of the activities (Arrive at 10AM, checkout by 5PM- includes lunch, coffee/tea, snacks, a few activities and entry fees etc), but is available only in select resorts (no day visits  in JLR facilities located inside reserve forests)
  • Discounts of about 5-7% can be secured if you bargain with the agent/booking staff
  • Cottages and other facilities are decent. Not so luxurious and 5-star-ish, neither down to earth. construction work was on in K Gudi to build more cottages
Below: A tourist trying joy fishing at JLR Bheemeshwari (left) and tourists getting ready for a safari in K Gudi (BR Hills)
joy-fishingjeep-ride
Not so good aspects:
  • Take it or leave it policy: Non negotiable terms. Anything that is not part of the package will promptly be charged extra, but no refund/compensation when an activity part of the package is not offered (no trek if it is raining, no elephant ride if elephant is sick, no coracle ride if water current is too strong and so on) At times one may not be able to get full value for the money paid.
  • No concept of extra bed at discounted rates. Additional person will be charged full price, even if no extra cottage is provided
  • Credit cards not accepted, only cash dealings. (could be because the location doesn’t have proper telephone lines. Since payment is done 100% in advance this is not an issue unless you plan to take extra people/buy JLR merchandize at the campus or indulge in lots of activities not part of the package)
  • Most of the destinations will be sold out during weekends, weeks in advance. Partially because JLR is quite popular among international tourists and also corporate, who give JLR most of its business vis-a-vis domestic travellers. Many agents block JLR rooms in advance with anticipated business.
  • No discount for longer stays/large groups etc (except for a bus full of corporate clients)
  • Rates (About Rs 3000 to 5000 per person per day, depending on location) are a bit heavy on pocket for middle class. Regular home stays accommodate 2-3 people for similar amount, but of course you’ll miss the JLR experience
  • JLR blog could have been little more professional.
  • No separate kitchen, serving for veg and non-veg items. A few may not be comfortable with this.
  • Drivers who accompany the guests are supposed to get basic accommodation free. However our driver was denied accommodation saying the place is occupied by construction workers... A bit of unprofessional-ism there
Jungle Logdes is a nice place  to stay. Depending on what you look for in a holiday (calm and leisurely relaxation or birding and animal sighting or adventurous activities or fun with family etc), the satisfaction or delight may vary. JLR has launched online reservation of late and offers 5% discount, but I didn’t find online reservation system efficient.

The neighbouring Andhra Pradesh govt runs Harita range of resorts and what they call as “Jungle Jungle-Bells-tarrif-Vizag Bells” in several hill stations and tourist locations. Visually Jungle Bell campuses look similar to JLR but they lack the uniqueness of Jungle Lodges. However Jungle Bells are much economic than JLR. On your right is the jungle bells Vizag (Araku valley) tariff card. While room rent is much cheaper,unlike JLR it doesn’t include 3 times food and a set of activities. JLR adopts a packaged pricing and no ala carte available.


Warning: Recently there was an article in Bangalore Mirror about a flurry of fake Jungle Lodges like looking websites trying to fool unsuspecting tourists. http://www.junglelodges.com/ is the official website of JLR and all others are fake. Be careful.

Related: Birds spotted on the way to Bheemshwari JLR * Elephant bathing at K Gudi * Chicklihole Dam near Dubare * How to survive elephant attacks? * Club Mahindra Kodagu Valley Review *

13 comments:

Indrani said...

So true about the not so good aspects... nevertheless a great experience to be there.

Mohan said...

One correction - "No discount for longer stays/large groups etc." is not correct.

We were a group of 40 a couple of years back and when I booked, i was offered 1 complimentary pack for every 12 packs reservation. So, I ended up paying for just 36 for a group of 40.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Indrani,
Thanks

Mohan, got it. updated the post. But not everyone goes with a bus full of people. KSRTC gives 5% discount if you book 5 tickets or more.On similar lines, some discount for 10+ pax groups would have been nice

Mridula said...

Before reading this I always thought they are a private entity! Balanced review as usual.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Mridula

magiceye said...

interesting info
thanks

shande said...

thanks for sharing.
The stay in reserve forest is a big plus and annuls all the minuses you have listed out !
Btw among the resorts you visited till date .. which has been the best ?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Shande:
Agree on "stay in the forest" part.

I've not been to too many resorts: 2 of JLR, 3 of Club Mahindra and 5-10 other resorts. Can't say which one is the best because each has its own uniqueness and advantages. Each is a different experience. However good it is we won't prefer to stay in same resort forever right...

Deepak:
Welcome

Nalini Hebbar said...

I have been to Cicada Kabini...And the experience was out-of-this-world!...no negatives to pinpoint!

Rajesh said...

Fantastic review of this place. This will be useful.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Rajesh & Nalini

Anonymous said...

Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

Jungle Lodges and Resorts Karnataka said...

It is a really great experience to stay in the Jungle lodges and resorts at Karnataka. Places like Kabini are rich and diverse in wildlife. One does not have to travel far and wide across the world to areas rich in wildlife and wonder. We can find such places in our home country India itself. There are many jungles and wildlife sanctuaries with exotic birds and animals in India itself.

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