Battle on the banks of Kabini-Jungle Lodges vs Orange County!

Several years ago, in 2013, I spent a night in Jungle Lodges Kabini campus with family. Kabini was (and is) the most expensive properties of Jungle Lodges. It cost me about 5000 per person back then. now the same tented cottage costs 8.5k per person. Because JLR has complete monopoly and very high demands, their rates will only go one way- upwards. There were very few options to stay in Kabini- JLR, Orange County and just one more. Today, I am told about 8-10 different resorts operate in Kabini area. Orange County was deemed too expensive for middle class and I hadn’t thought I will be experiencing it one day. Even today there’re many who do not even check out Orange County due to a pre-conceived notion that it is too expensive and not affordable by middle class. Recently I had the opportunity of staying for 3 nights, 4 days in Orange County Kabini and this has helped me understand Orange County’s facilities, services and value proposition better. While I have written separate posts about Orange County, below is a comparison between Jungle Lodges Kabini vs Orange County Kabini.

If you’re looking to holiday on the banks of Kabini and trying to decide which one is a better proposition, check below table. Of course in many scenarios JLR is cheaper from a cost point of view. But the facilities in Orange County, Activities offered there are much more elaborate and extensive than the bare minimum JLR. [Check this post for 24 different activities you can undertake while staying with Orange County Kabini] Thus the value proposition can tilt in favour of OCR even if cost is more by a few k INR. There’re few scenarios where OCR beats JLR even on cost point of view- particularly for large groups of foreign nationals staying for several days. 

Though I was staying with OCR last week, we got to visit JLR campus twice- during Safari. This gave me an opportunity to see if there're any visible improvements in JLR campus compared to my previous visits- there were none. But on the website I can see that they have added a dormitory option which was not available earlier.

Orange County Kabini vs Jungle Lodges & Resorts Kabini River Lodge, Feature comparisons
Check the first two pictures to understand the difference inside the rooms

Above: Bedroom of Jacuzzi Hut, Orange County Kabini
Below- Beds in Jungle Lodges Tented Cottage 
#
Factor
Jungle Lodges Kabini
Orange County Kabini
Remarks
1
Facilities in the room
Very basic with a bed, 4 chairs, fan and a bathroom with hot water facility
Private Jacuzzi
French Coffee
Minibar
RO treated unlimited drinking water
13 chairs
Living room with TV
Dining Table
Shower, bathtub
Sit out areas
AC, Locker, Bath suits
Lot more facilities in OCR whereas JLR is very basic.
2
What’s included in the rent?
1 All meals, Tea
2 Wildlife Safari
3 Boat Safari
4 Campfire
5 Coracle Ride
6 Documentary
1.All meals, high tea
Select activities-
2.Nature Walk
3.Night Trail
4.Coracle Ride
5.Interpretation centre walk
6.Responsible tourism walk
7.Tribal Dance
8.Documentary
9.Unlimited pool usage, cycle, reading lounge usage, Makkere etc
10 Yoga sessions
Safari n few activities cost extra at OCR
Check this post for complete list
3
Optional (Chargeable activities)

1.Wildlife/boat Safari
2.Bullock Cart Ride
3.Boat Safari
4 Private Dining
5. Spirits of Kabini
6.Stories of Kabini?
7.Specialty Dining 
8. Ayurveda Spa


4
Other Facilities in the campus
Hammock
Ropewalk/
Adventure corner
Bar
Shopping outlet
1. Hammocks
2. Bar (waterhole)
3. Infinity Pool
4. Reading lounge
5. Kids Activity centre
6.Cycles
7. Ayurveda Spa
8. Board Room
9 Gym
10.Jacuzzi/Private pool
11 WiFi in select areas
12.Shopping outlet

5
Type of rooms
Tented Cottages, Cottages,
Rooms, Room East Bungalow, Maharaja Cottage,
Jacuzzi Hut

6
Campus Landscaping
Poor
Well maintained pathways, gardens with lamps, ponds, fruit bearing trees and so non

7
Quality of Service
Fine
Way better

8
Quality of staff
Decent
Way better

9
Cancellation Fee
10% if cancelled before 2 weeks, 50% for 2 weeks to 2 days, 100% (no refund) if cancelled within 48 hours of check in
Free cancellation up to 1 month prior to check-in date
100% (no refund) if cancelled within 1 month

10
Total guest capacity
Was 120 in 2013, must be 150 now with dormitory
29 Jacuzzi huts and 8 pool huts, should be around 100-120 guests assuming few rooms wit kids n extra adults

11
Other

Sunset view is better in OCR
KSRTC bus available till OCR

Outside views

Above: JLR Tented cottage outside view
Below: OCR Pool Hut outside view- check inside views and details here
Having compared the facilities, it is obvious that Orange County has much wider offering of facilities and activities to its guests compared to Jungle Lodges. Now comes the important part- cost. Which is cheaper? Below table offers total Cost computation for various Scenarios. Most of them for 1 night stay with 3 meals, 1 forest safari with other standard facilities offered by the resorts. Towards the end I have added few scenarios with 3 day stay.

