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Sunday, February 02, 2014

Best Jungle Lodge (JLR) to stay in Karnataka

Many are fancied by the forest stay and Jungle Lodges in particular. I’ve been asked few times what is the best Jungle lodges campus to stay in Karnataka. There’s no single answer to that question. Each campus is unique and lots of things vary based on what exactly you’re looking for when you stay at Jungle lodges.  I’ve personally stayed at some of their key resorts- Kabini, K-Gudi, Kali Adventure Camp, have been to few more as a visitor (Bheemeshwari, River Tern Lodge, Old Magazine House, Galibore. Based on my personal experience and observations, below is a chart that indicates what to expect from each of JLR campuses. You may go through this comparison and decide for yourself.

This post assumes that you're familiar with concepts of Jungle Lodges and Resorts. If not, read this post first.
Tented Cottage at Kabini River Lodge
Info 1: Pricing and Quick Review

#
Campus
Pricing /person
/night (#1)
Value for Money
Alternate stay options available?
Quick Review
1
Kabini River Lodge
6400 Rs 
Medium 
Yes
Most expensive of all JLRs, not exactly inside the forest and is surrounded by villages. River view is not so great, safari is good, probably the best.
Alternate options:
Orange County Kabini and Kabini resort
2
Kali Adventure Camp
3200 Rs 
Low
Yes
Now almost inside Dandeli town, lots of noise from city and factory activities. Appears overhyped and overpriced.

Alternate options: Old Magazine House, Hornbill Resort

Read: our bad experience at Kali
3
Bandipur
4700 Rs 
Low 
No
Heavily commercialized with quick visit tourists.
4
K Gudi Wilderness Camp
4250 Rs 
High 
No
Calm, Serene deep inside the forest. No river or water body, elephant ride, forest safari and tribal visit are good.
5
Bheemeshwari
4300 Rs 
High
No
Very Close to Bangalore, often crowded with corporate guests. Good for bird watching, trekking, fishing.

Read: Birds at Bheemeshwari
6
Galibore
4600 Rs 
Medium
No
Similar to Bheemeshwari, but little farther from city and deeper into the forest. Better for solitude.
7
Doddammakali
(seems to be closed)
- NA 
No
Seems to be closed now
8
River Tern Lodge
5200 Rs 
Medium
No
Island inside dam catchment water will be good experience.

Full review: JLR Badhra Dam
9
Dubare Elephant Camp
3800 Rs
Medium 
Yes
The coorg campus is good for elephant ride, bathing and water sports in river Kaveri

Alternate options: Other resorts in Coorg
10
Old Magazine House
1450 Rs
 High
Yes
Best for bird watching and good value for money. One of the cheapest (among JLRs) places to stay. Dorm bed good for budget travelers, but not recommended for women and children.

Alternate Options: Kadu Mane, Dandeli Jungle Camp
11
Devbagh Resort
4200 Rs
 Low
Yes
Only sea facing JLR campus. It is more like a sea side commercial resort than a forest themed place - what JLR is supposed to be
12
Pilikula Nisargadhama
2700 Rs
 Low
Yes
Close to Mangalore city and near to popular picnic spot. Don't expect forest ambiance.

Alternates: Hotels Mangalore city
13
Black Buck Resort
3305 Rs
Low
 -
-
14
Om Beach Resort
2200 Rs
Low
 Yes
Recently added one, probably because of Gokarna’s popularity as tourist destination- more like a commercial hotel than a forest themed resort.

Alternate options: Lots of budget hotels available in Gokarna town at one tenth of this price.
15
Sahyadri Resort (Not yet operational)
 -
 -
 -
-Looks like a new property near Jog falls, More details yet to emerge.
16
Sloth Bear Resort (Hampi)
3200 Rs 
 -
Yes 
-
17
Bannerghatta National Park
2500 Rs
Medium
No
Closest JLR campus to Bangalore and inside a heavy touristy Banngerghatta National park. Dorm beds available.
Unless you’re very particular about this place, you can explore the national park as a day tourist and spend your money to stay elsewhere, say Bheemeshwari

Detailed review available here
#1: For cheapest stay option, Per person per night. 
  • You'll have to book for 2 people minimum for a room or pay 30% extra for single occupancy. (Old Magazine house and Bannerghatta are the only exceptions where you can book a dorm bed for one person only). 
  • Non Indians are charged 50% more.
  • Off season discounts may apply (Usually 20% on week days, 10% on weekends)
  • Every year, I am noticing an upward revision of 10-15% in the tariff
Info 2: Generic Information

