HYDERABAD: How about some ‘glamping’ this season? With summer approaching, you can enjoy nature’s bounty and clear skies, but from the comfort of a luxury tent, with private dining and well-appointed bathrooms. Kichwa Tembo Bateleur Camp (Kenya), Aman Resorts’ Amanwana (Indonesia), Al Maha (United Arab Emirates) and Rajvilas (Jaipur) were some of the first luxury tented dwellings around the world, but the growing demand for more lavish tents have resulted in top-tier resort offerings. Our pick of tented getaways in the safari world:
Such tents are popping up all over the world, but the classics are in Africa. Makemytrip.com offers several packages to Kenya (five-11 days), all with Masai Mara, Nakuru and Nairobi on the itinerary. The Samburu Game Reserve has animals like the Reticulated Giraffe, Grevy’s Zebra and the Somali Ostriches, with their distinctive blue legs. Don’t miss the Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Sweetwaters Game Reserve, established by the Jane Goodall Institute, for orphaned chimps. Where to stay: Sarova Mara Game Camp (five star) is located right in the path of the annual wildebeest migration. Visitors get front row seats to the massive spectacle. The luxury tented accommodation also offers mini golf and a visit to the Masai village. To check out the famous Lake Nakuru National Park, book a room at Flamingo Hill Camp (three star). Cost: `32,990 (ex-Mumbai), inclusive of airfare. Details: makemytrip.com
The best option in the country is Taj Safaris’ Banjaar Tola lodge in Kanha National Park. Kanha, with its lush sal and bamboo forests, inspired Rudyard Kipling to write Jungle Book. Where to stay: The eco-friendly Banjaar Tola lodge consists of nine tented suites made using bamboo and double layers of canvas with insulation materials and air gaps to keep the atmosphere cool. Each lightweight suite comes with its own floating private deck and a discreetly positioned swimming pool. Awarded by Eco Hotels of the world, Banjaar Tola has been recognised with four stars in the Green Luxury collection (2009). Cost: Rs 66,000 for two nights, valid till April 15.
Situated on the edge of Ranthambhore National Park, Aman-i- Khás is a luxurious 108 sqm tented property. At the centre of the park is the 10th-century Ranthambore Fort, and scattered nearby are ancient temples and mosques and crocodile-filled lakes. Where to stay: Inspired by the Mughal travelling tents, each air-conditioned ‘room’ features a six metre canopy and an oversized daybed. We like the plush toilet area - a shower, tub and separate toilet. With the facilities on board, we think you might just give the safari a miss. Think a lounge tent with coffee table books, novels, magazines and board games and local handicrafts on sale. The spa area features a small central fountain with scrubs, wraps, foot baths and henna. The fireplace on the upper level of the camp functions as an informal outdoor lounge and dining area. A specially constructed sandstone bawadi or step well with terrace serves as a private guest relaxation area. Cost: Rs 55,000.
One of the must-do activities in the Gulf is an overnight desert safari. We suggest Abu Dhabi, for its mix of old-world culture (Abu Dhabi Heritage village), gold bargains and luxury shopping. The two-hour drive to Dubai is an added advantage. Where to stay: The 4WD roller-coaster ride to the Bedouin encampment features camel sightings. Guests are welcomed with a BBQ dinner, Arabic tea, salads and fruits and shisha and henna painting. Cost: Rs 5,000.
All prices are approximate and subject to availability.