Note: All amounts in INR. 1 USD= 65 INR
Orange County Price doesn’t include Safari, which costs extra (Rs 1720/1520 for Indian adult/kids, Rs 2720/2470 for foreign adults, kids). To enable fair comparison I have added cost of 1 Safari to room rent found online for OCR). If you plan to do multiple safaris you need to factor the extra cost.
#
Scenario
Budget/Level of luxury needed
Jungle Lodges Kabini *1
Orange County Kabini *2

1
Indian solo traveler, needs cheapest stay option
Low/Cheapest possible
Bed in Dormitory
5060
Jacuzzi Hut
29610 (Single occupancy)
Both Without Safari, JLR lot cheaper
2
Indian Couple
Moderate
Tented Cottage, 16739
Jacuzzi Hut
33300 + 3440 Safari= 37000 approx

3
Foreign nationals- Couple
High
Maharaja Cottage
31500
Jacuzzi Hut
33300+5440 (safari) = 38740
Pool Hut
40500+5440= 45900
Diff about 7k
4
Indian Family (2 adults, 2 kids)
Moderate
Cottage
35500
Jacuzzi Hut + extra beds
33300 + 7000 for 2 kids + 7460 (Safari)= 48000

5
Foreign Nationals, Family (2 adults, 2 kids)
High
Maharaja Cottage
38225
Jacuzzi Hut
33300+7000+10500 Safari = 50800

Pool Hut
40500+7000+10500 Safari = 58000

6
Indian Nationals, Large Family (6 adults)
High
2 units, 3 pax each, Room East Bungalow
55000
2 units of Jacuzzi Hut with an extra bed each
66600+ 10000 for 2 adults + 11000 Safari= 86600

7
Foreign Nationals, Large family (6 adults)
High
3 units of Maharaja cottage
94500

2 units of Maharaja Cottage with 3 pax per room also cost same (94700)
Jacuzzi Hut
2 units of Jacuzzi Hut with an extra bed each
66600+ 10000 for 2 adults + 16100 Safari= 91700

Pool Hut
2 units of Pool Hut with an extra bed each
81000+ 10000 for 2 adults + 16100 Safari= 107100
OCR is cheaper for large groups/
Foreigners/ longer stays
8
Indian Family, (2 adults, 2 kids) Staying for 3 nights, not interested in multiple safaris
Moderate
Cottage
35500 *3  = 106500
Jacuzzi Hut + extra beds
99900 + 21000 for 2 kids + 7460 (1 Safari)= 128360
Diff is only < 20k
9
Foreign Nationals- Couple, staying for 2 days, interested in 1 Safari only
High
Maharaja Cottage
63000
Jacuzzi Hut
66600+5440= 72040
Pool Hut
81000+5440= 86440
Diff is <10k o:p="">
Note:
1. For price comparison, I have used various weekends in May/June 2017 period. Had to try a different weekend if there was no availability. Price can vary by season, weekday/weekend and other dynamic factors. Please check on official sites for your preferred date, number of people and nationality.
2. Jungle Lodges price varies depending on Indian or Foreign Nationals. OCR room rates do not include Safari so are same for Indians/foreign nationals.  Safari needs to be paid extra, at which time price difference kicks in. This is good at times- if you are staying for several days and do not wish to take safari everyday, you can opt out and save money. At JLR, daily rent includes safari and you get no refund if you do not go for Safari.
3. Additional beds are cheaper in Orange county- 3500 for kids, 5000 for adults. In JLR, full price needs to be paid for extra kids/adults.

*1 Assuming 5% online discounts. Some travel agents may be able to get you up to 10% discount.
*2 Price as available on Orange County Website or on Booking.com, whichever is found to be cheaper.  Look out for deals and offers from time time. Genius customers on booking.com get 10% extra discount which is significant for expensive properties like Orange County

As you can see in above table, of course Orange County is expensive in most scenarios, but the gap begins to narrow with increase in no. of guests or duration of stay. In some scenarios it is even cheaper or the price difference is so low, it makes lot more sense to try Orange County instead of JLR
Above; JLR's Maharaja cottage, most expensive/luxurious option
Below: Private Jacuzzi inside OCR's Jacuzzzi Hut

Above: A large hammock/rope adventure corner in JLR Kabini- Only thing that JLR has but OCR doesn't. Otherwise, Orange County offers everything JLR does and more, in much better way.

Related: Birds spotted around Orange County * OCR Kabini Responsible tourism initiatives *

I hope this comparison helps you to make informed decisions for your next trip to Kabini. You can check this post to compare all Jungle Lodges in Karnataka
Booking.com

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