#
Campus
Distance from Blr (kms)
Nearest City
Day Visit Allowed? (#2)
Best Season
Have I been to this campus?
How good it is for adventure sports/
activities
1
Kabini
 300
Mysore
No
Oct-Dec 
Yes
Average
2
Kali Adventure Camp
 500
Dandeli
No
Nov-Jan 
Yes
Very Good
3
Bandipur
 200
Mysore
No
Oct-Dec
No
Average
4
K Gudi
 230
Mysore
No
Oct-Feb 
Yes
Average
5
Bheemeshwari
 100
Bangalore
Yes
Sep-Dec
Yes
Very Good
6
Galibore
 100
Bangalore
Yes
Sep-Dec 
Yes
Very Good
7
Doddammakali
(seems to be closed)
 -
Bangalore
No
 -
No
 -
8
River Tern Lodge
 280
Shimoga
No
Oct-Feb
Yes
Average
9
Dubare
 240 
Madikeri
Yes
Oct-Feb
Yes
Very Good
10
Old Magazine House
 500
Dandeli
No
Oct-Feb
Yes
Very Good
11
Devbagh Resort
 520
Karwar
No 
Oct-March
No
Good
12
Pilikula Nisargadhama
 360
Mangalore
No
Oct-Feb 
Yes
Good
13
Black Buck
 780
Bidar
No
Oct-Feb
No
 -
14
Om Beach Resort
 480
Gokarna
No 
Oct-March
No
Poor
15
Sahyadri Resort (Not yet operational)
 -
 -
 -
 -
No
 -
16
Sloth Bear Resort (Hampi)
 380
 Hosakote
No
Aug-March
No
 -
17
Bannerghatta National Park
50
Bangalore
No
All 12 months
Yes
Average

#2: Day visit usually costs 50% of overnight stay. Involves entering the resort at 10.30-11AM, welcome drink, lunch, tea/coffee and some basic activities like trekking/coracle ride. Available only at select places. 
Bird watchers at Old Magazine House
Info 3: Comparison of facilities and prospects

#
Campus
Probability of sighting wild animals during safari
Mobile connectivity strength
Probability of sighting birds around the campus
Main Activities
Solitude Factor (away from city, deep into woods)
1
Kabini
High
Low
High
Safari & Birding 
Medium
2
Kali Adventure Camp
Low
High
Very High
Rafting
Very Low
3
Bandipur
Medium
Medium
High
Safari 
High
4
K Gudi
Medium
Nil/Low
Medium
Safari 
Very High
5
Bheemeshwari
-(No Safari)
High
Very High
Water sports, birds 
Medium
6
Galibore
 Low
Low
Medium
Water sports, birds 
Very High
7
Doddammakali
Low 
Low
Medium
Very High
8
River Tern Lodge
Low
High
Medium
Water sports, wild life 
High
9
Dubare
-
High
Low
Elephant ride, water sports
Medium
10
Old Magazine House
 Low
Medium
Very High
 Bird watch, water sports
High
11
Devbagh Resort
-
High
Low
Water sports
 Low
12
Pilikula Nisargadhama
-
High
High
Zoo and water sports
 Low
13
Black Buck
Low 
 -
Coracle ride, treks
 High
14
Om Beach Resort
-(No Safari)
 High
 Low
Beach & Temple visit
Very Low
15
Sahyadri Resort (Not yet operational)
 -
 -
 -
 -
 -
16
Sloth Bear Resort
 High
 -
 -
Wild life and heritage site

17
Bannerghatta National Park
High
High
High
Wild life
High

Disclaimer:
  • Information above is indicative only and may change from time to time
  • Personal judgment and observations only. Not officially endorsed by JLR.
  • There’s no Guaranteed Darshan during forest safari. Animal sighting depends largely on luck. For Guaranteed Darshan, go to Zoo.
  • A lot also depends on what exactly you’re looking for from the stay. Some prefer relaxed stay, others want lots of activities. Few are interested in birds while others in animals. Few want great food while others look for adventure activities. Pick your choice depending on what you look for.
  • Some of the places which I’ve not been to in person, are detailed based on information and feedback available on the net. Please use your discretion.
Read a generic review of Jungle loges to understand what to expect from your JLR stay: JLR general review

Related: Hoysala village resort, Hasana * 

9 comments :

Sandeep Shande said...

pretty handy post for the travellers.. I have stayed in 2-3 of these .. had a very good experience at Sloth Bear Resort in Hampi and below average experience at Kali Adventure camp.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sandeep. How do you rate the Sloth bear campus on various parameters? Is it very calm and lonely place? are there any alternatives?

ವಿ.ರಾ.ಹೆ. said...

Nidhi, Great information. Thanks for your effort and sharing.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

My pleasure

Vasudha Hande said...

Very comprehensive and informative.

Vasudha Hande said...

Very comprehensive and informative.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Vasudha

Sumeet Mukherjee said...

I went to Bidar this weekend, it was a mesmerizing experience. Loved every bit of it.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Great to know..